July 1, 2011: Joe Janes

On Wednesday, I received an e-mail from Columbia College…

The National Weather Service has issued a statement indicating Chicago will experience a heat wave on Friday, July 1.   High temperatures are forecasted for the day ranging from the middle to upper 90s to 100 degrees.

Even this morning, with the skies overcast with moody clouds and the wind kicking up, the Sun-Times on-line said the heat index could get up to 105 degrees.

As I write this in the mid-afternoon, it is 73 degrees. As far as I can tell, it also feels like 73 degrees.

This is Chicago.  In the twenty-plus years that I have lived here, the weather has always been unpredictable.  I didn’t move here for the weather. I moved here for the people. The people are consistent.

This morning, I was in a public speaking class at Columbia College called “Speaking Out” taught by Cyndi Maxey. I have been a teacher for 14 years. I have taught at Columbia for seven. I used to do stand-up comedy professionally and have led countless workshops. I don’t need a course in public speaking. It’s required. I need to take it in order to get my degree.

That’s right. I teach at a college and don’t have a degree. What I have is experience, which Columbia College banks on more than pieces of paper. They also offer teachers the ability to take classes and work towards a degree. Right now, I’m knocking out my requirements.

It started out larger, but summer has a way of whittling down class size. The core group is filled with some great people. Herb who wants to do PR consulting for politicians, Jen who is a photographer, Eric and Maciej who are musicians and composers and Lacey, Kelsey and Erin who all study various factions of theater. We’ve become good friends in a short period of time. Classes in Chicago are like that. They’re pools of talent. All the classes I have ever taken or taught in Chicago have been filled with lifelong friends and creative partners. That is predictable. More consistent than the weather.

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About the author: Joe Janes teaches at Columbia College and at The Second City. He’s the author of 365 Sketches and 50 Plays. Visit his blog at biteandsmile.blogspot.com.

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