Zak Nelson, writer

Veni, Vidi, Docui

In inspiration, personal news, teaching on August 25, 2013 at 6:44 am

So teaching went pretty well, I’d say.

I was predictably nervous before class on Thursday, made more so by the fact that I had a late afternoon class, and all day long in Tompkins Hall I was racing to prepare my notes as my fellow grad students descended the stairs to their first classes, sharply dress and visibly tense and jittery.

Earlier that morning I had been feeling relatively sanguine about it all as I wrote the previous blog post and prepared to head in, confident of my ability and my preparation. Angie meanwhile hasn’t begun her new job yet, and so busily flitted about the kitchen preparing a lunch for me, healthy snacks, a water bottle, a travel mug of coffee, and generally making sure little Zaky was all set for his big debut. On the way out to the car she had me pause so she could take a photo of me in my new gray herringbone twill sportcoat, the one I had bought specifically to mark the occasion of becoming a teacher, complete with—forgive me for the cliché—elbow patches. The added attention only ramped up my nerves, but I was certainly grateful as well.

I had English 624, a teaching practicum, several hours before teaching, during which we went over last minute qualms and concerns. Every one of my peers was looking great, dressed professionally in a way grad students seldom are, and I felt like I was back in my last corporate job, at the Convention and Visitor Bureau, where everyone dressed well as a matter of course. Afterwards, up in my cubicle, I got an email telling me that the computer console in my assigned classroom was broken, as well as the overhead projector, and that I should make alternate arrangements. My lesson plan had involved some pretty intensive use of that machinery, so I nearly panicked. Then the internet went out.

It was the second official day of classes, so

Back to School

In inspiration, musing, teaching on August 22, 2013 at 7:31 am

Calvin and Hobbes

Well hullo there stranger. Been a long time. been a busy year. (nostalgic/wistful … the closest I’ll come in today’s column to acknowledging the painful event that has shaped said year)

So, an update to you, dear reader, on my ever-sporadic blog. (upbeat … a promise that I am going to share something that happened, in a buoyant tone)

Today I begin teaching for the first time on my own. (brief sentence for impact, momentous)

True, I’ve taught kids at after-school programs in the past. But today I will walk into a class full of first-year college students, minds still bruised and purple from high school, with the intent of teaching them how to write well. Or at least, better. (context to frame the relative import … or hilarity … of the undertaking)

I’ve taken an truly breathtaking, earth-shattering course on composition research and theory (soft-baked irony … but not without a slight tinge of pride), shadowed an assigned mentor around her English 101 class and graded half her students’ papers (boring recitation of fact that hopefully hints at mixed feelings about the experience). I’ve spent my summer planning my course — the

Why is this night different?

In Daily posts, inspiration, memoir, personal news on March 26, 2013 at 7:22 am

Wright bros memorial

I got up this morning feeling confused, displaced. Angie woke me sometime after my 7:30 alarm. “Time to get up,” she sang. She placed a mug of coffee by my nightstand. This is usually my job. I’m the one who gets up early, makes the coffee, rouses the late sleeper beside me to get ready for work.

“What time is it?” I asked.

“Around eight.”

“Did the cable guy come?”

“No, it’s working now. I called to cancel.”

I don’t know why that was my first spoken thought. I had just had strange dreams, part travelogue, part sitcom. Angie and I were in the middle of a desert, gathering up our things, breaking down camp, hurrying to try to catch up with the queue that had moved up some time in the night. When we caught up to it, we were already in Scottsdale, outside a stately old hotel.

When we got to the front of the line, there was an older woman, shrill and puffy, who was trying to horn in on our room. She had paid for it, and was insisting on occupying it. I told Angie to wait downstairs while I checked it out. This led to a canned laughtrack: the double entendre of the innocent cad.


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