Their graduation, mine.

It has been far too long since I've written, longer still since - maybe - since I wanted to write.

The days have been filled with writing, of course. There's a conference to be planned, and I am reminded that I am, however reluctantly, a Type A- personality: not quite type A, but a little too something to settle into Type B. I envy Type B's; I dread Type A's. But the conference begs for it. This is the problem with folks of a particular ideology (I wont say which: you can fill in your own blanks): they mistake organization for fascism. And, so, I find myself answering the e-mails for the conference: dull, banal little things in great numbers like gnats. To put any thought down became a chore, swatting at these things just a little more when I should be resting.

Tonight, I feel like writing.


Sometime back, I started writing a letter to our Seniors before they graduated. It was born out of a sort of necessity: herding cats in the graduation rodeo to a place where we could send them off into the sunset, though I have yet to attend a graduation that wasn't cold and rainy (at least for part of it). It became a tradition for me, a touchstone. And so, this year, it took on extra importance.

I'm leaving.

My advisees - many of them, anyway - are leaving with me. Well, not with me, but at the same time, to similar questions. In a strange way that no one ever told me, I walked the same path as those scared little Freshmen four years ago. Their steps were mine, and now, a tiny piece of their parting. The letter this year was much the same - congratulations and a little bit of a wish for them.

And a little bit of thanks.


The last two days have been awash in bureaucratic frustration. I find it's process that makes me lose my temper. And these last two days, I've found that a lot: everywhere I looked, there were problems: invitations sent to people who shouldn't have been; people who should have been who weren't. Names left out of programs. Programs out of order. I've found myself very protective of these students here at the end.

In recent weeks, we took a busload of them to a research conference. They rocked it. We took several to the school's research presentation. Most of them blew it away. Even my most problematic students - the ones who gravitate to me - have done well. Pick the student who you thought was the picture of unrepentant, unearned privilege. Remember how they walked into your office two years ago like royalty and made demands. Even that student got it, enough to make a couple of heads turn and faces pause at their moment of lucidity.

I am trying to focus on these things, amidst the chaos.


This evening I received a letter from a student that made me think of poetry. It was a letter that made me want to sit down and write. I want to share it, but that wouldn't be right. It was a private thing, but it reminded me of all the things we so rarely know as teachers, and that just because we don't know doesn't mean it isn't there or isn't happening.

It reminded me of the postcards friends used to send me, with haiku of their days on scrawled in thin, small writing. It was true, and tangentially I was a part of it.

Naomi Shihab Nye wrote "No one sees/the fuel that feeds you." Tonight, this term, these four years, I have been fed.


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