End of my last planning week

FullSizeRender (1)It is actually bittersweet (more sweet than bitter) that this is the last time I will experience a planning week. I will be retiring this June and will never again have to sit through so many meetings about lockers and tech requests and behavioral expectations. There will not be as many addresses I will have to listen to (all intending to be inspiring) in a four day span.

Planning week is over and the classroom is ready — lots of former students’ artwork on the walls, cleaned tables and desks, shelves rearranged, papers and books organized, a general purging of materials. These next weeks, however, with vibrant and spirited adolescents, are really what matter.

Here is to my last year of formal teaching. I am excited and a bit sad. I look forward to the unfolding of this next piece of my journey and am attentive and open to wherever it will lead.

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“First Faculty Meeting of the Year” by Lisa Nikolidakis

WebAndy Thomason , a writer at The Chronicle, is actually collecting images of this completed bingo card, originally posted on McSweeneys. After your first faculty meeting (if you are so inclined), send your image to andy.thomason@chronicle.com and follow up with The Chronicle where he will post the “best of.”

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“For Sixty Cents” by Lydia Davis

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“Magdalene — The Seven Devils” by Marie Howe

“Mary, called Magdalene, from whom seven devils had been cast out” —Luke 8:2.

The first was that I was very busy.
The second — I was different from you: whatever happened to you could
not happen to me, not like that.

The third — I worried.
The fourth — envy, disguised as compassion.
The fifth was that I refused to consider the quality of life of the aphid,
The aphid disgusted me. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it.
The mosquito too — its face. And the ant — its bifurcated body.

Ok the first was that I was so busy.
The second that I might make the wrong choice,
because I had decided to take that plane that day,
that flight, before noon, so as to arrive early
and, I shouldn’t have wanted that.
The third was that if I walked past the certain place on the street
the house would blow up.
The fourth was that I was made of guts and blood with a thin layer
of skin lightly thrown over the whole thing.

The fifth was that the dead seemed more alive to me than the living

The sixth — if I touched my right arm I had to touch my left arm, and if I touched the
left arm a little harder than I’d first touched the right then I had to retouch the left and
then touch the right again so it would be even.

The seventh — I knew I was breathing the expelled breath of everything that
was alive and I couldn’t stand it,

I wanted a sieve, a mask, a, I hate this word — cheesecloth —
to breath through that would trap it — whatever was inside everyone else that
entered me when I breathed in

No. That was the first one.

The second was that I was so busy. I had no time. How had this happened?
How had our lives gotten like this?

The third was that I couldn’t eat food if I really saw it — distinct, separate
from me in a bowl or on a plate.

Ok. The first was that I could never get to the end of the list.

The second was that the laundry was never finally done.

The third was that no one knew me, although they thought they did.
And that if people thought of me as little as I thought of them then what was
love?

The fourth was I didn’t belong to anyone. I wouldn’t allow myself to belong
to anyone.

The fifth was that I knew none of us could ever know what we didn’t know.

The sixth was that I projected onto others what I myself was feeling.

The seventh was the way my mother looked when she was dying—the sound she made– her mouth wrenched to the right and cupped open so as to take in as much air…
The gurgling sound — so loud we had to speak louder 
to hear each other over it.

And that I couldn’t stop hearing it—years later—
grocery shopping, crossing the street —

No, not the sound — it was her body’s hunger
finally evident.
—what our mother had hidden all her life.

For months I dreamt of knucklebones and roots,
the slabs of sidewalk pushed up like crooked teeth by what grew underneath.

The underneath —that was the first devil.
It was always with me.
And that I didn’t think you — if I told you — would understand any of this —

Copyright © 2008 by Marie Howe.

 

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Summer Ensos

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She was an optimist

IMG_2068On our road trip to Bloomington Indiana this summer (ultimately to attend a wedding), I discovered this tombstone in a small cemetery, Dunn Cemetery, between the student union and the small Beck Chapel on the campus of Indiana University. It seemed so very odd that smack in the middle of the campus was this 197 year old cemetery with some pretty worn, tilting, moss-covered, barely readable stones. Except for a few. The one pictured above belongs to Doris Marie Seward, who, as is noted, died in 1999. She was convinced she would live into the 21st century so had her stone engraved with a “2” and a “0.” She missed the 21st century by only two months.

The Dunn family farm and its family cemetery was sold to the University after the university burned down in 1883, that is, all was sold except for the family graveyard which legally the University cannot touch. George Dunn, son of the original Dunns who owned the land, made sure the deed was air-tight and the university has honored it, though it has grown all around it. Doris Marie Seward is related to one of three sisters, known as the three revolutionary war heroines—Elinor Dunn, Agnes Alexander, and Jennet Irwin, to whom the cemetery is dedicated and no one who is not related to these sisters (Brewster sisters) can be buried there. These three sisters  provided food and woolen clothing for the soldiers during the terrible winters of the revolutionary war. The cemetery commemorates their dedication and loyalty to Washington and his troops. Seward is related through Jennet Irwin’s line.

Doris Marie Seward graduated from IU in 1938 and went on to get her masters and her doctorate at Syracuse University. She was an education professor and a dean at several universities including Purdue University and Kentucky University, and served in a variety of educational organizations and in a number of different administrative roles. Quite a few achievements for a woman born in 1917. And she was an optimist. Indeed.

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“A Tale of Momentum and Inertia”

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