― Oscar Wild
Sometimes we stumble upon books that affect us in ways we don't even notice. In looking back, I have to say that Up The Down Staircase by Bel Kaufman did that for me. Ms. Kaufman died last month at the age of 103. More amazing is the fact that she was still teaching (a course on Jewish humor at Hunter College) when she was 100. She began her teaching career in the urban schools of New York City, and her experiences there were captured in her book. When I was hired to teach English in an urban high school many years later, my principal explained that the classes he could offer me (it was October...school had been in session for about six weeks) were filled with students who had already caused eight teachers to walk out. He worried that someone of "my size" would be overwhelmed. I remember thinking that if Sylvia Barrett could survive in Kaufman's novel, and Mr. Kotter could keep his "sweathogs" in line in television's "Welcome Back Kotter", then I could do it too. I thought about both of them many times that first year and realized I wasn't alone. Even though I often felt I was fighting my way up that down staircase, I realized many strong teachers were fighting with me, and our students desperately needed us to fight the good fight. So thank you Bel Kaufman, and wherever you are now, may all of your staircases be easy to travel.
Ah traveling...our bags (and many boxes) are almost all packed for our trip to my sister's house and our year in limbo. This all happened so fast that it hardly seems real. One day we talked about the possibility of moving, and two weeks later we were signing a contract and selling our house. My motto...always keep life interesting. Luckily, Arthur is a great and willing partner in all of the journeys that have made my life so wonderful.
It has been difficult keeping up with my reading this week. In fact, I am only adding one review in my section. It is a whopper though. Beethoven has always been a musical hero of mine, and I decided to try to plow through the 1000+ pages of Swafford's biography of him. While I am not finding it a particularly easy read, it is so interesting that I believe it is well worth the time I am putting into it. There is another review I would like you all to read under guest reviews. Kathy, one of our great reviewers, reviewed the book Between, the first published novel of Amy Riddle-DeClerck, another of our top reviewers. I know that this is a labor of love for Amy, and I will be reading it very soon.
In fact, I think it is time for me to sign off and read for a bit right now...packing can wait!