Hearken, my children, to a tale of wonder and intrigue and abject poverty. The principal player in this little drama is none other than your devoted scribe, Marius. You may recall that last year I made a tragic, if understandable, vocational error and joined the hallowed ranks of that much beleaguered and abused canon...the high school teachers. Oh how quickly did I realize that though I had thought to have tasted the very fires of Hell here on Earth, I had not the slightest inkling of what that truly meant. I learned that not only are high school teachers underpaid and overworked, those that can actually do the job are some of the strongest humans on Earth. What followed was a tale of woe and misery that has been duly chronicled herein, and I shall not revisit it anon. Follow me, then, in your thoughts, to a time some three months ago when I learned of a job at Eckerd College, a small but lovely private school nestled up against the Gulf of Mexico in St. Petersburg. Travelled I there, where with many an interview and electronic correspondence did I enter into a pact with they who teach the ancient art of Theatre, and did we all agree that I should be the one to do that voodoo that I do with some degree of facility. Yet no great venture is begun without some anguish, and tho all to whom I spoke avowed that they were sure that my employment would begin on July 1, thereby only requiring one month's labor elsewhere, it turned out that, upon my arrival that warm Summer's day, that September 1 was to be the actual day of beginning. "Oh cruel vagaries of fate!", quoth I, and a phone call did I make to the place of uniform purveyance where I had labored that previous month, and begged I for another go. Spread they the arms of welcoming, and thus did I spend the time in the far South. Alas, though my benefactors were not niggardly with my pay, it was still only barely sufficient, and the Summer was spent in relative isolation so as to spend as little as possible. Bullets were bitten, and belts cinched, and at long last the dawn of the ninth month drew nigh. The final journey home was taken, and a joyful reunion with the denizens of Castle Marius was enjoyed.
Labor Day. A time of rest for nearly the entire country, yet 'twas the first day of work for Yours Truly. I awoke early(thanks to Starbuck) and readied myself. The drive is long, by commuting standards, but is fortunately 99% freeway, and I get to go over the Sunshine Skyway bridge(behold below) both ways, which is of itself a coolness:
Upon my arrival at the college, I beheld a campus of quiet beauty and calmness. The grounds are permeated with lagoons and copses, and many examples of the local flora and fauna. There was also a strange preponderance of yellow bicycles scattered about. I reached the theatre offices, and went in. I was greeted warmly and with much hopefulness by my colleagues, and commenced to settle in. I spent most of that first day exploring. My office, and the scene shop, were in a state of disarray, so I shall not show them to you just yet, and you have already seen the outside of the theatre, but allow me to show you the lobby and surrounding environs.
As you can see, the landscape is very much at play there. The photo below is just outside the theatre, and could easily have come from any tropical paradise movie, or maybe Gilligan's Island.
My colleagues are warm, and wonderful people, and though the students seem a bit wary, they are starting to warm up to the stranger in their midst. I am finding that my predecessor, though not disliked, was somewhat aloof to the students and other faculty. I shall endeavor to change that perception. Yesterday was our first departmental meeting, although there are no 'departments' there are collegia. The Theatre program is part of the Creative Arts collegium, and I met nearly all of them yesterday at a meeting that began with a feast of Greek yummies, and a chocolate cake that nearly sent me into a diabetic coma. It was then that I realized I was still mentally clenched, waiting for the other shoe to drop. Everyone is so nice, and the job seems to be very laid back, yet my mind kept searching the vacuum for something, anything, to rail against. Apathetic administration? Nope, they support the program. Lazy students? No, they are enthusiastic and energetic. Stand-offish colleagues? Nope, they are welcoming and thank me profusely for the smallest task accomplished. Ah! Got it! Soon they will give me my black robes for the monthly Midnight Shabbat and Baby Eating orgy. Nope. I asked. No baby eating.
So now I am starting to relax. Tomorrow is the first payday, and we can finally breath a little easier. My students and I have made great strides in cleaning up the neglect of centuries, and soon I shall post before and after shots herein.
And now the sunrise brings with it promise again, and Monday morning is no longer a cause for sadness. I am back where I belong, where I can do my job and enjoy it again, and I can dare to hope that maybe, this time, I won't be looking for another gig next year.
And there was much rejoicing.
Peace, my friends.