MICHELE NORRIS, host:

It's the first day of summer and commentator Emily Wylie has the job that many people want at this time of the year. She's a teacher with summers off. Problem is, she never knows what to do with herself once school's out.

Ms. EMILY WYLIE (Teacher): I'm coming clean. I am a teacher who hates summer vacation. I lie about this to civilians because I get that everybody thinks they want my schedule, and I don't want to make them too uncomfortable, but I am uncomfortable.

Come July, I'm standing in the kitchen, eating toast for lunch, lightheaded and wild-eyed, feeling marooned on another planet. I think it's that same planet where that pale, itchy kid at camp was, there on the end of the bench, mystified by everybody else who's tan and athletic and happy.

It's not that I'm so geeky I pine all summer for homework and chalk dust and discipline. Maybe it's that thing that people complain about with Valentine's Day, where the pressure to feel a certain way torpedoes any real romance you are feeling, and you end up fighting about nothing, and eating the chocolate you bought for someone else.

In summer, I'm supposed to be happy and recharging from my super intense job, but instead, I feel sort of like a rat in a lab. How does she function outside her habitat? How she functions is badly. I think it's kind of a big set-up. Lying like a flounder on the beach that first weekend, my brain is still racing. After 10 months of holding it together, performing to 100 people a day, planning every minute, navigating teenagers' personality changes and taking their papers to bed, I can't turn off teachering. I shush kids I don't know on the subway. I answer tourists' questions at the museum.

Later in the summer, I end up at the other extreme, becoming a real misanthrope, ducking around corners to avoid being spotted by my students who'd be blinded by my pale legs in shorts. I interact only with the folks at Starbucks and the guy at the Home Store, which I haunt, mute and staring, obsessively trying to complete one project, the project I stuffed like a foie gras goose with my identity as a productive, meaningful human being. I'd bake way too much for hot weather.

I wonder if my problem is the same one that makes movie stars act so frantically when they're between jobs? Now, I don't love sharing a trait with Lindsay Lohan. I wouldn't mind having her support crew, a personal trainer, an assistant for company, electrolysis. Maybe I should take a page from the starlet's book, or BlackBerry, or whatever. I'll embrace leisure and not apologize for mood swings. I'll buy a really big sunglasses and drift moodily through flea markets in them.

Since I'm married and I can't afford rehab, I'll have to forego the inappropriate boyfriend and the minor drug habit. But maybe I could have the weird, orangey tan. There I am. See me? The bronzed, mercurial one with the fabulous glow, you know, the one on the end of the subway car, shushing the teenagers.

NORRIS: Emily Wylie is a public school teacher in East Harlem. She is dreading the last day of school on June 27th.

Copyright © 2007 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR’s programming is the audio.

Comments

 

Please keep your community civil. All comments must follow the NPR.org Community rules and terms of use, and will be moderated prior to posting. NPR reserves the right to use the comments we receive, in whole or in part, and to use the commenter's name and location, in any medium. See also the Terms of Use, Privacy Policy and Community FAQ.