Monday, January 26, 2009

Teach, Name, Luck

I've discovered the joy of taking long walks while listening to a book on my ipod. I walked to work this morning (about 2 miles) while listening to Eat, Pray, Love. Elizabeth Gilbert has a seductive voice that adds extra joy to the experience. Even when she's talking about wanting to kill herself, you feel like you're swimming in silk.

Today was the first day of classes. Each class was full, and then some ... as always, students were trying to add, and I felt like I was kicking a puppy when I had to turn them away. It's only going to get worse next year with the cutbacks. Too bad we don't build fewer bombs and prisons so there's money for an extra class or two.

I asked my students today to write about their names. I told them I'm Kathleen Mary Evans. My baby book indicates the "Kathleen" comes from my dad's cousin, whom I don't remember meeting but apparently did, according to an old photo showing the baby me in a blow-up wading pool with her standing nearby. "Mary," according to my mom, comes from "the mother of God." Yes, that's what she wrote in my baby book. No pressure, huh? "Evans" is a bastardization of some Hungarian name that was changed when someone several generations ago passed into the U.S. via Ellis Island. I also talked about how I came to being called "Kate" by a friend of mine in college who loved Kate Hepburn (his name was Joe, and "Chuck" in my novel, For the May Queen, is based on Joe). My students in Japan called me Kate-san (they wanted nothing to do with the mouthful that is "Kathleen"). Now that I'm writing this I can see there are so many other associations and family stories that come to mind when I think about my name (such as the fact that Annie calls me "Leen"). This means it's fertile ground for writing. And when we share next week, we'll get to learn some things about each other.

The energy is class was great today. No one fell asleep as I went over the details of the syllabus, always a good sign. We have so many great things happening this semester, including visits to campus by Mark Doty, Paul Lisicky, Aimee Bender, Sandra Gilbert and more. And did I mention my great luck, that during Spring Break, I'm going to Hawaii with my mom, sisters and Annie? Aloha is always a good thing to inject into one's psyche and body while pining for summer--which I always am doing mid-March.
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