It’s one of the curses of the teaching profession that outsiders think all we do is take vacations.”Land sakes, what are you complaining about? Five days at Thanksgiving, two weeks at Christmas, 10 days for spring break, Martin Luther King day, Presidents’ Day, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and 30,000 teacher ‘workdays,’ whatever that means. Not to mention two months in the summer. You oughta be out here in the cold cruel world, missy–we don’t have spring break out here.” (I’ve got to stop using my Educator Card at Denny’s.)

If you ask Chapel Hill schoolkids what they’re doing for spring break, you get the typical answers: cruises, skiing, Disney World, the Grand Canyon, Paris. As for me, if I forgo meals for the next two weeks, I might be able to afford to go to the beach for a few days, if I sleep in my car.

Here are some other things that can be done around here on break by those of us with big dreams and small bank balances:

Go kayaking at Jordan Lake. Minimal cost, maximum water. Take food with you. This is important, because once you get out to the middle of the lake, you’ll lose your paddle and spend the rest of the day waving frantically at passing boats, whose occupants gaily wave back as they speed by. Not that that’s ever happened to me personally, of course.

Ride your bike around campus. There will be no annoying students to slam into on the sidewalks because most of them will be in Vail or Cancun. But don’t think about that. Just enjoy the brisk air and remember that you’re getting almost as much exercise as those students on their lousy surf-and-snowboards. Remember, too, that some of them are undoubtedly studying to become teachers and then, well, justice will prevail.

Go to Nordstrom at Southpoint for a makeover. You might even get it free if you look like a really pathetic “before” picture and tell them you’re a teacher.

Rent some sun lamps and set them up around a lawn chair in the living room. Put on your bikini, your sunglasses, and your favorite beach music. Make a margarita and put a little umbrella in it. (I think you can get them at the Dollar Store.) Then, turn on the sun lamps, sit in the lawn chair, sip your drink and plan your retirement.