I missed shoveling

Posted: December 15, 2013 in Uncategorized

True story. I totally missed shoveling snow, the last decade. I know that sounds completely strange. But it’s true.

Don’t get me wrong: shoveling snow sucks, when it is mandatory-for-survival. I don’t have any delusions of returning to the Northeast and liking the snow, the cold, the terrible driving conditions, or anything like that. The novelty wore off when I was a child.

But I like working. I like putting my hands to task, I like to earn my keep in this world, I like to break a sweat and I like to feel the sting in my bones that says I am still alive, not because I like sweat or sting but because contrary to my cynical reputation, I’m actually quite fond of life. Reminders of it are a thing.

So this morning I tucked flannel pajama bottoms into my boots and marched downstairs from the building I stayed the night in and with my trusty little fold-out shovel I set to work. It sucked. My shovel is convenient for traveling with your car, but for these reasons is not terribly good for big shoveling jobs; it has no scoop and it makes the job challenging. I might as well have been using a pizza box on a broom stick. But you know what?

I missed this shit.

I missed the appreciation it gives for the days where there is no snow to shovel. I missed the (usually silent) commiseration that passes between complete strangers joined only by their mutual imprisonment in a snowy space. I missed stripping out of snow-wet clothes and changing into a warm robe before I caught a cold. I had ice in beard and that made me happy. And it sucked.

And sometimes things that suck are what we wake up for, and why we make sure we’re warm and secure when we go to sleep, in order to maintain a high likelihood that we will wake up.

I missed shoveling snow, and I miss chopping firewood, and I miss digging clay from the earth.

My body isn’t what it used to be and I am disabled, now. My shoulders are permanently injured, the left side of my body is cognitively disconnected from my awareness and full control. I have chronic pain, I have a compromised immune system, and I suffer waves of crippling fatigue. But I fucking love shoveling. And that burn I feel now, from the doing? I love that too.

And whiskey.

I love whiskey.

  1. And sometimes things that suck are what we wake up for, and why we make sure we’re warm and secure when we go to sleep, in order to maintain a high likelihood that we will wake up.

    Yes–I have to remind myself of that when it comes to teaching, at least at the college where I am at present.

    (I just finished grading, which means this quarter is now officially over for me…just over seven hours before the due-date, which is longer than I’ve had before, but still not as fast as I had hoped it would be done this time around.)

    Sure, I love (some of) my students, and some of the subjects I teach, and the process of teaching itself (especially in some classes); but, I will never love the online “learning” we do, the institutional nonsense, the constant disrespect from admin, some other faculty, and students (as well as the general public), and the entirely contingent existence we have as adjuncts, which will never improve.

    But, it’s all I’ve got right now, in many ways, and having it is far better than having nothing.

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