Wednesday, May 29, 2013

By any other name

This afternoon, making good on a promise I made myself a few months ago to make the most of my time this summer, I took a stroll around the Park of Roses. Many years ago, my mother-in-law introduced me to this place when we first visited her here, having no idea this would eventually become our home. Thanks to her, I learned to appreciate this jewel that shines at its best in early summer.

I thought the roses would be already at their peak today, since the ones in my garden are already starting to drop their petals, but it turns out that the majority of the roses here will be exploding in about a week. That means I'll have to make sure to return in mid-June to feast on this highlight of life in Columbus. This is one more reason why I simply love living in this city.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

When a rose is not just a rose

Once upon a time, in a place never forgotten, there lived a very sick girl. Assailed by a cruel disease that sought to consume her, she felt herself dying, day after day, losing even the desire to live. An angel, in all its luminous glory, was sent to her and told her to dream of a rose garden. In that garden, the angel said, the girl would be healthy again and she would be able to regale in the glory of the roses around her.

Although the girl did not believe the angel, she did as she was bid, and dreamed of a garden filled with roses, red, pink, purple, blue, and even black ones. Radiantly lifting their faces to the sun. Slowly, almost without her noticing it, the girl began to will herself to live so, one day, she could walk in the rose garden of her dreams.

In what seems like a lifetime later, faraway across the ocean from the place of her first dreams of life, the girl, now a woman, walks in her garden, festooned with glorious roses, radiantly lifting their faces to the sun, and she is joyful.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

More peony days

Peony days

With all Senior Week and Commencement activities finished, grading done, and grades posted, the 2012-13 academic year has finally come to an end. Though I'll be working a lot this summer with the Summer Teaching Institute in June and KEEP in July, I'll still get some non-scripted periods before the 2013-14 academic year begins in late August.

This coming year I'll have the challenge of teaching English Honors for the second time, which I hope will mean I can anticipate the issues before they arise, and plan ahead now that I know what is expected and what needs to be done. Though I'll be teaching two courses in the fall, which will be nice, my spring rears up as a challenging time when I'll be teaching two new courses (a Latin@ literature and film class I'm almost finished designing) and a Poe/Alcott senior seminar on the Gothic that will be next on my list of class plans. The third class will be a class I designed when I was a grad student on American Fear, and which I've taught twice at my small college on the hill, but which can be difficult to teach because I use critical lenses of gender, race, and sexuality to examine horror texts and some students resist the notion that you can actually find some meaning-making in what is supposed to be "entertaining." So we'll have to see how that goes.

But, for now, I'm not going to waste time anticipating what is so far in the future. Instead, I want to focus on the daily enjoyment of my time off after a challenging year of tenure review and directing Honors.

The end-of-term activities with the seniors were bittersweet since I am glad that they are embarking on their after-college life with what I know is a solid preparation. But it was also sad to know that I will no longer see some of them, especially those who have been "with me" (as students or advisees or both) since their first year four years ago. I will most especially miss those few students who took the time to tell me that my teaching had made a difference and how it had made a difference. Sometimes, as teachers, we think we clamor in the desert where no one hears or cares so it's nice when we do get positive and encouraging feedback, instead of the usual gripping about grades, or teaching style, or curricular choices. It's the students who notice that make it all worth while, and energize us for the students-to-come.

Now that one more, but important, year is over, it's time to slow down and smell the peonies, some of which, like the white ones above, are already displaying all their glory, and many of which are still unopened and eager to show us their marvelousness.

Since it's the season of graduations, I leave you with an adaptation of David Foster Wallace's now famous "This is Water" 2005 Commencement speech at my small college on the hill, one that the outgoing president yesterday described as probably the best such speech ever written or given. I hadn't heard it before but NPR did this story and the speech is just as described and more (of course, the saddest of ironies is that Wallace went on to commit suicide). Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

New reading

A new book on a beautiful day. A perfect combination.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Dorothy's Garden

For Mother's Day, my husband and I headed down to West Virginia, to the beautiful hill on which my parents-in-law live. There, my mother-in-law, who has the greenest thumb I've encountered on this side of the Atlantic, walked me through the beauties that she has growing all over their lovely property now that it's late spring.

Her irises, in particular, gave us quite a show, putting to shame my own irises at home. Mine haven't even bloomed yet even though it's already high time for irises. After that visit to my mother-in-law's garden, I've decided that I must replant my irises this fall since I've definitely located them in the wrong place (I think they have to compete too much with the peonies I have them planted next to).

While we walked around on this leisurely Sunday, and I admired the May beauty of The Hill, we came to where my beloved Rusty and Geni are buried. On a slope, overlooking the front of the property, which my two old satos loved so much. I miss those old dogs every day, and I'll be eternally grateful that my parents-in-law (who used to sit up with Rusty during thunderstorms, when they dog-sat for us, because he got so scared) allowed us to take them both there as their final resting place.

That's why my husband is so special. Because he comes from very special and loving people.

This Sunday was the first, since the end of the semester (which I welcomed with a flu-like cold that felled me for several days and then got my husband), that I felt relaxed and like break is really just around the corner. I had a first taste of what that will feel like and it was ever so sweet, like the lovely flowers in Dorothy's garden.