I am one of those people who felt drawn to an academic career because of the ever-changing variety inherent in teaching new classes on a new schedule while interacting with new people every few months. As the start of each new semester draws closer (in this case, Wednesday of this week), excitement with a bit of fear begins pulsating throughout my body and mind.
One of my rituals I perform at the start of each semester involves creating a new mix CD that I play for the first time as I drive to campus for the start of classes. Sometimes, my choices reflect a particular mood I have about the coming months. For the semester after my mother died, I filled the CD with songs from my childhood and adolescence, spending much of my twelve-mile commute thinking of her while remembering some of our best times together. For the semester in which I completed my tenure dossier, I filled the CD with songs about strength, while the CD for the semester after I earned tenure contained songs about joy and living life to its fullest.
Most of the time, though, I fill it with ordinary pop and dance songs. I am not a musical connoisseur in the slightest. In fact, music is the one area of pop culture when I tend to join the masses and learn all of the words to the latest top forty hits. I grew up with mindless pop music and continue to enjoy it. In fact, when I’m in my best moods, I’ll be one of those people you catch at stoplights singing along at top volume. A few years ago, I realized I was driving behind my college dean one day, and he must have seen me singing, complete with shoulder moves and head nods, whenever he looked in his rear-view mirror.
The image above is for this semester’s CD. It’s filled with a lot of ordinary songs I imagine will make many readers cringe. But they will put me in the right mood as I leave the comforts of home for what might be a nerve-wracking but hopefully also an energizing day on campus.
What would be on your CD this semester/quarter? And what other rituals other than the typical syllabus prep and such do you perform at the start of each academic term?