I’m parked, as usual on a Sunday, in front of the large television in my very comfy, green chair. Football game between the Dallas Cowboys and the Houston Texans. It’s preseason and doesn’t count for anything, so I don’t have the sound on.
For sound, I am listening to a Heart Meditation channel on Pandora. East of the Full Moon is the song. Artist is Deuter. According to Pandora, “Like many artists in the contemporary instrumental realm, Deuter mixes acoustic and electronic instruments, ethnic influences, and sounds from nature — only he’s been doing it since the early ’70s. Born in the German…” You’ll have to look up the rest yourselves. Very soothing flute music. Sometimes I wish I had not given up on the flute, but most of the time, I don’t even remember playing the flute.
My best bud Bex sent me a link to an awesome site, so part of me was investigating the link and reading poetry
Even in Kyoto —
hearing the cuckoo’s cry —
I long for Kyoto.
Soon after moving to Eugene, I was scrambling to fill my time. Work. School. Anything to keep myself out of trouble. Some people really don’t do well with time on their hands, and in my twenties and thirties that was me. I swear my angels worked overtime during those decades to keep me afloat and sometimes even stationary and upright. This poem by Basho reminded me of the classes I took at Lane Community College.
I wasn’t a very confident student and didn’t know what I wanted to study, so I thought I would take two of my favorite subjects: Writing and Photography. Delta Sanderson taught writing 122. I’m thinking it was Pete Peterson who taught photography. Immersed myself in the darkroom and often lost track of time. I never tired of the developing chemicals. I had finally found a home where I belonged.
The writing 122 class wasn’t what I wanted, but it was what I needed. I had had enough college credit to skip around 120 and 121, so going to the head of the line for the hardest course in the sequence, was easy, and that was the last time I saw easy for that class. Delta Sanderson was a stickler to every rule possible. She had this computer printout that would say, “This is a sentence fragment,” define sentence fragment, and give me an example of how to correct it. The program kept track of sentence fragments, comma splices, run-on sentences, spelling, and so on. In my twenties, I was running with a rebellious crowd. It was as if I had taken a feminist oath to never spell woman or women the correct way anymore. Womyn was more my style. Some writers like wommin. I don’t know if Delta’s strict religion played a part in her teaching. I am vaguely recollecting that she was Latter-Day Saints.
She and I struggled. I had a hard time writing even in my journals. I couldn’t seem to do anything correctly. I started to take it out on her and lashed out every way possible. In one paper, a compare/contrast paper, I had the topic of should I drop the class or not. I chose a Rita Mae Brown Book, author of Ruby Fruit Jungle, just so I could ruffle the teacher’s feathers. I don’t think it did anything, but ruffle mine. No matter how hard I tried in that class, I couldn’t come up with anything higher than a C; not good for someone who had aims on becoming a writer.
Delta Sanderson was so right and I was so wrong. My writing was horrible. Horrendous. No, an ellipsis is not a piece of exercise equipment. I was like a lot of writers that new of commas and periods, but only knew that there had to be some on the paper, so I would like sprinkle them on afterwards.
Delta was so right and I was so wrong that I enrolled in Writing 121 after I took her 122 class. I think I had Susan Swan. Very good. I was still very wrong, so I enrolled in Susan’s Writing 120 class. I had to get down to bare bones and brass tacks. This is a sentence. I started to invest time and energy with grammar books. I volunteered at the Writing Center and tutored students, especially foreign exchange students. Things began to click.
I continued classes at LCC and took a World Literature class with Ruth Albrecht. She was an incredible teacher. After taking the year’s worth of World Literature, Ruth was one of those teachers that I had to visit if I were in the vicinity. It was in this class that I read Basho. I loved that class. I had already had a strong passion for reading, but I had never really dissected a book before, not really gotten into a discussion about the patterns a writer might use. It never occurred to me that an author, for example, can use different colors and different repetitions to add depth. This fascinated me.
I had quite a few amazing teachers at Lane Community College. Rita Hennessey. Bill Woolum. Because of the volunteer work I did at LCC, I spent a lot of time hanging out in the English department lunch room and talked to teachers I hadn’t had as teachers. There was so much for me to learn, especially after I decided to study English Literature at the University of Oregon.
The University of Oregon wasn’t as much fun, but the UO is more of a serious place. Academics were so serious, I often felt like I was in a different country or on a different planet, only understanding perhaps half the words spoken to me, and the ones I had to read, well that was like Greek. I never really did figure out what deconstructionism was and why Literature needed a canon.