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Susan Ito trying to do it all: reading writing mothering spousing daughtering working living

Wednesday, February 01, 2006

Back to School

I'm returning to teaching at UC Extension tonight, after a hiatus of over a year. Part of me is really looking forward to it, and part of me is asking, why add one more activity to my already busting-at-the-seams schedule?

It certainly isn't for the money. (hahahahahaha!) And it isn't for the glamorous perks. This year they took away my free parking and my speakers' honorarium, two of the nice things I've enjoyed for the past ten years.

It's really the teaching itself. Maybe I'm a born ham. I like being up there, talking about writing and reading and books and words and characters. They're my favorite things to talk about, and when I see peoples' eyes get a little spark, or they start nodding, it is the greatest thing. Of course, when they start snoring in the back of the room, that's another thing.

But I've had some amazing experiences in teaching, and had some incredible students who have gone on to be fabulous writers, wonderful teachers themselves, and just great people. It's a real charge, which I imagine is what editors and agents feel, when I pick up a manuscript and start reading, and my eyes just pop out because it's so good. It's a huge pleasure, just like that first bite of a warm chocolate chip cookie (sorry, I'm thinking about cookies because I just read Libby's great blog on chocolate chip cookies. But really.

Another reason is the company. Writing can be a very lonely, solitary act and when I'm teaching, suddenly I've got fifteen or twenty other people to share the struggles and the joys with.

One thing I'm really excited about is that for the first time ever, after 12 years of teaching (!!), I'll actually have a colleague and friend teaching in the same building at the same time on the same night. Someone to shmooze with in the vending-machine room! Someone to talk to after class when I'm so revved up and can't possibly go home and go to sleep. I'm really happy about this serendipity in our schedules.

And of course, as with any First Day of School, I'm a little nervous. A little hyped up. A little scared. Maybe they are too.


Blogger expatmama said...

That sounds wonderful, Susan. Your students are really lucky!

And, um, so now not only do you not get paid to teach there, you have to pay to park while you're there? They really couldn't cough up the parking fee? Oh well...

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 12:57:00 PM

Anonymous Ericka said...

I made it into your blog!!! Looking forward to those clandestine meetings near the vending machines....

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 1:03:00 PM

Anonymous Ericka said...

Expatmama -- we actually DO get paid at UC Extension. We just all SAY we don't because it's a mere pittance. The kind of paycheck that some people might call "cute." But Susan is right -- it's the greatest thing, and really inspiring.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 1:14:00 PM

Blogger Susan said...

Yes, Ericka said it: our paycheck is "cute." Adorable! Infinitesemal!!

But still, somehow, worth it.

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 1:30:00 PM

Blogger melanie said...

I CAN'T believe they won't pay for parking! That sucks! Grrr to UC!

Wednesday, February 01, 2006 9:43:00 PM

Blogger Masha said...

Susan, your students are lucky to have you! I mean it. xom

Friday, February 03, 2006 3:46:00 AM

Blogger C(h)ristine said...

Susan--you're the one who started it all for me! I would NOT have applied to Squaw if it weren't for you...I would NOT have (re)submitted my manuscript to ZYZZYVA and gotten it published(!) if it weren't for you...and perhaps I would not have even pushed myself to apply to MFA programs, etc., etc. if it weren't for you!

Your UC Extension class was a pivotal experience in my writing career (and I know I am not the only one). I have friendships from your class that I will have forever, and all because you made the decision to teach and create that community! I've taken classes with other teachers at UC Extension and it just isn't the same.

Your passion for teaching really shows in your caring and your love for writing is contagious and inspiring.

Okay. Off my soapbox now.

Sunday, February 05, 2006 8:31:00 PM


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