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  • Melody Berning



Melody Berning, 63, late bloomer, woman-identified since birth, sideways thinker, tinker, tailor, spy. Relentless sketcher by hand and camera, with detours.

Big-headed literally, "space-cadet" reasoning late in life at 48, cyst invading hemisphere.

Survived blue-and-white-collar jobs, Data entry, shipping, bindery, Construction Documents Verifier. Between shipping and bindery, returned to UALR with credits from a decade earlier accepted. Completed BA in English 2005. At the urging by undergratuate English/Creative Writing advisors, went on to grad school. Completed MFA in Writing from Vermont College of Fine Arts on December 31, 2007. I was a challenging learner, my emphasis poetry, big on form.

I applied for an adjunct position as Instructor of English at a local community college, hired on the spot to teach five English Composition I classes. It was Fall 2008. During the sequential semesters through 2016, I was granted courses, including English Composition I (and 2 Comp II) primarily on campus; and Creative Writing I and II, primarily online.

My one on one conferences with students outside class and off-campus was a common scene.

Ageism happens.

I taught "sideways" with syllabus. Same required departmental writing results in Portfolio form, different practices. I began with students' experiences to match the required reading and assigned essays. Some hidden talents appeared, and some resistance. Students' stories, however, were often mind-blowing and learning experiences for me.

Not uncommon are comments I write more like a 20-something that 60-ish. "Wait!" Is now a word for "Hold the door open. Right now!" I learned to slide in seconds before a slam shut - knob or sliding or spinning door.

Thanks to Russell Jaffe for reaching out with request for entries. Bylines are not long.

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