Monday, February 9, 2015

What would you call your style of writing? Q&A on Marvin's Book

 Questions for Me from 11:15MWF class: Marvin's Book
1.How exactly has this book made an impact in your life?   Why such a hard question? Do I do this to you in class?

2. What would you call your style of writing?  OMG Now I see why you guys want multiple choice tests!! Can’t I have selections?  A) Fabulous.  B) CafĂ© Cubano. C) Melissataastic.  D) Tacorific. E) Revolutionary.

3.  Why did you share such random experiences and information throughout the book?  Life is a bunch of random experiences, and the way we string them together can make powerfully beautiful stories (like a stained glass window ) or just be a bunch of random things (a pile of rocks).
4. Dr Soldani if you won the lottery; would you really still teach at TCC? if so what makes history so interesting? Without a doubt! The only thing(s) I would do differently is give out real money in class and maybe make students call me Dr. Shakira and also I would dress exactly like Claire from House of Cards but with much much better hair.  I can’t explain why history is so interesting, but I can show you!
5. How long did it take to gather all the stories from student to put into a book?  The actual writing was a solid year of compiling things typing, deleting, finding, losing.  I was writing the book WHILE the events happened, so I had no idea myself how and when it would end until the ending you read about actually happened*
6. Can you further explain indentured servants further? When I think of servant it sounds similar to slave.  Wow, OK, I can but ask me in class.
7. What have been some low points of your teaching career? The semester after Alex and I finished Prayer of the Laughing Yoga Frog, he became really sick and I thought I watched him die.  I shut down a little bit for a semester after that, then I rebounded by letting students assign me books. My 150 book project is definitely a high point.
8.  How does it feel knowing you did not let Marvin family down about him receiving his Degree?  I’m so thankful to TCC for making it happen!
9. Do you have a bond with any of your other students family like you do have with Marvin’s’ family?   I’m not sure.
10.         How did you meet Father John? He lived at the VA in Lake City with David Lowe, right across the hall.
11.         How did you think of the Title? I always called the project “Marvin’s Book” so that was easy. The subtitle was inspired by the subtitle of Tuesdays with Morrie.
12.         How many students a year does the Hero Scholarship Fund help? One.
13.         How did Marvins family react to receiving his diploma? A graduation without a graduate is a sad sad thing. 
14.         Are you so passionate about your students because of your experience with Marvin? Nope. I was born this way.
15.         What was the hardest part of the book for you to write, and how long did it end up taking to write it. I cried so much while writing the book I can’t remember what parts hurt the most.  After the hurt came healing, and after the healing came room for more books and joy and love.
16.         Would you ever teach at different grade levels or do you like to teach to strictly college students? I wrote four delicate answers to this and deleted them all. I started to say “Oh, that would be a nice experience…” and “maybe for a semester…” but for real the answer is that from an early point in school I knew I wanted to become a history professor.  PS - As a small child I wanted to become a cheerleader or a nurse or both but I saw they both wore flat shoes to work so I ruled those out. 
17.         Do you still keep in contact with any of the students written in the book? How often? Yes!! Several times a week.
18.          I love the ideal of bringing things in for veterans; are our class going to do that? Yes!
19.         I don’t get to see my Abuelo or Abuela often, because we live far from each other, but to me my Abuelo is my inspiration and my hero. In your book you talk about yours with passion, what would you consider your abuelo? My Abuelo’s courage and sacrifice are the reasons I grew up in the US, and for that he is my hero and inspiration.
20.         Do you do anything special on the anniversary of Marvin’s death or his birthday?  Every year we notice and remember. Marvin’s brother and sister usually post something on facebook and sometimes I do to. Sometimes we remember it silently. This year marks 15 years; I wrote Marvin’s Book while we were walking through his 10 year anniversary.  It still hurts.
21.         Which of all the lost you experienced in your book was the hardest one? Why?  I have no closure at all with Aaron, the student who walked out of the class. I have no picture of him, no classwork, nothing. I don’t think his family knows anything about Marvin’s Book or that Aaron was loved and missed.  If you read Prayer of the Laughing Yoga Frog, Aaron was the reason I started taking pictures with students, which lead to that book.
22.         Out of all your books you have written, which is the best for you? Four Days in Cienfuegos, about the first time I left the US and went to Cuba and was terrified of landing in a Cuban jail. And Treasure from Heaven.  And the book I'm writing now but had to take a break from in order to watch House of Cards. 
23.         What made you write this book? I had no choice.
24.         Where is David today? He is at the VA for a few more weeks getting IV treatments. You can find him on Facebook ;-)
25.         With kids to entertain, a life full of teaching kids, and grading how do you have time to write books? I don’t have time to even read them.  If I don’t write, I’ll go crazy. 
26.         In the whole fork back scratcher story I was wondering why don’t you just wake someone up to scratch it for you? No. Just no.
27.         Where all these deaths and mishaps spread out or did they all occur very close together? Marvin passed away in April, 2000. I was working on this book and on Marvin’s degree in Spring 2010 when Carol died (March 15) and Aaron died (April 20).
  1. Did Military Jordan get amnesia? I hadn’t thought to ask him. Is that a question people usually ask veterans? I was more interested in his job, his puppy, his wife, his brother and stuff like that. Wait, what was your question? I forgot.
29.         Is it still a sensitive subject for you about the death of Marvin and Carol? No. The universe still sends me people from Marvin and Carol, and those people bring love and hugs and we grieve together and keep walking forward.
30.         Will you please continue to teach and make the amazing impact that you have? Um, is that a proposal?
31.         Is Josephine a current translator at TCC? I think she translates at my church too! She is! Isn’t she awesome?
32.         What countries fought in the Spanish-American War? Where was it fought? What was the outcome? Cuba.
33.         What made you include some of your students in this book? My students are awesome.

(BONUS) (From an anonymous student - THIS is why I write*)
After reading this I think /I desperately need a hug, or just a thumbs up or something. I’ve never had to deal with death directly, phased death of sorts when my best childhood friend moved away, but nothing like the real death of someone that you saw every week.  I don’t cry, but your Marvin’s Book has me quite literally sobbin… and cursing {which also NEVER happens}. … It’s kind of freaking me out to tell the truth. Like I’m just really weird feeling right now… call it silly if you like, but I really admire your strength. Thank you… I don’t know why I’m thanking you, but really I feel like I should. Thank you.