The Lull

When it comes to teaching English, I hear a lot of jokes. Most of them center around the supposedly innate (and unquestionably unprincipled) desire of English professors to correct spoken grammatical errors. I don’t do this. I think people should speak the way they want to speak.  However, I have been known to get pretty churlish about misplaced apostrophes. A writer I admire commenting on the apostrophe pandemic sees them being tossed around like a garnish. That tickled me.

Soon, I will be pointing out to my freshmen students the importance of the possessive apostrophe, the subtle beauty of the semicolon, and how magical it can be when you begin to think of yourself as a writer with a voice and an audience.

But my Sanford Uni-ball Micro isn’t ready yet.

I’ve been resplendent these last few weeks, casually doing laundry in the evenings, cooking new recipes (mini meat loaves tonight in muffin pans–odd, but different), bleaching my toilets, starting a new novel, watching Netflix instant downloads and attending to my canine with extra compassion…

Oh, the short-lived nirvana, the ever-naive sense of balance and well-being.

Because, in just two short weeks, my life changes.

Essays arrive.

Let me be clear. It’s not the essays themselves that I dread; I mean, I did choose my career path, after all. It’s that they lurk, incessantly, like that painting in Dorian Gray. When I have essays that need grading, that thought tends to creep into my casual conversations, snaking into each random thought about escaping to my darkroom or cracking a book for pleasure. Each essay stands as emissary, ready to deliver its message. And I suppose for that, I am grateful.  No, I mean that.  I remember being a college student and waiting…waiting, WAITING for my professors to return papers for which I had toiled and bled.  If I could simply set them aside like my taxes or an especially crusty muffin pan (to be dealt with at a later date), it would be cause for alarm. No, I will answer the call when it comes, trying to remember the courage it takes for many of my students to submit their first essays.

But for now, these first treatise of my freshmen composition students are still in the distance, a wave gathering in might way offshore, somewhere near Cuba, perhaps.

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