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“…and all that David Copperfield kind of crap…” my LifeMap by me, Wacky Mommy, Grad Student

September 19th, 2010

“If you really want to hear about it, the first thing you’ll probably want to know is where I was born and what my lousy childhood was like, and how my parents were occupied and all before they had me, and all that David Copperfield kind of crap, but I don’t feel like going into it, if you want to know the truth.

In the first place, that stuff bores me, and in the second place, my parents would have about two hemorrhages apiece if I told anything pretty personal about them. They’re quite touchy about anything like that, especially my father.”

— Holden Caulfield in “The Catcher in the Rye,” by J.D. Salinger, Little, Brown and Company, Inc., 1951 (although Holden’s character first appeared in Salinger’s short story, “Last Day of the Last Furlough” in a 1944 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.) (just fyi. wm)

Why do I want to teach? Or (better question) why do I want to continue to teach? (Since I’ve already been teaching, just in a classified position, not certified, for almost three years now.) Yeah, good question. In the class I’m taking this semester, we’re exploring that. Because why bother, if you can’t pin down why you’re bothering? Also, if I would have known that graduate school was going to be such a mind-blower, so fun and intriguing and challenging, I would have gone right after I finished my undergrad degree, like I should have.

Not true — I didn’t know what I wanted to get my degree in, back then. Certainly didn’t want to teach. I tried some education classes, as an undergrad and could. not. stay. awake. eyes closing……… zzzzzzzzzzzzzz…

“Those who can, do. Those who can’t drop the class and go out to the clubs with their friends and dance all night. Alternately, they play cards and drink at home ’til all hours.”
— Wacky Mommy

“My girl wants to/
party all the time/
party all the time/
party all the tiiiiiiiime…”

— my friend JoJo, singing Eddie Murphy’s song to her sister and me

Oh, JoJo. Whenever old men would hit on us downtown she’d woof at ’em like a dog. Pretty girl, barking? Pretty funny. Then we’d run off.

So no, I wasn’t ready for this, then. Writing would have been the obvious choice, but why? So I could write? I was already writing. I write every day, even when it rains. Especially when it rains. Always have. So I guess… I wasn’t ready until now?

For my schtick for class, because I am “visuals impaired” (not to be confused with “visually impaired,” although I’m that, too), I decided to illustrate my path in life via books.

Wicked smart, no? I suggest that you share this idea with all your friends and family. Books are highly undervalued as a supporting player when it comes to presentations. PowerPoint gets all the credit.

Here is the list of the books I chose:

a primer from when my dad was a kid

a primer from when I was a kid

“Catcher in the Rye,” by my main man, J.D. Salinger

Santa Biblia/Holy Bible, Edicion Bilingue/Bilingual Edition (a gift from my husband)

the “Nancy Drew” books, by Carolyn Keene

“Little House in the Big Woods,” by Laura Ingalls Wilder

“The King, the Mice and the Cheese,” by Nancy and Eric Gurney

“Are You My Mother?” by P.D. Eastman

“Eloise: The Absolutely Essential Edition,” by Kay Thompson, illustrated by Hilary Knight (and a small digression: I am unable to weed the following books from any library in which I work: fairy tales/fables, 398.2; poetry, 811; and anything illustrated by Hilary Knight. Just one of those little “librarian quirks.”)

“Henry Huggins,” by Beverly Cleary

“Home Price,” by Robert McCloskey

“Harriet the Spy”

“From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler”

“That Crazy April,” by Lila Perl

“A Tree Grows in Brooklyn,” by Betty Smith

“The Great Gatsby,” by F. Scott Fitzgerald

“Song of Solomon,” by Toni Morrison

“The Portland Review”

the “Harry Potter” series, by J.K. Rowling

“The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” by Brian Selznick

the “Oryx and Crake” series, by Margaret Atwood

And the piece de resistance… which I had just read to my first- and second-grade students that very day:

“Green Eggs and Ham,” by Dr. Seuss

“Thank you, thank you, Sam I am.”

As for the presentation? It went okay, I think. But I’m not sharing it here — too personal. Besides, you already know it all. hahahahaha. (That’s a little “blogger joke.”) I will tell you something, though — we all wrote out affirmations and feedback for each other. And while I, like Holden, hate all that kind of crap, it was excellent and made me feel all warm and fuzzy.

Yes, that’s right. My cohort has broken me. I knew someone would, eventually.

One of them wrote me a note, with my name at the top followed by the words, “My life is an open book.” Underneath was a sketch of “Green Eggs and Ham,” and a C.S. Lewis quote: “We read to know that we are not alone,” followed by, “Great job.” All of the notes were cool like that. It’s enough to make a girl feel like she’s not flying solo through life. Oh, wait, Internets… I already knew that one ;) Thank you.

Even if you’re not “required” to do one of these, a LifeMap is pretty cool. I highly recommend that you do one. Break out the colored pens, the magazines to make a collage, the visuals and the written words. Sketch it, bake it, put it to music, whatever works for you. Tie in the political, the philosophical, the ethical. What about family? Friends? Teachers and others who influenced you?

Ask yourself: What brought me to where I am today? Where am I going from here?

You can swipe my books idea if you’d like. There! I just gave my first assignment.

— wm


  1. Dan Hortsch says

    Most interesting, WM. The book idea and all of it. I graduated with teaching credentials, secondary, in English at PSU (still PSC then). Those education courses, wow. A couple were pretty awful. One was pretty good, but it was about hands-on teaching (still in class, leading up to student teaching, which was inadequate, I see now, given what Mike Walden did, for instance).

    That is great that you are finding so much pleasure in what you are doing. Whenever I find myself in a college-like setting, a seminar, discussion of some sort, I find it so much fun. It doesn’t happen often.

    When I think of books from the early years, I think of books that I got from our small school library and from the local public (Multnomah) library in our SE neighborhood, all important. But what really got me going in terms of more literary material were the short story collections my older brother brought home from high school — Poe, Hawthorne, Twain and others. What a revelation.

    Again, I am glad that you are enjoying grad school. You will be (and no doubt have been) a great teacher. Maybe I said that before. Anyway, the evidence is clear.


    September 19th, 2010 | #

  2. The Other Laura says

    I love this idea and I love that you are getting such a great buzz from grad school. (Didn’t I tell you you would love it?!)

    September 20th, 2010 | #

  3. Wacky Mommy says

    Dan, thank you. The classes are a lot livelier this time around, thank God. Or maybe it’s just my mind-frame. I also included the three books I would want with me on a desert island (Janson’s art history book, Shakespeare, the Bible). When I was at PSU, I loved coming across things that were stamped PSC (books, furniture, etc.). Always thought that was cool.

    TOL, i thought of you, actually, when I was putting it together. All your artsy stuff you do with books and words. You always make it seem so fun. And it is!!! Who knew? You were right about school (i was hoping you would be ;)

    September 20th, 2010 | #

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