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seniors, ankles, and new classes

May 5, 2010

Yesterday was the last day of classes. Tomorrow is the first day of exams. I have that disorganized, frantic feeling that I associate with the smell of lilacs. I am so distracted that I twisted my ankle while running in Dogtown (the woods in Gloucester). I was thinking about my unwritten paper on Phaedra and felt that awful crunch. Soon after, I realized I was lost (from not paying attention to where I was and thinking about Phaedra) and I thought of Elyssa East’s book and the terrible murder that happened in Dogtown, not far from where I was limping along, but I decided that most murderers are not up as early in the morning as I am, and I followed the sound of traffic and it turned out I was not lost at all. It’s just that everything looks different in the woods in the spring. Leaves change everything. It’s been six months of branches.
I wandered through the arts center today to see the seniors’ presentations of their theses. I was worried about my ankle (Am I making it worse by wandering around?) but I forgot to worry when I saw how good the theses were. One of my favorites was a close analysis of those Twilight/vampire novels. The student analyzed the popularity of these books: Why are young girls such avid fans? According to her study, one of the central appeals is the rigid gender division in the books. Women stay at home, get pregnant, and are the faithful wives/girlfriends of their strong, powerful men. So, Bella, the protagonist, chooses not to go to college. Instead she gets pregnant because “all she needs is her boyfriend” to feel happy. Of course, that boyfriend is a vampire. But the vampire thing seems beside the point.
After the thesis presentations, I raced home to get ready to teach. Well, actually I raced to the grocery store and then threw the groceries in the fridge just in time to greet my students. It has been at least three years since I taught an adult writing workshop in my home. I knew I missed it, but I couldn’t quite say why. Now I remember. I get to sit and listen to stories. Wonderful stories. My grown up students remind me of why I love to write. And why I love to read.
No Phaedra, however. And the Marys continue to drum their fingers.

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