Sunday, October 21, 2007

dramatis personae

There is another kind of spiritual courage as well, quieter and less celebrated, but just as remarkable: that of making each day, in its most conventional aspects -- cooking, eating, breathing -- an oblation to the absolute.-- Philip Zaleski, "A Buddhist From Dublin", New York Times, July 24, 1994
**
I found this quote in my word of the day e-mail for OBLATION, which is an offering of thanks to a deity, which in some religions is an obligation.
**
Sunday morning is all about taking a breather, relaxing, doing laundry, morning rays on the couch, being thankful or life and health. I usually take stock of the week past and the one to come. Gotta lot to write this morning to make up for missing a day and not writing at all yesterday. No big deal. In lieu of creativity, I still need to transcribe Arizona Trail journals from last year. And I’ve got three more “dialogues” to write from my random pairings exercise. I am going to do a modified version of that for my advanced class. Over the course of the next two weeks, they are learning movie and stage craft terms, such as placements on a stage, different types of camera angles, etc., with a focus on their dramatic impact in a play or story.
**
In my lesson, they choose two characters from a pool of ten in one of five settings. Oh… the students are in groups of three (two characters and a narrator… remember, this lesson is connected to a Twilight Zone episode…). The narrator sets the scene, but at some point within the dialogue also has to “cue” various camera or stage craft effects. The instructions will include a list of directions and their effects. They have to have at least three. The dialogue can only be 1-2 minutes long. A page of writing is about all this requires.
**
We won’t get to this lesson until the week after next, which gives me plenty of time to figure it out in more detail and actually write the darn thing out. One of my other deadlines is to produce at least three original documents a week. I have not worried too much about my teacher portfolio requirements. I need to go over them with greater scrutiny and look at my pile of evidence to see what more I need to do to fulfill them.
**
I worked with Dr. Callahan three weeks beyond the end of the spring semester to get my portfolio evidence and reflections tweaked, through many drafts, to an almost error-free sheen. The lion’s share of the work associated with the portfolio was completed. And then in July my apartment got flooded and my teaching portfolio soaked. I dried the pages quickly, but they are wrinkled. Then my apartment got flooded again at the end of August and the portfolio a second soaking. So… I’ve got to recopy all the pages, re-do all the tabs and dividers, and keep my labels straight for the evidence. Oy. There goes another $20-30 just on copies. Soon. Soon. That albatross will be let off from around my neck.
**
This week I am going to work on my resume and register with Career, Planning and Placement services at NIU. That’s where my letters of recommendations will be sent. I’ve decided not to try for a spring semester secondary school teaching job because they are few and far between and I want to (hopefully) teach First Year Composition one more time and finish off the master’s degree. Regardless of whether or not I teach, I know next semester will be my last stab at involvement in Reavis Hall and academic life at NIU, and I want to go out with a flourish. My plan is to work my ass off, read everything for every class, meet with professors, live at Reavis, soak in its atmosphere (can’t tell I’m missing the place right now, though I was there last week), write, write, write, present at a couple conferences (always gotta think of the resume and, maybe, in the future, a curriculum vitae).
**
I want to cherish these moments. One of my major regrets from my undergraduate experience is that I went out in a whimper. I had a couple 3.5+ GPA semesters early on and always got good grades in history and journalism courses, but the required classes and classes I took just to make full-time status and be eligible for financial aid didn’t garner my interest, so I blew them off and suffered for it. I didn’t plan well. Didn’t know what I was doing. Never met with an academic advisor or used any of the ancillary services the university offered to help students plan their schedules and fulfill the requirements of the major. I didn’t do anything like that until my last year or so, when I knew graduation loomed.
**
And why didn’t I check? Hubris. Mr. stuck up prick know it all. That was me. Still is, to a certain degree, though I’ve been humbled by life and am now much less inclined to show off. I’ve also seen the value of second and third party advice.
**
For most people, getting a master’s degree from a state university is no big deal. Neither is the accomplishment as impressive to me as I once regarded it. But my educational path achieving it has been much more driven and direct, even though I never earned more than 12 credit hours a semester and it took seven semesters. That was the quickest I could go because it took a year of course work just to get into the teacher certification program and then to be on the two year track for that. I also had to go as a student-at-large for a year and earn a 3.25 GPA or higher in 12 hours or more of graduate courses. I think at the end of tumultuous 2005 my GPA was 3.8. I got my letter of acceptance into the graduate school in spring 2006.
**
My crappy 2.52 undergrad GPA was behind me. [I remember applying for journalism jobs and only listing my GPA in major coursework, which was, I believe, close to 3.5]. I understand now why I struggled so much as an undergrad, an admixture of partying, no sense of study skills, diversionary intellectual interests, including working nearly full-time at The Northern Star and always, forever, many books.

No comments: