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***The lovely Jason Palmer Padme print in this picture of the wall next to my writing space was acquired at Celebration IV.

***The lovely Jason Palmer Padme print in this picture of the wall next to my writing space was acquired at Celebration IV.

Call this my twist on Star Wars in the Classroom for I write about my experience as a student, not an educator. The official group is one I admire and respect, a band of teachers who are dedicated to their profession and to using Star Wars as a tool to enhance their students’ learning. I’ve learned a lot from Star Wars, and I can’t think of a better way to relate certain concepts and ideas to the sponge-like minds of children of all ages. Last year, I was such a “child.”

Though I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh this past April, a year ago I was still a college senior, albeit a very non-traditional one. Well past the age of your typical student, I was in the third year of my quest to complete the degree I’d started over thirty years prior, a Humanities degree with emphases in Writing, Literature, and Religious Studies. It’s quite a Star Wars friendly cocktail of fields of study if ever one existed.

The first assignment for my Senior Seminar in Fiction Writing class last fall was an oral presentation about myself. Sounds like a strange task for such a class. The idea was to not only break the ice, a common theme during the first week of any college semester, but also to give the professor a snapshot of who we are as people. This, she decided, was the best way to begin her assessment of our writing abilities, to hear our stories from our own mouths.

A ham at heart, I love a good presentation, love to tell tales, so this assignment was right up my alley. As I stood in the middle of a circle of my 30-years-younger classmates, I began with a tune familiar to anyone reading this: The Imperial March. I allowed the class to take in its grandeur for a few moments, proceeded with, “A long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…,” and then detailed the events that eventually propelled me back into academia. The release of each of the Star Wars films roughly coincided with significant occasions in my life. In the summer of 1977, I took a trip to Europe without my family as part of the American Youth Chorus, the youngest of the 150 plus members of the group. I grew up on that trip, or started to, just as in A New Hope, Darth Vader touched a part of me who began to look inward for the truth in who I would become, who I am now. I graduated high school in May of 1980, one week after The Empire Strikes Back’s release, and in 1983 I got married the same summer of Return of the Jedi. I mark those two occasions along with episodes V and VI. By the time the prequel trilogy burst onto the scene with The Phantom Menace, I was pregnant with my fifth child. I dragged my husband and four children to the theater to see the film, and they acquiesced to my request. Child number four, my only son, accompanied me to the premiere of Attack of the Clones in 2002, and we bonded over Count Dooku’s evil and the “really cool clones.” It was also at that time that I discovered the then-fledgling Hyperspace on starwars.com. By May of 2005 and Revenge of the Sith, my heart had been broken just weeks before with the loss of my lifelong best friend to a tragic car accident. I was ready to dive into Star Wars more deeply and desperately needed to explore my connection to it. I needed to write.

For me Star Wars has always been personal, a touchstone, a framework within which I can see myself and discover who I am and the person into whom I continue to evolve. As a student of Star Wars, I have learned much. As soon as the prequel trilogy allowed us beneath the black mask and into the heart of Anakin Skywalker, I found that I could relate to the saga’s characters on a much deeper level and that I was able to connect what dazzled me in the theater to the sometimes exciting, sometimes tumultuous and horrific events occurring in my own life. Though I’d been keeping a journal since age nine, I discovered that I can write my heart in a way that others could relate to and even enjoy. I get Anakin. I know him. I’ve been him. I’ll never commit the atrocities he did, but I have a Dark side. I know what it’s like to be the outsider. I can empathize with that uneasy feeling of sometimes wanting more and knowing I shouldn’t.

And I can write about it.

When I finally started blogging on Hyperspace, the writing I’d kept pent up inside me for most of my life, through marriage and five children, through birth and death, love and loss, exploded with a zeal I’d never before been able to express. With the misunderstood and troubled heart of Anakin as my inspiration, my writing was prolific if not necessarily masterful. Through the encouragement I received as amidalooine, I not only found lifelong friends and true acceptance, I also found the strength and the guts to apply to and go back to school. The diploma I gaze at as I type, is the direct result of my writing about the saga I love. A direct result of Star Wars. The friends I’ve made through my writing and through my college years…are a gift.

I ended my Senior Seminar in Fiction presentation with, “May the Force be with you.” I echo that familiar sentiment now.

Always.

—pam

Email me your thoughts! pamb@coffeewithkenobi.com

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12 Comments

  1. Erica
    October 13, 2014 at 20:31 Reply

    So wonderful to see an amidalooine blog again! Isn’t it amazing how lives come together? How you can look back and see how all the various influences weave themselves together into the expression of a certain person at a certain time and place. Surely we are all here because star wars has played a role in our stories, but it’s so interesting the way the saga was there at critical moments for you.

    I also, of course, appreciate anakin and your understanding that all of our lives touch the dark side–the challeging and difficult side of ourselves. It made me think of a quote from carl jung that I will paraphrase, “one does not become enlightened by envisioning beings of light, but rather by going through the darkness.” Anakin always helps me walk through my own darkness.

    Can’t wait to read more.
    mtfbwy! Xoxox

    1. Pam Bruchwalski
      October 13, 2014 at 21:38 Reply

      Thank you so much for the comment, Erica. I always appreciate anything from anakinside1, as well. Star Wars really has woven itself into the most significant moments of my life. It’s uncanny. No…meant to be. Also, I agree wholeheartedly with Jung’s quote and with your comment. Anakin helps me walk through my own darkness as well, and the Star Wars saga shows me that I can, indeed, make it through.

  2. Jay Krebs
    October 13, 2014 at 21:52 Reply

    The circle is now complete…! 🙂

    It’s SO wonderful to have you back in the blogosphere again! I knew I missed your writing, but I never truly realized HOW MUCH I missed it until I read this entry…

    There’s so much I want to say about this. It’s amazing the ways in which Star Wars has coincided with such pivotal events in each of our lives. The experiences we have all had with the saga are all so different, yet each one is a step on a journey that has brought us all together! It’s amazing, really!

    I want to say SO much more….and I will…just wanted to be sure to welcome you to the CWK family, and to let you know how much I love this entry in SO many ways…!
    ~MO2YP~

    1. Pam Bruchwalski
      October 13, 2014 at 21:54 Reply

      Thank you, thank you, thank you. Jay. xoxoxo

  3. Mark
    October 13, 2014 at 22:49 Reply

    This is a really wonderful entry, and a real pleasure to read your writing again! I know we view Star Wars in much the same way, but it’s so nice to read how it’s truly affected your life. I feel the same. I’ve been a lifelong fan and enjoy watching the saga at any chance I get, but also joining hyperspace and being able to express my thoughts on the saga and its parallels to our own lives was a unique and wonderful experience. And created lifelong friends as you mention!

    Bravo to you and another wonderful entry! And I also echo … May the Force be with you 🙂

    Darth Hiram

    1. Pam Bruchwalski
      October 13, 2014 at 23:51 Reply

      DH. My dear, dear friend. You know, you and I are proof of the power of Star Wars and of its various electronic blogosphere-ic media to allow for the creation of friendships and for their sustenance through the years. You are one of the few remaining bloggers from the good, old days whom I have never met in person yet with whom I am as close as any of my IRL friends. Star Wars has a way, like the Force, of…what is that quote? Of binding us together, surrounding us. The ties are real. We know that.

      Thank you for your kind words and for your friendship. Always.

  4. lovelucas
    October 14, 2014 at 06:04 Reply

    Wonderful article. I, too, have that Jason Palmer Padmé print in my Star Wars “art gallery” and fully agree about the personal touchstone of Star Wars. – really personal for me. I was one of the contributors at Celebration V who had my “testimony” taped for George which contained the new hope that Star Wars brought to someone who has lost a child. I’ll always and continue to say “Thank you, George”

    1. Pam Bruchwalski
      October 14, 2014 at 20:13 Reply

      Thank you so much, lovelucas. We both have great taste in Star Wars art, then (as does Jay Krebs, who also has that Padme print!) 🙂 I am so sorry for your loss of a child. A casual SW fan might not “get” how the saga could touch us in this way, to help us deal with such grievous losses. But it does. There is a tapestry of deep emotion woven between the glitz and glamour of Star Wars, between the systems and ships and creatures. It’s what holds the saga together. Thank you, again, for your comment. (((hugs)))

  5. Carolyn
    October 14, 2014 at 13:03 Reply

    I cannot begin to express how much I have learned about you as a friend, mother, student and writer after reading this entry. Insightful indeed! I, too, have a Dark side and you love and accept me anyway……priceless.

    1. Pam Bruchwalski
      October 14, 2014 at 20:15 Reply

      Carolyn…there are no words for how much it means to me that you left a comment here, in a galaxy that is far, far away from your norm. Thank you. I love you because of your Dark side, not in spite of it. It’s all part of you, and you’re a damned good friend. Thank you. (PS…come over and watch Star Wars with me!)

  6. Melinda
    October 15, 2014 at 19:55 Reply

    Welcome to CWK, Pam! 😀

    And thank you. 🙂 For sharing. 🙂 Yourself and your talent. 🙂 Your insight and your good humor. 🙂

    MTFBWY 🙂

  7. Becca Benjamin
    October 21, 2014 at 19:37 Reply

    …and you’ve questioned me over the years as to WHY you inspired me?
    This article sums it up and then some. You truly are a wonder to behold, my dear friend.
    Those that are close to you, the ones that see you on a day-to-day basis are so blessed to have you and I hope they know it.

    Great Article, Pam 🙂

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Pam is a writer, editor, mother, fangirl, and self-proclaimed geek from Pittsburgh, PA.

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