Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Tongue Tied

Now Playing:
  • Simon and Garfunkel - The Sound of Silence
  • Eagles - Hotel California
  • Pink Floyd - Welcome To The Machine
  • Guns N' Roses - Sweet Child O' Mine
  • Santana - Black Magic Woman
(Pandora chose to be sentimental right now)*

Last day of Creative Writing 1 was today.

Funny thing, last time I had a super awesome English professor was for ENC1102, the summer before Junior year began. Alex Perez was his name. There has never been a greater hipster than him.

In his twenties, spoke to us about Radiohead, Bob Dylan was his favorite musician, talked about and showed us terrible/awesome films and fiction, read us great poetry**, talked about every single freaking implication regarding the poem The Second Coming just because I brought it up, and did a dozen other things that solidified him (and economic's Charles) as The Coolest Professors Dual-Enrollment Ever Had.

(Plus he hung out with James Franco once--but that's just a bonus. He'd be awesome without that little piece of history).

It was he who made us read the short story The Things They Carried (not the novel), which for some reason stayed with me throughout these last two years. I bring this up because we read the first few sentences of that story in CRW2001 today. Not the whole thing (about a paragraph or two) because we didn't have time, but enough that I had a brief flashback to Summer 2011.

I don't know what impression I give in this blog, but I'm actually not someone who regrets being socially awkward. I mean, it's annoying a good chunk of the time, but once I can reach familiarity with people, I manage to get over the awkwardness and I can shrug it off. That's the case for most people, but I want to emphasize the fact that I usually don't think fuck being awkward sucks so much whyyyyyy meee.

Until I have to express gratitude, that is. Then I don't know wtf to do.

Then being awkward sucks so much whyyyy meeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.

In ENC1102, we had a final essay (I can't remember what the hell it was about--it might have been analyzing a movie and I wrote about The Good, The Bad, and the Ugly) which was due the last day of class. A lot of people turned it in early and some at random throughout the morning. Everyone left right away. We had no class, after all.

So you just showed up and gave the paper in to him, then promptly ran out the room.

And I've gotten used to saying to certain professors, "Thank you for everything," as a farewell. It just seems like the only appropriate goodbye.

So when I turned in my paper, I remember I exchanged a couple of quick words. He was sitting on the computer and had a pile of papers beside him. I don't know why I went in alone because I had classmates nearby, but I ran in without company, handed in my paper, said one or two words, waited for his response, then quickly added, "Goodbye, Professor. Thank you for everything." Then walked out.

And maybe I'm paranoid, but I think I saw him pause for a moment right after I spoke. Like maybe that wasn't the right thing to say, or it was out of place, or whatever.

Well the one time it would have been more than appropriate to say Thank you for everything I didn't do it. Because I don't know. This whole class has been weird. It has been really weird. I hated reading my work out loud, but I was so happy when the class analyzed the oddness that was The Magic Trick and the terribleness that was The Puppeteer. I loved critiquing people's fiction, but I hated whenever I was asked what I thought about in regards to poems. I hated being really mean about people's fiction, but I loved that my advice and opinions were always deemed valid and sometimes even insightful.

But it wasn't a mixed bag. I didn't partially hate the class and partially love it. I completely and totally loved the class and everything that came with it. I loved the hour and a half bus ride leading to it. I loved walking around downtown half an hour before 5:40 p.m. I loved sitting there laughing and understanding and analyzing. And I really liked my classmates and their insights/works. I think I'm going to miss it.

Today, when it was near the end of the class, my professor went around the room asking people what their plans were now that the semester was coming to a close. He kept emphasizing to keep in touch, to send him fiction, etc, etc. I was one of the last ones he asked. He remembered I'd applied and been accepted to FSU, and he reminded me that he knew people there. He told me to email him later so he could send me  a list of names for future reference. He said to make sure to mention him while I was up there. (Connections!) And to send him work in the future, of course.

When it was time to leave, I was one of the few people who had the final project portfolio ready since I can't turn it in next week, so I sort of lingered by his desk while people exited. A couple of my classmates gave their projects to him and then a couple others started saying goodbye to him. I was trying to think of something smart to say the whole time I was making my way to the front, but I couldn't figure out what words to use. I've never really had a class that completely uplifted and influenced me, and I wanted to be grateful for it in a way that wasn't corny but also not totally dead. I don't know--it felt like I really needed to give a good thank you, it's been a great experience.

So I gave him my folder and before I could say anything he said, "You're going to keep in touch right?"

And I said, "Yeah! [Pause. Stupid smile] Thank you."

Then I ran out.

Thank you.

Wtf was that? Thank you for what? ELABORATE YOU SILLY GIRL. THAT WAS VAGUE AS SHIT.

Jesus christ, Thank you for everything might have been stupid, but it would have been a little more.

Worst of all: how. But. Keeping in touch. But I can't even. How do. Wat.

I can't figure out how people form friendships with professors. How do you get to a point where they're not just your teachers but also your freaking mentors?

Oh shit. I just remembered. I've been tweeting about this, but I might as well write it here: He gave me free books.

Last Wednesday, he came in with three books in his hands, all which were collections of short stories from different years. It was 5:20 p.m and there were only three people in the class (Ralph and I are always the first two for some reason), so he was like, "perfect, three people," and he gave us each one copy. My edition says New Stories from The South: 2000 - The Year's Best. The other two were from the years 1999 and 2006.

We held onto them for most of the class without using them, then near the end, a girl who got a copy asked, "Wait, what do we do with these?"

And he said, "Keep them."

And I was like, "o_o O_O :O :D 8D."

But the girl paused for a moment, and he said it was okay to give it away if she didn't want it. So she awkwardly held it out and was like, "Does anyone want it?"

And I don't know why I leaped out from my chair and said, "ME ME I WANT IT."

She held it out for a second before saying, "But you've already got a book."

(That had nothing to do with anything Dx)

She ended up keeping it in the end, but our professor noticed my idiotically childlike reaction. At the end, when he was exiting the room, he turned and said, "Do you want more books like that?"

I said, "Yes!" as kind of like an involuntary reaction.

And as he was walking out the door, he said, "Just come to my office then."

But I didn't. Granted, schedule got in the way (stupid high school classes and their evil time) but even then... If I'd gone, what would I have said?

Yet it didn't even matter. He came to class today and gave me a long short story collection and a small little booklet filled with poems.

So that's why I should have said a better thank you. Because of the three books, and all the advice, and all the times I was asked for my opinion, and all the little offhand but important "because I know you're a serious writer..." comments.

I've got a lot of things to worry about as soon as this post is finished. With graduation approaching, my head is exploding with all the paperwork and school-related-worries.

But right now, even though I want to kick myself for the social awkwardness and inability to express gratitude, I can't help but feel nothing but content for the last half of my senior year.

*Except for the last song. I've just had Black Magic Woman stuck in my head all week.

**I don't remember much of the fiction or poetry he gave us. I'm certain we read My Papa's Waltz -which oddly enough, we also read in creative writing a few weeks back--but I also especially remember this opening line to one of the poems we went through in class:

"When I see a couple of kids
And guess he's fucking her and she's
Taking pills or wearing a diaphragm,
I know this is paradise."
 - from High Windows by Philip Larkin

I think next to the entirety of The Stolen Child by William Butler Yeats, those lines are my favorite pieces of poetry ever.

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