Fishtrap Week 16 Reflections

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[What happened to Week 11? That was here. Weeks 12-15? That was Imnaha (see April’s archives). Weeks 1-10? See Sunday’s posts From January through March.]
Today I began phase two of my life here through Fishtrap, piloting the Writer-in-Residence program for neighboring Union County. While still living in Wallowa County, I will travel one day per week to teach in the public schools in small communities like Elgin and Imbler, and later, even LaGrande Middle School. Here’s a partial view of Elgin High School, which has 135 students in grades 9-12:
Piloting the program means my work is about diplomacy as much as it is about teaching. I’ll be the face of Fishtrap to these teachers and administrators who have never had a Writer-in-Residence in their schools before. It’s an honor to get to represent such an influential literary organization in the west, and it keeps me on my toes.
Today was no surprise—by and large I’ve found the students in rural, poorer county schools are the definition of well mannered. It makes my job easy, the only real challenge making sure that I am 110% energy-packed when I walk in the door, because many of these students have the same English teacher for four years in a row. They’re ready for a fresh teaching style and their teachers graciously share their classrooms. Somehow, though, this feels like it makes every word count even more.
I have roughly 5 weeks left in my residency for Fisthrap. Five weeks to assess needs in Union County. Five weeks to keep pushing my manuscript. Five weeks to hope more snow melts so I can get some hikes in. Five weeks to enjoy the everyday company of S (and yes, Dad, he has straight teeth and a good sense of humor!). Five weeks to avoid thinking about what will happen between us after I go. Five weeks to stop biting my cheeks every time I check my email or snail mail for news that could send me all of two hours or two thousand miles away for the next year of my life.

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