Saturday, May 30, 2009

The Learning Stuff Month

This month, in honor of Fred, I've been all about trying and learning new things. Lots of explorations. It was fun, and I think I've lived up to the example he set.

During May I went on a few adventures, like a road trip to the edge of the state to see Camii get her bachelor's in Psychology. I'm still getting used to the idea of my brother also being a graduate, and now a lieutenant, no less.

From the library, I got a few books to brush up on my art history. This week I checked out two local clubs - one for chess, one for photography - and know that each have things to teach me. I even learned some chess strategies already and my timing was such that I have a chance to have some photos in an art show.

I also went to see some jazz, firmed up plans to help my brother move in July, and had a birthday.

Not too shabby, I think. Cheers, Fred.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Zombie Glee

The other day I went to the library and happened to stumble upon a book which caused an unusually enthusiastic reaction in me. As soon as I read the title, I broke out in a big grin and snatched it up. If I hadn't been in public, I probably would have clapped my hands and yelled "Whoo-hoo!"

Of all the horror monsters, zombies are above-and-beyond my favorite. They creep me right out and fascinate me all at the same time. I love zombie movies. They're one of my favorite guilty pleasures. Now I get to have some zombie stories, too. Zombie stories by the likes of Neil Gaiman and Sherman Alexie, no less. Awesome.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Filling Up

May is proving blurry. Today I realized that the next CWC meeting is this coming Monday already. That's only four days away. Holy cow. I've been working on some edits on the 1st 50 pages of Cass from the last critique, but now I've got to push through to do a quick edit on the next 50 pages to submit it to the gang.

I'm working on coffee shop pages now, then later Katherine should have her thesis comments ready for me, then I've got to print out another copy of my thesis for mom and dad, then I'm off to the gym, then I'm aiming for some more time on Cass or working on CWC critiques.

Nothing like deadlines to shake off that restless feeling.

Monday, May 18, 2009


I'm on summer vacation. This is the first summer vacation I've had off of both school and work in a very long time - since I was eleven or so, I think. I've always had busy summers since then, and I've been planning to take this one all the way off as a present to myself for getting my thesis done. (It's still not all the way done, as it's under review, but I'm close.

Here I am, about two weeks in, and I'm restless. *Sigh* So much for relaxing. I need something to do. Fortunately, I guessed this might be the way it went and planned out some projects ahead of time. Now my issue is that being home all day is distracting. It looks like I may have to spend some time on campus during my vacation because the change of scenery will help me focus. Funny, isn't it?

Thursday, May 7, 2009

It's All Jungian

This week, as the first week of my summer vacation, has been fun. It has also been difficult to keep track of which day is which and I only recently realized it's actually Thursday.

So, I'm currently reading Touch the Dark by Karen Chance. It's an excellent example of why researching your genre is a wonderful thing. I've only just started reading the novel, but it's already making me sad. Chance has two characters within the first couple of chapters that bother me because of a couple of characters I have in Crossroads Promise.

Chance: Female protagonist named Cassandra whose parents were killed by a vampire. Me: Female protagonist named Cass whose parents were killed by a vampire. Chance: Vampire named Rafe. Me: Vampire named Rafe.

It's irksome. I've never read Karen Chance's work, so there's no way I'm subconsciously borrowing from her. Yet, there are the similarities. It's eerie. The Cass/Cassandra thing I get, it's hard not to go with the mythological reference. The orphan thing is even understandable. It's the overlap with the vampire bits that are a tad unsettling. I think I'm going to have to find a new name for my baddie. Dang.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

For Fred

There is sad news for the writing crew today. Fred has passed away from complications from a stroke. This month's challenge will therefore be in his honor.

Above all else, Fred loved knowledge. During our regular round of "what are you reading" he would almost always be the one with the most unusual titles - one, in particular, that I remember was something about theoretical mathematics. Most of us mere mortals would never dream of picking up some of these books just to read for fun. But, for Fred, that was just another day at the bookstore.

So, this month I challenge you to learn something new for the pure joy of learning. And, it wouldn't hurt to give your loved ones an extra hug, either.

Cheers, Fred.

My Favorite

This semester of teaching has been my favorite so far. I've had some really great students and finally feel like I've had enough practice to know at least a little of what works with a class. In the past couple of days, I've been reading and grading final exams. For all three of my classes, the final was the same - a personal reflection over the semester where the student had to write, in class, at least 2 pages about how they've changed as a writer.

A big part of my pedagogy is based in metacognition. In my own writing, I know that really paying attention to what I'm doing and why is one of the best ways for me to learn. That's one of the reasons I have this blog - writing about writing makes me a better writer. So, in class, I ask my students to do the same. Of all the writing they produce throughout the semester, the reflective writings are always the most interesting to me. Students who struggle with the formal writings can really open up in reflections and they usually say some really smart things.

Usually, I am very cautious about discussing my teaching and my students in a public forum. Today I make an exception:

"Throughout this class, I have evaluated and re-evaluated my work. It is always interesting to me to see my progress. It's like a journal, in that going back occasionally allows you to remember and understand where you have been, and where you are going."

"Over the course of this semester I was able to find that I have the potential of becoming a good writer."

"This has really opened my eyes and made me pay more attention to the things I am reading, and to the things I am writing, because what you may want the reader to get out of the reading may not be what you had in the reading at all."

"Reading and thinking critically are a huge part of being an effective and efficient writer."

"I have learned to not write for myself, but for the person reading the paper..."

"I can say now that I do get excited to write now because I have something new to show."

That last one is my favorite.