Tuesday, February 26, 2008


Thanks to my friend over at Do You Realize? for telling me about the iReply Movement. It's a very simple, civil concept.

If you comment on my blog I will reply, either via email or in the comments section, as soon as possible.

No one is more aware than I am of my lack of comment-worthy posts over the last few months. So, if you're new to this blog, may I suggest a few of my favorites (in chronological order)?

* Nostalgia-rama
* Ego, Superego, and iPod
* Immersion
* Island of the Broken....Siblings
* Three-Legged Race
* Shhh...Don't Tell
* "Dark and silent, late last night, I think I might have heard the highway calling, geese in flight..."
* Rain Should Fall Tonight

Perhaps your comments shall stir me into production.

BTW, Do You Realize? is offering several days of cool give-aways to celebrate her blogiversary. Click on over and pay her a visit...but you have to comment to have a chance at the goodies!

Sunday, February 24, 2008

Saturday, February 23, 2008


Today, I went to a house party for Barack Obama. We drove together to the county courthouse to "meet at the poll" and go en masse for early voting. I'm sure you know that Texas has been a "red" state since the so-called "Reagan Revolution" of 1980, although the seeds of change had been planted long before that (in my opinion, on a November day in 1963).

It was an amazing feeling to stand with a group of people, from 18 to silver-haired, black and white and in-between, on the courthouse lawn with signs. As you might expect, we drew some looks (and a few friendly honks). As one participant said, "At least they're not throwing things."

The poll workers, more accustomed to church groups busing large groups in for early voting on the Republican side, seemed a bit taken aback by all the folks in the Democrat line.

At the house party, a classmate of Small Child's was busy making a poster. She is African-American. Her father has previously identified himself as a Republican. Her sign said it all. I wish I'd photographed it. She'd drawn pictures (in chronological order..these kids have some good teachers!) of Harriet Tubman, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King, Jr., and Sen. Obama. Her poster read, "Vote for Barack Obama. He Will Be a Hero."

Couldn't have said it better myself.

Thursday, February 21, 2008

Blue in the Face

I love to teach. I really do. But sometimes.....

This semester I'm teaching two courses. One, a literature course, is chock-full of cool novels and, for the most part, the students keep up with the reading. The other, an expository writing course, always picks up toward the end of the term; the beginning, however, is wickedly painful.

Why? Because there is no why. At least not one these 19 young people care about as of today, February 21, 2008. Until we can actually produce some writing to muck around in, we're essentially spinning our wheels during class time. I'm stuck up there, blathering on about argument, and grammar, and revision, and so on. I bore myself stupid. I must bore them moronic.

Over the years, I've come up with a shtick about sentence clarity (yeah, I know, you're thinking I need to put it into action. Buck up. I've earned a little ranting time.). It encourages active verbs! It frowns on long chains of prepositions! It suggests sniffing out "to be" verbs and squashing them like bugs...you get the picture.

So I make an assignment. I even break it into two stages. I offer two opportunities for peer editing, with multiple readers. For the most part, they do okay. But the ones who don't? They come in two flavors.

Some just need coaching, and though their early work is sub-par they often become favorites. As the term unfolds, they will find their way and their words and I will fade into the woodwork and watch them write.

The others? ARRGGHHHH! They don't want to be there, and they don't mind me knowing it. They don't value the process and they don't value the product. They will write well if it matters - in their majors or on a grad school application - but won't break a sweat if it doesn't. I want to banish them.

I'm mulling the ethics of posting some anonymous snippets. If anyone would like to weigh in, please do.

Wednesday, February 20, 2008

Oh, My.

Blue like the fog in my head is more like it.

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Off the high board again...

Tomorrow marks my return to the front of a college classroom (two, actually) after an 18-month absence. A former professor/colleague retired early after fall semester, so I was "called up." Such is the life of an adjunct.

I've been scrambling to get ready, a process complicated by the death of my father-in-law following an intense two-week illness. So I'm going to leave you with a quote from the front of one of my syllabi. It's about writing, but as I was biting my nails tonight I realized it applies to teaching as well:

It is because writing is inaugural that it is dangerous and anguishing.
It does not know where it is going, no knowledge can keep it from the
essential precipitation toward the meaning that it constitutes and that
is, primarily, its future. There is thus no insurance against the risk of
writing. (Jacques Derrida)

Hmmmmm....sounds like love, too.