I know I've told you classes have been fine, but I haven't talked about them much. What is slowly being confirmed for me here is that I love teaching almost as much as I love writing (and at least a little more than I love editing). If I could spend the rest of my life teaching, editing and writing (with a little travel thrown in), I think I might be deliriously happy.
The only reason confirmation on the joys of teaching has been slow is that I've been dreadfully nervous before each class up until very recently. I told this to Karina (she called from Melbourne last night and we chatted for a bit) and she couldn't believe it. She says I always seem self-confident and in control in social situations. Hah! That's 'cause she's only seen me do things that I've been doing for a while, and have sort of gotten good at.
Like throwing parties. Lord, I threw a party for my college graduation that was incredibly painful. First of all, it was half my relatives and half my friends, and I just didn't understand at that point what a delicate balance that would be. So I didn't invite the right kind of people who would make that kind of awkward party a success (or more accurately, I invited them, but I didn't make sure they'd come). There were a few, but not enough to smooth over the awkwardness, and I'm pretty sure almost everyone had a miserable time. (Add in anxiousness about Kev meeting my folks for the first time and you have a sure recipe for disaster).
Now, I won't claim that I'll never throw a rotten party again...but I just have more experience, so it's a lot less likely.
Ditto with readings. These days, while I still get churning stomach before readings, when I get up there, I know how to be professional (which for me seems to mean not looking professional; looking like I'm relaxed, or excited, or whatever...but in any case, not looking panicked and terrified).
But the first time I was supposed to read my work (at a college open mic), I got so scared that I chickened out. A friend read it instead, while I cowered in the audience. And the second time, in Philly, I was really glad that Kevin had agreed to come along to the public open mic, 'cause I was terrible, and before I'd read two poems, I knew it. But I stuck it out for a couple more, with the audience looking bored, and me ready to cry...
So getting back to teaching, having a whole course of my own is new to me. And while there's some structure already in place, a lot of it I'm making up as I go (and don't I *wish* I'd had more time before it started to prep -- the pleasures of preparing are severely under-rated, I'm learning). I had all these anxieties -- what if I run out of material? what if I bore them? what if I don't cover everything I'm supposed to? what if they hate me?
I've certainly made mistakes so far, but no disasters have surfaced yet, and I'm finally calming down enough that I can actually enjoy the class while I'm teaching it. I think if I taught it again, I'd do a much better job, and even if I taught a different class, I'd have less anxiety. So it's getting better, as expected, and by the time Karina sees me teach, I'll probably be an old pro, and she'll say, "See, I knew you weren't really stiff and wooden and terrified." And I won't be able to do anything but smile.