Yesterday a very "weedy" day--in the sense that I woke up with the glums and felt like "a weed by the wall," as Emerson says, well into the evening. A few bright points, though, including some good hard work out back in the garden, digging post holes, and a very pleasant guitar lesson, which I'd originally planned to cancel, since I hadn't had time to practice. Evidently the focus I need to play "Blue Monk," even quite badly, is enough to take my mind out of its blue grooves.
Today, by contrast, I woke up in a rather chipper mood, and have managed to keep myself fed and watered well enough to be, if not a "God in nature," at least a hardy and flourishing and cheerful sort of weed. A dandelion, perhaps.
My popular romance class meets from 2:40-4:10 pm. It's not a particularly lively time slot; in fact, many of my colleagues avoid it, because the students tend to be sleepy, as do their professors. Monday I had that problem, despite the lovely Thai iced coffee I'd had for lunch, or maybe because of it. (The timing was off, I suspect--caffeine peaked too early, then faded mid-class, and the sugar rush wore off as well.) Today I had a lighter lunch and brought a mug of coffee right into class, to sip as I taught, and things went much better, at least at my end. The one thing I forgot to do was check my little pedometer before and after class--I'm curious how many steps I take, pacing about as I teach!
Even though many students hadn't finished the novel we were wrapping up this afternoon (Beverly Jenkins' Something Like Love), I had a fun day teasing out some ideas about it with the ones who had, and I came to some new insights about the book as well, on the fly, which is my favorite kind of class. Two of those ideas were quite unplanned and unnoted (in my own notes, I mean), so I think I'll put them here for safekeeping.
The first has to do with the way this novel displaces the "Point of Ritual Death" from its central love story--which never really seems in danger--to the secondary plot revolving around our heroine's parents. At least, I think that's what happens: I said so in class, but I was speaking off the cuff; I'd have to reread that portion of the novel to check, but it's worth investigating.
The second is about the way this novel ends up being as much about its father / daughter plot as about its central love story--"about" in the sense of "emotionally centered on," I guess I mean, and I should add that this means "emotionally centered on, for me." That plot takes up very little of the novel, page for page, but it's quite interesting, psychologically, and of course since this was the first romance novel that my own daughter read, there's some personal resonance as well.
Most sessions in my Teaching Popular Culture class this quarter have had a guest speaker, and tonight's is no exception: it's a talk on teaching non-fiction prose (journalism, etc.) in popular culture, with an eye to the new Common Core standards that schools are adopting. I have no idea what our guest will say, but she's an alumna of my poetry teaching seminars, and has visited my classes in the past to talk about teaching poetry through performance. The tricky part will be what to do with the final 90 minutes of class--I really have no idea what we'll discuss, so I've run off a piece from Slate.com about the literary status of books with "likeable characters" and will fall back on that, if need be.
Time to make a cup of coffee and prepare!
Eileen was wonderful--details to follow. Very good end to day. :)