Students, Students, Students

I am in the middle of my big push.  November 1 deadlines have been met and now we’re on to November 15th.  Then, we head right into December 1 deadlines before getting all the January 1 goals met before the holidays.  Also, there are term papers due.  I am working on Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert as well as The Plague by Albert Camus with students from Brown and UCLA.  Then there’s the Master’s thesis I’m helping with in Clinical Psychology.  That’s fun, as well.

The best part of my job is how much I get to learn in the process of helping others.  I always wanted an English degree along with my Psychology Master’s so this work allows me to read and analyze pieces of literature that I have always wanted to learn more about anyway. Also, the Master’s thesis I am helping with is all about the challenges women face in midlife so I am benefitting from all that research.  I am learning about what is now being called the “Third Age” for all of us baby boomers who feel too young to hang it up and too old to bother with many of the frustrations of our earlier lives. I am pleased to learn that with the help of modern medicine many of us will live well into our 80s, making the “Third Age” extend to twenty or so years.  That is plenty of time to come up with more of life to live before hitting the “Fourth Age” of decline.

The other wonderful part of my job is my relationship with my students.  I become good friends with these folks over the time we work together.  One of my college essay students said to me last week, “Okay, I went home and cried over what I’d written here. I feel much better now.”  He had been writing on one of the biggest challenges he’d face in his life (one of the Common App prompts) and the writing had triggered some feelings he had buried.  This happens a lot when working on these essays.  Our goal is to go deep and mine some of those tough times. After all, what good is a personal essay if it doesn’t evoke emotion in the reader?  The only way to evoke emotion is to actually feel emotion.  Authenticity reaches out from the page and grabs you. As I say to my students, “If your essay doesn’t make me at least tear up at the end, then it’s not good enough.” As Robert Frost so aptly said, “No tears in the writer, no tears in the reader.”  Many of my students say they feel as if they have been through therapy after they finish their college essays.  We are talking genuine tears, after all, never insincere ones. That would never suit.

On that note, I believe I’ll gather up my two dogs and head off for a walk around the block. They are ready and so am I.  I have been sitting a tad too long today.

I hope you are having a good night.

I’ll be checking back in again tomorrow.

deadline inspiration



2 Comments Add yours

  1. jhenehan says:

    This is a lovely letter.

    1. Thank you, Joan. Much appreciated.

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