Monthly Archives: July 2013

ms. kasia dude does blogust

My automatic response to the question, “So what do you want to do with an English degree? Teach?” is “No,” an answer that has been honed to timely perfection over the past four years. Naturally, now I’m a teacher.

I teach kids with learning disabilities skills such as reading comprehension and phonetics. It’s a temporary position (meaning, at most, year-long) as I attempt to pay back a fraction of my student loans, learn how to become an adult, and regularly write and blog before I return to school. It took me about two weeks and the adopted title Ms. Kasia Dude to realize that “NO” is always the correct answer to “So you’re going to be a teacher, huh?”

This isn’t to say that I’m a bad teacher, but my tendency to be fascinated by absolutely everything  leads me to stray off-topic. Today, I was reading a story with a nine-year-old boy about bird songs. We ended up having a conversation about the MLS All-Star game tonight (hosted in my very own Kansas City!), arguing about Man United and Chelsea, and praising Mia Hamm (hey,  a kid born after the year 2000 who has such respect for my childhood hero deserves my soccer-fan attention).

My accidental foray into teaching territory means that I have a whole notebook full of notes just waiting to be turned into stories. Thus, I’ve turned the month of August into the month of Blogust (GeT iT???) to challenge myself to write one blog post a day. Several, though not all, will be insights into the world of teaching by someone who is clumsy, easily distracted, and uses way too much outdated slang. Others will have something to do with Shark Week, almost definitely. Try to curb your excitement.

DISCLAIMER: I will not tell you the name of the place where I work, nor will I ever disclose any information concerning the names of my students. That’s 100 percent private information.


place is all: Liberty

This blog post is brought to you in three parts.

I. A missing jogger, a body in a portable toilet.

Last Friday, a construction worker found an unidentified body in a portable toilet next to a junior high school in the Kansas City suburb of Liberty, Missouri. Today the body was confirmed to belong to Chad Rogers, a 30-year-old marathon runner, youth group leader, and stay-at-home dad of an infant son. He left for a run at 8:30 p.m. last Monday without any means of communication, and after being reported missing, hundreds of volunteers helped the police on their search. Police determined that there were no signs of foul play, but the cause of death won’t be announced until the autopsy results have been fully analysed. The Facebook page with over 37,000 likes called “Bring Chad Rogers Home” was renamed “Chad Rogers Is Home.”

II. Goodbye Liberty

I don’t know Mr. Rogers or his family, although I’ve lived at William Jewell College in Liberty for three of my university years. I’m moving from Liberty into Kansas City on Thursday, and I haven’t exactly been bouncing-off-the-walls thrilled. You see, I have a condition in which I fall in love with places instead of people. Generally those places are cities such as Boston or London or Heidelberg or even Cambridge, where I spent my junior year abroad.  In fact, I was clueless that I had grown attached to Liberty until last month. My early memories of living in Liberty in 2009 upon my move to college are ridden with insecurity and disappointment, a reality check that university was not nearly as glamorous as depicted in the literature (particularly when you’ve got no money and the whole making-new-friends thing doesn’t magically become easy when you’re eighteen). But after I found a job in Kansas City in May, and then found an apartment last week, I’ve suddenly realized that I don’t want to leave Liberty.

Why should I be so unwilling to leave Liberty? It is, after all, only a forty minute drive from my apartment. Missing my classes, professors, and friends are certainly a part of the longing. But then there’s the Senior House where I would spend all of my evenings with books out in the lobby, allowing for the fluidity of studying and chatting with whatever friend happened to walk past. I doubt that I’ll ever be able to recapture that communal living environment.

And then there’s the city of Liberty itself. When I began jogging through the streets near William Jewell, by the houses that slowly became increasingly large and scarce as the town broke into countryside, I felt let down. I had just returned from my year in England, and Clay County was no match for Cambridgeshire (not even a match for the Ozarks, where I had grown up). And yet, along came July 2013 and preparations for my big move, and I couldn’t help but acknowledge that much of my sadness was thanks to the fact that I would no longer be able to jog in Liberty, to the Nature Sanctuary or Stocksdale Park, those places where I could find solitariness with my thoughts.

III. Goodbye jogging

Perhaps by definition, my inclination toward nostalgia is problematic, though even more so in recent events. Despite my desire to soak up every last moment to run in Liberty before Thursday, I’ve been deliberately avoiding my old running trail. The area of my jogs is the area where Mr. Rogers used to run, and the place where the police and search groups focused their attention. Although unexpectedly found Mr. Rogers two miles away, they also happened across another body, another dead jogger. I’m not an especially scared person, but the news has stunned me.

It’s become increasingly difficult to sort out and analyze these thoughts upon entering that in-limbo early-twenties adult world, but laying them out with words is one way to organize and (an attempt to) concretize them. I haven’t come to a conclusion yet, but what a violent way to say goodbye to Liberty.


place is all

From an interview between The Paris Review and William Goyen in 1975.


How do you react to the charges of being a regional writer?


For me, environment is all. Place—as I was saying about my students—is absolutely essential. I know the vogue for the non-place, the placeless place, à la Beckett, is very much an influence on writing these days. It has been said that places don’t exist anymore. That everything looks alike. There is the same Howard Johnson on your turnpike in Kansas as there is in Miami and in the state of Washington. And the same kind of architecture dominates the new office buildings and the skyscraper. What is a writer to do? Free the “reality” of his environment? To lament loss of place, to search for it in memory? Because within place is culture, style. We speak of a lost way of life. In many of my books and stories, I’ve felt the need to re-create, to restore lost ways, lost places, lost styles of living.

Words of insight that sum me up precisely. I fall in love with places, not people, and therefore reading or writing place as character has always been such a consuming idea in my history with literature.

happy fourth!



xoxo your favorite Polish-American