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Random Weekend Notes

January 9, 2011

Old man Winter  is showing his true blue colors today. It is shocking to feel the frigid air as it rushes into your face while you run to the car.  Next week it is supposed to get down to the -25 degree (F) range.  It isn’t surprising, just dreaded.  This is the time of year when you think, “Why is it that we live here?” As if there was a good reason and it wasn’t just that we were born here.  The luck of the draw, if you will.

The sun is spectacular on frigid days like today.  I was trying to take some pictures of the birds at the feeder, but they have wised up and are huddling out of the wind as well.  However, it is a perfect day to flood skating rinks.

Jeff has worked so hard on “Franklin Arena” this winter, and the kids LOVE it.  So far they have only gone out when Jeff has been home, but I am thinking I need to pull out my skate lace tightener and let them out there when he is not.  He usually skates with them, and it is not my thing, but I think we can work something out.

****Continued on Sunday Morning****

This is typical.  I begin something, and get distracted, and never get back to the first thing.  That is what happened with my post yesterday.  So today the sun is painting faint pink into the wispy clouds.  And I have every reason to believe that it is still just as cold as it was yesterday.  Or maybe even colder.

I went back to work Friday for a workshop day.  Our keynote speaker was talking about reflective teaching.  It is something that I have always been interested in.  He has his students fill out a survey every week that tells when they were most engaged and when they were least engaged.  It has some other questions too, that I would have to look up, but I really like this idea.  Although it does open yourself up for major criticism, because it is all done anonymously.  His rational is that he would rather have it up front than wait for it to blow up.  Which I suppose is true.  I think I may try it.  I don’t know if I have thick enough skin though.  And it is still the very beginning of my time teaching college and everything.

I am still in denial that school starts tomorrow.  I really need to sit down and do some planning, but I just don’t want to.  I have my first couple of days prepared and I just don’t know what to do first in my new course.  I need to buckle down today.  I am a bit nervous about my new classes.  New people, new semester, new curriculum.  Same disequilibrium.  I am much calmer than I was last August, but new situations are always tough for me.  I wish I was just going to have my same students again, and I will have five of them, but the others are unknown.  I am also nervous that I don’t know the content.  Teaching blind is a challenge.

Katie and I went to Barnes and Noble yesterday so I could get some books of essays to use with my students.  I got a few books by Annie Dillard, and I also bought David Sedaris’ Me Talk Pretty One Day and Reading Like a Writer by Francine Prose.  My goal is to have as many engaging excerpts as possible this semester.  (Just a reminder that if you know of any excellent essays that you think my students could read, please let me know! I am looking for diverse pieces, and powerful pieces.) I also bought a book for myself:  the sequel to the book I read after Christmas (Shiver).  It is called Linger by Maggie Stiefvater.  I have started it, and wish I could sit down and read all day, but alas, there is too much to do.

Christmas was put away this week.  Now my house feels empty.  I really like the twinkling lights and how they make the living room glow at night.  Now it is just dark.  There is always some regret that happens when the house is naked again.  As for the New Year and the motivation that is supposed to come with it, well, it hasn’t.  I think it has a lot to do with still feeling under-the-weather.  I am hoping that I am on the mend so I will just feel normal again.  The low energy just plain SUCKS.

I am behind on my reading right now, so I think I will sign off this random post about nothing.  Hope you have had a great weekend so far!

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6 Comments
  1. January 9, 2011 12:18 pm

    Annie Dillard is my absolute FAVE. :)

    For essays, how about Malcolm Gladwell’s What the Dog Saw. Or Lewis Thomas’ Lives of a Cell. Or Diane Ackerman’s The Moon by Whalelight. Or Evan Connell’s The White Lantern. Bill Bryson has excellent stuff, too. (and funny!)

    By the way, I have to remember to tell Cate about your ice rink. She was trying to build one in her backyard, but gave up…I think it’s not really cold enough where she lives in the city. :)

    • January 9, 2011 5:27 pm

      Thank you, thank you, thank you, Liz! I will check out all of your suggestions. Any stories that you thought were exceptional? I am going to use “An American Childhood” this week. I love Gladwell. Now I have another list!

      How is Cate? I have been thinking about her a lot. Send her my good wishes!

  2. January 9, 2011 6:14 pm

    Your ice rink is magical! My mom grew up in the Midwest and always talks about how her brother would make her an ice rink.

    This is a pretty obvious suggestion, but the New Yorker has so many great essays. I just started up a subscription again and this week read about the global banana business. Fascinating!

    My absolute favorite book of short stories last year was Eliabeth Strout’s Olive Kitteridge. The stories are so good and while they’re interconnected you can read them individually too.

    David Sedaris is always wonderful! And that makes me think of This American Life, which makes me think of David Rakoff–we heard him speak, he was very funny, reminded us a lot of David Sedaris. Also–podcasts. Do you have “Selected Shorts” where you live on NPR? They broadcast it here on Saturday nights and I love it. Have been meaning to subscribe to the podcast: http://www.symphonyspace.org/shorts

    I read Francine Prose’s Reading Like a Writer last summer and really liked it…

    Good luck launching a new semester! I hope you’ll write more about your teaching process here, I really enjoy hearing about it!

    • January 15, 2011 9:41 am

      You are a good influence! I have ordered the New Yorker. $12.00 for 12 weeks! Perfect for the semester! I bought Me Talk Pretty One Day because *somewhere* I have the book on tape. I bought it when Jeff and I were going on some sort of road trip. He is awesome to listen to, so I hope I can find the tapes and find a tape player! Olive Kitteridge is on my list to buy, but I need a paycheck. Somehow, I have been spending money like it grows on trees lately. I wonder if This American Life has its transcripts posted on the website… I love Ira Glass. Hmmm. I haven’t checked out your link yet, but I am on my way! If you think of any more, let me know! Thanks!

  3. January 12, 2011 1:24 am

    it is stifling hot here. so humid. i could do with some of that snow. :)

    • January 15, 2011 9:43 am

      Oh my, I hear you! Our summers have that humidity that sucks the life right out of you. I will gladly share the snow, we have enough to go around! Thanks for stopping by and saying hi!

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