Samuel J. Tanner 4 minute read



First, about the term 'whew.' The definition of the word is as follows. Whew is "used to express surprise, relief, or a feeling of being very hot or tired."

This explanation made me laugh. Lots of competing adjectives.

"How are you doing today?"

"Whew," is the perfect response if you are suprised, relieved, very hot and tired.

I guess I'm all of those adjectives these days. Whew.

Classes started at Penn State last week. Syllabi to put together, students to meet, and a semester to organize. I've had countless improv commitments over the last two weeks. Workshops, classes, and shows? Whew.

I'm working on different academic projects with different academic people in different (non-academic) states. Lots of sticks in the fire. Very hot? Yes. Very tired? Whew.

I'll put my cards on the table. I figured starting a new career as a professor in Pennsylvania would give me the flexibility to spend time with my family. I'd have more autonomy over my professional and creative life. These things are true. I do have flexibility and autonomy. And I get to spend more time with my boys and my wife then I would if I were still a high school teacher. But I'm three years into this job now, and have so many damned things to do! Here's something I've learned about Sam Tanner after 38 years: that guy is super good at finding ways to keep himself busy. Whew, baby. Whew.

Incidentally, I've used the word 'whew' 9 times so far in this entry. I'm going for the record. Does that suprise you? "Whew," you might be saying. It probably doesn't relieve you or make you very hot or very tired. Or maybe it does? Who knows. Don't assume things about your reader. Whew.

Anyway, I'm spent. One week in and I'm swamped. Not a lot of headspace right now.

"Do you have to go anywhere tonight, daddy?" Solomon usually asks me after dinner. He's grown accustomed to me leaving in the evenings for an improv rehearsal or a meeting. His face always crumbles into a frown when I tell him I have to go. It makes me feel like a monster. But I gotta pay the bills, I guess.

We were was playing dinosaurs the other morning. Solomon had a T-Rex. Samson had a pterodactyl and I was using a velociraptor. Our dinosaurs were tail-dancing in Solomon's bedroom. Whew.

"Okay, I have to go to improv," Solomon's dinosaur told us. "You can't come with. You have to stay home."

It was heart-breaking. Solomon's dinosaur came back from improv a few moments later.

"Okay, I have to go to campus now," Solomon's dinosaur said. "You guys can't come with me."

Clearly, my son's imaginative psyche is dominated with the reasons his father has to leave him. Whew, baby.

Not much to do about it. I'm still around more than many other fathers with a career. But there's work to do. And I'm a busy man with all sorts of projects. It's good to build things. But building takes time and energy. I have less of these resources as I age. 38. Gray hairs in my beard, two sons I want to shower with love, and a wife I want to support against the backgdrop of a creative and academic career. That's lots of stuff. What's a word that captures all this activity? You get it.

Happy Vally Improv performed at New Student Orientation at Penn State last weekend. We were at the student union on campus until one in the morning. It was a blast to perform for the freshmen, but I'm not much for staying up until one in the morning these days. I got home and fell into bed. Samson wondered in about fifteen minutes later and kicked me in the face until about 5:00 AM. I rolled out of bed with a grizzly look on my face. I looked haggard. Merle Haggard, baby. Mama tried. Daddy too. Whew.

I'm sure things will balance out. A routine will be established. But summer's over. That's for sure. Fall, already? Okay. Whew.

Fifteen times. That's how often I used 'whew' in this entry. I think. I didn't count that carefully. These blogs aren't careful and I'm no math major.

Anyway, I wish you relieving, suprising, very hot, and very tiring saluations as you leave this short blog and return to your own iterations of the whew-inducing realities you live. Whew.