Go to Pickerel Lake when you can. Let it be summer, if you can. Preferably mid-morning or evening but not peak midday because the tiny eyelet cove will be crowded with like 10 Ann Arbourgeoisie and noisy with chatting and water play. Sounds carry across the lake. Only accessory you need is a New Wave swim buoy, just an innocuous $30 inflatable guardian against sinking, low drag, bright and sturdy on the water’s surface. Clip it around your waste. Wade in with the slow-steadiness of a Taurus plodding motion unbroken. And then make do with a modified freestyle path around the perimeter. You’re not much of a swimmer. Left first or right first makes no difference. The shoreline is all cattails and lily pads in alternating segments. A breathing flotilla meditation and reunion with tree friends at a distance, hi again. They’re not trees you’ve climbed or otherwise dwelt with, quiet there in the surrounds, except when the wind picks up, hi to you. Stick to the perimeter but not too close. Ten yards out. The northeast bend is where lily tentacles reach from beneath at irregular spacing. Careful they will surprise you. Tentacled-seeming, those stems know how to tickle or wrap a limb. The swim basic sublime, those plant-matter touches land lightly ganglia shock like chimes faintly stunningly dinned and sound-waving from ancestors ninety or more generations ago so lovingly decomposing, dispersed, and rooting for you. After an hour, complete the loop, regain footfalls in sand, primate again lazy towel-off, swig of water, find car to unlock and drive on the dusty way.
This was the first summer to have gone this way: plague, medium incline boulder roll, grandfoolish grand-societal re-opening, redoubled plague, steeper incline boulder roll. Who even has the time or energy to imagine Sisyphus as anything at all?
Hey Siri, calendar check please. Since late May–the 26th. I picked a date just to size things up, snapshot tally, to figure summertime with whatever it’s been now that I’m in a week dialed intentionally to pausing–a rest before the tidals of August wash our way.
Since late May–the 26th.
- 1,415 vt.edu emails received
- 911 vt.edu emails sent
- That’s a 35.6% reduction, or interruption rate. I wish it was more like 50%.
- 3 tenure and/or promotion cases to review. One done; two to go.
- 2 article manuscripts reviewed
- 1 promotion narrative and dossier sent in (my own)
- 67 syllabi reviewed for equivalency requests
- 106 hours in the ENGL1105 Canvas blueprint–I almost wrote blurprint. Blurprint, indeed.
- 36 hours in the ENGL1106 Canvas blueprint
- With much help, the 2020 Corridors program built
- 2 lake swims; hopeful about adding to that number later this week
- 5088 words into The Big DATO Guide
- An OWI session for the CWPA virtual discussion conference
- Collaborating on the CWPA and CCCC Joint Statement in Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic
- Co-faculty-lead for the VT Community of Practice for Writing Intensive Courses, which has included weekly coordinating Zooms and bi-weekly community of practice Zooms
- Feedback (accepted with revisions) and next steps on the Radiant Figures collection
- 1 runner-up (or second runner-up) status for the CID faculty principalship
- 1 service rotation on Computers and Composition Book Award Committee
- 10 or so additions to the bestiary
That’s the list. I can see in it some things I’d like to change, some things I’d like never to do again, some things that signal follow-through and commitment, and some things that flag for skewing too too far into the faculty-administrative depths of a WPA position that still feels very new to me. Onward is August’s knowing, mumbling hum, and with August, here’s to hoping sky-high hopeshot, there will be space+time for achieving a healthier balance, like amoebas searching for more podia than pseudopodia.
The inventory I wrote nearly three months ago proved perspective-setting at the time, so I’m trying something similar here, trying to recover that feeling of checking back again on what the ever-living high tide has happened this summer, especially with work. The August Workshop runs next week–that’s the Composition Program’s week-long seminar that in focused ways anticipates the start of classes on August 26.
Summer has been work-intensive, but it hasn’t been all work. I’ve biked and swam, made several trips to Pickerel Lake, camped in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and Ludington, Mich., swam in Lake Huron and Lake Michigan, drove to Blacksburg then Nashville, also to Baltimore, also to Lansing for Computers & Writing. I’ve seen a few movies (Last Black Man in San Francisco, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood) and some TV shows (Euphoria, Barry, Chernobyl, When They See Us, Big Little Lies, probably something I’m forgetting). I flew to Albuquerque for Native Vision, but didn’t fly anywhere else. I got one massage. I will go for a tattoo tomorrow. I cooked my daughter’s birthday dinner on August 1. And I held my granddaughter a few times but not nearly enough, never nearly enough. I made several gallons of fermented vegetables. Ate some of them. Results were mixed. I started drinking coffee again. At neighbors’ request, I stood at a condo association board meeting and read a law about non-profit organizations and about how voter lists must be available at meetings where votes are being recorded, and I was shouted at by a lawyer, also called an asshole. So the summer has had range and depth and balance.
My to-do list remains feral more than tame. I complete things, experience a moment of calm, then get surprised by its biting or clawing or sometimes stinging out of the blue. Here are a few of the things that have been on the list in the last three months. I suppose I should keep track of things differently than I do.
- Around May 20, I learned that we had sixty-one unstaffed sections of first-year writing for fall. And that set in motion a quickened pace search for thirteen new instructors. The search is still unfinished, so I shouldn’t say a whole lot about it. In terms of workload, it has been a steady and as measured as possible ten weeks. We still, as of today, have six unstaffed sections of first-year writing for fall. Fall semester begins in 20 days.
- Since May 20, I have received 1154 emails and sent 763 emails. Be the email reduction filter you want to see in the world. But, too, 763 sends is more than I’d prefer for the three months between spring and fall. Notably, not all emails are equal. Some are flits and some are more intricately built. What would it look like to operate in an administrative capacity where email was infrequent, discouraged, altogether abandoned? What, instead, might we use? Are there Slack-only writing programs? Are there in 2019 administrators who decline to use email?
- I received, read, and returned 42 course equivalency requests since May 20. How does this compare? Who knows. But I’m keeping track of it.
- I wrote, submitted, and approved edits on an encyclopedia-like entry on heuristics.
- I presented at Computers & Writing in Lansing and also collected a book award for Network Sense.
- I attended CWPA in Baltimore, going to a handful of sessions and also participating on the executive board for the first time.
- I gathered into one place something like 6,000 words toward an article I’d like very much to have sent off yet this fall. But hours dedicated to writing feel both spare and distant at the moment. So this one can sit quietly until early September.
- I drafted a chapter for a collaborative project (7,000 words plus sixteen figures). Sent that off. And am almost done with revisions on another chapter for that same project (6,000 words plus seven figures). One more chapter is due by the end of the fall semester.
- I made modest revisions to the chapter I’ve contributed to the Radiant Figures collection. Also mocked up two model chapters and, with co-editors, fine-tuned and submitted that collection’s proposal, which we should be hearing back about before the end of August. With any luck.🍀
- I worked with VT colleagues on the finishing steps toward compiling a writing programs self-study report that’s gone off to the CWPA evaluator-consultant service and, as well, to the two C-E visitors we’ll have on campus at the end of September. The self-study is maybe 5000 words, but it includes fourteen appendices and thus expanded to something like a 101-page PDF. Next will be scheduling the visit more precisely. Lots of email involved in that.
- Registered for FemRhet and have continued to shepherd along a process of registering the 10+ graduate students who will be on a roundtable about intersectionality at that conference in November. Submitted a proposal to RSA in Portland next May. I wrote a proposal for a possible lecture at Bland Correctional Facility, though I still don’t quite know if that will be scheduled for fall. And I’m needing very soon to generate a title and blurb for a talk at U Findlay happening in late October. I think it will be a talk drawn from the shadows of the article draft a few bullets back (though the framing is a tad cynical, dissolutionist, endist, accelerationist, fretting with a very particular precariat).
- Work on Corridors has centimetered along, too, and I’ve just about finished preparation for the talk I’ll share at that event on September 21. It’s something of a follow-up and extension to the argument for visualizing DFWI, grappling with matters of disability, visible, invisible, and otherwise undisclosed.
- I was elected (unopposed) Treasurer of the Writing Across Virginia Affiliate, what will soon be proposed as a Virginia-specific WPA affiliate chapter.
- I have a external tenure review due at month’s end; that’s been a letter written by chipping away. Shouldn’t be any problem at all honoring that deadline.
- If there is more, I can’t think of it.
I’ll begin teaching a section of ENGL5454: Studies in Theory, what’s a temporary placeholder name for the composition theory and practice class. We have nineteen new GTAs who need to take it, and so we’ve split the section into two, doing what all we can (and should) to honor its functioning more like a graduate seminar than an undergraduate class.
And the week-long August Workshop takes motion next week, though at the moment it has wobbled a bit for miscoordination of dates. Whatever of it, it’s nothing a panic will resolve, so we’re trying other problem-solving tactics. It will all happen, and then it will be fall.
A couple of reading lists, nine titles ordered and delivered to Halle Library on behalf of the First-year Writing Program, and then another pile, an odd-stack, maybe I’ll get to these this summer and maybe I won’t, read bottom to top and top to bottom, shuffled and reshuffled depending on where I leave a copy, depending on what time I have, depending on mood and disposition and weather and gut bacteria, depending on nothing much at all sometimes.
I am reminded upon posting just the one photo (above) that reading habits run a fickle, snaking course–meandering and irregular, never especially disciplined-seeming except perhaps in their continuing, on-going. Anti-library, nomad-habit, ambivalence, juxtaposition, re-reading, crumb trails, low on fucks or high, intention and purpose or their lacunae, and then add to it finishing up with writing one’s own books, with others or solo, mid-careering, wondering only but so effortfully what’s next and why would this be next but not that. Not the most strenuous May-June ever, litotes.
Implicitly (until now) there is some kind of faint jostling between these stacks, different microlibraries, hints of interest and curiosity washed back by life and distraction, laziness and Netflix, accidental and well-intentioned anti-library, I meant to read you. I really did. I was going to. I was going to read everything.
There’s much missing here, too, another gift, Murakami’s The Strange Library, a couple of books from Ypsilanti Public Library due last night by 11:59 p.m. whose deadline I beat by an hour to renew–a miracle–even though they’re all read, finished, complete, ready for the return slot. Read with greater urgency the books that go back, temporary visitors, ones who would if they could but who cannot stay.
Is. practiced hopscotch in the late-day shadows Sunday afternoon. Here the stone skips off the court. No problem. My entire weekend has amounted to a stone skipped off the court, three days of nonchalantly trailing after of the last wisps of summertime: happy hour with new EMU faculty, an NFL fantasy draft meeting Saturday afternoon, the EMU-Army football game, a stroll in the park, a pot of potato-leek soup, a brief errand into the Canton Target earlier today. Minimal exercise. Minimal television. Fall classes commence Wednesday, so there have been a few minutes of reading, revising class documents, imagining as possible the perfect first class session. But mostly, breathing, recharging, and easing summer properly to its conclusion.
- Signed off on an MA thesis today, the first I’ve helped with at EMU. I was involved as a second reader; second readings I did provide. The project suggests that understanding professor rating sites as rhetorical ecologies (i.e., more than Bitzereal situations) might aid institutions in recognizing (and adapting to better allow for) the complex rhetoricity of in-house course evaluations. And the candidate–Good luck!–will be taking up a doctoral program at Tennessee this fall.
- Summer cold. Phlegm follows different viscosity rules in July than in January: rollicking, splashy, underwater swim rules. My lungs report that the rules are strange, unfamiliar.
- Two meetings tomorrow, another Wednesday. In between, assuming a couple of bona fide work days are in store, I intend to massage my temples with one hand and register keystrokes with the other until I have the third section of this article drafted. Third of five. I might have more to say about one of the meetings if there’s time enough.
- Our streak of six years sharing the Honda Element as our only vehicle ended today. I am almost as proud of this streak (2,190 days) as I assume Cal Ripken Jr. must be of his consecutive games record (2,632 games). I don’t count the 18 months in Syracuse we picked up a free 1986 Grand Am for Ph. to rattle and lurch stylishly between home and school and work. If you’d seen that car–even better, if you’d ridden in it, you would forgive me this doctoring of the official motor vehicle ledger. We never once drive it someplace as a family. We got it for the cost of repairs to get it rolling down the road and turned it around on Craigstlist for a few hundred bucks last summer. And anyway, we have been sharing one car for a heckuva long time. But not now. We might’ve gone another route if public transportation around here was viable, but for now, our enlarged carbon footprint will toddle toward cataclysm right along with all the rest of the 1:1 auto:motorists.
- Is. starts a five-week summer preschool tomorrow. Requires packed lunches. We stood many minutes in the lunch pail aisle at Target last evening undeciding between Dora, Disney Princesses, Hello Kitty, and Toy Story. And then out of the blue, Mystery Machine. Declared she liked the Scooby Doo box better than the others. Oh, and important about that Twitter link is that it’s from last summer when, after we’d paid and as she and I stood in line for the Times Square Toys-R-Us ferris wheel, she told me in no uncertain terms we wouldn’t be riding in the car with E.T. mounted to it.
- The Spain-Netherlands match yesterday wasn’t the most enthralling of the tournament, but this year’s World Cup delivered many spectacular moments. I watched more than I should have. And while I’m overall pleased with my second place finish in the Skitchy Pitch FC pool, I have to hand it to WC-OuijaBoard who climbed ranks down the stretch by selecting not only match winners but exact scores, too.