20 March 2012

running in circles

I don't know what to think of this year so far. Because part of my brain is insisting it is one of the hardest years of my life, but the other part is jumping up and down with sunglasses on and a baseball cap turned backwards flashing thumbs and screaming, "Dude, this year is awesome, man," which makes so little sense since I'm a woman, but I can't stop my inner monologues from going where they will.

Circle number one. I'm pretty sure I've always wanted to be a teacher. I know at one point I wanted to be a doctor, and a ballerina, and a backup singer, and a Starfleet officer, but right there on the list, always, was also "teacher." And this year, I'm living the dream. True, I was living the dream last year, too, but this year, I'm all on it like grease on pizza or cheese on macaroni (yum--if only teaching was half as delicious). And not only am I teaching at a university ... I'm teaching poetry at a university. Somebody pinch me. Not really, but seriously ... okay, not seriously, but halfway.

This is the year that it hurts to have students drop my class. Probably because I'm used to not losing a student after the first few weeks of class and we're almost at midterms and nobody is failing yet. If the kid's not failing and he or she or ze drops my class I tend to take it with a grain of salt pressed into a paper cut polished off with a fresh squeeze of lemon. But no! Enough of that! I'm teaching! I'm teaching poetry! I'm teaching writing and poetry at a university!

Circle number two. When I was in high school I remember being particularly hurt when one of my teachers wouldn't enter a story I was very proud of into the Scholastic Writing contest my freshman year. (I later determined that the piece was a monstrosity, but forget about that.) So I was delighted when, in my senior year, my English teacher helped me submit a portfolio. I was ecstatic when my portfolio received an award. And so I was even more excited, delighted, and everything in between when, this year, I was able to serve as a judge for Arizona's Scholastic Writing contest. Reading poems and short stories and nonfiction pieces from students who are just like I was ... young and excited and hopeful and beautiful-minded people pressing pens to paper and hoping someone realizes them. I wonder how far back a dream like that can go. That person down the line who is overjoyed to judge because one year so long ago he won a prize because of the judgment of someone who was overjoyed to judge because one year so long ago she won a prize because of the judgment of someone who was overjoyed to judge ... I wonder how far down that line I was.

I wonder how many other circles there are that I'm not even seeing yet. I'm getting published in June, did I forget to mention that? I wonder what circle that's a part of. The "book" my three best friends and I wrote in sixth grade? The poems still tucked in a treasure chest somewhere in my room? It's just one poem, just one "Yes" in the midst of a sea of "No"s-- is that enough for a circle?

I'm writing letters of recommendation. Me. Students are coming to me and saying, "I'd like you to write this for me." I'm fitting them in between grading papers and groaning at emails and writing poems and singing karaoke--which is a circle unto itself--but they're fitting in. I'm cooking. Sometimes. I'm frying apples and making sweet potatoes and relearning vegetables and water. I've forgotten water for now. I'm trying to remember it again tomorrow. Tonight. Another circle.

People talk about circles like the rings of hell. Really, I think we should give them a little love. Sometimes they're simply heavenly.

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