Remembering What I Forgot

Students aren't the only ones anxious about the start of a new school year. My students will be arriving in my classroom in less than two days, and I can't fall asleep because I'm so anxious. I need to sleep in order to reorient my schedule to the early waking and sleeping required by the school day, but here I am, after midnight, waltzing aimlessly around the internet looking for something interesting to read because I know I can't accomplish the one thing that will help me sleep; I can't remember what I've forgotten to do.

Not that I have any sympathy for Saddam Hussein, but I think I'm starting to understand what it must have felt like for him during the run up to war in early 2003. Imagine the quandary he was in: He had to prove he didn't have weapons of mass destruction within his country while not giving up sovereignty. Weapons inspectors were on the ground but couldn't satisfy the Bush administration, largely because he'd prevented inspectors from having unlimited access in the past. At that point, suddenly giving them unlimited access wouldn't have satisfied anybody. It would have made him seem very weak and frightened, a position that would have lost him more of the country he already wasn't in full control over. Plus, the illusion of WMD was a deterrent to foreign rivals, and he may have even though it would dissuade the U.S. from attacking. Ultimately, he would have had to give up his position in order to maintain his position, and all because he couldn't prove a negative. No wonder he looked so awful when the finally found him. He probably hadn't slept well until he was in that hole in the ground, and when you have to bury yourself to get some peace you're in pretty bad shape.

I am not going to lose my position as despot of a middle-eastern country if I can't remember what I forgotten. I won't even lose my job. In all likelihood whatever I've forgotten will require a few more hours after school than I had planned on spending, and the crisis won't even appear for a few weeks. Unless, of course, I've forgotten something major. Which I may have. I can't be sure.

Maybe I haven't forgotten anything at all. All I have is a feeling, that feeling one has before locking the front door on the way out when leaving for a vacation; what am I forgetting? Maybe nothing, but in my experience it's always something that seems small but is a day-to-day necessity, like deodorant or socks, and I have to buy more when I arrive at my destination. But you can't buy personalized lesson plans at a 7-11 or Fred Meyer's.

I have racked my brains trying to discover what is not there. I've gone to my classroom, thinking maybe the setting would shake something loose. I've gone through my lessons plans, my syllabi, the loose papers piled on my desk. I've stared at the ceiling. I've tried to distract myself. Nothing works. Whatever "it" is, it isn't there.

I guess it all comes down to trust. No one would have trusted Saddam even if he had sworn he didn't have any WMD. I'd like to think I'm a bit more trustworthy. I've never gassed a bunch of people or shaken hands with Donald Rumsfeld, two pretty reliable signs that one is up to no good. So why can't I trust myself?

Are there any out-of-work U.N. weapons inspectors out there who could try to figure out what I have left to do before school starts? I promise I won't ignore your findings.