29 May 2010

I've come to the following conclusion: had I to do it over again, I wouldn't come to graduate school. I wouldn't pursue my doctorate. I would remain in my classroom and teach, reading and writing in the hours afterward. It's an uneasy conclusion to arrive at, especially since my institution has been kind enough to support me during my time here. Please don't confuse this as being ungrateful; I'm not. I am unsure that what I gained is more valuable than what I gave up. Damned hindsight.

I've been working at a local elementary school as a reading teacher the past few weeks, working with a small group of students before school lets out for the summer holiday, and am reminded of the rush when that certain circuit connects in a child's brain. Suddenly, the symbols on the page not only make sense but they mean something. I've missed these tiny epiphanies. I've missed the social-ness of teaching. Being a scholar is such isolating work. I am not an isolated person.

My qualifying exams begin in three days. Thirty days, three questions, sixty pages. I keep thinking about the whole experience, wondering why the hell I'm doing this to myself.

12 May 2010

Note To Self: On Your Birthday Eve

Dear Self: 

Do you remember your tenth birthday? It was cool yet sunny and your aunt showed up totally sloshed, shoving rolls of quarters attached to mylar balloons into your hand before she exclaimed in her slurred speech that you were growing up so fast. It wasn't until she went into the house that it hit you, the sadness, in inevitability of time. Never again would you be a single digit. There would always be a number in the tens place. I think this fed into those years of agonizing over leaving for college yet we both know how quickly you packed your bags when the time came. 

I feel like 29 has the possibility of being that kind of year, filled with grief over the steady passage of time. This 28-year-old is worried, quite honestly, that 29 will be hard. There will be lots of writing, more hard work to be done than hours in the day, and the potential to uproot everything and begin somewhere else. Again. 

It will be okay. Remember that you always seem to work your way through the chaos and emerge standing, albeit slightly bruised sometimes. Be risky. You play it too safe - you know this. Just not too risky. (See how hard this is!) Be kind to yourself. You always instruct others to do so yet rarely follow the advice yourself. Guard yourself against cynicism. I can feel it creeping in. Battle against it. That's not who you are, it will not be who you become. Don't borrow trouble. You cause enough on your own. Love, you jackass. It's not as though you have a finite amount of the stuff. 

May 29 be a good year. 

Be Well, 

11 May 2010


I taught today.

My children's literature class started this morning. At nine o'clock in the morning, seven undergrads and I began talking and thinking about children's literature and will do so for the next three weeks. It's the first new class I've taught since my first year and, risking sounding like a geek, I find the search for readings and experiences exhilarating. But exhausting.

Add to this class working at a local school as reading support. Three afternoons a week, I get to go hang out and first graders and figure out the mysteries of learning to read. I've missed teaching, actually working with a kiddo and figuring out what will work for them. Yes, it's frustrating and chaotic and messy, but golly do I miss it.

Today I got to teach twenty-one-year olds about the Puritan tradition of children's literature and six-year olds about the multiple sounds C makes. I am exhausted but I taught my ass off and it felt freaking amazing.

07 May 2010

Grad School = Running

The House of Whelmed has been abuzz today in anticipation of this afternoon's graduation. Hair was curled, make-up was applied, those fancy doctoral robes were ironed. It was quite a production, really; a flurry of activity for a quick mention of one's name and a walk across the stage. Anne commented this morning that this was probably the first time she has walked throughout her entire doctoral program. Not walk in a physical way, but walk as in taking a moment to really exist in the moment without having to worry about what project was next, what papers needed to submitted to what journals, where those articles were. We have all been running through our programs, filling our summer schedules with classes, our spare moments with transcribing, even our sleeping hours are occupied with dreams of coding and theory. Yet I'm unsure that I would have it any other way: yes, there are moments of exhaustion, of physical pain, but there are moments where the simple joy of the metaphorical run are breathtaking.

The Last Friday of the Semester

I submit Boston Terriers as the most adorable dogs in the world. Seriously, who could resist loving that mug? 

I digress: the semester, he is done. In larger news, my coursework for my doctorate is done. This last revelation hasn't quite settled in my brain yet and probably won't until I've worked my way through quals in June. I am so close. To what, I am unsure, but I am close.