Describe a ritual (i.e. a fixed routine, a sequence of behaviours, etc.) that occurs in your life on a regular basis. Make it as graphic as possible to help the reader visualise and understand your routine Here's mine (feedback on writing would be much appreciated!): The ritual I’m currently thinking of happens on an average school week. Without boring you with the details of how I wake up (usually with a jump as my alarm clock always seems to ring earlier than I want it to), stretch, groan, mumble something about it being too early and not having slept very well, kissing Valentine (my fiancée) good morning, scrolling my way down my Facebook News Feed trying to look for something remotely interesting and significant, clicking on random applications that will delay the horrifying moment of having to confront the blistering cold of the outside world which lies waiting beyond the comforting warmth of my duvet, grudgingly acknowledging the fact that this moment cannot be postponed any longer, swinging my legs over the side of the bed (or ‘flopping out like a dead trout’ seems more appropriate here) and sleepily stumbling towards the bathroom to get dressed and gauge the extra luggage that’s piled up beneath my eyes overnight, the beginning of a normal school day is always a bag of mixed emotions. As soon as I emerge from the garage with my red bicycle groaning and squeaking beneath me (note to self: I really need to oil up those gears…), I listen to the ceaseless chatter of small birds in the bushes below, smiling at the way they seem to quarrel and haggle like merchants in a small back alley souk. If we could understand birds, I often tell myself, I am convinced their conversations would make great soap opera material. “Bob, for the last time, could you please get off your tail and clean the nest?” “I f***ing cleaned the nest two weeks ago, Jessica! Besides, I’m exhausted from putting seeds on the table all week – what do you do all day?” “How about taking care of the kids, for starters? When’s the last time you regurgitated down your children's throats? Go on, I’m waiting! While you think of an answer, why don’t you clear your shit from the couch and move?” And so on… As I make my way uphill towards the school, my eyes are always drawn towards the wheat fields that surround it. On some mornings, they are covered by a thick blanket of grey, swirling mist hugging the land, which makes me think of a little boy who, having fallen asleep on the couch watching a late show, has snuggled deeper beneath the plaid his parents have drawn over him, before planting a soft kiss on his brow and creeping away towards their own bedroom. On others, I watch the flow of miniature rivulets coursing their way downhill, brown and heavy with soil, as drizzle covers my glasses with shining droplets. And again, on others, there is no mist or rain, but a bright sun rising over the water tower on the horizon, its rays shining between houses and trees. And always, whatever the weather, there is the long line of cars running parallel to the cycle path, their red rear lights bright, the occasional short blast of a horn, and the frustration and mounting impatience palpable in the morning air. "Thank God for bicycles," I think to myself. Oddly enough, this moment usually fills me with serenity, no matter how harsh the weather or how heavy the day ahead. When I arrive, Valentine and I park our bikes, taking care to set them in place with the ridiculously heavy locks that would probably put a stonecutter to shame, and as soon as I step into the building that will be my abode for the rest of the day, I am gripped by a sort of anxiety which, most of the time, lies dormant but is happy to remind me it’s there. I walk down the corridor, glancing into neighbouring classrooms, always spotting a detail I hadn’t noticed previously or finding my gaze drawn to others which I have scrutinised time and time again. A poster. A timetable. A desk and how it has been positioned. A light switched on (or not). And once I’m in my own classroom, when the door has swung shut behind me, I stride towards my own desk, swinging my bag off my shoulder as I go, and slide my laptop out of its case. You’re probably asking yourself by now what I meant by “anxiety”. Well, here is where it becomes very clear. Every afternoon, as soon as I come back from work and have finished clearing away the dinner table, I sit in front of my computer screen for hours on end, preparing lessons, designing worksheets, doing research, looking for inspiration, breathing with satisfaction as I find something that matches my expectations, sighing again with frustration when I realise it actually does not, browsing the Internet, going around in circles (figuratively, of course), and generally working slowly but surely towards the goal of having a panel of lessons sufficiently ready for the following day. You would probably expect me to sleep on both ears with the knowledge that, after so much effort, it now simply boils down to printing the stuff out and entertaining the troops. Unfortunately, that is not how I work. When I slide my laptop out of its case and hurriedly press the power button, almost feverishly muttering under my breath for the loading bar to go faster, silently cursing as my fingers launch themselves at the keys like a burst of machine gun fire only to see the screen shake and the words ‘Password Incorrect’ smugly appearing, my mind begins to project its favourite screenplay, which could suitably be entitled The Untimely Death of the Ill-prepared Teacher or Unprepared: A Tragic Story of Guilt and Sorrow. No matter how prepared I actually am, how I know deep down that I definitely spent my evening doing more constructive things than watching cat videos on YouTube, my train of thought resembles something like this: “What if something goes wrong? Have I prepared enough? Will I run out of steam? What will happen then? What should I do? Is what I’ve prepared interesting? What on Earth was I thinking when I decided to crawl into bed at 10:30 instead of soldiering on and actually producing a f***ing miracle lesson that will blast these kids off their chairs and leave them panting as they peel themselves away from the back wall? Oh, I know, if things go wrong, I can always give them this to do. Oh, but wait! It doesn’t have anything to do with what I’m giving them here…” And so on and so forth. The worst part is, in a least 9.9 cases out of ten, I am more than fine, more than prepared, and the lesson turns out great. But there you have it; it’s difficult to get away from this ritualistic emotional rollercoaster when your mind automatically switches to ‘Worst Case Scenario’ mode on every occasion. In a sense, I guess it’s the sort of mindset that people face for example when they go on holiday. There’s always that image of the man sitting behind the wheel of his car with his wife in the front seat, two kids in the back seat, and the car covered with holiday paraphernalia, and that stomach-churning sensation, as he backs out of the front yard, of having forgotten to unplug something and finding his house in smouldering ruins after a particularly violent freak storm, of having left a window open and finding the furniture where once sat computers, television screens, or toasters stripped bare by robbers, of having forgotten to leave food for the cat and discovering an emaciated, desiccated ex-cat lying on its back, its paws twitching miserably in the morning sunlight, coughing up its goodbyes to the cruel world as soon as the family's car enters the driveway. It makes me smile to type this example because as ridiculous as it may sound to an outsider, this is exactly how my mind works at the best of times.