Wednesday, June 29, 2005

How Does This Work Again?

As I understand this tagging thing, since I got tagged by Paul, I have to answer some very personal questions about myself. In public. Since this is the very thing I've struggled with since starting this blog, and since I try to operate my life from my mantra -- "You have to do the things you're most afraid to do" [that's a paraphrase of a quote by Eleanor Roosevelt, one that I can't be bothered to look up at the moment.]

Oh, ok, here's the actual quote:

'You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You are able to say to yourself, 'I lived through this horror. I can take the next thing that comes along.'

And that combined with this one:

'You must do the things you think you cannot do. '

equals my habit in life.

But enough about that, on to the questions!

1. What are three of the stupidest things you have done in your life?

A. Marrying my first husband, who turned out -- in spite of being the golden boy of his church -- to be a womanizer and a firm believer in the superiority of males and of my place as subservient to him. I doubt he would admit to either of those, but from my perspective, it is the truth.
B. Allowing the heat, lack of water, loneliness, and my anxiety over my research to sidestep me from the Appalachian Trail (although temporarily) in 2001. I still regret the fact that I decided not to hike those miles in New England, while I was there. Now I have to make a series of special trips to get those miles done, and I'm always questioning my status as a thru-hiker.
C. OK, now this one is complicated. I chose to do my dissertation research (in the field of reading education) on the literacy practices of the Appalachian Trail, using qualitative methods, at a time when the field of reading was becoming narrower and more focused on print text, when government funding was only available for quantitative analyses, and when my job choices depended on the respect garnered by my dissertation and subsequent work. As a result, I got only a few job interviews, but I did get a position at the University of Wyoming, where I'm very happy with both my academic work and my opportunities to be an outdoorsy girl. So -- maybe it was a stupid mistake, but it all turned out ok in the end.

2. At the current moment, who has the most influence in your life?

No question. My ever-loving, patient, and rational spouse, Footslogger. He is my sanity and my grounding when things get crazy in academia-world. Plus, he always comes up with fun things to do, like this.

3. If you were given a time machine that functioned, and you were allowed to only pick up five people to dine with, who would you pick?

[Can I just make a comment about the atrocious wording of this question?]

Hmm. Eleanor Roosevelt. John F. Kennedy. Mahatma Gandhi. Buddha. And George W. Bush. Maybe they can teach him something.

4. If you had three wishes that were not supernatural, what would they be?

A. That people in this country would start valuing and understanding the work that teachers do, in all its complexity.
B. That teachers who do not care about their students would quit teaching and giving the rest of us a bad name.
C. That my hair was curly.

5. Someone is visiting your hometown/place where you live at the moment. Name two things you regret your city not having, and two things people should avoid.
'll go with Laramie, since my hometown is in Texas, and I'd rather not talk about that.

Two things I regret the city not having -- a variety of fantastic ethnic restaurants and affordable housing. Two things people should avoid -- mosquito bites (can you believe how thick they are right now?) and trying to have a quiet dinner at Altitude's on a Friday night (wow, they should get some acoustic material in there right away!).

6. Name one event that has changed your life.

No question about this. Hiking the AT in '01 and becoming a member of the thru-hiking community. In addition to giving me another persona (in addition to that of an educator, something I've been for my entire adult life), it has given me countless true friends all over the country, a new vocabulary, my dissertation research, and -- most importantly -- a sense of confidence that I can 'do the things I think I cannot do.' I'm proudest of that accomplishment.

7. Tag 5 people.

Now here's where it gets interesting. Are these people that I know read my blog? If so, I'm not sure there are any .. . .

Any of you dear readers who want to be tagged, consider yourself tagged. Donna, if you start a blog, you should start with this one!

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Budget Cuts

OK, now this pisses me off. Apparently, we're all supposed to just let our education funding, health care funding, etc. go because the Bush administration has put us so deeply into the hole in order to fund a war based on misinformation.

I'm about to start phoning and emailing and writing letters to my representatives, I can promise you.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

Seam-Sealing is Critical

Yesterday morning we spent several hours seam-sealing our new tents. We're not finished, as we've only done the fly and not the floor, but the process reminded me of hiking through the 100-Mile Wilderness in Maine, late September, 2001. My ever-patient spouse had joined me in Monson, Maine, and we hiked together to Katahdin to finish up my thru-hike. He brought with him a new 2-person tent (I was carrying my old and well-loved Sierra Designs Lightyear CD), so that we could split the weight and sleep in the same tent. Unfortunately, he had neglected to seam-seal it.

Thus, when it rained almost the entire 9 days of our hike, we got wet. The first night that it rained, we didn't even get out our sleeping bags; we just stacked up our bandanas under the drips and slept diagonally across the tent, holding on to each other to keep warm.

Needless to say, it was not a comfortable night. Neither were the nights that followed, as all of our clothing and gear was wet, wet, wet. We stopped early the following day -- when it was only mildly misting instead of raining -- and hung our clothes on branches in the vain hopes that they would dry. Of course, they didn't.

Of course, eventually we did get to Katahdin and eventually we and our stuff got dry. (You see, every story must have a happy ending.) I did get a cold, however.

So -- we're now serious about seam-sealing. We've learned a new technique that involves using a syringe to apply the goopy stuff, and we're getting better about not dripping Sil-Net everywhere.

Anybody else have camping stories to share?

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Course Cancelled due to Lack of Interest

This summer, I was supposed to teach a graduate course for our reading endorsement series on research on reading and writing instruction at the secondary level. I was truly jazzed about teaching it, as it meant I would learn a lot, and I would get to meet lots of teachers from around the state. I worked hard to find quality texts and prepare a syllabus; I have half of the daily planning done for the course.

Last week, it was decided that my course didn't have enough folks enrolled to make. You see, in the summer, a course has to have at least 16 students in order to make enough money for my salary to be paid. The most I ever had enrolled in the course was 12; by last week, I was down to 9.

I'm seriously conflicted about my reaction to this news. On one hand, I could have used the money, and -- as I said -- I was excited about the material in this course. Plus, there may be students who signed up for the course who need it in order to get their reading endorsements.

One the other hand, I could seriously use the time to get some writing done. I'm finally making some headway with the multigenre manuscript, and I still need to write up that research on the writing project in Lander. Plus, it means that I'll get to be more involved with the Wyoming Writing Project invitational, which conflicted with the schedule of my course.

So -- if any of the readership of this blog had planned to take the course (doubtful, but possible), I apologize for the inconvenience. I'll be teaching it in the spring semester of 06, when we don't have so much of an enrollment requirement, if that helps.

Friday, June 10, 2005


I found out today -- as a result of a spine x-ray -- that I have an extra vertebra.

What does this mean?

Thursday, June 09, 2005


There was a time when I was in graduate school, just after I had successfully completed my comprehensive examinations, when I felt the need for some down time. I had worked hard on writing, doing library research, thinking, preparing for the exams, and I had this vision of my head exploding if I didn't allow myself a break. So I took about a month of what I called "decompression time." (Remember, Donna?) I didn't write, I didn't read -- at least I didn't write or read anything academic. At first I felt guilty about it, and didn't say anything to anyone about what I was NOT doing. But after a week or so, I felt the tension fall away from around my shoulders and neck, and I knew that it was the right decision.

Now I'm approaching that one-week mark again. Well, I have been in the office a bit, but mostly I've done yard work, read mystery novels (I've just discovered Elizabeth George, and I love her characters!), ridden my bike around town to do errands, and cooked. It feels good.

At the same time, there is this voice in the back of my head that is pressuring me to get back to work on a variety of projects that need doing. I may give in momentarily, but I'm trying to preserve what I can of the summer for much-needed decompression.

I also went to see a chiropractor yesterday, but that is another story for another day.

Now it's time for me to think about whether I should read a bit or plan tonight's dinner . . .