Showing posts with label Teaching. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Teaching. Show all posts

Wednesday, August 17, 2022

s/unlit

In the midst of mounting excitement about the start of the new school year, it was a shock to hear two people who'd been at the college died unexpectedly on Monday. I didn't know either of them very well, but I knew of them; I feel their loss. 

Tall T, a student who graduated about five years ago was a basketball star and while I never saw him play, I knew him from his work in the admissions office, met him when he accompanied new students to my office, and appreciated how he helped me troubleshoot software problems more than once. I am particularly grateful for the way he tried to reassure me that these problems happen to everyone. I can see his smile as he says we shouldn't worry about it to me and the students we were assisting. I hadn't seen him in a few years, and it makes me sad that now I never will. I'm sad his smile--that used to dawn slowly, indulgently--is no longer in this world somewhere...

J worked in the janitorial department--I don't think I ever met her, but her four kids go to college here and E, her oldest, was in my environmental literature class. I remember J through the concern E had for the chemicals her mother was exposed to on a daily basis. So this is a tenuous connection, but that's how I met her--through E's words; that's how I held her in my head, my heart, and classroom. 

I'm grieving for T and J and their families. Death is so weird in its finality... and yet we're such a small community that every person presence reverberates in us all. 

Pic: Huge and droopy sunflower

Tuesday, August 16, 2022

only connect


so open that door 
or open this book
I open my mouth 
wait for an answer 
                           ...answer always already  
                           the knocking of my heart
                            promises folding around  
                             surrounding me like love
                                                               ...love you, for I love you 
                                                                 and I know how I love you
                                                               every one of you, I know you
                                                               can remind me of no one else 


Pic: Picnic at KV's... so many generations of women and children. I appreciated this lovely summer afternoon with Nu: destressing, snacking, reconnecting, and cuddling babies. (It was especially welcome after an all-morning, in-person meeting for our departmental re-visioning.)

Sunday, August 14, 2022

Easy like Sunday...


A sweet, fulfilling, and unhurried day from UU in the morning to yoga in the evening. Weekend chores completed, some prep for the weekday started. 

Some things didn't happen--Pride got rained out on Saturday, grocery shopping didn't happen today... we did get Insomnia Cookies delivered both days though 🙃.

My sense of content is overlaid by the knowledge that there's a train ticket back to Milwaukee on Big A's phone for tomorrow.

And that Nu and I start school next week. I should remember to do weekends like this when we're back. 

Pic: (secular) stained glass at UU Lansing. 

Tuesday, August 02, 2022

(Work in) Progress

I was blown away when I saw this de-construction of progress, and am pinning this for myself and everyone I know. I hope I remember to refer to it when Nu feels he's backsliding or At feels he's stagnating or students feel overwhelmed.

[It fits perfectly with how I'm hating on civilization and our definitions of progress right now because I'm rereading Karen Joy Fowler's We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves.]

Big A is in town, so we did a "Books and Burritos" night, going to the bookstore and swinging by At's branch of Chipotle. It's At's Boss Day, so we'd planned it around surprising him... he was more like taken aback. Later he texted: "Sorry I looked bad and was so stressed." That very nearly broke my heart. Their NLRB election date is 8/25; we're all crossing fingers and holding our breath...

Monday, July 25, 2022

Thinking about "The Mother"

A long time ago, I read Lydia Davis's "The Mother" from Break it Down. Here it is in its entirety: 

The girl wrote a story. “But how much better it would be if you wrote a novel,” said her mother. The girl built a doll-house. “But how much better if it were a real house,” her mother said. The girl made a small pillow for her father. “But wouldn’t a quilt be more practical,” said her mother. The girl dug a small hole in the garden. “But how much better if you dug a large hole,” said her mother. The girl dug a large hole and went to sleep in it. “But how much better if you slept forever,” said her mother.

Although I read it so long ago, it's always in the back of my head as a reminder of how not to "fix things." While that chilling paragraph is about the specific dynamics of mother-daughter relationships, I think it works for parenting/teaching/editing/being a friend or partner too. There are more of Davis's stories here.

Friday, June 03, 2022

moment of Zinn

Sometimes I peek over the edge of the abyss with my kids and feel their outrage, earnestness, and helplessness all over again. I am proud of their empathy and compassion... and also, I worry about how difficult their lives are becoming.

My annoyingly (probably) long email signature has forever quoted Zinn: “Human beings are not machines, and however powerful the pressure to conform, they sometimes are so moved by what they see as injustice that they dare to declare their independence. In that historical possibility lies hope.” 

I want to continue to hope... to act in "however small a way" in the service of what we all deserve. And if that means supporting my kids in the difficult choices and services they want to contribute to the world, then so be it.

Thursday, May 19, 2022

Rockstars

Look at these fuzzy rockstars! My first sighting of goslings this year. I appreciate how protective their parents are, and it never fails to amaze me how they'll be full-fledged geese by the end of this short season. This is pretty much my theme for the spring-- marveling at things: e.g. what I thought looked like dead sticks springing back into life as trees and shrubs.

While on rockstars, I read the entirety of Taylor Swift's--Dr. Taylor Swift's--commencement speech to the NYU class of 22. It was all good advice, honest, confidently self-deprecating, and very well crafted. Recommended. Wish there had been something about service and the greater good, but other than that--no notes. I think I might share with students. Here's a snippet: "How will you know what the right choice is in these crucial moments? You won’t. How do I give advice to this many people about their life choices? I won’t. Scary news is: You’re on your own now. Cool news is: You’re on your own now."

Pic: Family of geese by the Red Cedar on a walk with L this morning.

Wednesday, May 04, 2022

"work it real good"

A working lunch--which I couldn't eat. Shouldn't people serving a set lunch make meat, croutons, nuts, and other things people cannot/might-not-want-to eat add-ons rather than plate it all together? (Sorry this is a bit of a pet peeve; I don't eat meat and my kids are allergic to nuts.) 

But I got some oars in at lunch. And I shared this article about faculty exhaustion, which is important because everything about the last three pandemic years has been additive and nothing has been moved or withdrawn to make room for the extra stuff we've taken on.

Got some other campus work done, delivered flowers and cards to two young admin colleagues who finished their M. Eds, took flowers and card to MB who'd had shoulder surgery, and then set off for a long walk-and-talk with JG. It was the perfect, fluffy-cloud day for it--and as always, my mind is clearer after I get some JG time.

At various points I also got to collaborate on an NWSA statement on the Roe opinion and then I really got into Lauren Groff's Matrix. This is a book that kept showing up in my recommendations, and I kept resisting because nothing about the title or the book cover indicated it was about MARIE DE FRANCE and a HISTORICAL NOVEL--I'd thought it was sci-fi!!! Loving it, BTW.

Pic: The bike trail in Alma with JG. 

Saturday, April 23, 2022

commencement day

The amazing Robert Pinsky, our commencement speaker today, gave a talk he'd titled "A good idea, a bad idea, and a joke." The joke, he warned us, was unfunny but would save everyone thousands of dollars and many hours of psychotherapy. Here's a paraphrase. Patient tells the doctor: "it hurts when I do this..." Doctor replies: "Then don't do it."

But an unscripted funny moment was when Pinsky was describing how hair sprouts on the human body, using his fingers to mime sprouting at his head, then his armpits, and then the whole auditorium kind of held their breath wondering if he would go further. (He didn't). 

It was bittersweet saying goodbye to advisees and students who graduated today. I went in early to finish writing congratulation cards in my office and was touched to find cards students had crammed into the doorjamb or slid under the door. I thought I knew whom they might be from as I collected them, but I was wrong. None were from advisees or people I had done big, important things with/for. For the most part, these cards referenced small conversations and interactions. I kind of sat with that for a while. The idea that small things had been so important in someone's life made me feel... TBH... a bit anxious, actually. It's easier to do a finite number of big things than it would be to be open and supportive all the time. 

Pic: A screengrab of me doing the faculty marshal thing with the staff/mace and all. I kind of like the extra shoulder width and overall height academic regalia gives me.

And I couldn't help remembering that this happened at last year's graduation.

 

Thursday, April 21, 2022

a reminder that "doing the most" is not an accolade

April showers, check; April flowers, check.

I'm excited my favorite part of the year (the warm part) is almost here. I'm not even sad/mad that my sabbatical is now officially over (as this is finals week). I think I've garnered a few professional responsibilities and established some working/writing habits I can continue over the summer. 

In the meantime (just) today: I helped lead a WIAB meeting, joined an AC shared governance team, drafted a SLSA proposal with EM, and wrote up a panel and roundtable for the SA caucus.

OFC. 

SMH.

Pic: Daffodil Hill near the Radiology Gardens

Thursday, April 07, 2022

Honors Day

Oh, I was so proud of my students today. They totally owned their work and I heard raves about them all day. And I just saw a tweet about one of their presentations from a local pastor who'd happened upon it, loved it, and wanted to tell the world about it. Some extra love because the paper was about douching and manipulative rhetoric in medical, marketing, and makeover culture. (It started out as a poster presentation a few months ago.)

The special thing about Honors Day is that sometimes you get to meet families too. And they are so excited and proud of their kids sharing their research and fielding questions, my heart just grows and grows. My department members are really good about talking to families and telling them (truthfully) how proud we are of their kids, and we might get to hear some nice things our students shared about us. I was thinking about all these interactions on my way home and smiling at adding memories to my things to think about whenever I have my next bad day at work. Like: You know your students today were rock-stars right? Your light as a teacher has clearly lit them up as well. Like: My kids tell me (I've had two of them in classes) how you've just changed the way they see the world. Like: I remember you from when we came to tour the college and you talked to us. Like: I guess you're the reason she wants to be an English Major?


Anyway, I was both exhilarated and tired by the time I got home, so I was glad there were leftovers for Scout, Huck, Nu, and me to eat (cheesy scrambled eggs from breakfast for Scout and Huck; chicken, potatoes, and veggie hash for Nu; curry, kootu, and yogurt rice for me). 

And then a hearteningly civil email exchange with a colleague who leans transphobic and was participating in one of those moral panics about school bathrooms that keeps coming up. And another late-night email exchange trying to help an advisee graduate. Oh, and did I say I stopped by the accountant's to pick up our tax docs and drop off At's tax docs  too? And I got a cute journal for Nu at the bookstore--can't wait to give it to them on their Boss Day (Monday).  I really think I should get out from under these puppies and go to bed now. 

Wednesday, April 06, 2022

ah, youth

Kind of a super busy day ahead of Honors Day tomorrow... and full of the wins and victories (and cautions) that come from looking over and editing student research. 

But Nu came to me just before dinner with a research question of their own (hate speech in schools). And it was so cool to sit down and share some early research skills with Nu and talk about what we found. I feel like my kids (understandably) see me as a parent more than anything else, so it feels a bit special when I can help them with stuff that I didn't get good at in order to be a parent.

Also, for some reason I just found my student evals from December, and they were the kindest ones I've had in years! I wish I'd had this level of approval and support before I got tenure. Something that really touched me is how all of them used "they/them" as my pronouns because I'd indicated my preference for gender neutrality at the beginning of the semester. I never hear myself referred to in the third person in class or meetings, so I hadn't realized that they were being so lovely about it. Young people truly give me hope for the world. 

Tuesday, April 05, 2022

"I get sprung"

The crocuses are here and... Big A is here!! It's also pretty sunshiny out today and students' research work is coming along nicely. (Not my research work, but--you know--one can't have everything.)

Anyway

let's begin once upon a time, with a house
we can fill it with hope and surprise

(we raise our eyes to the sky in greeting
use whatever rains down as anchor)

let's begin far, far, far away with a feast 
we can open mouths wide in laughter

(we press bites and bruises into pretty fruit
after we steal some answers and quiet)

Monday, April 04, 2022

Hello, Sunshine!

Just kidding! It was the grayest, wettest, grossest day in a while so I'm glad the baby daffodils (narcissi?) are coming up to brighten this week. (And typing out "Hello, Sunshine," which used to be grad school best bud JW's address for me, made me miss her and grad school and Oxford sunshine so bad.)

If it will make your heart happy to see 11-year-old Prince being interviewed on Minneapolis TV in 1970, head here. Guess some people are cool from the moment they were born. 💓

If it will make you laugh-cry to read a championing of the patriarchal practice of coercive dowry in a college textbook, head here. ("Ugly looking girls can be married off with an attractive dowry" LOLOLOL-sob.)

Big A is back tomorrow, most of my editing duties will be done by tomorrow, and Nu starts a new therapy regimen tomorrow. To tomorrow, tomorrow, tomorrow.

Friday, April 01, 2022

upcoming (re)union

A short lunchtime stroll to Luckie St. and MLK Square yielded this vista of daffodils and fountains.

Bought myself chocolate and a plug with a USB port (the hotel is so old it doesn't have USB ports to charge my phone) at the CVS and headed back. Traveling with just a backpack means I never buy/pack superfluous stuff anymore.

SO READY to get home tomorrow and see my three youngest (Nu, Scout, Huck).

And SO EXCITED for the successful unionizing effort at the Amazon warehouse in Staten Island. Do other people's family chats nerd out about things like this too? This news forward was the one text that received hearts amongst all the little bickering about whose turn it was to empty the dishwasher (while I'm gone) yesterday. #Atlanta

Thursday, March 31, 2022

so much shining

Proud of students who really seem to be coming into their own in a way I've missed. It's a combination of having done a great job presenting, being in a new city, attending other panels, learning, and networking with peers--so basically why higher ed has conferences in the first place. There should be more opportunities for students to share research. That is all.

Friend and colleague LV and I have resurrected the "the ten-minute chat" from their grad school days--you think it's going to be a ten-minute chat, but it ends hours later. I didn't know this term before, but I treasure this ten-minute chat format.

While the shine of student success and renewing bonds are legitimate, the shining in the blog title is more Stanley Kubrick than anything else. The elevator at this ancient Sheraton lets us off outside Room 402, we then have to walk past 84+ room doors before we get to ours. Really not a fan of this at all. Yikes. #Atlanta.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Glory (and alleluia)

I'm headed to Atlanta with our Honors students for a convention. I'm both proud and nervous for them and mostly nervous about the cursory supervisory care I've cobbled together for Nu through family and neighbors.

Pic: I woke up from a quick plane nap and through the window I could see the shadow of our plane on the cloud bank ringed by a rainbow halo. It felt really special while it lasted. And... I looked it up on the internet, and it's called a "Glory!" At the link, they described thusly: "Glories are most commonly seen from planes and on mountain tops on misty days. The glory is always seen around the observer’s shadow." "Pilot's Glory" is an alternative name for this phenomenon. My picture doesn't quite do it justice; there are better pics at the links.

I did not know about glories, and am so glad to have learned something new while traveling (that's unrelated to how frustrating it is when people are such inconsiderate babies about masks).

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

tinker, tailor, labor organizer

Family dinner with At in attendance. I pulled together something from the freezer+pantry because today was crazy with additional tasks that misfired: tried to reconfirm details with the student convention (a couple of things still up in the air); tried to get the body shop to take the car (they say they need more time); tried to feed JL's cat while she's on vacation (the key she gave us wouldn't go in the lock, and now she's having to head home early). 

Tacos with eggs, haloumi fries, potato hash, and assorted veggie toppings can be dinner, right? There were smiles after the meal, so perhaps?

I'm so very proud of the labor organizing At's doing. My mom is quite upset that he's not in grad school yet, and is always "reminding" me that her dad was a college man and that my dad went to grad school, so At "needs" to at least get one grad degree. It's some complicated emotional math I don't quite get. 

I really do want him to go to grad school too, but I'm not sure what I could do differently to change his mind. He told me today that he got accepted to U of M (the #1 school for Social Work) and MSU (right here in town) but has declined both offers. I begged him to defer instead, but he wouldn't hear me out. I will say he seems way more relaxed now that college decisions aren't hanging over him. He's also doing some real good in the world, so maybe it's time for me to step off and try to deserve the "cool parents" status he once conferred on us.

Monday, March 28, 2022

puppies/meetings

I found this video of two puppies bopping a balloon on the beach at sunset... and I want to go to there. I've watched the little clip multiple times and my heart rate steadies and lulls... this is the funnest "guided meditation" ever! Full video here.  

Otherwise it was a pretty busy--not always successful--day.  For instance, I realized I mailed a ton of documents without the form that ought to have accompanied it. [FacePalm]. And while I'm not teaching on sabbatical, I've stayed involved with student research--about ten of those projects are going to be presented soon, so each one is a separate saga of hard work and happiness.

The work day culminated in a department-wide meeting. I love that our chair has normalized remote attendance--they don't even ask if anyone needs a remote link, they just go ahead and arrange one, and every time there are a handful of us on it. This feels like a radical shift in inclusivity.

I can't be on a sunset beach with puppies, but at least I work with some good people.

Pic: from TheWorldOfDog

Saturday, March 26, 2022

"saying the word I was not supposed to say"

Nu and I went to The Vagina Monologues performance helmed by MacCurdy, the women's house I advise. 

We got a solid two hours of talking and joint DJ-ing in the car, an electrifying performance by some fabulous people, and lots of fun and supportive chats. I got a personal shoutout in the program notes + Nu told me that they're "so proud" of the work I do... 

(Nu's comment took me to Sarabeth Maney's picture of Judge Ketanji Brown Jackson and the way her child was beaming at her during KBJ's historic Supreme Court confirmation hearing. I mean, Nu wasn't quite as admiring, but then I haven't exactly been nominated to the Supreme Court either 😇.)

Feeling so grateful today for all of this.

s/unlit

In the midst of mounting excitement about the start of the new school year, it was a shock to hear two people who'd been at the college ...