The Scroll: Ten Things I 'Hate' About Sabbatical

Not that I’m competitive or anything, but rumor has it Susan Alexander’s Scroll last year with a similar title (“Ten Things I ‘Hate’ About St. Thomas”) was read by more people than any other Scroll post. Go, Susan! Inspired by her disclosures and in response to complaints that I have been found guilty of advancing a “too happy, too cheery” tone in Scroll posts, here is my all-negative, Debbie-downer debut: A tell-all about what I “hate” about my year-long sabbatical thus far.

Carol Bruess

Carol Bruess

I really can’t stand:

The food. As in, the savory, home-cooked meals my teenagers expect during my “year off.” Somewhere they got this crazy, annoying idea in their still-developing frontal lobes: “Mom on sabbatical = mom on vacation, available to meet all of our personal, social, academic and nutritional needs.” Right. “Chipotle or Davanni’s tonight, kids? No, you may not get soda. Yes, you may get chips and/or a brownie.”

The compliments. When I see people during my occasional trips to campus, I keep hearing, “You look great!” and “you look relaxed and healthy!” Thanks a lot. I obviously look like a tired lump during a regular year.

The friends and family. They too have been misguided and misinformed; sabbatical isn’t retirement nor a year of self-indulgent recreation. Ugh – people! Yes, I’d love to see more of you. No, I’m not napping all day. Yes, I have research project – two in fact. And if you say “eating bon-bons” one more time, we’ll be having a little carefrontation.

The X-factor (where in the equation X = me saying “yes”). Because of the issue detailed above, I’m invited to, and accepting, a lot more invitations from friends and family. A few weeks ago I found myself in the first row, second balcony at the Xcel Energy Center for a sold-out country music concert. Ugh. Seriously? Among the droves of cowboy boots, bedazzled jeans and Texas hats, my JCrew cardigan and black flats looked a tad silly. I will stick to a dose of Blake on “The Voice,” thank you very much.

The yoga. To clear my mind each day for the books I am writing this year, I go to hot yoga more often. All those sweaty mats and towels: what a hassle!

The dog. He sleeps next to my sabbatical work station at home. Watching him doze in his tiny little bed all day makes me groggy. Dang dog! Go play and bark or chew something.

My colleagues. I miss you all. Surely – it goes without saying, right? – the feeling is mutual. Awww, group hug.

Coffee Bene. The one in the library where, every day, I used to enjoy a daily hot cup of goodness and warm-greeting ritual served up by Traves and crew. Don’t worry, I found a good therapist to assist with the separation anxiety.

The dust. When you work from home you have to look at it all day. Forming. On every surface. Where does it all come from? It’s very frustrating working next to all these windows with the bright daylight pouring in.

The students. I miss the adorable, young people who everyday would sit on the edge of their seats, listening to every word I uttered in lecture. Every word. I’m sure of it. And then they’d ask if we could extend class so they could take in even more. I really miss that.

But, the upside? I’ll see you all again next fall!