The Coffee is Percolating

by cheri block

Joe and I are warming up for the Dark Ages. We are reading (or rereading) The Confessions of St. Augustine, Beowulf, the Koran, The Song of Roland, and Lancelot.

To recap for those of you who have recently joined the readers of Notes from Around the Block:

I met Joe when I was 14 years old. At that time, Joe was 33 years old. He was my humanities instructor. His intensity and brilliance captivated me. His degrees from U.C. Berkeley in English and Philosophy and his big booming voice, peppered with a few bad words, were the credentials that demanded my attendance in his class. I abandoned my dumb cheerleader image for one hour every day, enthralled with Rousseau and Locke. Joe is a master teacher.

He hired me to teach at his new high school when I was 21 years old.

When I left public education to open my own school, I hired him to teach Latin. He was 70 at that time.

Then, on a lark, I decided to apply to Stanford for a graduate degree in the humanities.

I needed three letters of recommendation, one from a former professor.

Joe chimed in on my behalf and the committee admitted me to the program.

Each Monday, Joe and I meet at the Elephant Bar to discuss the material I am reading for my class. Joe is my tutor.

In essence, WE have gone back to school for a new masters degree.

My past posts about Joe are here and here and here.

Perhaps these conversations, twisted into stories,  will be part of the book that I didn’t realize I was writing until someone (another tutor) suggested this notion to me.

Similar to Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, do you think?

Now, I need an agent.

Any ideas from my other tutors out there?

The New Year is rich with possibility.

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About Cheri

Writer, artist, cable television host, grandmother to four!
This entry was posted in People, Writing and Teaching and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to The Coffee is Percolating

  1. Tyler says:

    The minute I saw that this was another post involving Joe, I thought to myself, “Cheri really has a great character to start with here.” From the reader’s perspective, he is the type of character that I would like to meet in real life. I think it has to do with the way you describe him: sassy, intelligent, maybe a little abrasive at times, but brilliant. A man that’s not afraid to tell you how it is. This is what we need in our overly-PC society.

  2. Cheri says:

    Aww…shucks, Tyler.

    You’d better get writing. I have linked your blog (with no posts) to this post.

    A guy like you has much to say.

  3. Peter G says:

    Just to clarify: Are you reading or actually RE-reading the Koran?

    I started reading it once, but I didn’t make it past the 4th Sura. I ultimately resolved it probably needed to be read in its original Arabic in order to appreciate the beauty of its composition.

  4. Cheri says:

    In the case of The Koran, I am reading it for the first time. Joe is rereading…

    Happy New Year, Peter.

  5. Hi Cheri. Best wishes with the Masters. What a beautiful, enriching time you have ahead.

    I’m wondering if the medieval works I studied are taught in the US: Sir Thomas Malory’s Le Morte D’Arthur and the preceding books? I was taught them by the aptly named, Professor Stephen Knight, the best early-middle English specialist-cum-detective fiction teacher one could ever meet.

  6. John T says:

    As one of your “other tutors” to whom you graciously hyperlinked in your piece, allow me to suggest – given that in our contemporary society, print is giving way to the audio/visual – that instead of writing a book along the lines of “Tuesday’s With Morrie”, you produce a two hour video of you and Joe in conversation, along the lines of the 1981 film, “My Dinner With Andre”, which was a filmed conversation between two friends in a New York restaurant.

    Call your video, “My Dinner With Joe”, and set it in a restaurant in your home town. It might have the same impact as “My Dinner With Andre”, and Hollywood could come calling. You never know.

    Incidentally, to give you ideas about “My Dinner With Joe”, you can now see all of “My Dinner With Andre” in segments on YouTube. For his own piece on this film, my friend Phil made a Google Doc containing all the YouTube links.

    To see Phil’s Google Doc click here.

    • Cheri says:

      I have not seen the film My Dinner With Andre. but will surely look it up on You Tube.

      And, after I have had my first cup of joe this morning (after a very late New Year’s Dinner), I will view Phil’s Google Doc.

      By the way, my raspberry-chocolate cake from scratch with butter cream icing with Chambord was Oh my god killer.

  7. Cheri says:

    Hi Sgx,

    Thank you! My first quarter was a kick. And yes, enriching is an apt word to describe the experience in a number of ways–educational, social, spiritual, intellectual.

    Sounds as if you had a splendid teacher for the Chivalric period. The teacher is often the key cog in a student’s enjoyment and understanding of the material.

    I can’t speak for the US in general, but one of the top public high schools, #36, in the US (which happens to be down the street), the 4th year of English is much changed from the days when I taught there. Of course the biggies: Chaucer and Shakespeare and a collection of poets to illustrate trends are part of the curriculum, but also a wide variety of multi-cultural literature is wedged in there as well, forcing teachers to drop key writings from the English tradition.

  8. andreaskluth says:

    As you move from antiquity to the middle ages/Islam, take mental notes on how the heroes and their heroism change. I’d be quite curious.

  9. Cheri says:

    Thank you, tutor, for a splendid idea for the first essay, due February 3. ( I start agonizing about my thesis months in advance).

    I was thinking of using Beowulf and Roland, but maybe I could fuse the Koran into these works.

    And on another note, I thought you two and kids would be at The Rose Parade…

    • Richard Manchester says:

      The moving finger writes, and having writ,
      Moves on…

    • Richard Manchester says:

      I’m sure you won’t, but I find it easy to neglect the huge contribution of Islamic culture in the transmission of ancient culture to later times. I simply make a passing reference to Omar Khayyam, poet and mathematician, maybe a hero in his own right, as representative of that culture. I don’t know if the dates fit.

      • Cheri says:

        You might be surprised at what I think.
        Thanks for the reference. I had no idea.

        And for the record (your honor), I am reading The Koran because it is an assignment.

  10. Kathy says:

    I would definitely read a book you wrote!

  11. Brighid says:

    I would buy a book you wrote, and most likely read it as well, and then send it on it’s way with bookcrossing. The video version sounds interesting as well.
    Happy New Year!

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