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The Observer, as you may remember, teaches a few classes out at The College, and by the time the school bell rang last week for our Intro to Creative Writing course, Yours Truly was sick. Junior had brought the bug home from school, sniffled twice, and then he was over it. Dear Ol' Dad, meanwhile, soon felt as if he'd fallen off the Empire State Building into a vat of lukewarm Vaseline.

We'd been fighting it for several days, drinking orange juice and enough water to float a Navy destroyer, but by 6 p.m. that night, the crud had settled into our chest and sinuses and left us looking and sounding like what the kids might call hammered dookie. The semester is drawing down to finals time, though, so we dutifully trudged to class, determined to get at least one of the stories up for discussion off the docket that night before adjourning.

One story down and the voice starting to go, we threw in the towel just after 7:15, the students happy to have an early night off and kindly wishing The Professor a get well soon before disappearing into the dark. Taking up our man-purse and Thermos, we headed out the door toward the parking lot.

A student — not from our class, just a student — was standing outside the building with his backpack over his shoulder. As The Observer shambled past, dreaming of NyQuil and a chilly pillow, he looked us up and down, smiled, and said: "You just have the look of a professor."

Yikes. Thanks, we guess.

The Observer turned out to watch them march on Monday: Occupy Little Rock — though we suppose the group of 18 souls carrying sodden cardboard signs that soggy afternoon was less an occupation force and more of a patrol.

We've never tended to be a joiner, but there's just something about brave and earnest folks — even folks we don't agree with, because (believe it or not) we quietly cheered the spirit, if not the message, of the Tea Partiers, too — taking to the streets and raising their voices that always puts a lump in the throat of Yours Truly. It's probably because we are, at heart, a patriot.

The word, we must admit, tends to stick in the throat these days, after a decade or two of being used as both crutch and club by a certain brand of political demagogue. Though those who consider the word "liberal" foul language are sure to scoff at this, The Observer, like his dear old Dad before him, loves this country to the core of our being. We'd gladly skulk through sewers with a knife clenched in our teeth to defend it from enemies foreign and domestic, if it ever came to that. Let's all hope it never does.

The Occupiers were marching on Monday from 4th and Ferry Street, where they've been camped, to City Hall, to protest a move to evict them from the city-owned lot. The Observer was there when they marched to the Capitol several hundred strong last October, signs aloft and flags billowing. A stirring sight, to be sure.

Robert Nunn is somebody we've seen around the OLR protests from the beginning. He's a tall, good-looking guy, and has emerged as one of the clear leaders of the group, even though they espouse a leaderless philosophy. On Monday, standing on a sidewalk while fellow protestor Greg Deckleman received a ticket from a Little Rock Police officer for stepping into River Market Avenue during their march, Nunn said that even if the protestors are evicted from 4th and Ferry, the Occupy movement will endure as long as people stay involved. "The camp has become a training ground for people to learn how to become activists," Nunn said. "I'd like to think that people who weren't active and participating in democracy before have become more active. That's what I'd really like to see: more people going to Quorum Court meetings. More people going to City Council meetings."

That's the kind of occupation we could really get behind.

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