The Therapy Journals of the Fat-Headed Klingon Woman

One woman's journey to becoming Her True Self

I’m Just That Weird February 7, 2013

From George Cruikshank's illustrations to Laur...

From George Cruikshank’s illustrations to Laurence Sterne’s Tristram Shandy. Plate I: The Effects of Trim’s Eloquence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Hello all.  Ok, I couldn’t really explain where this feeling came from or what prompted it.  I’m a little bit unusual in the respect that I’m about to describe.  I’m not sure other people feel like this, and I wonder if it means I have like, boundary issues or something.  But here it is.  For some reason, today I am really missing my English professors.  Yep.  I miss my English professors.  They were special to me.  I went to a tiny little regional state school in Durant, Oklahoma, and there were four people there whom I just really loved.  They were the Big Four in the English department and the chairmanship of the department has rotated between most of them several times, I think.  Dr. Paula Allen, Dr. Randy Prus, Dr. John Mischo, and Dr. Mark Spencer.  Let me just tell you about them.

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First, Dr. Allen.  The only woman in this little quartet, she was a fascinating person.  I got the sense that she had had adventures, you know?  The classes I took with her were World Literature, Methods in English Education, and Middle School/High School Lit.  Dr. Allen helped me through one of the most difficult times of my life; she was my supervisor during my first (and as it turned out, only) year as an English teacher.  I wish I knew her better so I could talk about her views and politics, but it’s been a long time.  My impression of her was that she is a dedicated, passionate teacher, teacher trainer, feminist advocate, and overall, a wonderful person.

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Dr. Randy Prus.  He was… an interesting experience.  I wish I could go back in time and take his classes again, because I think I’d probably understand them so much better now.  His incredible intelligence made him seem a little spacey, kind of stoner-deep.  He’d throw out concepts, ideas, words… at the time they seemed connected by just the barest thread of a theme, but to him they probably all wove together perfectly.  I had American Lit and Creative Writing with him.  The creative writing class was the most fun because that was my strength.  I was a poet.  At least I thought I was.  I loved showing off my stuff in that class.  I think I struggled in the lit class because the selections seemed boring and I didn’t understand what he was trying to tell us about them.  The thing I seem to remember about his classes is that he tried to stretch your mind, to make you think deeper, and yet more creatively.  At the time, he was intimidating.  He probably still would be, but I enjoyed learning from him.  I still don’t know if I understand the term ‘trope’ though.

*

Dr. John Mischo.  I took English Lit and Shakespeare with him.  He made us do what he called a ‘response card.’  Every class we’d have to write on a note card our response to a writing prompt from the assigned reading.  It was terrifying, because sometimes I just felt like I didn’t understand anything I’d just read and I had no idea how I was going to come up with something even mildly intelligent to say about it, yet somehow I usually did well.  I still remember how proud I was of a paper I did that he really praised, and I was shocked.  It was titled’Wimpy Knights and Ugly Women’ and right this minute I can’t even remember what it was about, but it got a 98, which felt like winning the lottery.  He is especially special to me because he took the time to drive an hour to attend my wedding.  I invited all of them but didn’t really expect any of them to make it, and I had never been so shocked and honored in my life as when I saw him there.

*

Dr. Mark Spencer.  Ah, Spence.  How do I even describe him?  He was quiet and serious, and made nerdy English-teacher jokes that he was usually the only one laughing at, other than me.  I had several classes with him:  Literary Criticism, History of the Novel, and seems like one or two more, but I can’t think now what they were.  Literary Criticism was one of the first classes I took when I went back to school.  I had tried to take it once before and had to drop it because it made so little sense to me, and failing was not an option.  I remember being absolutely terrified about the class, but he was so warm and funny I managed to make it through, and couldn’t figure out what was so hard about it before.  The only time in my life I was ever assigned a book to read and couldn’t because it was just too darned dull was Tristram Shandy, which he seemed to talk about all the time.  He was always checking his pocket watch, which wasn’t an actual pocket watch, but the face of a little digital watch he’d taken the straps off of, and I still can’t figure out why he didn’t just wear a watch.  In a way he was the stereotypical nerdy English teacher, and I adored him, but I was so curious about who he really was as a person.  It’s a wonder I actually learned anything.

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I think these four educators are special to me because they were part of my life when I felt like I was where I belonged.  I had gone back to school at 35 years old, and I fell back into it like I’d never been gone.  I excelled because I love being a student.  I’m good at it.  I could take classes from these four teachers forever and be content.   At least that’s how I feel sometimes.  Sometimes I remember that the point of reading and literature and culture and all of that is to make you realize there’s a big world about there, and in addition to reading it, you can also aspire to actually see it for yourself.  I can’t imagine where these four teachers have collectively been, what they’ve seen.  I hope I can someday see even a fraction of what they’ve seen and done.  But I hope they know that today… for some reason, they are on my mind.  Today is a day that I would literally hop into my car and drive for an hour just to run across campus and up three floors of Morrison Hall just to say hi and let them know they meant something to somebody.  They meant something to me.  For an educator, that’s success.

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Until next time,

D.

 

2 Responses to “I’m Just That Weird”

  1. Ah Tristram Shandy… You have to go back to it. Once you get into the language and settle yourself down to the idea that the plot is an excuse for another diversion you might come to love it as we nerds do. I feel a peculiar affinity with the quixotic pastor on his useless horse and what can I say about Uncle Toby? A tear comes to my eye. I enjoyed your post and I hope you let all of your professors know that you wrote it: they will be delighted.

    • LenaDeeAnne Says:

      Hi Jason! Thanks for reading. I probably will go back to TS and give it another try, because I hate to admit failure in anything, but especially when it comes to books, my favorite thing in the world.

      My cousin is currently a student at my alma mater and I am planning to ride over with her one day soon and visit the Big Four. I’ll be sure and tell them I’ve made them Internet stars. :). Thanks again for reading and commenting!

      D.


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