Cloister Commentary, Day 349: On Ice

Since I’m on ice teaching-wise this semester, I am “free” Tuesdays and Thursdays–it doesn’t feel like freedom, however. I tried to make the most of it: did some chores around the house, dug into a birthday-present box set of New York/St. Louis/Fort Worth jazz master Julius Hemphill’s rare recordings, finished a book and made progress on three others, contemplated applying for a new part-time job and participating in a music writing workshop, chased cats, and reconnected with a former student I last chatted with 31 years ago.

That final event was very cool: I had wished another former student, Shawna Hayes, a happy birthday, and her classmate Mike Nichols did as well–we noticed each other’s wish, greeted each other and, together, tried to remember everyone who was in that first-hour English class in 1990, my first year in Columbia and at Hickman. That class was epochal for me: it was my first experience team-teaching with a learning specialist (Karen Downey and I would remain a team until 2015!), Hickman was a next-level teacher culture from what I was used to, and the first morning I walked in the students had self-segregated accorded to their melanation. The intensity of my engagement and striving was so strong it is no wonder I instantly remembered the names (and specific seating chart spots) of 75% of the class! I would give myself a B- in that striving, but grades don’t mean much; I learned a ton. And Mike and Shawna were so kind and accepting of my trying it’s no wonder I remember them well (I even taught Shawna’s daughter Quasha many years later at Hickman). And Roshawn Hayes has published a book!

Just remembered! As a result of being tagged on Facebook, I got to catch up and reminisce with two other former students who were part of the wildest and wooliest middle school groups I ever taught. Jennie Ling and Lauren Hill were both straight “A” students, but what we actually looked back on were their very rare 7th grade missteps; to have missteps rarely at 12 and 13 is to be well on one’s way. They’ve turned out to be pretty damned solid adults.

When Nicole got home, we got in yet another neighborhood walk (what great weather this week) and again turned to TCM for our movie night choice: Sweet Smell of Success. Watching Burt Lancaster and Tony Curtis play slimy tabloid purveyors was fascinating (and disturbing) enough, but James Wong Howe’s black and white cinematography alone was worth the time we spent.

Streaming for Strivers:

Black History Month –> Women’s History Month transition a touch late. Music + poetry in a big way.

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