Wednesday, March 6, 2013
Much as I was dragging my feet about returning to classes this week, I've been splashed by joy a few times lately and thought I'd better share.
-- I answered the phone to hear Nola say "Nana, I'm back from Nicaragua now, so I'm ready to come to your house. When can be my visit?" With her parents over the last few vacations, she's been making her way through Latin America, and earlier this year, when she'd talked about wanting to come visit Nana and Granddad "at the beach," I said we'd surely arrange that once she was back from Nicaragua (where there are vans that take you to see spider monkeys and you have picnic bags full of food from the people at the hotel -- I have it on the best authority). Apparently, there's no time like the present. We're currently consulting calendars, although this weekend is taken up by a shift at my Mom's.
-- I finally got to see a big chunk of the wedding photos. We've been trying to get together with my son and daughter-in-law in front of a computer to view the professional photos with them, and somehow this hasn't yet worked out. So we set up a Dropbox account, and I've been living that beautiful day all over again. Surprising how much joy can be found in a trip back to last August and beach nuptials. See above . . . (and I suspect I'll unfold a few more of these in this space over the next while).
-- I teach a small 1st-year class with a high proportion of "non-traditional students," many of them First Nations students whose earlier experience in the classroom was not always positive. For our first class back this week, two students gave their first-ever oral presentation in which I'd asked them to open and unfold a poem (by a wonderful First Nations poet Philip Kevin Paul). Both students recited their poems and spoke about them with such feeling, commitment, and obvious understanding as to move me close to tears. This class knows that I've been having a tough time with my Mom's illness and approach to her end, so I told them what an antidote their engagement was for me. I told them I'd been feeling a bit low over the Reading Break, that sometimes I wonder whether what I do in the classroom matters enough to keep on -- not to whine about, but to let them know that moments like that day's class were the moments that make it all worthwhile. It was a very good class.
-- And then to make it even better, one of those students sent me a very moving e-mail detailing the difference this class made to her. She told me a bit about her very difficult background which involved being on her own, as an escape from abuse, from even before high school. More than a decade later, she upgraded her way into a university classroom with much trepidation, and the two novels she has read so far with me are the first she's ever completed. She's gaining confidence, beginning to learn what she likes and what she doesn't, and is determined to keep reading with the newfound "reading stamina" she tells me she's developed -- and, if you can believe it, she gives me quite a bit of credit for it. As you might imagine, I've printed out the e-mail, read it over a few times, and will place a copy in what one of my colleagues calls "The Ego File" -- the file of positive letters from former students we keep to pull out when we need a reminder of what we do well. . . .
-- I'm running out of time and I haven't even finished listing all the week's good stuff, which is a happy problem to have, right? Before I finish, I must include one last very important item: We booked the overnight "trainhotel" trip (on Elipsos) from Paris to Barcelona. I'm already imagining lying in that berth, bumping and swaying in and out of sleep, the sounds of dark French countryside and flashes of city turning into the sounds of early-morning dark Spanish landscapes, the stop at the border, hearing our passports being checked while we try to turn back into our dreams. . . .
I hope joy is catching you unawares from time to time as well. If so, and you care to share, I love to read your comments. . . . Oh, and speaking of comments, check out the conversation around retirement in my post before last. Wow! the joy I get from knowing that so many wise, wise readers care about me. Crazy!