Thursday, September 11, 2014

Wonderful Things

My philosophy as a writer is best summarized by Franz Liebkind in The Producers:

"You are the audience! I am the author! I outrank you!"

Sometimes my blog gets as many as three hits a day.

This is technically antithetical to what I'm learning in my UT advanced writing class, by the way. But I'm settling into the groove of it now.

A couple of wonderful things have happened in connection with this writing class. First off, well, it just feels good to be there. It's a casual class, couched as an opportunity to expand one's skills in a supportive setting, rather than a trap where points are docked for technical errors. The professor is nice. The other students are nice. It has a vibe, and the vibe is good. And hey, writing is fun - right?

So last week, as we went around the room and introduced ourselves, the professor (who's been at UT for many, many years) mentioned that he's a great fan of Shakespeare, and used to teach literature classes in that subject. I suddenly remembered the Shakespearean plays class I took at UT on my first go round, and realized that my professor does seem kind of familiar. And I asked: Did you teach an introductory Shakespeare class in, oh, I'm not sure, 1987?

He laughed, because that was a long time ago. He's taught who-knows-how-many classes since then, and considering I don't remember him clearly enough to be sure he was the instructor, there's hardly any reason he'd remember. But when I brought it up, there was a big "awwwwww!" from my classmates (who incidentally are, for the most part, younger than my two older kids. But who's counting?).

Well, it's not a big deal, I guess. But I did check my transcript at the first opportunity. You like to know these things, right? My transcript doesn't list the instructor name, but does have the course unique ID, so I called up the English department and asked them if there was any way they could look up who it was.

Second wonderful thing (if the first wonderful thing is that all my classmates said "awwwww," though that might be the third or fourth wonderful thing already depending on how you count stuff - or the 537th), whoever answered the phone at the English department did not so much as entertain the idea of considering my request to be frivolous. Did not even offer it a glass of ice water. No, he put me on hold for about seven minutes, during which time he probably had to descend into the secret UT tunnel system* and pull dusty, moth-eaten PAPER FILES out of ancient mildewed FILING CABINETS. And, third (or eighth or 956th) wonderful thing, when he returned, he seemed genuinely excited to tell me that it was, in fact, the same professor!

Possibly he was just really relieved to see the light of day again.

Wonderful thing number I've-lost-count-(who's-counting) greeted me, upon arrival to the next class meeting. My professor said he'd pulled his rosters from 1987 and found the class I was in. I almost cried!

"You know who else was in your class," he told us all, "Scott Blackwood, who's a very successful writer today, was enrolled in that session. We keep in touch still," he told us. "Really a big name now, he's made a big name for himself."

Well, I'm still fairly young.

These are many wonderful things. I do wish I could take part of my generalized anxious energy about school and transport it back in time and magically kablooie it into 18-year-old Beth, who got a B in Shakespearean plays, but didn't do as well in U.S. History or U.S. Government or anything else that would be considered boring, such as the entire core curriculum. At that point I thought that if you took four years of electives, you ended up with a bachelor's degree at the end; it turns out that there are very few majors for which that's true.

So far this semester I can't sleep on school nights because of nerves. Leaving work at 3 on Mondays and Wednesdays to bike to class, I feel almost physically ill with apprehension. This doesn't help me smell any better when I get there.

It'll settle down after a while. Life is full of wonderful things, possibly as many as three a day. But who's counting?


*That everybody has always known about forever

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