notes from the front of the class.

i don’t really think there’s a weirder feeling on earth than sitting in a final exam knowing you’re the one in charge.  takes me forward in time and not backward, and i keep trying to forget that i’m an adult.  on days like these, it’s difficult to do.

(and as i write this, i am sitting in a classroom that doesn’t get internet—curses you wireless!—and watching my students take the final i wrote this morning.  i am, however, trying to abandon adulthood by wearing seashells on my flipflops and on my wrist as a bracelet.  it’s helping, it really is.)

today i’d like to talk about closing doors and opening windows.

yesterday was one of the most fantastic days i can remember in a long time.

good stuff happened, but it wasn’t so great that it warranted the extraordinary reaction that i had to it.  it just felt like a day full of promise.  the day after you close some doors and stop looking at them, bemoaning the fact that they are closed, and instead turn around and realize that there’s a whole lot of bright and beautiful light awaiting you from that other series of open doors/windows/skylights, just begging you to notice it.

i think we talk a lot about chapters ending and doors closing—i really do realize that it’s a bit of an overwrought metaphor.  if it’s bothering you, choose another. i just don’t know how else to describe it.

it’s the end of the semester.  i’m both alternately thrilled and saddened by that.  you see, the best teaching experience of my career thus far happened this semester.  i am genuinely saddened to see it end.

(when i told them today that it had been an honor, i really meant it.  or did i say that?  i don’t even remember what i said.  i had just stapled my finger and i didn’t want to get all schmaltzy because hello LAME.

so maybe i’ll do it here, and let’s just pretend i get a do-over.

“it’s been an honor and a privilege. thanks for reminding me why i love teaching and how much literature rocks.”


moving on.

thinking on that yesterday, as i pressed to finish grading their papers and realized how much i really liked this class just by the degree to which i agonized over their final paper grades, i got a call.

from the graduate coordinator. who asked me if, instead of teaching the freshman writing class i’d been assigned this summer, i’d like to teach another upper division course.

on british romanticism.

(that’s my specialization.  this semester i taught Victorian lit, which is the time period just outside of it.  it was fine.  i’m qualified…but it was still outside my area.)

uhm…YES!?!  PLEASE?!?

i literally jumped up and down.  and then paced…for like twenty minutes.  just because i was so excited.

door closing, yes.  but looky there. hello, other ridiculously unexpected open door that’s amazing and awesome and will look so spectacularly good on my cv.

i was also thinking yesterday, and adding said thought to my control freak to-do list, that i needed to finish my fellowship letter and turn it in. the deadline is Thursday, and the last dang thing i need after jumping through many a hoop to try to get this deal coordinated is to somehow miss the deadline.

(tracking down professors when they are off doing other things and asking them to write you letters, regardless of how much they really do like and respect you, is like herding cats.  start early is my advice to you who bow at my feet for such pearls of wisdom.)

not long after, when i was making plans in my head about when that little item was going to get accomplished, i got a facebook message from a girl in my program who was responding to my status update about the class i got.

(my life is chronicled here and on facebook.  who needs privacy?)

she said, basically, that she was confused about me teaching because she had it on good authority that i had the fellowship “in the bag” and so she wasn’t even going to apply.

(her dissertation director? the head of the department.  possible source of said authority? who knows? she wouldn’t tell.)

goodbye four years of guaranteed funding.  why, hello open window beaming in rays of light and hope that maybe, just maybe, i’m not dreaming this peaceful feeling i have about the whole fellowship thing and that i’m not deluding myself into thinking that i have SUCH a good shot.

the whole day felt like that.  it felt like this academic year was ending—which has been full of amazing experiences that i wouldn’t trade for anything but that have become growth experiences (read: some heartbreak and angst and too much self-doubt) as well—with a big fat slamming door.

and instead of being scared about it, or worried, i have for the past few days been just looking forward.  putting one foot out there in front of the other and leaving a lot of stuff behind.  i have not been asking for a whole lot of light to direct me—i don’t have to see the whole path, just part of it—and i have been confident that if i was trying to do what’s right, i would be blessed and directed and led.

and here i am.

upper division course.  check.
fellowship applied for.  check.
tangible goals made for mighty progress on dissertation.  check.
flirty, sassy attitude onboard.  check.
perspective about other stuff that i have no control over achieved.  check.
letting the rest go.  check.

it’s the beginning of the best summer of my life.  i can feel it.

i am SO excited.

6 Responses to “notes from the front of the class.”

  1. Good luck on the Fellowship! I, also, love to teach and this year (and next year) I have an amazing fellowship that means I don’t have to teach. It’s sort of sad to not teach because I enjoy it so much, but the fellowship is so awesome that I can’t really complain too loudly.

    Enjoy your summer teaching!

  2. that’s awesome! so much good news! love your positive outlook!


    I decided not to get the pathways to teaching minor since I 1) don’t need it to teach and 2) wanted to have a less stressful schedule and 3) needed more space in my schedule for my stupid like EIGHT HOURS OF LAB WORK A WEEK ON TOP OF THE THREE HOUR LAB COURSE. So now I have LOTS OF TIME THIS AND NEXT SEMESTER SO I CAN WORK MORES. I’ll show you my schedule when I get back, you’ll cry it’s so pretty.

    I’ve been plotting some group dates, we need to play lots this summer. Regardless of whether or not we get fun summer flings, we should be playing. the end.

  4. Congratulations on everything! I wish I were going to be here over the summer…I’d totally take the class, but work prevails. I actually DON’T remember if you said that in class (I was giggling over the “OH my GOD, I did NOT just do that” that got hollered out post-staple). But: yay for all the closing doors and opening windows and the other amazing escape routes God’s put together for you! “Plans for welfare, not calamity”, and all that. 🙂

  5. You totally deserve every second of happiness! Congrats!!

  6. I am excited to have become aware of your blog’s existence! yay! You are so eloquent and amazing and insightful. I look forward to frequenting your blogness.

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