First Person / Snow day

I’m a teacher and I’m free! But what do I do now?

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This is it. This is “the day.” You know, the one that everyone talks about when they say, “If I only had a day. That’s all I need, just one day to catch up.” I’ve said it to myself quite frequently as of late. I have longed for that elusive “day” where I could get caught up on things, get organized at home, knock off a few items on the to-do list.

Since I am a teacher, I maintain special access to these days every once in a while. They come in the form of snow days, of course. Days that everyone else counts as just one more aggravating day, I get to enjoy, or at least try to enjoy. (I’m going to hide behind a wall now and you can go ahead and throw eggs, or tomatoes or your ammunition of choice.)

As soon as I get that call on a snowy morning, I am glad without shame, even though I know this day will be added at the end of the school year. I also know that future snow breaks will mean even more days added to the end of the year, but it doesn’t matter. I’ll take the day now.

The joy now outweighs the pain in June, to borrow a bit of philosophy from C.S. Lewis. Of course, he was talking about life and death and I’m only talking about snow days, but if I had to take a philosophical view on snow days, well, there it is.

The good part about this snow day is that I am basically trapped in my house. I could venture out into the world, but inches of snow and freezing rain register as “$500 car-insurance deductible” in my brain, so why risk it?

It’s almost comforting to know that I must stay here, in my house, today. On any other day off I might feel compelled to run errands, eat out, visit a friend. But this day off offers the unique opportunity of “having” to have a quiet day at home, something our society sorely lacks nowadays. I welcome the forced solitude.

My husband is spending this day with me, so I am not exactly alone. I can hear his efforts to clear snow from the driveway. He’s tried to start the snow blower at least 20 times, but it putters out after a few seconds each time. I know he’ll be out there for a while, intermittently shoveling and trying to get the snow blower going. He’s found his mission today, but I am still wondering about mine.

I have a list of house projects. In fact, when I woke up I swore that I would make this day a productive one. That list has been staring at me for quite some time now.

Some of the projects involve going out to get needed items, so they don’t make the cut.

My husband said to me earlier, “Take some time to get some writing done today.” Yikes! Writing was definitely not on my list today, but, as my friend Debbie says, “It feels good to cross it off the list.”

I suppose I could put writing on the list and then cross it off, but that would be a little like cheating, wouldn’t it?

I wrestle with my list. I am determined to make this day count. Now I am beginning to think that there is a certain pressure involved with this snow day. I must use my time wisely, I think to myself, and then I think of teaching.

Our old report cards had a place to evaluate “Uses Time Wisely.” I might need to give myself an “N” (needs to improve) if I don’t get moving soon. The pressure mounts — use time wisely, use time wisely. This is not using it wisely.

For those of you who have been granted a “day” like this, you know that it’s easy to lose your focus. You start on a job, get sidetracked and hours later you realize you’ve accomplished nothing on your list.

I swear off TV viewing today, even though I seldom get to watch daytime TV. One peek and I’ll be sucked into that black hole. My husband will find me watching something like “Shahs of Sunset,” remote clutched in hand.

So I’m going to circle four things on my list that I might just be able to complete today. The circle is a little handcuff of intention on my end. If I can complete at least two of the items, it’s more than I would have done had I been teaching all day and tried to do them in the evening.

But before I do anything, my mind starts talking back to me. It’s saying, Hey, you never get a chance to unwind on a weekday, now do you? Have you ever thought of that?

Well, no, I had not thought of that yet, I answer my mind.

Hmmmm … maybe my mind has a good idea. Maybe my mind should be obeyed.

My mind starts speaking rather loudly, and I begin to listen carefully. I make my first real decision of the day. Before I do anything on this snowy day, I am going to sit with a cup of hot tea and read, in my pajamas.

I think a little reading in my pajamas has been earned. Perhaps reading in pajamas is just what people need to do when they finally get their “day.” Maybe my list should begin with that. (Revision is a good thing.)

No. 1: Read in my pajamas.

No. 2: Nap. (Why not? I’m already in my pajamas.)

No. 3: Look at the list.

Perhaps I will change my report card for the day, too: Mrs. Nugara. Uses Time Wisely — “S” for satisfactory.

By the way, I did write a little. After I put it on my list. I’m going to go cross it off now. It feels good to cross it off.

Debbie Nugara, a teacher in the Fox Chapel Area School District, lives in West Mifflin (

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