Do You Have Any Questions?

There is an alarming overlap between what I say to my students and what I’d say to my nemesis if I were a supervillain: “are you afraid?” The difference, fortunately, is that I ask this to my students after I’ve introduced a new concept or project instead of, say, when I’ve just stolen nuclear launch codes. I like to ask them publicly and individually if anything we’ve gone over is intimidating or alarming because I feel like it presupposes the fact that I know teachers–myself included–can introduce new things at a pace that seems quick or frightening to a student.

Back when there was still an authority in my life strong enough to make me do math, I wish someone had asked me if I was afraid. The answer would have been a trembling “yes” followed by a detailed description of some particularly distressing dreams in which a different limb of mine was cut off every time I got a question wrong on a test.

I could’ve saved my feet if I’d just had one of these

Questions, I think, are the most important thing a teacher should think about. Questions for their students and questions that might come from their students. I try to anticipate what could be confusing or alarming or just difficult when I’m in my classroom, and I think I do a decent job of it.

I know there’s something I’m stressed about, but I can’t remember what it is, but I’m still stressed about it, and now I’m worried about not remembering what it is

But I think I’m pretty shitty at it in other contexts. There is exactly one time and place in which I am confident, and that is my job. Outside of my role as a teacher, I tend to be a bit quiet, pretty weird, and stuck in my head. I have a tendency to internalize everything which, when coupled with my genuinely dreadful memory, amounts to someone who is not too communicative and also cannot remember what would have been worth communicating. I am a goldfish with emotional issues.

But the problem continues even further in my writing. As a blogger, I write a lot about myself, the things I think about, the tiny rants I go on when I see something unforgivably stupid, complaints, or just observations. But all that doesn’t amount to really telling anyone anything. I think of myself as a really terrible machine, but I only let people get to know the really terrible things this machine creates. That’s a pretentious way of explaining that there is a difference between knowing what someone would say and knowing why they’d say it, and I don’t offer many explanations. 

So I want to do something I’ve never done before, or at least not in this context. I want to ask for questions, about me, the blog, or anything else.

If there’s anything you want to know, leave a comment. I’ll try my best to answer genuinely.


PS: I’m leaving this post up indefinitely, and I’ll respond to any comments as they come. 


17 Replies to “Do You Have Any Questions?”

  1. First off: “I am a goldfish with emotional issues” had me rolling (figuratively. Literally I’m sitting on my sofa with the laptop in precisely the appropriate place according to it’s name). So thanks for that. Nicer way to start off the day than the political article I accidentally read prior.

    Second-Off (is this a thing? I was going to type “Secondly” but didn’t want to ruin the congruity. Continuity? Meh.): What made you finally stop thinking about blogging and actually start doing it?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Not gonna lie, the goldfish made me giggle too, so I had to put it in.

      I’m of the opinion that writing should evolve! Secondly and secondful second-off all fly!

      As for your question, I think the thing that really did it for me was that I wrote something once, really enjoyed the kind of thing it was, and realized I could shove it onto the internet. It was just a crappy essay about gargoyles that I wrote to send to a friend who had just found a new job.

      Writing something I liked and knowing there was somewhere that writing could belong definitely did it for me. Before that, I had mostly figured having a blog would be kind of like another job or a really tiring hobby.

      Liked by 3 people

      1. Firstfully, thanks for answering!
        With much Secondfulness: I too appreciate there’s someplace I can write where the writing actually belongs and may be enjoyed by others who may also have things to say. Bonus: Nobody can tell I have awful penmanship! Woot!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. For me, it was also realizing the writing I wanted to do right now didn’t really belong in any lit magazines, and I didn’t want to edit stuff for them. Also, I got a rejection letter that literally said they hadn’t read the piece I sent but did not think it belonged in their publication based on the title.

        Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve been teaching for a bit over two years–not too long in terms of how long a lot of others do it. I teach intro composition courses at my university which generally means I’ve got freshman through senior students. I do teach some high school in the summers through a program that brings underprivileged first-generation students to my school. Those students are typically just finishing 9th or 10th grade, and I’m their writing instructor. This is going to be my third summer doing that.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Cool, thanks you.
        I have another blogging friend who teaches English as a second language to adult immigrants in Canada, and she gets great satisfaction from her work. 🙂
        Keep it up.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. What’s your favorite book involving swords and dragons?
    If you had to pick, what type of mythical creature would you be?
    What’s the last song that got stuck in your head?

    Also, please feel free to ban me from asking further questions. It might be for the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oooh these are good ones. Terry Pratchett’s The Color of Magic is definitely my current favorite.

      If I could be any mythical creature, it would be a basilisk because turning people to stone just by looking at them would be a fantastic way to show someone you’re not up for small talk.

      The song that is currently embedded in my head is Magic Man by Heart and it’s the part that goes “Come on home, girl,” but I like thinking it’s actually “come on, homegirl” because slang is fun.

      I wouldn’t ban you! The questions are fun 🙂

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I’ll check out The Color of Magic. I haven’t gone down the Discworld rabbit hole too far as of yet. It’s such a sprawling series that it kind of feels like too much of a commitment, which makes my teeth itch a little.

        Have you read any A. Lee Martinez? His stuff is kind of like if Pratchett, Lovecraft and Douglas Adams had a love child who was really into mythology.

        Good call on the basilisk!

        Liked by 1 person

      2. The size of the Discworld series is definitely daunting, but I see it more as a bunch of reasonable-sized series all set in one place.

        I haven’t read anything by him! Do you have any recommendations on what books to start with?

        Liked by 1 person

    1. It was an independent study for the last year of my undergrad. It was indeed looking rhetorically at comedy and humor writing. I got interested in it when I started studying rhetoric in my other English classes and wanted to apply it to a style of writing I was just starting to try out. I spent a year watching stand-up on youtube and reading silly books as “research” and writing about them and why they were funny. I had found a few really cool books explaining some of the theory behind what makes some things funny, and those were the foundation behind a lot of essays that walked the line between unforgivably boring and kind of funny sometimes.

      I’m actually planning on writing other stuff in that vein here some time in the future, but it would less be about why specific things are funny and more about how specific texts are funny or appealing in some other way to cover up something alarming.


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