Halfway There

the buzzword this week has been “half-way,” yet I’m not quite sure how appropriate that is. I keep hearing that these last two weeks of teaching will fly, that Institute will be over before we know it, but I’m dubious. This weekend was great: refreshing and fun, but there’s still a lot of work that needs to be done.

In any case, there were several incidents towards the end of last week that helped push me up and over the halfway point without completely cracking up like last Friday, the first of which ocurred on Thursday night…

With regards to my last, admittedly ambiguous post, the long string of lowercase letters refers to the rhyme scheme of Robert Frost’s “After Apple-Picking.” In a bit of a pissy mood due to collaborative miscommunication, fellow Miami CM Emily and I spent a long night searching for the perfect poem with which to teach symbolism that afternoon. Instead of writing lesson plans, for two hours of our blessed free night we read our favorite poems from the anthology, efficiency be damned! Those were two of the best hours I spent last week, liberating and bordering on pointless. Teach for America does not look highly on pointlessness, so we almost felt as though we were being naughty children. Almost, until we started doing a little poetic analysis.

Some people think that Frost is cheesy; that his metaphors are too in-your-face; that anybody can read his poems, but there are times when the man is good. That night, we honed in on one of those times. The poem is allegorical: literally every noun (excluding pronouns) has a symbolic meaning outside the context of apple picking on a cold winter’s morning. What’s more is that the poem is so simply written that even if it were “just” about apple picking it’s appealing to read. With its wealth of symbols, we pounced on it for our lesson, and then set about figuring what we were going to teach. After a cursory reading we came up with our lecture, and feeling a little giddy already we decided to take it a little further.

Rhyme being the most accessible structure of the poem, we start scanning it for patterns. There’s clearly something going on, but we can’t quite put our fingers on it. The repetition doesn’t seem to be consistent, and rhyming pairs are separated by 3, 4 and 6 lines. Things look dim for our out-of-practice lit crit minds, and then halfway through a light comes down from above…

…Chopping up the rhyme units into reflective sections, I hit up on a pattern of mirrored pairs with an irregular number of lines in between. Feeling quite pleased with myself (I believe there might have been shouting and high fives involved), I felt a bit of wistful nostalgia for my college days (yes, I know, they’re so far behind me) and the thrill of intellectual discovery. Got over that pretty quickly when next I googled “after apple-picking rhyme scheme” and found a FANTASTIC critical article from some prof at University of Michigan talking about how the mirrored rhyme units mimic the narrator’s fading and shattered memory reflected in the icy water. Can I get a hell-yeah for intellectual validation? Hell yeah. On that note we parted ways, had a great symbolism class on Friday, even if we didn’t get to read all of the poem.

The weekend continued to improve with V. and I making it in to Manhattan for Spiderman, and a real Italian dinner (with gnocchi, albeit mediocre, but at least not cafeteria food!), then Saturday really did me in with

1. ART DECO and furniture at the Met, the rooftop garden open and Andy Goldsworthy (temporary all-natural installation pieces) installations foregrounding Central Park West

2. shopping on the Upper West Side, and my weekly 5 minutes with DDH outside of Staples

3. Amanda Eve Warren, even if a little morose post-boyfriend visit =)

4. Lunch at Zabars, MMMMMM.

5. dinner at Patsy’s another movie, drinks at “Beauty Bar” (drinking establishment nee hair salon) and an indie rock concert

6. homemade blueberry pancakes on Sunday morning c/o Bonnie and Joe, Ms. Warren’s familial relations

7. lunch from Zabars, fresh raspberries and marzipan

8. clothing sales in the Bronx, a walk and a run through the rain, dinner with friends (albeit cafeteria food)

9. kick ass posters for Monday’s lesson.

And so that’s half way. Two weeks of teaching down, 9 days at school, 3 actually in the classroom, and then it’s all over. Will I be at ALL sad to leave the Big Apple? Probably. Will I be at all sad to leave Institute? Probably not, but I’ll let you know when I get there.

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