Thursday, March 25, 2010

Inspiring students...

Every time I have had a not-so-helpful teacher in the past, I vowed to never be like that when I became a teacher, a vow that I have stuck by in both good times and bad. I believe (even if I'm not the world's greatest teacher) that it is our obligation to teach with enthusiasm and advise with a lot of heart. I had the privilege of working with a student named Erik the other day, whose personal enthusiasm reminded me why I keep trucking along the teaching path day after day. He's looking into MFA programs and PhD programs in nonfiction, but what he really wants to do is enact some social change. He is in my food and culture class this semester. What an honor and blessing for me to be able to put aside his essay (which is great, by the way) to talk about my experience in programs and as a teacher after those programs. He left beaming, thanking me over and over again, but he couldn't see how much he made me beam. Really. Truly. After almost ten years of teaching, I am happy to report that students still have this effect on me (well, at least some of them).


Monday, March 8, 2010

Author Photograph

Well, folks, it has come time to talk about author photographs. Mine, anyway. As most of you know, I am a bit camera shy and was not looking forward to having my photograph taken. I enlisted the help of a wonderful photographer, Danielle Kantrowitz, who is a student in the MFA program in photography at Washington University, to help capture me as me. I specifically didn't want a morose author photo, like so many out there, but I didn't want to look falsely gleeful either. I wanted to look like me, generally good-natured and often on the brink of smiling, of laughter. Danielle and I walked all around my neighborhood last Sunday, me talking my head off because I was nervous and her trying to convince me that I did not, in fact, look freakish. We ended up taking pictures in places I walk past almost every day but haven't noticed, which was a wonderful surprise. Danielle is not afraid to trespass, even though I am timid in this area of the law. One of my favorite spots was in front of someone's front picture window, on the ledge of which balanced several old teapots and curiosities. It's unfortunate that I was caught between perma-smile and somberness in these locations--my mouth, I explained, doesn't understand naturalness right now--because the location was so fitting to represent my bird sisters. The photograph that I ended up choosing was one where I was sitting on someone's front lawn and for me it captures my personality very well. For better or worse. What do you think?

"These are the days when Birds come back/a very few/a Bird or two/to take a backward look."

"These are the days when Birds come back/a very few/a Bird or two/to take a backward look."