Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mother's Day

Hi there,

I know this might be a tough weekend for some, and the first thing I want to say is that I hear ya and I'm sorry and if I could hug you, I would.

For the weeks leading up to Mother's Day, I've felt pretty OK about the holiday coming up. I chose to roll my eyes at the Hallmark commercials instead of getting choked up. And it was working, I think.

But today it's a bit much. Every store in my neighborhood is selling flowers, plants, greeting cards, brunch specials, mani-pedi's for two... I could go on. I went out this afternoon to run an errand and practically ran back home. I don't think I'll venture back out there. I have plenty of papers to grade, and renting a movie tonight sounds pretty good anyway.

Tomorrow I'll get together with my dad and his girlfriend Susan and a bunch of her relatives. This has been our tradition the past few years, and despite it being a hard day, I'm looking forward to it. I like having something to do on these holidays, and I like spending it with Susan. She is a mom-like figure to me, and we've had a lot of fun lately on little shopping sprees or chit-chats on the phone. She makes a special effort to make sure I'm busy on Mother's Day and invite me to whatever they're doing, and that means a lot to me.

So, what should you do this weekend and tomorrow? I don't know if I have a golden rule for you. I would say to do what you feel comfortable doing. If you feel like staying home in your PJs and watching old movies, enjoy your solitude. If you feel like seeing family or friends, take comfort in their company. If you want to visit a cemetery or donate to a charity, go for it.

To me, it's always been important to take time to be sad (I will go for a run tomorrow morning, and there will probably be tears) and take time to be happy (I will see my Dad and Susan and instantly laugh at their Seinfeld-like bickering, and later I'll get to play with Susan's cute grandkids).

I'll be thinking of you. And in that way, none of us will be alone tomorrow.


My professor passed away

It's with sadness that I report that Professor Glavin, the professor I mentioned in my last post who was sick with cancer, passed away yesterday on May 7, 2010. He was 67 and had been a magazine professor at Syracuse University for 37 years. Under his cynical grumbles he had a big heart, especially when it came to his students. They were his world. And, in fact, he donated a great deal of his estate to the school and a fund that allows interns to afford internships.

I found out the news yesterday at work and decided to take a walk. Lucky for me, Central Park is two blocks away. I called Mark to tell him. Or, really, just to hear his voice.

"I hope he's in a better place," I said, which felt cliche but seemed right.

"Better than Syracuse?" Mark joked, a nod to the snow capital of the universe known for gray skies and SAD (Seasonal Affective Disorder).

"Does such a place even exist?" I teased.

We shared a laugh, and that felt like the kind of tribute Glavin would have liked. In the email announcing his passing, this sentiment stuck with me: "The best way to remember and honor him will be to live your lives, love your work, and write fiercely and passionately about the topics that matter most to you." I feel thankful that I found a new job which will allow me to do this.

I wrote Glavin a letter two weeks ago in hopes that a distraction might do him good. Not wanting to get too sappy, I instead relayed a story to him about a college experience that made an impact on me. In my first class with Glavin, we had to write a big research paper on a magazine of our choice. I chose Modern Drummer and traveled to New Jersey to meet the founder and editor-in-chief of the publication, Ron Spagnardi. He was a lovely gentleman who inspired me to continue pursuing journalism as my career. I told Glavin that I'm thankful to him and Ron for being mentors throughout my career.

What I didn't tell Glavin was that Ron passed away several years ago of cancer. My hope now is that they might get to meet, shake hands, and shoot the shit for a bit.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Saying goodbye to teaching

Hi there,

Today was my last official day of teaching -- well, at least for now. I've spent the past year as a professor at Syracuse University's S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, teaching a brand new class called Writing and Editing for Magazine Websites. What an incredible journey it has been.

I mostly taught the class long-distance from Brooklyn using Skype, but today I came up to Syracuse to wish my students farewell on their last day of class.

My day ended with a happy hour at a local bar, Faegan's, filled with students from the fall and spring semesters. To me, it felt like the ending of the movie "Big Fish," when all the characters the father has ever known gather at the river for his send-off to heaven. It seemed fitting that my time at Syracuse would end with the students. After all, they were the most fulfilling part of this whole experience: seeing their work, watching them thrive, and discovering the many talents each of them possessed.

Today was also a somber day, as one of my beloved professors is sick with cancer. Walking through the halls of Newhouse made me reflect on his influence on me as a student, editor, writer, and, most recently, teacher. I can't imagine Newhouse without him chain-smoking outside the building and eagerly showing Harry Potter movie trailers to his classes (he was obsessed -- read this article about him to see how much!). When I emailed him to tell him how much I loved teaching, he responded: "I am glad that you are enjoying teaching. I have always loved it, because of the students. They are always great."

I will pause in my teaching career in order to focus on my new full-time job, which I start on Wednesday. I am sad to say goodbye to teaching, but excited to start my new job. I feel proud of the path I've traveled in the past year, and it makes me look forward to where the path might go from here. Hopefully teaching will be part of that path again at some point.

I know all good things must come to an end, but part of me feels so nostalgic today. What do you do to make saying goodbye to an experience or person a bit easier?

Love from the 'Cuse,