Thursday, December 05, 2002

Off and On and In and Out

Home Sweet Home: Hayden House

I work at a boarding school - perhaps I've mentioned it about forty-eleven times - and I live in a small apartment at the end of the dorm. As part of my job, I am on duty once a week and two weekends in every ten. Duty basically involves being a visible, active adult presence in the lives of the 45 boys of our dormitory, Hayden House, in the evening, in loco parentis for the hours in which students come home for the evening, study for a few hours, and then prepare for bed.

Tonight was typical. At 7:00, I came downstairs and checked in with the House Director about a few kids. I spoke with the students about their lives and their last-term grades, read a book while they studied, scammed pizza off them when they came in with pizza. A freshman with pneumonia needed to be convinced that he was sick enough to go to the infirmary; a couple making out in the TV lounge needed to be asked to stop; several students with questions about the papers they were working on for World Religions: Mr. Farber, is there an "ism" word for people who believe in Science? Take check at 10:30, lock doors (from the outside) when they're all acounted for, write up the duty log for the evening, sweep the bathrooms and hallways, and come back to the apartment on the second floor by 11:00, and the job's done for another long day - classes begin in eight hours.

Duty responsibilities are considered three of the 19 "points" it takes to make a full trimester's contract, 57 points being a full-time year's workload for faculty here at NMH, and include both nights on and nights in. On nights are the true duty nights; in nights are nights when duty is performed by one of the more senior teachers who have served their time in the dorm and have earned a place in one of the typical New England houses which dot the outer landscape and the side roads or NMH where campus begins to abut either wilderness or the quiet residential clusters of rural homes and farms which comprise the majority of local life. When these folks leave the dorm to go home at 11 (midnight on Saturdays), the resident faculty, in rotation, are expected to stay in and take on the role of point person for late night emergencies or, more typically, student lockouts (Mr. Farber, can you let me in my room? I only went to take a shower...).

Nights not on or in are nights off, although when you live in the dorm, students with the initiative to find you at home do so no matter what your resident status for the evening is supposed to be. You can go out -- the school recommends that you go out at least once a week, just to be somewhere other than where you work and live for a couple of hours to retain your sanity -- but are generally expected to be home by eleven or so. Technically, overnights need to be approved by the House Director, but most HDs don't really worry about this; if the students can't find me, or if they have a drastic need (say, for example, they have accidentally set their roommate on fire and can't put him out again), they'll just go to the House Director anyway.

Dance on the Television

Ginny was there tonight when I got back to the apartment after my duty shift; she had to stay late at Greenfield Community College for a dress rehearsal for her dance company, and showed up prepared to crash. We're the logical choice for crashdom, as we live about a half an hour closer to Greenfield than her parent's house; Virginia still lives at home with Patty and Neil (my in-laws) after two short out-of-home experiences: One, a living-with-the-boyfriend scenario, ended when the relationship went sour; the other, a house share with a married friend, her husband, and her young son, seemed doomed from the start.

Darcie went to bed pretty quickly; she loses an hour or so in the middle of the night because of diapers and breastfeeding (I'd help, but I'm not lactating, so there's not much I can do) and I only sleep 5 hours a night so I tend to stay up much later. Ginny and I are flipping the channels, and we keep seeing this really cheesy combination of line dancing and tap dancing flash by on the screen, and Ginny realizes that the Greenfield public access channel is showing last year's dance concert. I sat next to Ginny and watched her on the TV, which was a bit eerie.

posted by boyhowdy | 12:51 AM |

Post a Comment
coming soon
now listening