Rosemeal 👁🌹👁

Figure 1. Roses eating eyeballs. Friday’s artwork from Janet Nelson, Brite Idea Tattoo, Ypsilanti, Mich.

A little bit drawing games with artists, designers, and art historians. A little bit carnivorous flora Little Shop of Horrors. A little bit ocular ingestion theory of consumptive aesthetics. A little bit thorny. A little bit odd-petaled like we all are. A little bit number seven and a little bit three irises. A little bit vampiric methodologies. A little bit the paradox of seeing is whoa! entrapment vortex. A little bit revised Outkast lyrics eyeballs really taste like nom nom nom. A little bit deathiversary holiday wreath. Mostly sweet associations. #ninety

Rock Smoosh 🪨

Slate chips
Figure 1. Slate chips for bucketing into the side shed until the fingertip blood blisters form and then do just five more bucketfuls.

Filling Lowe’s buckets one at a time and then hefting them for dumping at the side shed floor, until back muscles tap shoulder yoohoo “aging one” and yet a heap of slate pieces 1-3/4″-2″ remains for moving, leveling, tamping around, as if any song is suited to the famously unpopular one-footed dance, rock smoosh. I rest, check email, forwards and replies, traipse back again for another five bucketfuls, which I’d psyched myself into because the uncovered portion is shrinking and soon will be rocked over somewhat decoratively.

Baked Into Pretzel Shapes 🥨

Administrative work, in my experience, insinuates a contortional gravity into a career. This hypothesis from talking around, asking, noticing local noticings, observational. It’s not that admin wrecks you or explodes you to pieces, but its consequences can be harshly palpable. Sudden stress. Drone of email habits. Repeat questions. Repeat questions. The company you keep becomes less intellectually basket-o’-rangey-musical-instruments on ideas and possibilities; bureaucratic constraints, budgetary entrenchments, efficiencies talk–all of these shunt the counter-myth that administration can be intellectual work, guided by research and shaped by disciplinary experience (if not expertise). You check your pulse sometimes. Is this burnout I am feeling? Is this fatigue after ten consecutive years administering writing programs, first at EMU and then at VT, working under six department chairs, four deans, countless other interims and assistant-associate office holders, nearly all of them so new as to be striving on personal aspirations or so long in the rootrole as to be calcified and dreamless and forgetful. Graceless turnover; sandcastles not kicked but accidentally and clumsily stepped upon. Strikingest among the burnout symptoms in late May after year ten is the high saturation in what is motivating and what is not. Sharp contrasts, the outline of a work-life once forged around reading and writing, teaching and research. Sharp contrasts, yet another meeting with variations on title-holders late to a long-ago-begun conversation, intricate details about enrollment projections, about how labor advocacy is student advocacy, about a program’s becoming requiring (for it to go even middlingly well) horizons of development, mutualism, goodwill, and a reasonable forecast for resources. Reflection on a lull-ish early summer holiday weekend says look back and what have you become, what are you becoming–big you, polyvalent and yet-unfinished and imperfect–and then to ask is another year worth it. It had better be; it won’t be.

Knee Pain 🦵🏼

Not since 2013 have I cringed through the hard pinch of knee pain like I am feeling now, since yesterday. Sprain or strain, repping the 1974-born. I bet it’s from carrying those bucketfuls of 1-3/4-2″ slate rocks for side shed’s floor, top dressing the fill gravel, foot-tamping each dumpload to level it and spread it around as evenly as possible. No swelling. And no popping or grave joint instability or other evidence of slippy tendons for being torn or over-stretched or both. Bends, will heal. #ninety

💐 Wonder Bouquet 💐

Slow to catch on but oh howdyboy now I get it what with confetti popping re growth mindset not as wonder bouquet but as sardine-canning certain meatpacker programs so they are crowded spilling SCH profit-marginalia troughs oink!, irresistible course cap headfakes and Canvas viewport salvifics, the market has intuited what they wantneed, what was once only needs discourse now more suasively reframed as wantsneeds discourse, millready but who has the grain enough for bread alone teaching+learning when the engines theatrical and merciless have supply chains so stopped. #ninety [Carol Dweck, Sharon Crowley, David Noble, Geoff Sirc, “Supply Chain Pressure”]

Drawn Akimbo

Turned in grades for ENGL6364 a day early, freeing up Friday the 13th for gauging under drizzlesky what tempestuous awaits in the second half of May–some administrative suspense!–as if months had halves, as if the just-in-time hiring practices over at the VPI&SU could be anything other than serial end of year nail-biter. What becomes will be, harrowing precarious at that edge of hot damn does time appear to be running short. Problems are for carrying and caring about; yet, they’re not all yours-mine.

Hoop Hollerin’ – Tournament Pick’em Invitation

It’s time again for the EWM Yahoo! NCAA men’s basketball tournament pick’em – 18th annual-ish. Just like whatever year it was when we did this last, we’re using Fibonacci scoring (2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21), and going with modest upset bonuses, +1 point for upsets in the first round, +2 for upset picks after that. Everyone is welcome to join this pool, which will include some of the most steady-handed dart flingers of all time. There’s no time time for consulting with your local misfortune teller, ordering new bifocals, staring into the sun (never advisable) while wondering about the rate at which your bracket will wither if you choose that team you kind of love.

Sign up! Free, free, FREE, yes, free to you: join this year’s group on Yahoo!, Hoop Hollerin (ID#37368). If you have questions, elbow me with all you’ve got via email at dereknmueller at gmail.com. Invite your friends, frenemies, faux-frenemies, Canadian compadres, social media snobs, wishful critical thinkers, mentors, interim interim interim associate provosts, outrageous sentiment analysts, multicolor kitchen molds, too-long-didn’t-readers, spendthrifts who subscribe to more than three streaming media services, people who can’t ever seem to find the goat yogurt at Kroger, friends of Appalachian folk artists, empirical phenomenologists, people who say they train on a bike but who haven’t trained on a bike in over a month, candy-sneaking flexitarians, Ypsilanti tattoo artists, grandchildren who had a stomach bug last night, attic vermin, septic tank replacement companies in Montgomery County, Va., who will not return a phone call, etc. The group has space for the next 49 who sign up. Nonscopic stakes: reputations are made (and quickly forgotten) right here.

Yahoo! Tournament Pick’em
Group: Hoop Hollerin’ (ID# 37368)
“18th annual-ish.”

Firm up your selections any time between the selection show on Sunday evening, March 13, and first tip of the round of 64, sometime around noon EDT on Thursday, March 17. 🍀

A Break

A break. For driving exactly 500 miles. For resuming a paused yoga practice. For making and sharing tacos on the smallest of corn shells. For studying the curls rising from French pressed coffee, French press being the only available in this Michigan spring breaking place. 42°16′4″ N 83°35′39″ W. 61F and a wind advisory because the troposphere is delivering late morning a wall of stiff winter air. A break for punch-listing several work to-dos. For review tasks needing caught up. For reading. For writing.

Nothing Happens

Figure 1. One-Off Non Series #00 “Nothing happens.”

Busy week at work. What day is it? Tuesday, even so. Emails crossing strike zone, many high, many low. Simultaneity is the complication. Batter facing several pitches at once. Never allow the emails to discombobulate. Filing them is easy. Drag and drop to “filed away.” Where they will never be seen again unless you go searching. Unless there is a FOIA request. Either I have not after a decade adapted to WPA rhythms, or WPA rhythms have not after a decade adapted to me. Mid-semester fire sale. Fire sale is a metaphor for frenzy and chaos. Only in this metaphor the fire that sent up smoke and flame that led to discounted goods now on sale (is this what fire sale even means?) is also a hair on fire scenario sale. Hair on fire is also an incendiary metaphor, only it’s more urgent because hair fires are significantly more urgent and potentially more harmful than ordinary fires. All of these fires are metaphors and should be taken with a grain of salt, which is an idiom for douse of baking soda, or water, or some other extinguishing matter.

Captain Obvious, Small Bolt

Figure 1. One-Off Non Series #00 “Despite Fatigue, Captain Obvious Conjured a Small Bolt.” And just when we’d begun to worry that our hero was out of heroics.

First illustration of 2022. Re-finding habits. Drawing takes a backseat for a month or more, sometimes. And sweet baby Jesus was December a steep climb of a month. Wonderful in many ways, but steep. “Captain Obvious throws a bolt” has become an idiomatic way of carrying on what Joe Meriweather at PU used to mean when he would say, as he often did, “uh-duhhhh.” Damn sure do miss Joe C.’s friendship, mentorship, encouragement, and reminders about when to get your elbows up (figuratively).