Although I warmed up by teaching an intensive class last week, nothing ever really prepares me for the first day of a semester. Today, after teaching a maxed-out children’s lit class (there’s a waiting list–not because of my popularity, but because it’s a required course for education majors), conducting a meeting while hungry (I hate that), and answering the emails that kept pouring in–plus the ones I neglected over the weekend–I barely have enough brain function left to make a cup of tea, let alone craft a memorable blog post. But I think it’ll be easy enough to list some of the things that made me happy over the weekend and today. So here we go.
- Saturday-Sunday, I went camping, backpacking (though I barely carried the pack a quarter of a mile, since our campsite was so close to the car), and scrambling up a popular local rock face known ominously as Devil’s Marbleyard. Although I love hiking and being outdoors, I’ve rarely camped and never backpacked. Fortunately, I was with a friend who is a certified wilderness EMT and adventure guide and I don’t know what else, so she showed me how to set up a tent, boil water for hot chocolate (very important) in a Kelly Kettle, and wash dishes with hippie soap (it seriously had hemp in it) in a freezing cold creek by the light of a headlamp. The part I was most worried about was staying warm at night, but with a zero-degree sleeping bag and a lot of those Hot Hands packs that are popular with hunters at this time of year, I was downright cozy. As for scrambling up the rock face, I just pretended like I was Frodo or Sam traversing the Emyn Muil–just without the elven rope.
- Last night I went to see Hacksaw Ridge (side note: I went out last night wearing leggings as pants, and I was regretting that style choice all the way to the theater and thinking, “Wow, I’ve really let myself go.” Immediately after getting there, I saw at least three women wearing leggings as pants.). If all you’ve heard about Hacksaw Ridge is that Andrew Garfield has a bad accent in it (he really doesn’t, though, and he is adorable), you should give it a chance. It’s about Desmond Doss, a WW2 medic who refuses to carry a gun due to his religious convictions and past traumas, but ends up saving dozens of lives in one night, under relentless attack, through his (figuratively) insane work ethic and (literally–almost) insane fearlessness. It was especially poignant to watch the film in Lynchburg, VA, where Doss grew up. (We actually drove on the PFC Desmond T. Doss Memorial Expressway while coming back from the mountains yesterday.) If you think you’ve seen enough WW2 movies, see this one anyway; you’ve probably never seen one about a conscientious objector. They tend not to make movies about conscientious objectors.
- After the movie, I rushed home to watch the second half of the Steelers-Chiefs game. I rarely write about football on this blog, and I won’t take the time to start now, but since I’m listing things that have made me happy, I’ll just say that I’m happy that the Steelers won–and, like all good Western Pennsylvanians, sick with apprehension about next week.
- Finally, my students, as they so often do, have made me happy today. My children’s lit students seem to think I’m a comedienne (I try), and most of them appear to be totally on board with the Walt Disney World-style character breakfast I’m planning for the last day of class. Meanwhile, a student from last week’s class sent me a Harry Potter article and a recording of Neil Gaiman reading A Christmas Carol, and he told me that I’m currently his go-to person to discuss Harry Potter with. Just what I’ve always wanted to hear.
Time to go outside and try to clear my head with fresh air.