|My dad and me in front of the Quonset Hut. That's George, my dog|
He joined the Marine Corps and fought in the war. He came home with a pocket full of savings and flipped a coin. Heads he would go to college, tails he would spend the entire savings in the New Orleans jazz clubs. After countless beers and music-filled nights, he came to California broke and found work in a plastics factory. Once again, he did things his way. I think he needed that time to compartmentalize things he saw and did during the war; the things that haunted him throughout his lifetime.
Within a short time he met my mother, who insisted he earn a college degree. That’s when we moved to Tucson, Arizona. He attended the University of Arizona. My dad attended the first class of each course to secure the syllabus and required book. He read the book in the first week, understood the concepts and staying true to his behavior in high school, he only attended class on test days. That way he could watch me and tutor the football players while my mother worked.
My mother never stopped declaring, “you are so much like your father”. In my mind there were no similarities. He was smart. He was a math person. Go figure…well he figured; I never got the hang of it. I’m right-brained. I had to work for my grades. He did things on his own time while I play by the rules.
My father died young, more than thirty years ago. Mom died in 2008. When my sister and I were going through the garage we came across his college diploma. It was mounted onto a wooden board where it hung at work and then, after retirement, in his home-office. This piece of wood represented a lot of work. What do you do with this type of artifact when someone dies? I’m not sure where it ended up. It’s too painful to think that it may be lying in a graveyard dump.
When I was in grad school, few understood the way I would attack a course. I attended the first class in anticipation of acquiring the syllabus and required books. Unlike my father, I attended every single class to ensure I understood the material. I completed a final draft of my course paper by the mid-term and would coast through the rest of the course. I took copious notes during class and just before the end of the course I reviewed my paper, read my notes and outlining key learning points, made appropriate changes. I was always the first done, always the first to present and never, NEVER one to stay up and write a paper the night before it was due. NEVER! I’m not a procrastinator. I like to have things done way before they need to be done. I played by the rules.
Before I left for Peace Corps, I was teaching at three different schools. I usually taught four nights a week. My syllabi were well detailed. I created a detailed class activity sheet for each class. Both were complete before the course began and handed out to students the first night. Many times, I power pointed the assigned books. I searched for appropriate current events and video material.
Each Sunday, I prepared for the week’s classes. I had a bag for each class where I could put appropriate materials, graded papers, books and anything else I would need for the class. The bags were lined up in order of the day of the week. Yes, my life was extremely organized.
There is a saying about time in Saint Lucia. People do things ‘just now’. That means it may get done in ten minutes, an hour, a few hours, or even days. Just now is getting things done on my own time. Since returning from my Peace Corps assignment in August, I have a lot of unstructured time. I will start teaching in January. It’s almost the end of November and I haven’t considered the syllabus. Thinking about the old me, this is quite uncharacteristic. I should have reported my decision on the book last Thursday. The university wants to know. I’m definitely lagging and having trouble getting away from my ‘just now’ time schedule. I’ve stopped playing by the rules.
As I said, my dad did things on his own time. Maybe I am finally living up to my mother’s declaration. Maybe I am like my father. Identifying the book should be a priority. The problem is that I bought a stand mixer this week and I’m more interested in learning to make a good pie crust today. Maybe I’ll listen to some jazz while I bake that pie.