This is how big of a nerd I am. Even in my “normal” (non-teaching) life, I hear the quotes of books I’ve taught rumbling through my head, and I begin composing literary analysis essays on the spot. Argh. I think. If only my students were this smart… But seriously, I do quote books, to myself, a lot. Most of the usual suspects are favorite lines from books I’ve taught a thousand times (you can now picture me emphatically reading these passages out loud to a room full of captivated students…):
“Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.” – Harper Lee, To Kill a Mockingbird
“Ships at a distance have every man’s wish on board.” – Zora Neale Hurston, Their Eyes Were Watching God
“Maybe there is a beast… maybe it’s only us.” – William Golding, Lord of the Flies
Yep. Passion for words, folks. That’s why they pay me the big bucks. This talent of mine (sad that I call it a talent, I know) stems from simple repetition and serves no purpose outside of winning bets against freshmen that I can speak Old English (just the Prologue to Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales…but don’t tell them that). It doesn’t even serve as a good party trick, because no one cares. However, I’ve recently discovered that when I run out of bedtime stories within arm’s reach, the Prologue to Romeo & Juliet is an unbelievable substitute: “Two Households, both alike in dignity / in fair Verona, where we lay our scene / from ancient grudge break to new mutiny / where civil blood makes civil hands unclean…” I don’t know if it’s the iambic pentameter or the rhyming couplets, but it knocks Dylan out cold every time. What’s more – I can now tell my students that there is a real-world application for why they need to memorize the Prologue – yay for relevance!
One other quote crossed my mind this week that felt relevant. It’s from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby (full disclosure: I didn’t have this whole quote memorized. I just remembered there was something in the opening chapters about what creates personality…and I had to look it up). This quote is by Nick Carraway, the narrator, describing Jay Gatsby:
“If personality is an unbroken series of successful gestures, then there was something gorgeous about him, some heightened sensitivity to the promise of life, as if he were related to one of those intricate machines that register earthquakes ten thousand miles away.”
And it got me thinking about personality as an unbroken series of successful gestures…and what my unbroken series of “successful” gestures has been since I became a new mama: wake, change, nurse, rock, comfort, bathe, sleep, repeat (delicate emphasis on the word “successful” here, since that’s debatable). That’s pretty much it. And, yeah, I think it does describe my personality these days, because I’ve become dangerously unable to think or talk about much else since Dylan was born (much to the chagrin of my non-mama friends, I’m sure). But I’m ok with that. Really. This series of new mama gestures may sound simple, even boring to some, but I love it. And you know what? I can’t wait until I can add “prologue recitation” to the series of gestures. I’ll just call Dylan my little nerd baby.
(No, this is not Dylan, but I wish it was. Just some other adorable nerd baby on the internet).