09 January 2010

Dedicated to Eng 218R Sec 070

"May I interrupt? I vill need to leave eiraly. Very early. Furty minutes from now, actually. I thought you should know," proclaimed a skinny female student in my creative writing class on Tuesday. Doesn't she know that you don't need to excuse yourself in American university classes? Or maybe I am just unaccustomed to the practices among English majors.

I had registered for a writing class in hopes that I would learn more about technical writing and format to help me to pursue my most recent dream of becoming a freelance writer. I've already taken a Grant Writing class and feel fully prepared to contract for future grant proposals. Now I just need to master creative non-fiction and submit to national magazines, or regional for starters. But it was apparent from even the first few minutes of my English 218R experience that this class was not the right fit for me.

Walking in the room a little late, coming straight from work, there was only one seat left in the classroom. The half table desks had been moved from their rows into a circle around the room, with the only remaining seat being in the middle of the circle. Of course, as I was late, the middle seat was mine.

"You can sit in the center. Or if you want, you can move the seat by me," the prose teacher offered. I had the option, then, to sit either in the middle of the group or in what little space there was between the teacher and the screen projecting the professor's iMac contents. I chose more anonymity and moved my chair off to the right side of the teacher. Seated, I had time to look around the room at my classmates and professor as he continued to introduce himself.

The creative writing teacher was wearing a gray vest, long sleeve white shirt, and holey jeans, almost as if he had raided my dad's leisure wardrobe. But unlike my Alaskan dad, this professor spoke with a slight lisp and an accent that reminded me of Drop Dead Gorgeous or Strange Brew. In fact, his face looked a little like Rick Moranis. Professor Rick pushed his clear, aviator style, magnifying bifocals back to the arch of his nose as he read the syllabus out loud.

"I teach the course as art and as vital to society, not as hobby/craft,"Professor Rick explained. "Some of you may be thinking this isn't the right fit for you, eh." How did he know?! "If that is the case," he continued, "then you can leave now. It might be a bit embarrassing, but at least you'll be gone." One girl got up to leave. I admired her integrity and new-found time, but stuck to my promise of anonymity. After all, what if it got better and I was just making false assumptions. I had two more hours to find out.

The professor continued to describe the future assignments and readings. The class would be spending the majority of allotted course time workshopping pieces that select students would bring to class. Assignments also included a writers journal and portfolio final. One student asked, "Should we submit that in a binder?" I wasn't sure what assignment she was referring to, since at this point I had decided that the class outline did not mesh with my goals and had thus started to take notes of my surroundings for my next blog post. "I use stone tablets, but then again I am older," Professor Rick replied.

Professor Rick did have his funny moments. He described how when he was in school he was first registered as a computer science major but switched after HIS first creative writing class to be an English major. With his new ambitions, he submitted a short story to an essay contest at BYU and won. "It may seem like I'm bragging... because I am..." Well, I laughed, anyway.

Most of the students were listening intently as the professor outlined the course. Some were even vocally excited by the prospect of workshopping their writings or going to the library to research assigned readings. The students with square glasses frames were swapping stories across the room of former English Dept author readings or their favorite screenings at the international cinema, which the professor referred to as the best kept secret at BYU.

It was about at this point that the Russian classmate packed up and left early. I sighed, and looked over to the other side room where a Sophomore girl was staring off into the distance. What was she looking at? I followed her gaze to the clock above the door - one hour and forty minutes to go. Dang!

Out of a class of twenty, there were only three students that I estimated were going to drop the class or sleep through it. Pink-shirted Sophomore girl, Hugo, seated (more like slouching) next to her, already with drooping lids, and myself. No need to estimate for myself though, so I stopped taking descriptive blog notes and started thinking of excuses to go home, save myself time, and start cooking dinner.

Luckily, the teacher decided to end the class early, having sufficiently reviewed the syllabus and assigning the next week's workshop authors. His last words to us were, "Get thee hence!" And that I was. I was the first out the door, still putting on my coat.

Though I tease about it, that hour that I was in Eng 218R was well worth it. I think those square glasses kids are really going to excel! And Professor Rick said something that I think will be a good addition to the blog, not to mention fun! He suggested that we start an eavesdropping journal, listen to people when we are out at restaurants or events and write our favorites lines. Eavesdropping is one of my many talents. Why have I never considered this before? Done and Done!

And for my first eavesdropping entry, I submit to you this conversation I overheard in the airplane going from Seattle to Sitka. Having landed in Ketchikan, one young man decided to strike up a loud conversation with his row mate, a young woman from a maritime academy in California."What does 'maritime' mean?" the young man asked. "It means I'm learning how to work on merchant ships or with the navy." "Oh!" the young man exclaimed, "then you must be BUFF."