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Her Best Friend Fred

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We were talking about conclusions, and I told them that the last paragraph needs to be the climax of their essay, that it’s a good place for a well chosen quote, or an epiphany, or a surprise (all epiphanies are surprises, but not all surprises are epiphanies). I said that I’m partial to surprises, and […]

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Wish I’d Tried Harder

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“Don’t open it,” I warned myself. Online student evaluations are not reliable because few students complete them. So what you get is outliers, folks who either hate you or love you. She hated me. I was “unclear,” “unhelpful” and “uncaring.” Of course, I knew from whom the words came. My creative writing class had only […]

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Takes Faith to Write (and teach)

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Takes faith to write. Also, to teach. Facing a blank legal pad or computer screen, writers must see what isn’t there: the could be, might be, will be. This morning I’m throwing words at the page hoping something will stick. Sometimes nothing does. For a long time. When I do get a sentence that works, […]

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Happy Birthday, Sis!

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Today would have been her 65th birthday. Would have been. My little sister left this world 12 years ago. Next to Charlotte, D’Lynne was my best friend. It wasn’t always that way. As teens we fought constantly (my fault, not hers). But in adulthood things changed. That’s why I wrote a newspaper piece honoring her. […]

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14 More Mondays

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So I’m still at the beginning of my last semester, but already have some perceptions of retirement. The first is relief (OK, and maybe some pride) in getting the job done. Like a climber who has the peak in view and realizes that his energy level is high and the weather is holding, it looks […]

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Blogging through My Last Semester

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It’s what I intend to do on my way to retirement this May. Because I want to remember what it was like to be an Amarillo College English teacher. Because I want my grandkids’ grandkids to know that sometimes life’s best gifts arrive unexpected and unsought. That was I—23 years ago—a lost job, a lost […]

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First Day Jitters

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Yes, I get as anxious now as I did 20-something years ago when I faced my first composition students. Nervous because I know that the first minutes of a class are like the first sentences of an essay. If you don’t gain your audience’s attention then, chances are you never will. Of course my students […]

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A New Semester

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Will miss them—my students with whom I’ll begin a new semester tomorrow. Would like to tell them so, but that would sound corny. It’s too soon. We haven’t hung out together yet, which, in my class, means we haven’t read one another’s stuff yet. Yes, they read my things too. It’s how I teach. It […]