Are you done for the day?

This is one of the questions I have the most difficulty answering, because no matter what I say, I feel like I’m lying. If I have come home from school and am not going back until tomorrow, then, yes, in others’ eyes, I am done for the day. But at home I am involved in a different sort of work, some of it related to school (grading, planning, etc.), some of it not. Writing and translating are work for me insofar as they are not hobbies. I may or may not get paid for them, but I don’t define work in terms of the presence or absence of pay. Work is something I have to do, either because it helps me survive or because it’s part of what I live for.

So, if I say, yes, I’m done with work, I’m lying, because the work day for me has still a long ways to go. But if I say, no, I still have more work, people get confused. I try to get around all of this by saying I have lots of “projects.” But yesterday some friends pointed out to me that this concept of “projects” is very new in Hungary and that I seem unusually project-oriented. I think I call them projects to convey that yes, I have a lot to do, I don’t have gobs of free time. The friends who pointed this out understand that way of living. They have lots of projects too, though they might call them something else (in Hungarian, “program” or “terv”).

In short, my work day is not done; it rarely is! But as for the details, never mind.

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  1. Oh teachers are my lessons done?
    I cannot do another one.
    They laughed and laughed and said, Well child,
    are your lessons done?
    are your lessons done?
    are your lessons done?


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  • “To know that you can do better next time, unrecognizably better, and that there is no next time, and that it is a blessing there is not, there is a thought to be going on with.”

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    Diana Senechal is the author of Republic of Noise: The Loss of Solitude in Schools and Culture and the 2011 winner of the Hiett Prize in the Humanities, awarded by the Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture. Her second book, Mind over Memes: Passive Listening, Toxic Talk, and Other Modern Language Follies, was published by Rowman & Littlefield in October 2018. In April 2022, Deep Vellum published her translation of Gyula Jenei's 2018 poetry collection Mindig Más.

    Since November 2017, she has been teaching English, American civilization, and British civilization at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium in Szolnok, Hungary. From 2011 to 2016, she helped shape and teach the philosophy program at Columbia Secondary School for Math, Science & Engineering in New York City. In 2014, she and her students founded the philosophy journal CONTRARIWISE, which now has international participation and readership. In 2020, at the Varga Katalin Gimnázium, she and her students released the first issue of the online literary journal Folyosó.


    On April 26, 2016, Diana Senechal delivered her talk "Take Away the Takeaway (Including This One)" at TEDx Upper West Side.

    Here is a video from the Dallas Institute's 2015 Education Forum.  Also see the video "Hiett Prize Winners Discuss the Future of the Humanities." 

    On April 19–21, 2014, Diana Senechal took part in a discussion of solitude on BBC World Service's programme The Forum.  

    On February 22, 2013, Diana Senechal was interviewed by Leah Wescott, editor-in-chief of The Cronk of Higher Education. Here is the podcast.


    All blog contents are copyright © Diana Senechal. Anything on this blog may be quoted with proper attribution. Comments are welcome.

    On this blog, Take Away the Takeaway, I discuss literature, music, education, and other things. Some of the pieces are satirical and assigned (for clarity) to the satire category.

    When I revise a piece substantially after posting it, I note this at the end. Minor corrections (e.g., of punctuation and spelling) may go unannounced.

    Speaking of imperfection, my other blog, Megfogalmazások, abounds with imperfect Hungarian.

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