Thursday, May 26, 2005

Doin' the Wireless Thing...

In Boston, no less! This is my second trip in the last two weeks--five days in Austin, six at home. I left for Boston yesterday and will be here until Sunday, May 29th.

Are airplanes getting smaller? I'm not a huge person, but I could barely get me and my carry on bag and my purse into the space that was my "seat" on either plane, though, really, I had more room on the prop plane from Shreveport to Dallas than I did on the plane from Dallas to Boston. I felt really cramped. And, for what they charge for tickets, they could give us more than a thin bag of pretzels and coffee or juice. Plus, the flight was overbooked because the flight before mine was cancelled. I love to fly, but I need to figure out how to upgrade to business class without spending a fortune.

I'm in the Boston Public Library on Dartmouth Street, across from the hotel where I'm staying. The lower lobby boasts murals painted by John Singer Sargeant and, get this, ANYONE can get a library card that will give her access to the Internet FREE. My hotel wants to charge $10.95 a day for DSL, which is a ripoff, but, I guess if you don't want to hobnob with the common folk, you'll pay any price. It's quiet in here, the staff is friendly, the courtyard garden has a gorgeous pool, and there's even a coffeeshop that's open until 5pm. Imagine that--a coffee shop in a library--but you still can't bring your food or drink into the library proper. The signal here is incredibly strong and I'm really enjoying being away from the conference I'm attending--the American Literature Association. I love the conference, but, after a while, I need a break from academic types and some peace and quiet.

The session I'm chairing is at 8am tomorrow (Friday), so I'm hoping to get a good night's sleep and a light knosh before the panel starts. And, speaking of food, we've had some good stuff. Ate a great hamburger at the Globe yesterday and interesting Japanese at a restaurant called Kaya today. I like to be adventurous with food when I'm out of town since I hardly get much variety in S'port or in my little town.

And for those of you who have been waiting, Mr. Lester's produce stand is opened. His hours are generally 8 am or so until around 4:30 or 5pm, Mon.-Sat.; he's not opened on Sundays. I think he even has some peaches right now, tomatoes and squash; he also sells local honey, so you might want to check that out too. I haven't been yet because I've been travelling, but I'm sure I'll stop by when I'm planning to stay at home for a while! Enjoy!
Now that I have wifi access, I'll try to write more in the next day or two. Later!

Thursday, May 05, 2005

The End of Days

I'm always sad when a semester ends. While I enjoy planning for my upcoming classes, I find it difficult to let go of the current ones. I've come to know my students, most of whom--not all of them, but most--are intelligent, funny, and determined to give their best to their classes. I'm excited by their growth, by the changes in their writing and their attitudes, by the camaraderie they have developed during their shared class experience.

They move on; I move on. But I'm heartened when I see those bright-eyed freshman, who entered my class four years earlier, graduate. They've matured, they've learned, they've put in their time, and they are ready to go out into the wide world and make it their own.

If, as a teacher, I can touch one of them, make even one of them approach the world with a more inquiring mind, then maybe I've done something. If I can help them to think for themselves, I've done something. Every once in a while, a former student will come to visit me, long after he or she has left my class, to thank me. Sometimes, it happens after a year; sometimes, after four. But, every once in a while, I get something like this from a current student:

"But from you Ms. Smith, I learned that college teachers have interesting lives, too! Most of us could relate to you because you work more than one job and you also work with the general public like so many students do. I don't know if you or anyone else realizes it, but I feel that I got more out of lessons in your class than what I have to pay back in student loans. And you taught us in a way that forced us to teach ourselves. You did not "tell" us what we had to observe or take away from any assignment. Thank you for doing more than what you set out to do, even if you meant for it to be that way."

And that is why I teach--not for money, or for prizes--but for that.