Kids aren't the only ones returning to school this week. Ms. Analyst's August summer break is over, and with my return to our psychoanalytic pod, I feel - as I do every year at this time - like I'm headed back to school too.

This is an especially interesting sensation for someone like me. I counted the minutes until I was going to receive my high school diploma from, oh, kindergarten onwards. After all that, I went to college because that's what I'd been programmed to do.

I had fun and learned more stuff there, but at the end of four years, as the Indigo Girls say, "I got my paper and I was free." I did not require a Masters. I did not want to pursue a Ph. D. I needed to get off campus for good and live my life, whatever it was going to be.

Home Room

Now, however, 16 years after my last final exam, and three and a half years into therapy, I've come to recognize an old feeling in my early September sessions: Fall Semester is kicking in.

Despite my allergy to classes, I'm increasingly thinking this sensation is not a bad thing. For those of us who either have kids or were kids, back-to-school remains ingrained in our biorhythms -- whether we're still students or not.

In fact, I've come to feel good about the way the next few months of analysis are likely to unfold. Ms. Analyst and I should be able to get into a groove together, clear until Thanksgiving. Then we'll hit it again until Xmas before taking another well-earned break. I guess within the ongoing marathon of self-discovery, the psychoanalytic autumn term is a sprint I can get my head around.

Management 101

I wonder if Ms. Analyst breaks up her internal calendar like that, because her consistency in the pod is pretty amazing. It doesn't matter if we meet top 'o the morning, at the end of the day, Monday A.M., Friday evening, the first week of January or the dead of July: She is on.

Sure she makes mistakes, but her energy level and focus almost never waver, time after time after time. All the more reason to set my own milestones in this long-haul of a procedure, where no graduation ceremony or gold watch awaits.

How do you pace yourself? Are you and your therapist back to school this week, or simply in the continuum? Even when there's no end in sight, my Fall Semester makes analysis feel alright.

-- Mr. Analysand

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