I just finished my Charlotte Gilman paper about an hour ago. Soon after, I got an email from one of my students this quarter who’d been absent from class the last few weeks. He apologized for the absences, explaining that his best friend had died recently in Iraq.

Wow, that puts paper-writing stress in its insignificant place. Then it sent me back to 1985, when I was still an undergrad, and my best friend Sandy died very suddenly. I remember struggling to get my work done. I remember my Victorian Literature prof finding out later that semester about Sandy’s death and with a bit of exasperation in her voice, saying, “Why didn’t you tell me??” I don’t remember why I didn’t. I think I didn’t think a friend’s death qualified me for any special treatment.

He also said that he wanted to take my WR 121 again in winter or spring because I am “one of the best writing teachers [he’s] had.” To that I found myself immediately thinking, “Oh, he’s just saying that, something to say in an email it’s awkward to write in the first place.” Then I pictured him in class and remembered it was him who more than once I noticed listening very intently to what I was saying. I think I even mentioned one of those moments in my blog posts earlier this term. So now I believe him. Something about the way I would explain things click with or interested him. Sad, though, that my first response was to dismiss his compliment. I gotta work on my confidence!

I feel for him, anyway. I hope I do get to work with him next term or Spring.


2 thoughts on “perspective

  1. Will he be able to the take the course in the winter or spring with OSU’s stupid last-name policy for WR121?

    And develop that confidence! :) (though it’s always good to be wary of those compliments; sometimes they’re great rhetorical moves to butter you up, but probably not in this situation.)

  2. Hey, Michael.
    I believe he just needs to get an “alpha-override” or some such thing. My class is filled up for winter, but I told him he could get on a wait list and, since the class is in the afternoon, I might lose one or two people.
    Thanks re the confidence.:)
    And yeah, that’s kind of what I was thinking, too: that those compliments are easy to throw around when you want your instructor to be in a good mood. But, yeah, in this case, he wasn’t asking for anything (except maybe forgiveness).

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