Semester's End

I turn to Joyce. “So what did we come here for again?”

She rolls her eyes. “A cotton blanket.”

“Oh yeah. Sorry.”

A few seconds later, as we head towards the bedding department, I ask again, “Ummm... what did we come to buy?”

I rarely ventured into this particular store, and was constantly distracted by the colorful displays.

I pointed. “Ooh! Look at these sheets.” then turned. “I wonder what this is for.”

Even when we passed by boring picture frames and curtains that barely registered, I couldn't stay on track. “Uh, Joyce? Where are we going again?”

When we finally reached the bed linen display, yet again, I couldn't recall our purpose in this excursion. I was reluctant to ask Joyce again, so I scanned my surroundings, hunting for clues. I didn't fool Joyce. She pointed. “Cotton blanket.”

I smiled apologetically. “Oh yeah. Sorry.”

Every so often the bloody brain hits me hard, sometimes seemingly out of the blue. Last summer, I had more trouble than usual with my short term memory. Most of the time it was entertaining, occasionally embarrassing, and a couple of times it led to some serious mistakes.

I tried to think back, hoping to figure out what triggered these difficulties. Was it the trip to New Hampshire for the WARP meeting that tipped me over the edge? No. The incident with Joyce happened long after that. Was I still be recovering from the semester? But it had been two and a half months since the semester ended.

But in the past it had only taken me a month to recover from the academic year. Hadn't it?

Then I realized: the previous year, it was more than a month. In fact, it took all summer, and I wasn't really well rested by the beginning of the next academic year. But that particular summer was busier and more exhausting than usual. There was the trip to Israel right after the end of the semester, and the writing workshop right after the Summer Institute was over.

What about the summers before? I couldn't remember. Had I ever recovered within a month?

This year, though I have a reduction in my teaching load, a mere few weeks into the semester and I was already struggling.

How long will it take this coming summer?