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Monday, March 26, 2012

Of Food, The Facebook, Fantasy Sports, and Former Students--Life Is Good, You Know?

It's back to Real Life for me, I promise.  And with a vengeance.  Temps here have levelled off and although it's sunshiny and green outdoors, a quick step beyond the warm confines of the Dept. interior and I'm smacked in the yap with 44 degrees of More Sensibly March In NEO Weather.  And that's okay.  This is still the first winter in which I haven't had to wear my heavy coat more than twice.

A whole bunch of doodads have been bustling around in my brain this week.  I'm turning them loose for your consideration.

^)(^ Station KCRA of California, in an apparently slow news cycle, polled its listeners? viewers? fans regarding their most hated foods.  Of the list of 25, astonishingly, several are actually my favorite foods.  And of those remaining, I can honestly say that I would refuse to eat only two (okra and oysters).  Three of the most hated were actually on the menu of my childhood pretty much every Monday night during the school year--liver and onions, and lima beans.  I am not overly fond of:  raisins, tofu, and buttermilk (to drink), but I wouldn't say I hate them. I cook with raisins and buttermilk. Tofu...eh.  Not a fan.  I almost wept to see avocados on the list, and who could hate mushrooms?  And, really, peas?  Dear little peas?  Do NOT get me started on broccoli.  Or sour cream. What is wrong with America?

^)(^ Of course, you all know how I feel about The Facebook.  Apparently, however, I am on The Facebook completely against my will and on The Twitter as well.  This is thanks to my children, Sam and Jared, who have been so helpfully and kindly posting some of my text message conversations with them on their TwitFace accounts.  As you may recall, I am the owner of a Fantasy Basketball Team (and I made the playoffs, too, beating Jared out of a spot).  Many times, we discuss trades and do a little "trash talking" via text.  You may also recall that I can be rather profane colorful in my speech when I am...impassioned.  The boys think it is "funny" to post these on their TwitFace accounts where many of my former students see them and then make comments like, "I love your mom" and "The next time I see your mom, Imma gonna ask her to marry me" and "Ask your mom if she wants to be an owner in the NFL fantasy league" and "I love me some Ms D" and "I wish I could talk to my mom like that, that shit be crazy."  Again--and some of you want me to be on The Facebook! 

^)(^ Speaking of former students, I had an experience with one last week that reaffirmed for me just how privileged I was to have worked with my creative writers.  I had Eric in the 80s when I first started the creative writing program at my high school.  He swore he wouldn't write any stupid poetry, that all he wanted to do was write Stephen King-type stuff.  Long story short, I begged and got him to take my class.  He was brilliant, and we went on to continue a writer/editor relationship that developed into a deep friendship.  His work has appeared in a myriad of magazines; he has had a novella published as well as a couple of collections of poetry.  For years he made time to teach my class, many times for free, for a week.  Last week, he invited me to teach his.  I presented for a couple of hours on the topic of creative nonfiction using my blogs as examples.  Eric also presented me with an artist's copy of his latest book.  As usual, I burst into tears.  "You didn't even see the best part," he admonished me.  Turning to a flyleaf, he held it open, and showed me.  It was dedicated to me.

It's become fashionable to have a Life List, an inventory of places to visit or things to experience before Time Is Up.  I'm not a fan. I know myself too well.  Driven by Crossing Things Off, like so many To Dos or Chores, I'd lose sight of the Spontaneous Wonderfuls, like Having A Book Dedicated To Me, or Not Wearing A Coat In The Winter, or Owning A Fantasy Team, or even Trying Okra One More Time.

14 comments:

  1. Oh how I wish you were on The Facebook! You could just pop on & say something pithy & then pop off again. Really! I wouldn't even make you look at our moon pictures or pictures of the sparrows in our back yard.

    That dedication is so sweet. I loved my creative writing professor in college, but I don't even know if she's still alive. Sigh.

    I like okra but I can't really advocate for it. I've eaten it batter dipped & fried. I've eaten it boiled with chicken & tomatoes (oh the slime! & this was Zambia so we were eating it with our hands.). It's just something I grew up eating, so you don't have to.

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  2. So. Md.8:09 AM

    Congrats, on being acknowledged by your former student who is paying it forward.

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  3. Nance,

    As your previous commenter has pointed out it is wonderful to be acknowledged by a former student.

    We went to Broadway to see Sutton Foster star in "Thoroughly Modern Millie" a few years ago.

    At the final curtain call she stepped forward and announced that her High School Drama Coach was in the audience and asked him to stand.

    The audience gave him a hearty round of applause and the poor man had to wipe the tears out of his eyes as he thanked Miss Foster and her audience for the recognition.

    It was a lovely gesture on her part.

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  4. My kid put me on Facebook too. Fascinating, in a strange, surreal kind of way.
    Wonderful to hear you got a well-deserved payback.

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  5. Mary G--I realize that, in a way, Sam and Jared are simply doing the same thing I do here--using me for TwitFace fodder the way I use them for blogfodder. It feels different to me somehow, though. Like my Almighty Principles have been violated. LOL.

    Nancy--Exactly. So many of us are deeply invested in our students. Not just the ones who may go on to Fame And Fortune, either. We are honestly touched by simply being remembered so many years later, and to be thanked? Good heavens. That is the Ultimate. It's so simple, yet so profound. Go thank a former teacher--either yours or your kid's or grandkid's. You'll see what I mean, every time.

    So. Md.--Thank you. You know as well as I do that gestures like that can make up for a lot.

    **Additional Commentary**
    Yesterday, the first responders and some teachers and school employees from Chardon, Ohio, went to the Ohio statehouse to be recognized for their lifesaving efforts after the tragic shootings at the high school. They were given a standing ovation by the legislature and were later feted at the mansion by the governor. These are the same lawmakers who championed Senate Bill 5, which sought to toss out collective bargaining and severely curtail other rights of public employees, including provisions that would negatively impact their pensions. The governor and other republicans at the time of the pending legislation accused teachers and firefighters and police officers of abusing the public payroll and getting rich on the backs of Ohio's unemployed. The entire community of Chardon has displayed nothing but grace and patience throughout all phases of their sad ordeal. This was no exception. Not only did they support their teachers and school community during and immediately following the tragedy, but they also did they same with law enforcement and the judicial system. Everyone can take a lesson.

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  6. You DO need to be on Facebook. Really. It would be so much more lively and interesting with your comments and posts, not to mention Jared and Sam's.

    And wow, congratulations to Eric on his latest book and to you on mentoring him over the years and earning that dedication. That is more than lovely and the best gift to give a teacher and friend.

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  7. V--Your flattery is lovely. Aren't there billions of individuals on FB? It's insane to think I'd make a difference, but your sentiments are so kind. Thank you.

    Poetry certainly isn't "paying the rent", so to speak, but many of my formers are recognized/published poets and writers. Not because of me, of course, but I like to think I added a few tools to their toolboxes and gave them some encouragement along the way just in case their fires ever sputtered. Boy, I'll tell you, if pride paid the rent, I could have retired years ago.

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  8. I just went over to read Eric's poem Permanent Lessons. It is both amazing and haunting. How wonderful to have been able to mentor a student like that and then have him dedicate his book to you. Equally wonderful, of course, to think of all the students you have no doubt inspired over the years--- the ones who thank you and even the ones who don't. They remember, and they carry that gift with them always. That's what makes teaching so rewarding, in spite of all the useless administrative baggage that goes with the job.

    FB and Twitter: I have accounts on both and rarely use either one. My only reason for getting on FB was to locate long lost friends and for that it has been successful to a degree that I did not even imagine. Not that it was a large number of people, just a few that the years, geographical distance, and outdated address books had made scarce or absent. For the rest— I'm too busy with other stuff to keep up a constant running commentary on what goes through my mind and my life. For those who blog, it's really a choice: you can FB and send out twitterances on a regular basis or you can devote your energy to blogging about similar things less frequently, but, IMHO, taking it to a higher level if you are a blogger. I'm glad you have chosen to blog and just live vicariously through FB and TwitWit.

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  9. Ortizzle--That poem I linked to is the one of his currently available on the Interwebs that I thought was most representative of his talents. I read through his book "Parable...Spinning" one night when I was unable to sleep. One of the poems in it was so poignant that I started crying. His ability to capture our innate humanity, our most vulnerable moments, and put them into metaphor so eloquently takes my breath away. I am constantly stunned by how good he is.

    Thanks so much for your support and encouragement re: my efforts here and at The Brian Williams Tie Report. Some days I despair at the fact that I'm not "really doing anything" with either one--i.e. promoting, "branding", all that bullshit, but honestly, the minutae and Kardashiania of TwitFacing necessary for it is, to me, very off-putting. For those of my friends and family who use FB to keep up with and reconnect with lost or distant souls, it really has been a terrific blessing. My Aunt Shirley, for example, says she cannot reach a few of her own grandkids except through a FB shout-out. (If that were Sam or Jared, oh well. They can say goodbye to homecooking.) As for me, that is not something I have a need to do at this point. Could that change? I guess. I mean, I also said I would never have a smartphone, and I have one now. Sigh. ARE WE CLOSE TO THE APOCALYPSE?

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  10. I don't know where I was that I didn't comment on this - I remember reading it. I can't even use my boss as an excuse because he was on vacation last week. Hmm...

    Anyway, the dedication made me cry. Sigh. Also, I wish I'd had you as a creative writing teacher!

    You know, I now vaguely remember typing things like you SHOULD be on FB... but maybe that was a prior post. I don't know - shutting up now!

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  11. Bug x2--Your initial comment got trapped in Blogger's spam filter, and I have no idea why. You've commented here for eons, and others have gotten through--LIKE THE LAST ONE--so I am at a loss.

    ANYWAY...

    Thank you for saying that you wish I had been your creative writing teacher. That is lovelier than you know.

    And thank you also for Taking The Okra Bullet for me. I'll take your word for the fact that trying okra again isn't really worth it and let it alone for Time Immemorial. If I happen upon some, I'll take a taste, but I won't go out of my way to buy, make, or introduce myself to it. You seem pretty amenable to most foods, and if okra can't make its case to you, then the hell with it.

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  12. I wouldn't go out of my way to eat Okra or a few others on the list...but the only one I truly dislike is liver. I've tried it, and it just tastes wrong to me. You can have mine, and I'll eat your oysters, OK?

    I think that your former student dedicating his book to you is the most wonderful thing ever. Teachers can make such a huge difference to their students, and it's wonderful when that is recognized and rewarded. Congratulations. I have a few teachers who taught me a lot about life, about living it honestly and with integrity, and how to openly care for those around you. One English teacher, and three math teachers. And I didn't even like math.

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  13. Nance, that dedication is truly a lovely act. I can only imagine how much you gave to Eric in his early stages of writing. As he's demonstrated in his dedication, one never forgets that kind of encouragement from and faith of another. Enjoyed all in this post. I'm on Facebook and while I'd love to see what you'd inject there, my advice is to continue to stay away. The best that could come out of that is getting more material for your blog and I don't think you're ever lacking in that area. ;-)

    Shirley

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  14. Shirley--Re: FB. That's pretty much my take on it as well. I feel as if the bad would outweigh the good, and I honestly don't know what I'd really get from it that I don't get here on the positive side.

    J.@jj--You know, I just told my mom that for my birthday next month, rather than send me the usual flowers for her gift, I'd like her instead to come over and make me liver and onions for dinner. She said, "I don't know if I remember how I used to do it." !!! We figured it had been probably at least thirty or thirty-five years since she had made it for the family. Rick said it might be like riding a bike: once we got the ingredients in front of her,she'd just instinctively start making it. Hee hee.

    Anyway.

    As far as past teachers, I had a couple of math teachers--and, trust me, math is such an anathema to me, too--who were very kind and good-natured. I think because math is so difficult for so many people, they sometimes become one of two ways, either nasty cold or warmly parental. English teachers, though--we're all a bit nuts. I still would rather keep company with other English teachers than almost anyone else in the world.

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