Thursday, 2 April 2015

Hiking and a Spring Update

Our semester is winding down, and spring is in full bloom in Huntsville. I bought myself a little time to write since I surprised my students yesterday by catching up on homework and quiz grading, and because I gave them a progress-grade report. I still have a set of papers rotting away in my Turnitin inbox (and another set is due on Friday), but right now these are my only obligations (other than lesson planning and meetings) for a while.

Spring in Huntsville is breathtaking. Everything is so green--like Indiana or Delaware--and there are flowers exploding into bloom everywhere. I need to take more pictures of the flowers, because they are lovely (and I forgot how much I love wisteria until I saw some growing in the wild area next to my apartment complex). When we moved here, people told us that Sam was especially lovely in the spring because the grounds-crew takes full advantage of the warm humidity to plant many flowering plants. Now I can see what they mean.

David and I have taken to hiking around Huntsville State Park, as anticipated. It rains fairly often here, so we take advantage of breaks in the weather on the weekends for hikes (the park is only 10 minutes from our apartment, which is fantastic). The park has a number of interesting trails, which cut through the tall pines and trip along the edge of a lake (these lake trails are sandy). We really like parts of the Chinquapin Trail best (we’ve also walked Dogwood Trail). The whole trail is 6.8 miles, so we usually just take on a piece. The park trails have lots of hills and roots, so we get a pretty good workout if we walk down a piece for 30 minutes and then turn around and go back.

Chinquapin is the orange trail; Dogwood is the blue trail.
On our first trip, we came on a very early spring day, which was misty and made the woods look eery. I love a good eery woods.

On our second trip, the weather was much the same:

Then we went last weekend on a sunny day (there were many more people on the trails, which was disappointing to me), and we went at that time of the day when the afternoon light is magical.

My second disappointment with the park (the first being the amount of people on the trails; I prefer solitary walks) is that we’ve seen very little wildlife. There are certain types of wildlife we have no desire to see (snakes and spiders and things which would eat me), but I would love to see an armadillo or another rabbit or a woodpecker. I’m already looking forward to winter, when fewer people will be around (in general, Texans do not like chilly weather).

We only have four more weeks of school at Sam. I try not to think too hard about what this means for my grading regimen, and I am instead choosing to look forward to the fun we will have this summer. My classes are going pretty well (even my unruly section), but teaching 90 students and grading over five sets of papers for each class is just a great deal of work. [Sidenote: Really, Texas needs to rethink its policy of “the more papers, the better.” Students need to focus more on revision and rewriting their work than they do on producing as much as possible].

I know this isn’t a super-exciting post, but as I’ve said before we really spend most of our time staying on top of work (grading, planning, reading, meetings), so when I get done with things I watch TV and crochet. One only has so much energy at the end of a 12-to-16-hour work day. We sometimes go out with philosophers (philosophers are the best), but the highlight of my week is usually going out to dinner with David once per week (or hiking with David! Hiking is my very favorite non-work activity).

But I should note that teaching is absolutely THE BEST, even though it takes almost everything I have sometimes. How lucky am I that I get to work with young minds and teach them how to develop necessary skills (writing/communicating) better? I also get to step into their lives for a bit and care about them, which is a privilege. Work-life satisfaction = achieved.


Saturday, 7 February 2015

Busy Weeks in February

These last few weeks have been full of the kinds of days where we both stay at the office late, eat a hurried dinner, and then work until midnight. David’s schedule was worse than mine, as he is in the process of reapplying for his job. By the time he gets through the last interview on Monday, he will have had over ten interviews, special lunches and dinners with the jobs committee, and one job talk, and all of these occurred in between teaching and preparing for four classes. These last few weeks for me were crazier than usual because my students were working on their first paper (thus I met with 20-30 students per day on my prep days). I’m also in the process of reworking all of my lesson plans and course materials, too. I’m always reworking my lesson plans, but this semester (as I’ve mentioned before) is the big overhaul.

David, in his professorial job talk clothing.
He'll be embarrassed that I posted this.
One of the highlights of my week was getting to see David’s job talk on Thursday. In the past, for every single one of David’s talks (including his dissertation defense but excepting his OU philosophy MA defense), I was in Delaware and we didn’t have money for me to fly in and see him. Because of this, I was ecstatic this week that our schedules aligned and I was able to see David give his job talk. He did a great job, of course, and no matter how many times I’ve read his notes or his papers, I was still super-impressed with his competency.

I get the fancy desk in my office now.
Meeting with students was also a highlight of the week for me. If I have to be extremely busy and stressed, I would rather it be because I have so many one-on-one meetings with students than for any other reason. These meetings give me a chance to build individual relationships with my students and their work, and because of them I am able to push my students to give me a lot more effort (hence, better papers). Psychologically, if you can get a person on your side (by simply caring about them and their work), then they will just give you a lot more. At least, this is my experience in working with people.

Today (Saturday), we are taking most of the day off to rest and reconnect. After David gets back from our car tune-up appointment, we’re heading to Spring, TX,  and one of our favorite bookshops (Good Books in the Woods). Knowing us, we’ll probably feel guilty for taking time off and we’ll spend time grading this evening.

We have a number of interesting things coming up in the future. First, because the weather is really great out here in the spring (mostly 40s, 50s, 60s), we’ve found ourselves enjoying talking long treks around campus in the evening. The Sam Houston campus is very hilly, so we get a pretty interesting workout as we walk around. David and I have always enjoyed long walks and we’re really close to some great state parks, so one activity that we’re going to try is some more serious hiking on the weekends.

Another reason why we are going to try some more serious hiking adventures is because if David gets the job here again for next year, then we are going to try and take a trip to the northeast this summer. The thought of hiking adventures in the beautiful wilderness of Oregon and Washington is enough to motivate us to take on the trails here (despite the fact that we may encounter poisonous creatures, particularly snakes). In addition, it’s been such a long time since we’ve taken a vacation together--just the two of us. I mean, we visit our families once or twice per year in Indiana, but this is very different than taking a vacation. I am very hopeful that this plan will come to pass.

My basil plant in the sunshine this afternoon.
In two weeks, David is going to presenting at a conference (a book review) and I will be covering his intro philosophy class. My topic is Aristotle’s Golden Mean, and I’m both excited and nervous about it. Other people probably have this fear all the time, but I get so nervous about covering David’s philosophy classes because I am just SURE that some student is going to have great objections and I won’t know how to respond. Then I’ll be just the silly wife of the philosophy professor (one of my greatest fears is that I will become just a smart man’s wife rather than an intelligent instructor who is distinctly Katie). I know that especially at Sam there really isn’t a chance of this happening, but it could happen someday. On the other hand, though, it’s always really fun to teach a different subject than Composition every once and a while (even though I love teaching comp, I also love developing teaching skills in other subjects). I think I will also bring them candy, so as to increase my odds of success.

Well, it’s off to enjoy this beautiful sunshine. And books.

Monday, 19 January 2015

Reports from Break and Reflections on Nostalgia

Sunset at the Wright homestead in Greenfield, IN
It was nice to spend some time with family in Indiana over the winter break, although the Katie and David of the future need to give themselves a few more days of downtime at home before engaging in the stress of the holidays. I had a difficult time enjoying as much of the trip as I usually do, as I went straight from spending the final few days before traveling in grading papers, entering final grades, and baking (I don’t like to come to visit empty-handed). By the time we made the long drive to Indiana (with a cat who just wouldn’t settle down, which is unusual), I was ready for a three-day nap.

Painting party with sisters.
I always do enjoy being back in places that are so familiar to me, though, and it’s such a strangely-wonderful feeling to drive around in places which are so imprinted on your memory (I know so many back roads and short cuts, though not by name--only by sense or landmark). Isn’t it cool how we retain our child-senses about familiar places (knowledge by landmark or sense)? Nostalgia also creeps in when I’m back in Indiana, though I try to remind myself of roundness of experience that I had there--not everything was wonderful; not everything was homey; not everyone was kind; and I had many scarring experiences in this place, too. I also remind myself not to be like a person I grew up with, who daily succumbs to the world of nostalgia with its siren call and only sees the past as good (the BEST) without the pain and struggle that was also truly there. Nostalgia is pleasurable but deadly if not balanced with reality.

I think it’s also a great deal more difficult to relate to others in their pain and trying experiences if we only live in the memories of the good parts of our lives. Of course, swinging the other way is dangerous, too (living the mantra that life is only good in the future).

It was also fun to be with family (though tiring, as there is so much fun we need to have!). David and I felt very filled up with deep conversations and love when we left.

Our two-week break was lots of this ...
We both spent our two weeks before the beginning of our spring semester in gradually revising our syllabi, reading, watching TV (I watched a great deal more of “Bob’s Burgers” on Netflix than I care to admit here), and taking a few fun adventures. Our best adventure was journeying to one of our favorite bookstores of all time: Kaboom Books in Houston, TX. Picture this: nine-foot shelves, stacks of books on top of half-sized shelves, many comfy chairs and bean bags and couches for reading, a friendly cat roaming around, a quiet space, friendly owners who love books.

Last week we started our spring semester at Sam. Both of us have a new plan for the way that we are presenting materials this semester, and we’re excited about the fact that because we understand the study body a bit better, we can probably help them achieve more by teaching in a way that they understand better. I’m keeping records of what I changed and why I changed certain things, so that later I can develop a better set of curricula for this course (and so I can remember my reasons why I decided to shake up my class). This is a big “test things out” semester for me (and for David, too), so we’ll report in at the end to let you know if we were able to do a more effective job.

Last week I also finally went to get my Texas driver’s license. I resisted doing this for a long time, and it was actually legal for us to keep our Indiana DLs while we were in school (it’s hard to become a state resident if you are only here for school)--or, so I thought. We learned that you are actually driving illegally in Texas if you don’t get a state DL after being here for 90 days. [Sigh]. I succumbed. I have a temporary license for now, but the new one should be here soon. I did get to see my picture, and if you are my friend on FB then you saw my notice about this (bad picture but crazy eyes). I am looking forward to seeing people’s reactions to this awful picture. This week David has to run the gauntlet for the DL himself.

As we were returning from College Station a few nights ago (for our bi-monthly Indian food fix), I had the realization that driving back to Huntsville from different places now feels like we are returning home. Throughout my time in both College Station and Newark, I never really felt that either place was home (in both places I felt my own difference very naggingly). Huntsville, though, feels like home. Part of me is really annoyed by this (I don’t want to stay in Texas!!!), but part of me is just relieved. And, I remind myself, just because Huntsville feels homey now doesn’t mean that I couldn’t feel homey in other places, too.

But before I make any declarations about how long we’re going to live here or whether we’re actually settling down, we need to find out if David will win back his position which he had to reapply for. If he doesn’t, who knows where I’ll be calling “home” next year at this time.

Thursday, 30 October 2014

"Autumn" in East Texas

How adjuncts spend their autumn evenings.
When October hits, I always feel like autumn must be just around the corner. Of course, autumn is just around the corner for people living close to or above the Mason-Dixon line. There is no autumn here, really. I am told by weather websites that some leaves will change color in early-to-mid November, but we’ll see about this. I am not hopeful. The leaves never really changed in College Station. Today the temperature dropped (high of 79 degrees projected). This is not the weather for dying leaves and bonfires and hot drinks.

 One of the things I love doing in strange (to me) areas of the country/world is talking with locals about seasonal expectations. Some of my students indulge me by sharing their perceptions of “cold” weather, seasonal clothing, and seasonal activities. My students have been wearing sweatshirts lately (it’s 79 degrees, after all!!) and begrudgingly not looking forward to winter weather (50 degrees).

There’s also a sense of desperation some days on campus to wear all of the autumn clothes that one is supposed to wear in this season, even when temperatures are in the high-80s (autumn clothes = jeans, leggings, boots, sweaters, sweatshirts, fleece jackets, flannel shirts). I always chuckle at the autumn-clothed student, struggling and sweating across campus on an 87 degree day, and they always chuckle at me for unfashionably wearing decidedly summer clothes (summer clothes = capris, skirts with no tights/leggings, short sleeves, flats). We share a mutual chuckle.

By the end of October at universities, there is also a sense of dread and work-piling-up and sicknesses caused by not sleeping. I am a strong defender of the need for a fall break in October; both for the well-being of students and professors. My students are tired and sick and stressed, and they really need some time away from class so they can come back refreshed. I am tired and behind on grading and really need a break to refresh myself. Texas universities do not have a fall break, though, so we just have to bully-through until Thanksgiving break (which is super-long here; it starts after classes on Tuesday of Thanksgiving week).

I always like to dress up on Halloween if I’m teaching, and, conveniently, Halloween falls on Friday this year (when I teach all of my classes). Dressing in costume is a silly think for a professor to do, but I’m not technically a real professor (I’m like a half-professor), and I don’t mind being silly. Therefore, I usually dress in costume and give my students candy. This year, I will be Nancy Drew, albeit the early, independent, and updated Nancy Drew (the first set of books had a more independent sleuth; then they got a little too “I need a man to come in and save me”). I am updating the early Nancy Drew by wearing jeans, as I think this version of Drew would definitely wear jeans if she was around today (it’s so much easier to climb through brush and investigate strange events in pants). Also, I will wear no hat because hats are annoying.

I have to plan my costumes and usual teaching clothes around the temperatures in my classroom, too, as I nervous-sweat in front of people (and I hop around all the time in the front of the room). Two of my classrooms are super-warm (my theory is that they are on the floors where all of the older professors have their offices, thus they complain about reasonably cool temperatures and demand the heat on at all times), so I am planning around this factor. I will also plan to be less bouncy, but I can’t promise anything.

Family updates:

JVJ: This cat had an adoption birthday at the end of September, so he got a whole can of tuna and a few tiny bits of butter. It was a glorious feast. JVJ seems pretty content and happy. His favorite game of late is to dive headfirst into a reusable bag on the floor and slide down the hall.

Katie: I’m always behind on grading, though I do usually take some evenings off from doing work (especially nights when I teach all day). Sadly, there is no time for craft projects, which includes remaking David’s school bag (it’s falling apart and I have the materials but no time). Winter is coming. I’m not really that ashamed about falling behind with grading, since the state of Texas mandates that we give our students five papers per semester. There’s no way I could have kept up, really (someday, after I leave Texas and don’t need to fear keeping my job, I’ll write a long rant about suspect education policies in writing classes).

David: Since David is teaching two different classes, he has double the lesson plans and tests and quizzes to make. David is always working (with breaks on date night and a few hours over the weekend). He had to reapply for his position here and submit a few other job applications, so work was added on top of work. Despite the work, he still makes the time to read more books than me.

Thursday, 2 October 2014

"Preventing" Disease with Soup and Biscuits

Soup time! #nofilter (hence the tag on the hot pad)
We had a bout of super-summery weather this week in Huntsville, but despite the heat and humidity, I felt compelled to make soup. One thing that I—always too much the idealist when it comes to teaching—forget is the resurgence of many diseases in the classroom in the mid-semester. Students get sick because they spend quite a bit of time in contact with the germs of others, don’t sleep much, and don’t eat well. I am a lower-level hypochondriac, so the waves of disease going through my students are scary. Hence, soup is a preventative measure.

Homemade soup has so many wonderful things going on. Chicken broth (at least, the homemade stuff), I read somewhere, has healing benefits. I don't know if this is true, but soup always makes me feel awesome. You get all of those good fats together in warm broth and good things happen. I always add real ginger and garlic to every soup I make, too, since these wonderful roots are supposed to help prevent colds and flus.

On soup nights I also always make spelt flour garlic-cheese biscuits to accompany soup, because: butter and cheese and garlic. No other answer needed.

Here are the recipes for my favorite soup and biscuits. The soup is based on a recipe by Ree Drummond (here), and the biscuit recipe is modified from two in the Betty Crocker Cookbook.

I forgot to add some of the ingredients in this pic. Most of the things are here.

Katie’s Hypochondriac Italian Chicken Soup

1 pkg. (4-6-ish) boneless, skinless chicken thighs (you can use the bone + skin kind, but then you have to pick them out later.
1 c. chopped carrots (really, use as many as you want)
1 green pepper, seeded and diced
1 medium yellow onion, diced
1 large, fresh tomato, peeled, diced, and then chopped into a pulp (trust me, the fresh tomato is so much better than the canned ones in this recipe)
Any other veggies you want in your soup (I like zucchini or cauliflower; broccoli is too strong)
1 tsp. dried basil (or as much fresh basil as you want!)
1-1/2 tsp. dried oregano (or as much fresh oregano as you want!)
2 tsp. salt (you may need to add more at the end)
2 tsp. black pepper (you may need to add more at the end)
either ½ tsp granulated garlic or 4 cloves of finely diced garlic (I can’t get it small enough for my liking, so I use the dried, granulated stuff)
1 to 2 tsp. fresh ginger; diced, and then chopped to a pulp (or buy the frozen stuff in cubes and add one cube)
1 bay leaf
hot sauce to taste
About 4 tbs. of heavy cream.

Prep everything and toss it in a pot (except for the heavy cream). Fill with water until it covers the chicken. Uncovered, bring it to a boil and then simmer for about an hour (or until the chicken is falling apart and the broth has reduced by about 1/4. 

Pull the chicken out and shred it. Add the chicken back to the pot. Add the heavy cream and let it simmer for about ten minutes (I begin making the biscuits when I add the cream, and I turn the soup off and let it sit as soon as I put the biscuits in the oven). 

Taste it before you serve it, to make sure that you don’t need to add more salt and pepper. Sprinkle Parmesan on top if you feel so inclined.


[almost] Everything in the pot!
Time to shred that chicken
After cream is added and I turned off the heat. Done!

Garlic-Cheese Drop Biscuits with Spelt Flour (makes six)

1 c. spelt flour
1-1/2 tsp. baking powder
½ Tbs. sugar or dry sugar substitute (I like xylitol; stevia is too strong)
¼ tsp. granulated garlic
¼ tsp. salt
¼ c. cold butter, chopped into cubes
¼ c. shredded cheddar
½ c. milk (I prefer heavy cream, but you do what you want; skim will ruin it, though, so use some kind of milk product with real substance; you need fat in this recipe)

To brush on top:
2 cloves of garlic or another ¼ tsp. granulated garlic
2 Tbs. butter, melted

     1.  Mix dry ingredients (flour through salt here).

     2. Add butter cubes. Cut into dough with pastry blender. Use fork if you don’t have a pastry blender. I imagine a food processor would also work, but I’m snobby about my pastry so I can’t answer for you if you use a food processor. Cut butter in until the little balls are smaller than peas.

     3. Add cheese. Cut in the cheese in the same way, but you don’t need to cut it into as many smaller pieces; just get it worked in.

     4. Add milk (or cream, if you like delicious things). Stir until just blended. If you use cream, it will be a hard ball.

     5. Divide into six pieces. Try not to touch very much of the dough so the butter won’t melt. Drop onto sheet tray (I use parchment paper, as the cheese can make things sticky).

     6. Bake at 450 degrees F for 11 minutes. Remove and brush with the butter + garlic topping mixture immediately.


After the dough is mixed. I forgot to take a picture of the dry ingredients after I cut in the butter and cheese.

Biscuits on the tray; ready for the oven (you'll notice that I handled them a bit).
Garlic butter time!

Thursday, 18 September 2014

After Teaching for a few Weeks

Now that we’ve settled into our first few weeks of school, David and I have more of a defined schedule that I can report on.

My Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays begin at 5:30 and my Tuesdays and Thursdays begin at 6:30. David generally gets up an hour or so after me, as his walk is shorter and his teaching day starts later. I teach on MWF at 8:00, 9:00, 11:00, and 12:00, and David teaches the same days at 9:00, 10:00, 1:00, and 2:00. We both hold office hours on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00-12:00.
So, that’s the backbone of our schedule.

We both actually usually leave our respective offices at 4-ish every day and walk home together. After I’m finished teaching, I usually either meet with students or read (recovery time). On Tuesdays and Thursdays we stay so late because there is so much to get done for classes on Wednesday and Friday. 

One thing that I was reminded of on my second day of teaching (when I went to make copies of something for my classes in the morning before I taught), is that faculty are awful about getting jams in the copy machine and then not taking the time to fix them. It makes me so self-righteous, because I always stop to fix jams that I make (even if it will make me late to class). But, this factor of faculty being cads about cleaning up their messes makes it imperative that I make copies the day before class rather than the morning of class (since I teach at 8). 

My students are very different in some respects than my Delaware students, and one of these reasons has compelled me to make handouts for them (with blank spots for notes). I didn’t have to do this in Delaware because I could just rely on my students to be able to easily figure out what they needed to know from class and what they could avoid taking notes on. My Sam students don’t have great study skills and don’t know how to take the best kind of helpful notes, yet. However, if I make these handouts for my students at Sam, they are much less panicky, they pay better attention, and they actually refer back to the handouts when they ask questions in and out of class and when they work on their papers.

I’m not going to do too much internet-public talk about my students in this blog, as it’s not fair to them and it falls into a legal gray space, but I will say that these are some things that I love about my classes:

The diversity in my classroom.

Their openness to discussing difficult issues like poverty and racism.

Their willingness to ask questions in class; even if their questions might be perceived negatively by their peers.

The huge spectrum of unique ideas that they produce for papers (it feels less “one note” than it did in Delaware).

The fact that they all suck up positive critiques like dry sponges (they are so beaten down and expect me to hate everything they write).

The fact that they usually handle my negative critiques of their writing well, and they respond by making something beautiful out of their papers.

They can’t resist using some title before my name (“Ms.” “Mrs.” “Professor” “Miss”). My favorite is “Professor Katie.” My second favorite is the unintentional misspelling of my name: “Mrs. Write.”

Keeping up with grading some things has been a challenge; especially on weeks like this one when I have conferences with students every day. Overall, though, grading has not been too bad. Their first “official” paper is due tomorrow, so we’ll see if I can give a one-week turnaround. 

And now, the family reports:

JVJ: I haven’t seen JVJ this happy since my last winter break before we moved out of Texas. Seriously. He plays the “toss the chewed up piece of plastic that I found somewhere” game with me, in which (like a dog), he brings me this plastic and I throw it and then he dashes after it and pounces on it and then brings it back again. JVJ has decided to stop blaming David for our move, too. JVJ is not meeting his goal of becoming very fat, as I am keeping his snacking limited to specific times.

David: Every few days David returns from the library with another sack of books. As all of you know, he likes to read widely and often, so his library collections are diverse. He is currently balancing some projects with his teaching and finding the balancing to be a tricky thing (but not impossible). Right now in his Critical Thinking class David is getting to teach more philosophy (the first part was more about logical processes) and things are going better (it’s more his groove). 

We both don’t really have other people in town to do fun things with, but I feel like I’m either so busy most of the time or so exhausted from teaching that I don’t have very much time to devote to doing activities with other people. I personally don’t see this is a problem right now, but maybe later we’ll attempt to spend time with other people (and both of us are introverts, so alone time right now is precious).

Tuesday, 19 August 2014

Heat + Humidity: Or Why I am Obsessed with the Weather Here

This is me, every day.
The heat in east Texas is no joke. People sometimes laugh at me when I declare that I would not live long term in Texas because of said heat. After all, we had heat in Delaware and Indiana, too. Heat in east Texas is something like this:

7:30 am: 78 degrees, 90% humidity, 5 mph wind.

This sounds like no big deal, right?

At a humidity-level this high with relatively no wind (5mph is nothing), it actually felt like 85 degrees. At 7:30 in the morning (and I cannot emphasize to people how miserable this feels when there is sun and humidity this high).

By the time we had walked ten minutes to the library, my hair was completely frizzed (it was beyond repair, really, and on ID picture day, too), my glasses were foggy around the edges (because the damp air was reacting with my cooler body temperatures and condensing on my plastic-framed glasses), and we were dripping with sweat.

By the time we walked to another building at noon, the temperature had risen to 93 degrees, the sun had come out, the humidity had dropped a few points (when the heat rises, the humidity drops for sciency reasons that I won’t get into), and it felt like 99 degrees outside. There was still no wind. After a twelve minute walk home, we were very dehydrated.

Now, I hear rumors that the heat is more bearable in west Texas because it is dry there. We live in a very humid, lush (for Texas) zone which gets enough water during the year that it can actually support tall trees. I know from experience that Austin (similar latitude but in the center of the state) is a great deal more tolerable in the summer than Houston (on the east and a little farther south).

I am thankful for the taller trees in Huntsville—a nice outcome from the east Texas moisture—though, because there was a great lack of tall trees in College Station which hurt my soul. The taller trees also provide more shade (yay for shade!).

Next week, the weather websites are forecasting temperatures in the 100s. I am hoping that the humidity drops a bit, since next week we start classes.

Progress Reports:

JVJ: currently hiding behind the washing machine because there is a thunderstorm outside. He’s also not happy about having to relearn not to sharpen his claws on David’s chair.

Katie: I am now in the system at SHSU, which is a relief. I've been reading lots of short stories in preparation for teaching my composition courses soon (classes start on Wednesday next week). Adults on campus keep asking me if I’m a new staff member, and students keep asking me which classes I’m taking this semester which is driving me crazy. I think I need to cut my hair short. I met with the director of the undergraduate program in the English department today (as I said on FB), and he answered all of my questions and gave me some great, insider advice.

David: David is reworking his syllabi after meeting with his department head. He has a really sophisticated plan for his courses, so the reworking is not as intense as it could have been. David had me frame his diplomas (four; for five degrees) so that he can hang them in his new, fancy office on campus. We recently got our campus IDs, so he stocked up on books after his summer library-drought.