Monday, October 30, 2006

What is Boring?

Froshboy in front of me in Geology class this morning:

"This is the most boring class I've ever been in. I have trouble staying awake." (Pulls sweatshirt hood over his head and proceeds to nod out.)

This comment and others like it are regular fare from students in my Physical Geology class. I can understand this, because I remember being 18 years old and only interested in the next party, the next date, the next time I could be the center of attention.

But now that I'm in my 40s, and am learning things that are intrinsically of interest to me, the only time I'm truly bored is . . .

[wait for it]

. . . in meetings.

Now those are boring.

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Climate of Fear

I apologize for not posting recently. The only excuse I can give is that I had a test on Monday, and a football game on Saturday, so my mind was all awhirl and awry. Anyway, now that the test is over -- and I think I did pretty well on it -- I thought I would post this poem that I wrote over the weekend. I hope it makes some sense.

Fear of Freedom

A kernel, a core, a seed
has long ago infiltrated,
overthrown and occupied her system,
blood, bone, sinew, and muscle.
Placed there by --
Institutions, perhaps.
Schools and churches.
Families, yes,
our mothers and fathers,
brothers and sisters;
our pastors and teachers
with loving care
imparted to us the offshoots of suckers
emplaced in their guts
by others.

In the gut, this tiny crumb
occupies space and
makes brittle and thin and rigid
what should flow and pulse and beat.

Movement slows, fluids dry,
Dust collects in the veins and organs,
lithifies into a clastic sediment of
blockages and boundary lines.

And the breaking begins.

Dear one, I recognize in you
the endstage symptoms
of my own disease.

My dust calls to your dust;
my brittle breaking bones
sound an echo to yours.

Let us seek a greenhouse, a waterfall,
that oasis of health where
rules should be broken,
good sense need not apply,
and our boundaries

Yesterday evening I was privileged to be part of the crowd listening to Wole Soyinka, Nigerian Nobel-Prize winner, speak about the politics of art. Quite impressive, thoughtful, and funny at times. It was actually reading his book, Climate of Fear that gave me the beginning image for this poem.

Today I'm off to Center City to visit with some high school English teachers. Should be interesting!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Poetry Galore

No, that is not a sideways reference to a Bond film.

I spent Friday evening and Saturday with several Wyoming Writing Project folks in Center City, planning a course for new teachers on teaching writing, eating a lot (A LOT) and writing poetry. Fun was had all around, only a little pretentiousness and self-promotion was to be had, and we all had a great time. Even got some planning done, too.

I wrote a new poem, but I'm not going to post it here just yet. It is not yet worthy of your eyes, oh dearly beloved. Oh, and I also dreamed that I wrote a poem that solved all of the problems related to applying information from my dissertation research in classrooms. Finally! A breakthrough!

And then I woke up. Dammit.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006


Got another email reminder yesterday about an upcoming conference -- NCTE's Research Conference, which can be found here. As you can see, the topic for 2007 is "What Counts as Literacy? Living Literacies of the Body and Image." Now THAT is exactly what my dissertation was about, and I have yet to get a good article published from it. Well, I did get an article but it was an invited one and not a peer-reviewed one. So, I'm thinking about framing a proposal that would use the research I've already done in terms of developing implications for classroom practice. That has ALWAYS been my difficulty with that study, is making the connection between it and the classroom. Perhaps the round-table based format for this conference would help me to get something going with it. On the other hand, I'm already so FREAKING busy with classes and other research projects that I'm not sure it's a good idea to get started on something else.

I'll think about it. The proposals are due November 1st.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Not to Worry . . .

. . . the sleeping problem is over. I have, however, been obsessed with my list of things to do and have been steadily crossing those items off while also attending loads of meetings, teaching, etc. Actually, my obsession with my to-do list is probably the only thing that's allowing me to sleep. Somehow, writing down all of those things swirling around my head helps me to shut off my worries.

Soon it will be time to register for classes again; I'm thinking of taking an introductory chemistry class in the spring. Should be a challenge!

Monday, October 02, 2006

Not Enough Sleep

I woke up countless times during the night, worrying. About friends who are ill, about a manuscript that I'll need to revise (again!), about my students, about my upcoming bid for tenure, about my husband, about my geology class and my inability to find a class to take next semester, etc. Worry, worry, worry. My mom says, and she is so right, that if I didn't have something to worry about, I would worry until I found something.

What's called for here, I believe, is more exercise. So I got up this morning and did 20 minutes on the gazelle (love that machine!) and 50 sit-ups (with a 10-pound weight). I hope that will do the trick. During the day, I'm good. Reason allows me to focus on the task at hand and to enjoy my day. It's only at night that my worrying side takes over -- sometimes -- and keeps me from sleeping.