In Africa Harper Lee Made My Day

What a day…
1)  Someone in our apartment complex said  water will be cut off citywide in Marrakesh tonight–no idea why or for how long.
2)  Electricity went off four times today at school. My desktop computer (no wifi) which I use for teaching, grading, attendance and our only electric heater--gone. It was 39 degrees this morning and with no central heat in the building we were cold.
3)  Meanwhile at my house in Nashville… a storm broke a limb which cut off my renter’s electricity.   My brother-in-law, Jeff, called and we’re trying to get her up and running. I first spoke with him on the early bus—one I’d taken only 2 times this year because it’s reserved for teachers with children or emergencies.  Today I had one.
4)  My bank card wasn’t working, and I was told by a colleague to go get it resolved because when her card stopped working money was still subtracted from her account. I’d tried mine at three ATMs last weekend so for all I knew, I was cleaned out without a dirham in my purse.  Third world problems I’m told.
As I got off the bus at the bank,  I dared one more thing to go wrong.  Just.  One. Fulfilling the stereotype of the “violent American,” I mumbled through clinched teeth  Clint Eastwood- style, “Make My Day.”
Then something did.
(Full disclosure: I’ve vowed in 2015 to say “thank you” several times every day.  While writing my Gratitude List below, Jeff called.  The electrician had bad news.  Very bad.   I said an ugly word. Twice.  But then I realized I am so thankful for insurance, Master Card, and especially Jeff for handling the house while I’m away.  It was reassuring and fun talking to him.)
When I took my eyes off the problems, I saw solutions.  Here’s to all the good stuff, the cups half full, the reasons this was a great day.
1)  Our amazing staff who got my electricity up and running as soon as I sent a student for help. And they do it every single time every single day with a smile.
2)  Our school changing the infrastructure of our wifi so that in a few weeks my kids should be one-to-one for the first time ever every single day. They can learn, research, problem solve, collaborate, create–take more ownership for their learning as they will at university –using the internet in the classroom.
3)  18 girls who committed to the Be Girl program of Project SOAR which will help keep village girls in school.   And our boys who asked if they can volunteer on Sundays,  excited to help their neighbors on a weekly basis.
4)  My bank card working again.
5)  Skyping with my daughter, Taylor, who asked what she can do to help.  Skyping with my mom, who told me again what “good company” Ella (my lab mix) and Precious (our Persian) are as she spoils them rotten.
6)   And….The coolest book release announcement of the 21st century. Harper Lee is publishing her “sequel” to To Kill a Mockingbird. The story of Scout all grown up was written before the Pulitzer-Prize masterpiece, the greatest southern novel, a tribute to the best in human beings everywhere triumphing over the worst. JUST YESTERDAY I told my students Harper Lee, like Emily Bronte, were two of the only writers I know who were justified in writing one novel because they hit the mark of perfection the first time out.
Thank God I was wrong.
At 88, Harper Lee, Atticus-like, inspires all of us. It takes courage to shine light on a first work—particularly when the 2nd one was perfection. I can’t wait to meet Scout all grown up.  I’ve been doing some growing up, too.
Thanks, Ms. Lee, for reminding those who’ve always felt we have a book in us but feared we are too old, that we are wrong. You have made my day.

Staycation #11: Reread Your Favorite Classic…My Pick is Turning 50

Not to sound all teacherly, but as a girl who has literally put her money where her mouth is with Classic Coup I believe in promoting the classics. Great books should be read again when we are adults and have life experiences to bring to the reading table. Like gourmet chocolate, a Chanel suit, fine food, or vintage wine, top-shelf classics are the crème de la crème of book fashion. They are evergreen…never out of style because they are all about substance. They provide high protein rather than empty carbs for our inner nerd. They move our heads and hearts. Lit is life because classics are about issues we all face…like what to do with family, friends, career, freedom, injustice. They move us to critical thinking and compassionate living. Lit is Life.
Light beach reads are great, but finally reading or revisiting a book like To Kill a Mockingbird, a national treasure, can be fun in the sun…and more rewarding. Whether you attend Davis Kidd’s celebration of the novel’s 50th birthday July 11 and hear writers read their favorite passages from Harper Lee’s masterpiece…or climb solo into Maycomb, Alabama from your hammock or couch, you’ll be glad you did.
So why do I love TKMB? Rather than count the ways, here’s just one reason published on my Classic Coup blog…
Atticus Sets the Bar
I find the excerpt below link from Maria Puentes’ article encouraging considering that I, too, must write, then store, vignettes and interviews for a book I’m working on . And how inspiring that Lee’s gift to the world began as a gift from her friends:
Although it may read as if it just spooled out of the storyteller, Lee actually struggled with the novel for years in the 1950s while working at menial jobs (airline reservation clerk) in New York. Then some Alabama friends in town gave her a Christmas gift of enough money to quit her job and work full time on the book for a year. A skilled editor helped her turn a series of stories and vignettes into a seamless whole.

Whatever classic you choose, enjoy. And if you put off TKMB for another day, at least watch the Gregory Peck movie. Just sayin’.

Across the Universe of time and place…TKMB isn’t just a Southern thing or meant for people “of a certain age.” On right above is my son, Cole. Below is friend and Public Defender, Greg.