Monday, January 8, 2018

First Day of Semester Brain Explosion

My semester started! Ready or not, here it goes. I'm... mostly ready? But only because I spent two full days at work last week getting my syllabi together. Thank goodness my kids were already back in school.

I'm still recovering from this cold, which has morphed from endless snot to coughing. The disgusting combo of the two left me coughing up phlegm in the morning that was reminiscent of Will in Stranger Things. As I told my colleagues today after lunch, I may have coughed up Dart. Mmmm, I hope you're eating as you read this.

In other news, I finished my first/second book of 2018: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi, which was as amazing as everyone said it was when they raved about it in 2017. I call it my first/second because I read it alongside Frankenstein, which I've read multiple times before, but which I'm teaching this semester so will be reading yet again. Actually, I'm also listening to it because all these classic novels that are now in the public domain are available as free audio books through LibriVox podcast. It's a fantastic resource, and I can confidently recommend Jekyll & Hyde, The Leavenworth Case, and Wilkie Collins's The Moonstone as pretty good audio recordings on that podcast.

I've also watched some TV. I didn't do my end of the year round up list because I found reading through it to be tiresome, and I figure if it's tiresome to ME, why the hell would someone else care to read it? But I think I should tell you the best things I watched on TV in 2017:

Alias Grace on Netflix (adaptation of a Margaret Atwood novel, so practically guaranteed to be amazing)
Longmire on Netflix (I wasn't sure a drama about a sheriff in Wyoming would be my thing, but the tensions with the Cheyenne reservations and the combo of personal/crime drama totally sucked me in. I loved it! It's so well done, the scenery is beautiful, and many of the actors are Native Americans.)
The Good Place on Netflix (it's light and funny and I love Kristen Bell)

Another New Years resolution I'm working on is seeking out diversity, in media and community. The campus I work on is really diverse in terms of the student population, but most of the places we go are mostly white. I still have a ways to go in terms of expanding beyond my community/comfort zone, but it's not hard to make sure that I'm reading and watching stuff that features people of color. Or, I should say, it requires a little bit of effort, but it is TOTALLY worth it. (I mean, reading great books is not painful, folks.)

A show I do not recommend: The Missing. The acting is great, but the story line is a couple whose son goes missing. David watched it and told me I should watch it because it was SO GOOD. I watched two episodes and by the time the third one played, I was on my phone instead because I found the grief and stress of the parents to be unendurable to empathize with. Finally, I googled the ending to find out what happens and I was so pissed that David thought I would want to watch the whole story dragged out over several episodes. We have been married 13 years. DO YOU EVEN KNOW ME????

Poor David is home today because he was up last night with a fever and the pukes. I will probably sleep in the guest room tonight. You know, so I don't wake him up with my coughing. And also because: NO. No puking. I cannot get that kind of sick.

In other news, book orders for one of the composition classes are all screwed up.

I had to call campus security to patrol a classroom tomorrow so an instructor feels safe, and that makes me feel sad and sometimes scared to work on a college campus.

I have meetings or events scheduled for 4 out of 5 nights this week, but one is optional, so I may scale it back to 3 out of 5. (Book Club is not optional because it is The Best.)

I stopped in the Paper Source to buy a calendar for my office that I didn't get for Christmas. I had Zuzu with me, which meant that I left the Paper Source with a calendar and two Valentine kits.

The cost was absurd, but the kits are SO stinking cute. Zuzu really wanted the mermaid Valentines. The other kit is for Coco and it's ages 3+ and just has googly eyes or sunglasses and funny mouths that you can glue onto rainbows, suns, stars, and clouds. The mermaid kit says ages 6+, but Zuzu can totally do it. It's just a lot of pieces and a lot of steps. All the shapes are ready to be punched out of paper and then they have to be glued together. We're using glue sticks and it's working beautifully.

Listen, full disclosure, it cost $20, but in entertainment hours, this kit has already paid for itself. I sat down with her to help her sort the shapes and provided her with little containers to separate them, but she can do the work of it all by herself, and it's all she wanted to do yesterday. In fact, she woke up extra early today so she could craft before school. As we were working on it yesterday, she clasped her hands dramatically and said, "I just love crafting!"

Also, the kit is darling and the mermaids come in three different skin tones and four different hair colors and four different hair colors plus different hairstyles and then you can add "boobies" as Zuzu says (or, rather, booby coverage), and hearts and fish and stickers that say, "Have a fin-tastic Valentine's Day!"

I'm trying to link to the kit, but I'm not finding it on their website. This one is similar, but the valentine kit makes 32 mermaids. Anyway, I feel good about the purchase even though it was $15 more than I ever thought I'd spend on kindergarten class valentines.

One more thing I want to mention... if you are aiming to ride the #timesup #metoo #blacklivesmatter #racialequity wave of energy into the new year, you might want to consider subscribing to Jen Hofman's Americans of Conscience weekly e-mail with an Action Checklist. I'm going to try to do ONE of the things on that list each week. (Realistic goals, folks.)

The news can still feel overwhelming, and even though I feel like I use FB responsibly, I honestly felt better when I stepped away from it over break. So... this is a way to feel a bit more in control of what's going on. Just wanted to share it.


  1. Have you watched Dear White People on Netflix yet? I, too, work in higher education and while there’s some other drama to give more to the story so you get hooked (drugs, sex, things like that), I found it really eye opening and helpful to understand things students of color on our campuses experience. Definitely a grown up show and not something you’d want to watch when the girls are nearby. It was a lot deeper than I expected it to be, but I feel like I took a lot away from it.

    1. I haven’t, but thanks for the rec. I’m puttinh it next in my queue!

  2. I'll miss your year in review. I always enjoyed those posts. And have been checking regularly to see if it was up ;)
    Keep the home makeover posts coming though. We recently bought our first home and i went back to some of your last posts to get some inspiration for paint colours and our (very far off but very necessary) kitchen updating.

  3. Our last month of class we had a classmates crazy husband (or ex?) prowling our hallway and then pretended to be interested in the program then was asking about the only male student in the program (echo) was creepy. They had campus police all over that mess. And I always liked having campus police 200 ft down the hall from our program....not that they ever we're the slightest bit concerned about screams from the bathroom (cockroaches), etc. so I am glad we didn't need them for too much.

  4. here's the link to the mermaid kit:

  5. I too will miss your year-in-review.

  6. I bet CCA is happy for Zuzu’s love for crafting!

  7. I enjoy your year end review, too! I didn't realize that I'd been looking forward to it until you said you weren't doing it, lol. I usually read yours, do my own. :)