Monday, July 30, 2007

Slow reader

I was just reading Jeff's blog about changes after the baby, and change #1 is reading. Before the baby, he says, he read a book every couple of days.

Can I pretend I've spent my life having babies? Cause I've pretty much never read a book every couple of days. I can read a novel in a couple of days if I really want to. But I rarely do. And I'm pretty sure that I've never read anything like theory in a couple of days.

I've never been a fast reader, and that has sometimes bothered me. As an English major, I sometimes wondered why my peers talked about reading voraciously as the mark of someone who loves to read. I love to read. But I don't read fast.

But, you know, you can find a quote to make you feel good about almost anything. I remember watching a movie in which a writer extols the virtue of reading slowly, saying that he wishes he could read even more slowly. I remember loving that line. Yes, I thought. Reading slowly is good. Writers read slowly. I read slowly. I read the right way.

I can't remember the title of the movie. I think it came out in the late 80s. But I remember the writer was also plagued by bad teeth and had some other not so admirable tendencies. So one wonders if he really was such a great role model.

Ah well. I can't help it. I still read slowly, even without a baby.

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Out of silence

One week ago, I opened my email box and learned that a former student of mine had died the previous day.

That was sobering. But, in truth, I didn't know him well. I wasn't close to him.

And so I told myself I couldn't blog about his death. It wouldn't be right.

But he wasn't just my former student. He was the husband of a former thesis advisee, a person I hold dear.

His death has been on my mind all week, and not writing about it has plunged me into silence.

And so I write, with the wish that he may rest in peace. That J and all those who loved him may find peace.

Wednesday, July 18, 2007

Meet Elleron

Makes sense that my Dæmon would be some kind of cat, don't you think?

Scroll over the image to get an explanation of Dæmons and to find out how to meet yours.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

List o' stuff

(1) Before leaving for Texas on July 3, I breakfasted once again at Cafe Berlin. This time I tried the Turkish eggs and quite enjoyed them. Tomatoes, peppers, onion. Feta cheese. Nice. Thanks, Cafe Berlin.

(2) It's true: I read Harry Potter. I go to the movie versions, too. So last night C. and I saw the fifth installment, The Order of the Phoenix. C., who hasn't read the books, enjoyed it. But it's hard to feel really satisfied with a two hour movie based on a book of over 800 pages. What--no Howler for Aunt Petunia? It's one of my favorite moments in the early part of the book. So mysterious: Remember my last, Petunia. I actually got goose bumps the first time I read it.

(3) So, yeah, Book 7 is pre-ordered. Guess I know what I'll be doing come Saturday.

(4) I hear I'm getting some new nabors tomorrow.

(5) I teach in the mornings. Every day.

(6) My students just made collages. I've been impressed with their willingness and even often excitement to do this assignment. And the results are so fun to browse through.

(7) Early to rise? Must mean early to bed. Signing out.

Monday, July 09, 2007

Summer school

My summer class started this morning. As I noted last year, I almost always really love teaching summer school. I like the intensity of the short session (4 weeks, in this case), of meeting daily.

In fact, as I was saying to C. this morning, I would say my all-around favorite teaching ever were the three summers at Indiana University when I taught Introduction to Composition in the Groups Program. The summer program was (the website has no mention of it that I can find, so I'm assuming it's been discontinued) a bridge program, designed to give the primarily first-generation college students who are admitted to the program a summer of college-level work before classes began in the fall.

These were students who really wanted a college education and who were, for the most part, highly motivated. And, being a first-generation college student myself, I in many ways identified with them.

In fact, teaching in that program was one of the experiences that motivated me to leave a PhD program in American literature for one in rhet/comp. I realized that--hey! wonders of wonders!--students and teachers really *can* talk about writing in the classroom and practice taking on different rhetorical strategies. Somehow teaching comp during the year hadn't provided me with that insight in a very strong way. But the summer experience did.

So, yeah, teaching summer school always feels pretty good to me.

But I don't want to jinx myself. So: knock on wood.

Saturday, July 07, 2007

Mi familia

Thursday, as my sister and niece shredded up some beef for barbeque sandwiches, I expressed my wish to eat Mexican food before leaving Texas. I don't eat beef, anyway, so my sister suggested I order takeout from Mi Familia, a restaurant just a couple of blocks away from her house, to substitute for the barbeque sandwiches. And so I did (although finding an entree without any carne was a bit of a challenge in itself).

Mi familia. I spent a lot of time Wednesday and Thursday with the newest member of mine.

Aiden quiet time

And, taking up a suggestion from Z, (and product advice from Dan), I spent a couple of hours my last evening in Texas, getting down a few short interviews with my parents on my new Olympus digital recorder.

I talked to my father about joining the navy in the last year of World War II.

My father, circa 1945

Why the navy? He didn't want to sleep in fox holes. Pearl Harbor? It's a nice place. Worst moment? Being followed by three Japanese submarines, staying at his gun station on deck from 1 am until 9 or 10. Smoke filling his lungs, his nose, giving him a headache.

And I talked to my mother about going to business college. Her classes included one devoted entirely to spelling. She went to business college because a recruiter came to her house her senior year in high school and her father signed her up. Afterwards, she worked not as a secretary but as a switchboard operator. That is, until she married my father. Here they are, just a little while before that:

My mother & father, circa 1950

My father liked talking into the recorder. My mother, not so much. Is that on? she would ask. I was just going to tell you. I didn't want you to record it.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Taking the plunge

Tomorrow I'm heading to Texas, where most all of my immediate family lives. After many summers of drought, this summer, as you may have heard, is bringing flooding.

(Photo from

Including flooding in the county where my parents live.

My parents live a good ways away from the Brazos River, so they're fine. But I have to admit to some trepidation, nonetheless. I'll be driving through Kansas, Oklahoma, and north Texas--all areas with flooding and with rain predicted for the rest of the week.

But, on the bright side, I haven't heard of any interstates being flooded.

It's been unbelievable, though, to hear these reports of evacuation orders in north central Texas. More believable would be the fires that ravaged the area a couple of years ago. Grass dies in Texas in the summer. My memories are full of brown grass.

But this year, floods. It's enough to fuel those fires I've talked of before: the brimstone-laden belief in the End Times.

Wish me luck.