Tuesday, December 31, 2013

On 2013.

2013 is over, so here's the obligatory 2013 rewind (which will be light this year given my blogging hiatus):

worst parts: losing beloved pets, learning to cope with new life circumstances

best parts: spending time with loved ones while seeing awesome movies (i'm looking at you jurassic park 3D IMAX, pacific rim, ender's game, and catching fire), getting to visit my sister and explore a new part of the country, becoming the go-to tech in the classroom person on campus, developing and deploying the BEST.CLASS.EVER!

in 2013, i resolved to:
1) write more--even if it's just five minutes a day

-definitely complete.  while it may be hard to believe given the fact that i haven't updated this blog since july, i have been working on several projects offline that have taken up all of my writing time.  these projects have moved forward, and i look forward to continuing to work on them.
2) choose joy.
-yeah....so...about that.  i struggle with pessimism, so this is something that i need to actively work on.  i tried to be more joyful, but i'm not sure if it worked or if i stuck to it enough to work.

in 2014, i will:
1)  embark on a new book challenge (i don't know what it will look like yet, but i need to do something)
2) continue learning and growing as a teacher

3) work on accepting bad news in a productive manner

best of 2012 (the best things i've encountered this year [either truly great or awesomely bad or entertaining])
*the strain series - guillermo del toro and chuck hogan
*HARRY POTTER! – J.K. Rowling
*middlesex – jeffrey eugenides
*a song of fire and ice series – george r.r. martin
*bitterblue – Kristin cashore

*night vision – imagine dragons
*my head is an animal – of monsters and men
*til the casket drops – zz ward
*last of the great pretenders – matt nathanson
*the civil wars – the civil wars
*from there to here to you – jack johnson
*carry the fire – delta rae
*the lumineers – the lumineers

*zero dark thirty
*hansel and gretel: witch hunters
*iron man 3
*the great Gatsby
*pacific rim
*catching fire


2013 in review (quotes from my dear neglected blog):

janeiro: "all this is to say that this week i feel fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful, funny people who have begun to think of me as one of their own and to have my own little islands of solitude where i can work, play, and get away from it all when i need to."

fevereiro: no posts

marco: "
my post-apocalyptic/dystopian class goes live in the fall!"
abril: "
no one could ever possibly make me hate fahrenheit 451, right?  RIGHT?!"
maio: "
i wish i could have celebrated his last birthday with him by taking him to see the avengers instead of calling his hospital room."
junho: "
after collecting bits and pieces and threads of info about the whole series for years, i decided to become a pureblood by reading and watching all of the potters."
julho: "
as we took off the next day, belvedere snapped one last picture of the mountains outside the plane window. "
agosto: no posts

setembro: no posts

outubro: no posts

novembro: no posts

dezembro: no posts

Friday, July 12, 2013

on sir belvedere the beaver's pacific northwest adventure.

i recently went on an adventure in the pacific northwest--up to portland and seattle to spend a few days.

having moved to texas when he was very young, a friend of mine, sir belvedere the beaver, decided to tag along on my trek to the beaver state.  
he wanted to get back to his roots, see his family, and have some fun.  i happily followed him around with a camera to document his journey.

first, we waited patiently for our plane.  shout out to dfw airport for the awesome chairs with charging stations built in!
  once we took off, belvedere was obsessed with looking out the window.

when we finally made it to stumptown, belvedere decided to be the navigator.
i forced him to accompany me to powell's city of books.  unfortunately, no photographic evidence of this event survived the excitement.

the next morning, we headed up the portland aerial tram to get a good view of the city below:

then, we headed off to saturday market and did some browsing/people watching:
next up, we hung out at pioneer square:
later that day, we traveled to the columbia river gorge to take in the view. 
we saw waterfalls:
and were awed by the beauty of the place:
while hanging out at crown point vista house in the gorge, belvedere met up with his long lost cousin, batilda.  the beavers were shocked at their differences at first--batilda being a more natural, country beaver and belvedere being very much a city boy. 

the next day we had an early breakfast at pine state biscuits:
then we headed to seattle. we visited alki beach on puget sound where we stuck our feet in the frigid water just to see how cold it was.
belvedere took advantage of the sunshine and did a bit of sunbathing:
we then boarded a ferry from seattle to bremerton and snapped a few shots along the way:
the next day, we spent some time exploring pike place market.

we met rachel the pig:
and found the super smelly and disgusting gum wall:

then it was on to fremont to see america's biggest statue of lenin:

as we took off the next day, belvedere snapped one last picture of the mountains outside the plane window.  he enjoyed his trip, loved visiting his family members, and looks forward to another adventure.

Monday, June 3, 2013

on potter.

i’ve just finished a self-induced journey.  one that took me across the pond and into the realms of a world previously unknown to me.  i’ve journeyed to hogwarts and back in the last couple months, and i’m ready to dish.

first, some background.  i’m a freaking geek.  everyone who knows me is aware of that fact.  i have read and watched tolkien so many times i can recite it.  i love sci-fi/fantasy so much that i’m teaching a freaking class on it.  yet, somehow, harry potter was always just off my radar.  i knew the gist, and it seemed right up my alley, but there was always some other book, movie, or series that took precedence. 

until now.

after collecting bits and pieces and threads of info about the whole series for years, i decided to become a pureblood by reading and watching all of the potters.

here, in fragmented, piece-meal bullets, are my thoughts on the experience:
  • i didn’t expect so much allegory.  there’s a definite WWII/hitler/nazi thread here that just needs a bit more pulling.  voldemort and his deatheaters hate muggle-borns/mudbloods (i.e. wizards/witches born of two muggles) and aren’t too fond of halfbloods (i.e. wizards/witches with one wizard/witch parent and one muggle parent).  they want mudbloods removed from wizarding society so as to keep the race pure.  they put out propaganda on the dangers of mixed society.  they hold rigged trials to convict and intern them in prison.  mudbloods must register their existence with the ministry of magic.  many flee the country or are taken in by bloodtraitors (i.e. wizarding families who are sympathetic to their plight). sound familiar?  it really works in the texts, though, as it’s not heavy-handed or blatant.
  • snape is an amazing, truly well-written character.  i knew the character’s endgame going into the text, but i couldn’t help hating him along the way.  there is something so deeply sinister about his character that makes his revelation at the end that much more painful and breathtaking. i wonder how shocked i might have been if i didn’t know the truth of the character the whole way through.  i should probably ask someone about this…
  • alan rickman was made to play snape.  perfect.
  • hermione, like √©owyn from LOTR, is bad ass.  i wasn’t a huge hermione fan until the last book.  in books 1-6 she seemed undernourished as a character—always on the periphery, there to swoop in in some dues ex machina device.  only in book 7 did she really develop as a character for me as i began to see her stake in everything: a mudblood forced to cast a spell on her parents for their own protection, 100% dedicated to the fight against voldemort regardless of its costs. 
  • rowling hit adolescence on the nose in these texts.  everything you expect from a group of teenagers is present, but it is all contained by the overwhelming struggle they find themselves in the midst of.  they have all the problems of a typical teen drama, but these issues are set against a backdrop of immense evil and a rapidly changing world, thereby minimizing their importance.  the characters are forced to think beyond just themselves for a good portion of the series.  a series about teenagers that isn’t super angsty: well played, rowling. well played.
  • sweet neville gets his moment in the sun.  and it is beautiful.
  • the most important horcrux twist was amazing.  as was the inclusion of the deathly hallows instruments.  just when i was beginning to question how rowling was going to bring everything together in the end, it happened and worked amazingly well.
  • house-elves rock
  • the films, especially the last five, are really well made and reflective of the texts.  the first two are very, very childish, but that seems appropriate given the age of the characters in them. 
  • poor lupin and tonks!  but at least their orphaned child, the mirror of harry himself, will be surrounded by a community that loves and protects hims.
  • harry finally gets some peace and the family he has always longed for.  i'm not usually a sucker for a happy ending--i much prefer it when things are allowed to end badly--but this series needed a bit of peace for its principle character.  harry suffers so much throughout the texts and is intensely lonely for a good part of them.  i was actually glad to see it end well.

overall, i can now say that i am spellbound by harry potter {terrible pun intended}.  this series is yet another badge to add to my nerd-scouts vest.

and finally, in case anyone cares, here’s how i rank the books and movies from favorite to least:

fave: 7 - deathly hallows
5 - order of the phoenix
6 - half-blood prince
4 - goblet of fire
3 - prisoner of azkaban
2 - chamber of secrets
least fave: 1 - sorcerer's stone (or the much better named british version, philosopher's stone)

fave: 7.1 - deathly hallows, pt 1
7.2 - deathly hallows, pt 2
5 - order of the phoenix
6 - half-blood prince
4 - goblet of fire
3 - prisoner of azkaban
2 - chamber of secrets
least fave: 1 - sorcerer's stone

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

on firsts.

firsts are weird. 

there are good firsts: first day of school, first love, first real vacation, first day at a dream job.

firsts bring with them much anticipation and excitement tinged with anxiety.  we tend to fear that which we do not know, and firsts are, generally speaking, when we wade into unknown territories.

still, despite any anxiousness or trepidation, firsts can be exhilarating.

i love firsts.  while i may torture myself with nerves and what-ifs, there is something about a first experience that speaks to my soul.  no matter how nervous i may be going into a first, once i’m in it, i’m golden—enjoying the experience and trying to take it all in.

then there are firsts like today.

today, the first of may, would have been my father’s 60th birthday.

it is my family’s first time not having him here on this day. 

this first does not contain the excitement and possibility that most do.  instead it is riddled with sadness and regret.  today is a raw nerve, constantly being exposed to the elements.

i miss my dad. 

i wish i could have celebrated his last birthday with him by taking him to see the avengers instead of calling his hospital room. i’m glad i at least got to send him his favorite birthday treats and that he enjoyed them.

i do not relish this first.

Friday, April 26, 2013

on procrastination and preparation.

i'm avoiding the digital mountain of papers awaiting me on my flash drive.

actually, this is a kind of forced procrastination because the learning management software we use at school is moving SO SLOWLY this morning.  it takes about five minutes to upload a graded paper and post a grade.  ain't nobody got time for that.

so i'm putting grading off and venturing into slightly more terrifying waters: prep for my new lit class.

y'all, i'm freaking giddy with excitement over my new class, post-apocalyptic and dystopian narratives, but i'm also kind of nervous.

these are some of my favorite texts. like ever. 

i don't want to get into this class, have students screw my favorite books up and ruin them for me forever.  that's kind of my greatest fear.

but i'm trying to be brave.  i'm putting content up, developing assignments, and ordering materials with reckless abandon, hoping the entire time that my students can live up to my ideal. we'll see about that.

no one could ever possibly make me hate fahrenheit 451, right?  RIGHT?!

Friday, March 29, 2013

on losses.

this beautiful, loving, smart, sassy girl has been lost.

after becoming very ill, i was forced to put my sweet baby to sleep this morning.  i've had her for almost half of my life, and my heart is just broken.

she stole my heart as a puppy and has held it ever since.

i like to think, that despite our despair here without her, she has been reunited with her big brother, Boommer, and her grandpa.  Together, they will romp and play, drink coffee, eat strawberry cake, and be happy.
i'm so thankful i got to be with her in her last moments, scratching her ears just the way she loved.

my sweet goose, pumpkin, chuck, gansita, monkey, stinks, baby girl --i love you and will always miss you.  there's a catahoula-sized hole in my heart that no one but you can fill.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

on updates.

so, i haven’t posted anything in quite a while, but i have been writing in other ways.  nothing too huge has been going on in my life lately, so i haven’t needed to rely on my blog for therapy lately—which i’m sure you appreciate.

since i don’t really have too much to say today, i thought i’d provide a little update on things i’m doing right now:
  1. i love my job—still.  even with all its daily drama, stress, and whatnot, my job rocks.  i have terrific coworkers, a handful of truly amazing and inspiring students, and i get to talk about what i love every day.
  2. my bestie is having a rough time with luck right now.  i hate this and really hope things begin to look up soon.  he deserves the world, and i hope he knows it.
  3. i’ve sent my bradbury paper to a few trusted peeps for some general feedback.  then, once i get their comments, i’ll farm it out for possible publication.  did i really just type that?  yikes.  things just got real.
  4. i’m thinking about volunteering during the summer.  i lucked out and get to take summer ii off, which means i have nothing to do between july 4 and august 27, so i thought i might get out into the community and do some good.  i’m currently looking at a few organizations i’d like to work with.  hopefully something will stick.
  5. i’ve recently redecorated my office and my bedroom.
  6. my post-apocalyptic/dystopian class goes live in the fall!
that’s pretty much what’s going on in my life right now.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

on community.

i spent four years as strictly an adjunct instructor.

being an adjunct is difficult. 

you are a part of the faculty, but in a diminished, displaced kind of way. you have no campus base, other than whatever division you are based out of.  you share a computer, printer, and everything else.  the only thing that is really and truly yours is your class and your mailbox.   you know some people, but most of the non-students milling around campus are foreign to you.  you have surface-level relationships with full time faculty and other adjuncts--you say hello, inquire about classes and vacations, but never really have a conversation.  you aren't quite faculty, but you still teach and do most of the things faculty members do--you just have to store everything in your car.

think of it as faculty-lite. 

then i got a full-time visiting scholar position.  and suddenly the community college where i teach became part of my actual community.

i got to know my colleagues.  we have actual conversations about more than just classes or SLOs.  we laugh a lot.  we discuss big issues and tiny little bits of minutiae

this part is so foreign to me, and i struggle with it every day.  i'm not used to having "work friends".  for the better part of five years i have been pretty isolated at work--just me, my students, and an occasional full-timer stopping by.  suddenly i'm surrounded by people who know my name and want to know about me and what i think.  it's pretty weird.  but also pretty cool. 

part of this is probably just the very fact that adjuncts are constantly on the move.  they often teach at multiple schools and spend little quality time on any one campus.  the opposite is true of full-time faculty.  yes, we have the same breaks and vacations, but we also have campus homes that allow us to hang out a little longer. 

i'm lucky in that i have two campus homes.  when i was brought on full-time, i was asked to be the designated english faculty at one of our community campuses--a smaller version of the main college campus where i've spent the last four years.  with that appointment came an office.  and a second office at the main campus so that when i have meetings i have a place to land.

my campus homes aren't much--in fact my main campus office is a bit drab (i'm not really there enough to justify making it lovely)--but they are mine.  my own private little space in a sea of people.

all this is to say that this week i feel fortunate to be surrounded by wonderful, funny people who have begun to think of me as one of their own and to have my own little islands of solitude where i can work, play, and get away from it all when i need to.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

on 2012.

2012 is finally over. THANK GOD!  2012 rewind, here i go:

worst parts: losing loved ones: daddy, mary, shane, bella, and zoe; the passing of ray bradbury; kristy moving

best parts: hot springs with nick, willie nelson, rodeo with gabe, pulling off nick's party, glen rose with mom, going full-time

let’s be frank:  this year was shit. it was awful in every sense of the word.  but i know that i have it better and easier than so many others, despite the year's tremendous hardships.  so now on to the resolutions.

in 2012, i resolved to:
1) work seriously on the bradbury project. maybe even go to ohio to see the manuscripts.

-yes.  while i never did make it to ohio, i did finish this project.  FINALLY.
2) learn the new sewing machine (emmie) backwards and forwards
-yes.  emmie and i have a great relationship.
3) cook more
-sure.  this one is kind of hard to gauge since so much of the year was spent traveling between the house and various hospitals.  mom cooked a lot, but we ate out a lot, too.  i going to call this one a fail.

in 2013, i will:
1)  write more—even if it’s just five minutes a day
2)  choose joy

best of 2012 (the best things i've encountered this year [either truly great or awesomely bad or entertaining])
*shadow divers – robert kurson
*the big sleep – raymond chandler
*dark places – gillian flynn
*graceling – kristin cashore
*never let me go – kazuo ishiguro

*fallen empires – snow patrol
*leaving eden – carolina chocolate drops
*california 37 - train

*tornado - little big town
*the lumineers – the lumineers
*corn money - defibulators

*the ides of march
*the hunger games
*the raven
*abraham lincoln: vampire hunter
*marvel’s the avengers
*the muppets
*silver linings playbook

2012 in review (quotes from my dear neglected blog):

janeiro: "poetry is pure.  it is simple.  it is the essence of life."

fevereiro: " dear mystery blog-reader, i appreciate the whitman gift more than you could ever know."

marco: "i really wanted to like this book."

abril: " i only have 29 days until the ban is lifted."

maio: "what book will you buy first?” was the question i was asked most during my last week of the book-buying-ban.”

junho: "goodbye, mr. bradbury.  and flights of angels sing thee to thy rest."

julho: "will i ever feel up to writing again?”

agosto: "officer:  i'm going to need a volunteer to act as our pack leader.  remember, this is a fight for your lives!’ / my good friend and colleague:  ‘i volunteer as tribute!’”

setembro: " we all sit on pins and needles, a little nervous, in the words of seamus heaney "a little emptier, a little spent."

outubro: "but i don't know how to say it or even if i should.  so i remain silent, unsure, restless, and sad.”

novembro: no posts

dezembro: no posts