And just like that, before you know it | Mark’s Remarks

With each passing year, I am amazed at how quickly time goes by. 

I’ve said it before, again and again, so much so that I risk the thought of you thinking I’m starting to repeat myself.

Too late.

You might know I’m not a fan of trendy phrases. I think it began when someone published a birthday greeting in the newspaper that said “Lordy, lordy, look who’s 40.”  As soon as that was published and people got a giggle, it became overused.  Much like the “and just like that” you see on Facebook and all over the trendy universe.

But as usual, I digress.

Every year, I say the same stuff. “Wow, it seems like school just ended.”  Then, a few weeks later, I will say “As soon as July 4 hits, the summer starts to really ramp up speed.”

And just like that, school started this week.

I said I wasn’t going to write a bunch of columns about this being my last year of teaching or my retirement, although I’ll probably fail at that. I mean, it’s a monumental thing.  

So yes, this is my last column about starting school. Egad! 

I have to say there is a strange and weirdly quiet feeling going on in my psyche right now. It’s sort of like the feeling you get when the garage door has closed all the way or the air conditioner has shut off.  

A calm, unexplainable quiet feeling that makes you say “Ahhh,” but also makes you feel like you’re “it” in a game of hide and seek and you need to start looking around for people.

Kooky explanation and hard to put into words, but that’s how it feels.

There have been plenty of finalities this summer.  I have cleaned out more areas and files and drawers.  I visited a finance guy. I started the arduous task of cleaning out Google Drive on my school account.

This may be a shameless plug, but it’s applicable. 

I started an organizing business (my retirement career) this summer, and while helping clients de-clutter and make their homes and businesses more efficient, I listen to podcasts and audible books about the process of streamlining our lives. It’s eye-opening and life-changing to get to a point where you are able to get rid of things you thought you never would.

I think back to that 23-year-old teacher who had no supplies and who saved things like the cardboard from the middle of the paper towel holder.  That same teacher tucked away papers once printed on a purple ditto machine, which was on its way out in the early 1990s.

I laugh a little at that young person, and I envision him freaking out as I pitch, toss and give away things swiftly and with great abandon.  

The phrases “You don’t need that,” “Nobody wants that” and “Why did you keep this?” are things that constantly ring in my head.

Starting this business has been helpful for people, but mostly it’s come along at just the right time for this pack-rat educator.

And just like that, I have several empty cabinets and drawers in my classroom.  

The list of “things I don’t care about anymore” continues to grow, and I’m thankful I’m not so burnt out that I don’t include students on that list.  

Although I am starting to roll my eyes at the constant “You’ll miss the kids” comments along with the constant “What are you going to do?” questions, the folks who say that I’ll miss kids are pretty much spot on.

Although, there are plenty of things I will not miss about managing kids. I just won’t, and I am not ashamed.

As far as the “what are you going to do?” questions, I sometimes feel like saying something extreme.  I think of the comedian Leanne Morgan, who wondered what she would do after her last child started kindergarten. She commented that she hoped she wouldn’t “get hooked on whiskey and start honky-tonkin.”

It will be fun to come up with a list of evasive and shocking statements when people ask me that question.

And then they will say “And just like that, he lost his mind completely.”

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Mark Tullis

Mark is a 25-year veteran teacher teaching in Columbia. Originally from Fairfield, Mark is married with four children. He enjoys reading, writing, and spending time with his family, and has been involved in various aspects of professional and community theater for many years and enjoys appearing in local productions. Mark has also written a "slice of life" style column for the Republic-Times since 2007.
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