Crafting for Spinsters (And Their Cats): The Tea Tin Cactus Planter

This is the second installment in a series I like to call Crafting for Spinsters (and Their Cats).  The first installment is here, if you’re interested.  As an addendum to that installment, may I mention that the combination of super glue and sealant hasn’t exploded.  Yet.  You’re welcome.

If you’re anything like me, you spend most of your time mocking Urban Outfitters for being the purveyors of ridiculously priced faux-artisanal goods for poseur way-too-into-mustaches-and-I-can’t-even-tell-if-it’s-ironic-anymore hipsters.  And, if you’re anything like me, you spend the rest of your time giving Urban Outfitters half of your paycheck.  This also means that you are constantly checking your e-mail for announcements about sales on ridiculously priced faux-artisanal goods, because, as the saying goes, it’s totally okay if it’s on sale.  I’m pretty sure Abraham Lincoln said that.  Anyway, if you are this kind of person, you have probably seen this:

Don't be fooled: this isn't a photograph of any of my dorm rooms from the 1990s.  You can tell by the absence of Tori Amos posters and multiple copies of Sylvia Plath's Ariel.

Don’t be fooled: this isn’t a photograph of any of my dorm rooms from the 1990s. You can tell by the absence of Tori Amos posters and multiple copies of Sylvia Plath’s Ariel.

That’s right, y’all: succulents are hot.  Also, fifty-dollar skull candles and Mason jar sippy-cups are apparently important parts of gardening with succulents.  Let’s just keep that as a note right now.

Pretty soon after I obsessively studied this important missive from Urban Outfitters and pretended to be totally annoyed by it, this pin showed up on Pinterest (which I also am obsessively devoted to because you never know when you’re going to need to make it look like a tiny, obnoxious elf destroyed your house):

Oh, that's right.  Links.  This is from this.

Oh, that’s right. Links. This is from this.

 

And I was like, Let’s do this.

Here are the supplies you will need for this craft project.  It is very important to wear knock-off Crocs because they imply that you are very, very serious about getting sh*t DONE, so serious that you are not planning to leave the house until said sh*t is DONE, thus the shoes you can’t leave your house in.  That way, if anyone comes by and is like, Hey, Emma, why haven’t you left the house in the past seven years or whatever?  Then you can be like, Hey, Judgey McJudgerson, I’ve been up in here getting sh*t DONE, and you know how you can tell? I’m wearing getting sh*t DONE shoes.  Peace.

Here are the supplies you will need for this craft project. It is very important to wear knock-off Crocs because they imply that you are very, very serious about getting sh*t DONE, so serious that you are not planning to leave the house until said sh*t is DONE, thus the shoes you can’t leave your house in. That way, if anyone comes by and is like, Hey, Emma, why haven’t you left the house in the past seven years or whatever? Then you can be like, Hey, Judgey McJudgerson, I’ve been up in here getting sh*t DONE, and you know how you can tell? I’m wearing getting sh*t DONE shoes. Peace.

First, take the Jasmine tea tin you luckily haven’t thrown out since your ex-boyfriend brought it over to your apartment years ago because he apparently thought you were that kind of people.  Which was really nice, you know, so you were like, Awww, thank you, even though secretly you were like, What the hell?  All I drink is Diet Coke, Folger’s Simply Smooth, and the occasional wine cooler.  IT’S AS IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME AT ALL.

First, take the Jasmine tea tin you luckily haven’t thrown out since your ex-boyfriend brought it over to your apartment years ago because he apparently thought you were that kind of people. Which was really nice, you know, so you were like, Awww, thank you, even though secretly you were like, What the hell? All I drink is Diet Coke, Folger’s Simply Smooth, and the occasional wine cooler. IT’S AS IF YOU DON’T KNOW ME AT ALL.

If you look at the bottom of the tea tin, you’ll see your distorted self staring hauntingly back at you as if it doesn’t know you at all, which is a really good metaphor for the end of a relationship, when you think about it.  So you should think about it.  But not too long, unless you have an occasional wine cooler on hand.

If you look at the bottom of the tea tin, you’ll see your distorted self staring hauntingly back at you as if it doesn’t know you at all, which is a really good metaphor for the end of a relationship, when you think about it. So you should think about it. But not too long, unless you have an occasional wine cooler on hand.

It’s important that your tea tin provide proper drainage for all of the times that you forget that you watered your cactus, like, two hours ago and water it again, so that your cactus doesn’t rot from the inside and then just sort of sadly collapse, like your dream of being a weather girl.  Take a rusty screw you have lying around and a hammer and use them to poke holes in the bottom of the tea tin.*  You can use the tea tin’s lid as a dish to catch any excess water, and you should feel extremely proud of this moment of efficiency. *Actually you probably shouldn’t do this at all, because this might actually be dangerous.  But, then again, if you’ve had a tetanus shot recently, you don’t want to waste it, right?

It’s important that your tea tin provide proper drainage for all of the times that you forget that you watered your cactus, like, two hours ago and water it again, so that your cactus doesn’t rot from the inside and then just sort of sadly collapse, like your dream of being a weather girl. Take a rusty screw you have lying around and a hammer and use them to poke holes in the bottom of the tea tin.* You can use the tea tin’s lid as a dish to catch any excess water, and you should feel extremely proud of this moment of efficiency.
*Actually you probably shouldn’t do this at all, because this might actually be dangerous. But, then again, if you’ve had a tetanus shot recently, you don’t want to waste it, right?

 

Look at this.  Isn’t it cute?  It’s a cactus with a brighter, trendier cactus grafted on the top (according to Urban Outfitters, neon is, like, so hot right now) (for lame hipsters).  And it turns out that now, cacti come in these little plastic pots with handles on them, like tiny and fashionable safety accessories.  You should probably try to figure that out before you gingerly pick it up from the bottom and everyone at Wal-Mart is like, What is wrong with you? (Not that you bought this cactus at Wal-Mart, because that would be lame.)

Look at this. Isn’t it cute? It’s a cactus with a brighter, trendier cactus grafted on the top (according to Urban Outfitters, neon is, like, so hot right now) (for lame hipsters). And it turns out that now, cacti come in these little plastic pots with handles on them, like tiny and fashionable safety accessories. You should probably try to figure that out before you gingerly pick it up from the bottom and everyone at Wal-Mart is like, What is wrong with you? (Not that you bought this cactus at Wal-Mart, because that would be lame.)

Now it’s time to panic a little that the cactus won’t actually fit inside of the tea tin.  After that, it’s time to think about how you really should have thought of that before.  Then, it’s time to decide that you are going to make the cactus fit into the tea tin, no matter what, which means it’s time to panic a little about how you are going to get the cactus inside of the tea tin without lacerating your hands so badly that you look like one of the illustrations of lepers that seemed to be on every page of your catechism book when you went to Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School.  So you are going to need gloves, and those gloves need to be cute, which is the most important part of this step.   That may seem deceptively unimportant, but, I can assure you, that is pure deception.  You need to get some cute gardening gloves because there is nothing more important, in any situation, than accessories.  Coco Chanel once said that "It is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure," but I like to think about accessories a little more concretely.  Accessories are absolutely necessary, because, if paired with a chunky bracelet and a fashionable belt, no one will be able to tell that you’re wearing your pajamas.  Coco Chanel said that, too.

Now it’s time to panic a little that the cactus won’t actually fit inside of the tea tin. After that, it’s time to think about how you really should have thought of that before. Then, it’s time to decide that you are going to make the cactus fit into the tea tin, no matter what, which means it’s time to panic a little about how you are going to get the cactus inside of the tea tin without lacerating your hands so badly that you look like one of the illustrations of lepers that seemed to be on every page of your catechism book when you went to Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic School. So you are going to need gloves, and those gloves need to be cute, which is the most important part of this step.
That may seem deceptively unimportant, but, I can assure you, that is pure deception. You need to get some cute gardening gloves because there is nothing more important, in any situation, than accessories. Coco Chanel once said that “It is the unseen, unforgettable, ultimate accessory of fashion that heralds your arrival and prolongs your departure,” but I like to think about accessories a little more concretely. Accessories are absolutely necessary, because, if paired with a chunky bracelet and a fashionable belt, no one will be able to tell that you’re wearing your pajamas. Coco Chanel said that, too.

This last step may be the most important.  Remember, social media was invented so that you can show other people that you’re better than them, or at least that you’re stable enough to do crafts, even if you’ve worn your pajamas with a chunky bracelet and a fashionable belt for three months straight.  Therefore, it is essential to photograph your craft and show it to as many people on the Internet as possible.  Otherwise, what’s the point?  Oh, that’s right.  NONE.  There is NO POINT.  Find the one surface in your house that doesn’t look like it’s part of a still from Grey Gardens and set your craft up there.  You’ll need to arrange a little vignette by placing other objects near the craft.  Make sure that they’re kind of vintage-y and used in witty and unexpected ways, like this milk glass hand-me-down filled with colored pencils, or a Mason jar sippy-cup filled with wine coolers.

This last step may be the most important. Remember, social media was invented so that you can show other people that you’re better than them, or at least that you’re stable enough to do crafts, even if you’ve worn your pajamas with a chunky bracelet and a fashionable belt for three months straight. Therefore, it is essential to photograph your craft and show it to as many people on the Internet as possible. Otherwise, what’s the point? Oh, that’s right. NONE. There is NO POINT. Find the one surface in your house that doesn’t look like it’s part of a still from Grey Gardens and set your craft up there. You’ll need to arrange a little vignette by placing other objects near the craft. Make sure that they’re kind of vintage-y and used in witty and unexpected ways, like this milk glass hand-me-down filled with colored pencils, or a Mason jar sippy-cup filled with wine coolers. Add a moody Instagram filter and a caption that implies that everything is totally fine and organized inside of your house and your mind, hit post, and then refresh every five minutes while watching Bridezillas so you can judge people.

 

 

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“Home Is So Sad.”

I’ve found myself, as of late, sort of wandering around town in various levels of being totally disheveled and/or confused about everything, then saying to people, “I’m sorry, I just moved.”  It’s something I’ve said for the past few weeks and something I will probably keep saying for the next few, well, years.  Because, let’s face it, moving is both the best and the worst.  It’s a chance at starting fresh in a new place, one that isn’t packed to the crown molding with memories.  But it also means living in a totally new place, and one that’s unfamiliar, all the way to the crown molding.  Every inch of every corner is a surprise.  And, if you happen to live in a college town, as I do, the surprises aren’t always exactly pleasant.  As in, Surprise!  You can’t use your kitchen cabinets because they smell like the grim specter of death!  Surprise, you can’t use your bathroom cabinet either because DOUBLE SURPRISE, BLACK MOLD!  Surprise, these walls are constructed entirely of asbestos and the bubonic plague!  And so forth.

This isn't my mailman, but it is the post office.  So.

This isn’t my mailman, but it is the post office. So.

There are a lot of things I miss about my old place: the usable cabinets, the absence of the grim specter of death, the screened porch, the frat

boys shooting arrows at a tree outside of my screened porch.  But if there’s one thing I miss more than anything else, it’s my mailman.

How do you even know your mailman? you’re probably thinking.  Well, remember that college town part?  I mean, small college town.  Which means a lack of certain amenities, such as actual grocery stores or Targets.  You know, things that are necessary for basic survival.  Which also means, of course, that I’ve been forced to spend quite a bit of time shopping online.  You know, for basic survival.  It was necessary.  

And so, I got to know my mailman.  He was always kind and never judged and agreed that yes, one can never have enough shoes.  He realized

that I tended to write on my back porch in the summer and so he brought me my packages there.  One day, he caught me crying after a Very Bad Telephone Conversation and he asked how I was.  He said he didn’t know what was going on, but he could promise that it’d get better — and he came by to ask how I was the next day.  When I broke my foot, he asked how I was and even sometimes brought my non-package-style mail to me, if it looked important.  He asked about my cats, who eventually even stopped running away and acted like completely insane beasts when he knocked.  When I had surgery, he told my mother that he’d been worried because no one had answered the door for a while.  He asked how I was every time she answered the door.  He always smiled, he always said hello, and he was always incredibly kind.

This is how things are going with my new mailman so far.  Sigh.

This is how things are going with my new mailman so far. Sigh.

They were all small things, just very small things, but they made a very big difference in my life, and at a time in my life when I felt very lost.  And maybe, in the end, it’s the small things that matter — because, when you think of it, a life of such small kindnesses is a very big thing.

The jury’s still out on my new mailman.  He seems very nice and he always smiles.  Still, I can’t help but miss my old mailman — and I can’t help but wish I would’ve thanked him more often for all of the kind things he probably didn’t even realize he was doing — which makes him all the more deserving of thanks.

“Back in black / I hit the sack / I been too long / I’m glad to be back.”

Hey.

Are you still here?

Okay.  I hope so.  And I’m glad if you are.

When I first sat down to write this, I thought, I am going to write about how all of a sudden we are halfway through 2013 and I didn’t even realize it.  And then I realized that I’d been writing “7” for the month for, like, oh, thirty-one days now.  And then I mathed and realized that half of twelve is six, not seven, which means we are over halfway through 2013 and I didn’t even realize it.

Needless to say, I haven’t been blogging.  Or, I guess, I’ve been trying to blog, but I haven’t been able to put much of my energy into a post.  For a while I told myself, Self, you are totally experimenting.  You’re just micro-blogging.  You’re a revolution and that revolution is CUTTING EDGE.  Then I remembered that I am not a revolution, nor am I particularly cutting-edge at anything, and that illusion lay shattered, like the shards in the Delicate Vase Aisle at Hobby Lobby after being visited by a mob of grammar school kids who have just eaten too many M&Ms.

Like I mentioned in my revolutionary and cutting-edge micro-blogging entries, there have been Circumstances, and these were the kinds of Circumstances that require most-and-I-mean-most, if not all, of one’s energies.  These were the kinds of Circumstances that require a re-routing of one’s life and how one lives it, the kinds of Circumstances that — very, very literally — stop one in one’s tracks and require one to Think.  A lot.  And then to Adjust.

That is all very vague, you are probably thinking.  Why are we talking in such vague terms and using David Foster Wallace capital letters to try to make up for it, you are probably also thinking.  Those are both perfectly legitimate things to be thinking, and I guess the thing is that I have, after Thinking and then a lot more Thinking and then Adjusting, come to the place where I am ready to say that there have been Circumstances but not to talk about what they were/are.  I mean, I have been writing about Circumstances, sure, but in the Let’s Put This In Creative Nonfiction Form So I Can Go As Slowly And Carefully As I Need To And Then Use A Couple Of Metaphors About Christmas Lights To Help Me Out Kind Of Way, not the Very Public As In Immediately Very Public Blogging Kind Of Way.

And that’s the strange and spectacular thing about writing, I think, and, really, reading — there’s something terrifying about the blank page, and that’s the thing we tend to talk about.  But there’s also something amazing and transformative and meditative about the blank page, and then about the way one puts words onto it.  The blank page gives a person the space — and the safety — that they need to think things through.  And I mean really think things through.  When I write poetry, I’m often prisming off of my personal experience, but in very extreme and sometimes even absurd ways.  I’m taking myself to the edges of language and seeing what’s there.  I’m taking each situation to its extreme, and then every angle of each situation, to see how it looks.  I’m turning it over and over again in my mind, and with each turn it becomes something new.  I’m speaking about things in a way I can’t speak about them with everyday language, which also means that I’m speaking about things I can’t speak about in everyday language.  That’s because everyday language belongs to everyday life, and there are things that I just can’t spend a lot of everyday time with.  There are things that will shut you down, will stop you from moving inside of everyday life, where there are things that have to keep moving.  There are groceries to buy and student papers to grade and cats to feed.

The everyday world keeps moving, and one must move with it.  Everyday life must be lived.  And so, in these Circumstances, I’ve been grateful for that blank page.  I’ve been grateful for the moments of respite it provides, for the sacramental space it creates, for the place where I can take a break from moving and just be still for a while with my words and the realities they represent, so that I can keep moving, keep doing, keep living.

Everything I Need to Know I Learned from Alice B. Toklas*

If there’s one thing I’ve learned about myself and my writing, it’s that major breakthroughs and advances — well, they don’t come easy.  Sure, from time to time a breakthrough will come hurdling through the clouds and sky and onto my laptop or notebook page, but I know that I can’t depend upon that.  I also know that these breakthroughs only come hurdling through the clouds and sky and onto my laptop or notebook page if I’m there at my laptop or notebook page.  In other words, I do sometimes have breakthroughs out of the clear blue sky that make everything very much easier,

This is a photograph of the feline Alice B. Toklas, who is the hero of today's story.

This is a photograph of the feline Alice B. Toklas, who is the hero of today’s story.

but said out-of-the-clear-blue-sky everything-easier-making breakthroughs only come from hard work.

And when I say hard work, I mean hard work.  I mean hard, frustrating work.  I mean minutes and hours and days and years of hard, hard, hard frustrating work.  And sometimes it takes a very long time, and always it takes being honest with myself in a way that isn’t exactly comfortable.

It’s a funny thing, being a writer — often, when I finally figure out how to do something and do something well, it’s exactly the point when I know I shouldn’t get comfortable.  If I get comfortable, I do the same thing over and over again, kind of like my treat addict of a cat, Alice B. Toklas — she’s figured out that if she goes in the kitchen and meows and looks up at me in this certain unbelievably pitiful way, she will receive two treats.  But writing isn’t like that, no matter how pitiful the look I give my laptop.  Eventually, the treats stop coming.  Or else the treats do keep coming, but they’re increasingly stale.  Like, moldy stale.  Yes, I’m doing something I figured out how to do, and sometimes even to do well, but I’m not growing.  I’m not moving to the next level.  I’m not taking risks and challenging myself and thinking, really thinking, about what I’m doing.  I’m not engaging with language and the way it’s built.  I’m not doing myself or my work any favors.

And so I keep pushing myself to push myself, even if I don’t get the treats.  And usually, when I’m moving towards a breakthrough, there are no treats anywhere to be found (apparently, I have decided to stay with this metaphor and stretch it beyond its capacity.  Which is, incidentally, one of the things that I do when I’m not pushing myself the way I need to push myself as a writer.  Harumph).  There are just — pardon me, but Anne Lamott’s phrase is too perfect not to borrow — shitty first drafts.  And shitty second and third and fourth drafts.  There are hours of staring at a screen, putting a line in one place and then moving it and then deleting it completely, only to put it exactly where it was the next day.

See?  Frustrating.  Like, beyond.

And that’s the state I was in a while ago, when I realized that I had no idea where Alice B. Toklas was (the feline Alice B. Toklas, of course; it’s pretty clear where the actual Alice B. Toklas is, or was).  This is generally bad news because it could mean that she’s eaten a couch or gotten arrested for spying on my neighbors.  I started walking around the house very slowly and saying Alice very softly, both because I didn’t want to scare her and

This is the ball and the corner in question.  I'm posting a photograph of it mostly to remind myself, in the future, of what kind of ball Alice B. Toklas likes for when Alice B. Toklas eats it or gives it to the cicadas or something and I have to buy more of them.

This is the ball and the corner in question. I’m posting a photograph of it mostly to remind myself, in the future, of what kind of ball Alice B. Toklas likes for when Alice B. Toklas eats it or gives it to the cicadas or something and I have to buy more of them.

because a disappeared cat is a generally terrifying situation.  When I found her, she was in the corner of my bathroom, trying to wedge her let’s-call-it-big-boned-and-just-very-furry body between the toilet and the bathtub.  At first I thought this was just another thing that Alice B. Toklas likes to do, like licking the windows or hiding under things by only putting her head under them and closing her eyes.  Then I started hearing a bell, and I realized that there was a reason for her hiding behind the toilet, besides, you know, hiding behind the toilet: she was trying to get her ball out of the corner, and with the kind of complete and total focus my cats usually only give their food bowls or my feet when they want to bite them.  I decided to help her out and picked up the ball and threw it, expecting her to jump joyfully after it.  Instead, she just looked up at me in great confusion — or, at least, more confusion than usual, which I admit is quite a bit of confusion.  I said what and she just sat there, staring with great confusion until, finally, she walked off in defeat to chew on a sofa or something.

That’s when I realized that it wasn’t the ball itself that Alice B. Toklas wanted; it was the challenge of getting to the ball.  She enjoyed the struggle, the fight.  She loved the work itself — and then the bell went off in my mind.  I realized that’s what I needed to do, too — to let myself relax, to allow myself the shitty first, second, third, fourth, and nth drafts, and to just enjoy playing with language, finding new ways into words.  I may get the ball.  I may not.  In the end, really, I think it’s not about the product but the process — not the solution, but the struggle — and learning to be happy with both.

* That is, the feline Alice B. Toklas, of course.  Everything I learned from the human Alice B. Toklas is only legal in Amsterdam, Washington, and Colorado.

The Accidental Professor

When I was a little kid and we went to the beach, I always had this strange and terrifying and utterly disorienting moment where I’d think to myself this is our first day at the beach; we have four more days at the beach, and then this vacation is over.  That sentence, I now realize, doesn’t look strange and terrifying and utterly disorienting at all; the only difficult thing about it, at first glance, is knowing where to put the punctuation.  But

This is a gratuitous photograph of a beach inserted to give my blog entry more visual interest.

This is a gratuitous photograph of a beach inserted to give my blog entry more visual interest.

when I thought it, I was completely overwhelmed with the realization that time passes, and that time in fact was passing, and in a few days the hotel room and the breakfast place downstairs with all of its impossibly tiny jars of jam and the ocean outside and the sand would pass beneath my feet, and everything would be over.*

That’s the same feeling I always had at the end of every semester of school.  This is my first day of exams; I have four more days of exams, and then they are over.  All year, time had been passing, and soon my gray locker and bulky typewriter and Trapper Keeper and goddawful erasable pens would pass beneath my feet, and I’d be another year older.**  This feeling would be even more strange and terrifying and utterly disorienting than the beach feeling, as it also meant I was one year closer to having to figure out what the hell, exactly, I planned to do with my life.  Thankfully, I was able to answer more school! for a long time — long enough for me to at least find, my second year of graduate school, a term that describes this feeling: mono no aware, the Japanese aesthetic idea of things having the feeling of time passing.  I’ve read a lot of different translations/interpretations of this concept, and most of them seem to fall in one of two camps: either mono no aware describes an image that represents the passage of time, like falling cherry blossoms or autumn leaves or a rotting Halloween pumpkin, or it describes the very feeling of the beach and the end of the semester, when one can literally feel that time is passing around, above, and beneath them.

I wonder, sometimes, if this is why I chose to teach at the college level: I was able to answer the question of what are you going to do after school with more school! and then FOREVER SCHOOL! 

Even as I type that, I know it’s wrong.  It’s wrong because I never really chose to teach.  It just happened.  I wanted to be a writer, but I also wanted to be able to have things like running water and electricity, so I knew I had to find some way to make money.  I started noticing that most writers also taught, and so I thought to myself, ok.  That’s what we’re going to do, self.

When I fell into that decision — I can’t say I made it — I didn’t even particularly know what professors did.  I remember being pulverized by this realization during one of the very first conversations I had in graduate school, a loose sketch of which appears below:

Emma Bolden: Hi, I’m Emma Bolden, and I’m a new TA.
Someone, I Can’t Really Remember Who: Hi, Emma Bolden the new TA.  Welcome to your first college-level teaching job, where you will be teaching Comp.
Emma Bolden: What’s Comp?S,ICRRW: Ha ha ha ha. (Pause.)  Oh, you’re serious.  (S,ICRRW explains Comp to Emma Bolden).
Emma Bolden: Ha ha ha ha ha.  (Pause.)  Oh, you’re serious. Please excuse me. (Emma Bolden heads to the nearest bathroom to cry, then drives herself home with mascara still all over her face to tell her mother she’s terrified and thinks she won’t be able to do this ANY OF THIS.)

Though I do still have my I-won’t-be-able-to-do-this-ANY-OF-THIS moments, I finally feel more comfortable in the classroom because I finally remembered what my best teachers did: they talked.  They listened.  Most importantly, they learned.  I learned the most from professors who were learning along with me, reading and reaching to understand, who were willing to think in front of us, alongside us, with us.  And I learned that perhaps the even-more-most-important thing is to learn from my students, who have, in all honesty, every single day, taught me more than I could ever teach them.

Mono no aware in action. Or, well, lack of action.

Mono no aware in action. Or, well, lack of action.

At the end of every semester, I walk out of the classroom after picking up their portfolios.  I turn off the lights and turn to look at the empty tables, the empty desks, the windows looking out into the world we’ve all just re-entered.  And while I do still feel a tinge of that mono no aware moment, I also feel firmly rooted, as if I’m being held to the ground by my students and their words, which wait for me in the paper-clipped pages of their portfolios.  And then it hits me: a semester’s end isn’t an ending.  It’s a beginning, and the one we’ve all been working towards all semester long.  It’s the beginning of each student’s life outside the walls of the classroom, the beginning of each student walking into the world and taking their words with them, the beginning of their words in that world.  Suddenly, I’m happy about what we’re all leaving behind, because it means we’re all taking with us what we need to take with us, the knowledge and hunger and language, to make our own beginnings in the outside world.

Suddenly, being a professor feels like the happiest accident I’ve ever had.

*It’s entirely possible that my mother and/or father are reading this at the moment and thinking to themselves Oh and So that’s what all of that was about.  It’s also possible that he and/or she is rolling his and/or her eyes.  I’d therefore like to take this moment to say I know, guys, I know.  Also, I apologize for that time I spat out my bubblegum while floating in a swim-sweater in a crowded hot tub.  Also for sneaking into that crowded hot tub to float around in my swim-sweater in the first place.  Also for all of my childhood.  Thank you.

**Actually literally, since my birthday coincides with the end of the school year.