Thursday, January 28, 2010

just have to say

I just have to say: with blurry, burny eyeballs and arms sore from holding tomes and taking notes and a back stiff from funky bended positions over stacks of books and annotations, I am wild alive today. I am wild alert. I am full of books and words and ideas, rubbed raw with the materiality of pages, papercut and ink-smudged and tea-drowned.

I kept tripping over my own feet in class today, reminded that I am body and not just mind. I mean, I tripped over my own feet more than usual. I gave the quiz and stood leaning on the podium watching 38 hands scribble, listening to the sound of those pens and pencils on that paper, watching them skim and scan printouts of ancient women's writing, and copying lines and explaining them, synthesizing, and my heart welled up. I literally bit my lip to keep from telling them how beautiful they were, the lot of them, doing this scribal work of learning, attending to those words on those pages (so often overlooked), looking. J Hillis Miller says that scarcely anyone ever reads--it's too hard, he says. Other things are more interesting. But really reading, really, really reading, is what I am trying to learn to do. It is what I am trying to teach. And this afternoon I felt as though I were watching the learning.

This is what I mean when I say I am wild alive. I am a teacher! I am a scholar! I am a writer! I am a friend, with people who are friends back, who buzz my door at dinnertime and climb three flights of stairs to bring me warm dinners, with magical components like spiced bread crumbs and alfredo sauce and brown-crisped cheese. I am a friend, with friends who give me little notes, and glass bottles of green iced tea, and who send me emails with messages about how I know things and shouldn't worry.

Let us hope I know enough of the things I'm supposed to know. On Monday, and Wednesday, and Friday, and Monday, we will find out. What I do know is this: I am fragile yet upheld. I am tucked behind piles of papers and books, a little fuzzy on the social end of things just now, trying to hold it together. I am doing what I love, and I am being held together. And I am wild alive.

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