Friday, December 30, 2016

"I told the truth in my sister’s obituary, so that others might choose to live"

30 December 2016: This piece in Washington Post speaks to a truth: when someone dies to suicide, families often don't want to talk about it. But doing so does a disservice to both the lost loved one and others who struggle with depression or addiction or some other mental illness. Silence means more people die. So yeah, this piece is today's good thing, especially this part, which I try to share whenever I can: "Here is the truth: You have value. You have worth. You are loved. Trust the voices of those who love you. Trust the enormous chorus of voices that say only one thing: You matter. Depression lies. We must tell the truth."

Bonus good thing: Believe everything you've heard about Fleabag, the terrific show you can stream on Amazon Prime. I finally watched it all yesterday and today (there are only 6 episodes, all less than 30 minutes). It's hilarious, so well-acted, and ultimately a very profound meditation on grief.


Thursday, December 29, 2016

Blueberry pancakes

29 December 2016: It's quite nice to start the day with two delicious blueberry pancakes from Betty's Restaurant, but it was even nicer to do so while catching up with two of my favorite former students, one of whom is now the city editor at a local paper (moving up so quickly!) and the other who is home for the holidays from her position with AmeriCorps.

Wednesday, December 28, 2016

"The Individualism and Fist-Pumping of George Michael's 'Freedom '90'"

28 December 2016: I've written before about my love for NPR's Linda Holmes--and I do think we'd be friends if we met (does that sound stalker-ish?). She is such a talented writer, especially of course about pop culture and I delight in reading her work. So it is no surprise that this piece on George Michael's "Freedom '90" is just terrific. And today's good thing.

Tuesday, December 27, 2016

A deep bench

27 December 2016: My trivia team was down to just two members for tonight's game--just my friend Amy and I. Everyone else is out of town for the holidays. So I called upon my friends Anna and Josh and they joined us for the night. And having them play with us was delightful. We did pretty well (tied for second place with a bunch of other teams) and, more importantly, just played a fun, relaxing game. And it's good to know our bench of trivia players is a bit deeper than we thought!

Monday, December 26, 2016

"Freedom"

26 December 2016: I have always adored George Michael and always loved the heck out of this song. In honor of George, I sang my heart out as I drove back from NY today (even more than usual).

Awkward Family Photos Game

25 December 2016: This game, a gift from Erin and Eric, made a nice Christmas Day even nicer. We had a blast playing it.

As good as we can get...

24 December 2016: Here is the best shot I was able to get of all six grandkids. Like herding cats. But still, we'll call this the day's good thing.


Walking with Dad

23 December 2016: After driving up to NY for the holidays, I was a bit stir crazy on Friday and wanted to get some steps in. So I drove up to the track at the local high school and my dad came along. It had gotten a bit cold that evening, but not too bad and the night was clear and bright. He could only do about three laps, but it was nice to walk with him, just the two of us.

Thursday, December 22, 2016

"A Small Needful Fact"

22 December 2016: Searching for another Ross Gay poem ("Sorrow Is Not My Name") led me to this poem, "A Small Needful Fact," and it stopped me in my tracks. Sometimes when I think about Eric Garner, I think about my brother. They were, at the end of their lives, similar in size and suffering from breathing issues. I remember my mother saying that if Ryan had been held down like that, he might have died, too. And, like so many black men who have recently died in police shootings, my (white, obviously) brother struggled with mental illness and addiction issues. (I am not saying that about Garner.) I wonder if we might have lost him much sooner had he been black, especially when he got into trouble.

And then along comes this poem which tells me something I didn't know about Garner--that he, like my brother, worked in landscaping. He, too, planted things in the earth. I don't know how to tie this all together in some elegant, profound way. I suspect that there isn't a way to do so...something about connection despite differences, but also about the protection that privilege offers... I don't know. But I like this poem for making me think about all of this as I sit here tonight.

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

“The Height to Be Superb Humanity”: Walt Whitman’s Christmas Greeting to a New Democracy

21 December 2016: My former colleague (whose work I've linked to before) does it again with this wonderful piece on Whitman's Christmas poem to Brazil. Whitman has been on my mind even more than usual (which is a lot) these days, so this essay spoke to me. Some highlights:

 And this is perhaps the big nugget of spiritual truth at the center of Whitman’s secular Christmas greeting: Meaningful participation in a self-governing society requires the same things of us that the spiritual Kingdom of God requires: loving our enemies, turning the other cheek, and doing unto others as we would have them do unto us. And it also requires charity, or the belief that our political opponents are, like us, decent human beings doing their best with limited understanding–and not fundamentally flawed human beings who are crazy, stupid, or evil....

...in other words, love thy political opponents.

All of this runs against the non-superb elements of human nature. But democracy calls us to be better than ordinary. So, too, did the one whose birth we celebrate on Christmas Day. He taught us to reject what was natural, and therefore easy, and to undergo a mighty change of heart. He taught us to seek first the Kingdom of God. And he showed us that the Kingdom of God was within us. And, perhaps most importantly, He taught us that there was no distinction we need to notice between God and other people.

Tuesday, December 20, 2016

Lin-Manuel Miranda reads Oscar Wao

20 December 2016: I had no idea that this happened, but it makes me want to buy the audiobook.

Monday, December 19, 2016

Sunday, December 18, 2016

"The Hilarious World of Depression"

18 December 2016: Just took a long (and cold!) walk through my neighborhood while listening to a what seems to be a great new podcast (which I heard about from "Pop Culture Happy Hour"): "The Hilarious World of Depression." The first episode features "Wait, Wait"'s Peter Sagal. Definitely worth a listen!

Saturday, December 17, 2016

Do you wanna build a snow globe?

17 December 2016: Today's good thing is this super-cool snow globe I made at Anna and Josh's house tonight. That's Jayne from Firefly chilling in there. Pretty darn cool.


"You're Welcome"

16 December 2016: Today's good thing is this catchy song from Moana, which I took Krista to see today.

Thursday, December 15, 2016

American Crime: Season 2

15 December 2016: I am a bit late on getting on the bandwagon and singing the praise of the second season of American Crime, but I am there now, having started watching it a couple of days ago. I am up to episode 8 (out of 10) and I can't look away. It's amazing: powerful, sad, full of tremendous performances. It's a master class on acting. It's a troubling social commentary. It's timely and smart. It's important. Watch it.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Jadon and Anias

14 December 2016: I've been following this story since just before the boys were separated. So much about it captivated me: the loving parents and their brave decision, the riskiness of the surgery, the idea that they had never been able to hold their babies and the beauty of them finally being able to do so, the picture of the boys seeing each other for the first time, And now they are taking another step on their journey. It's just beautiful and hopeful and today's good thing.

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Scorigami

13 December 2016: Look, I don't much care for football, but I loved learning about "Scorigami" on this week's Hang Up and Listen podcast. So much fun!

Monday, December 12, 2016

On the radio...

12 December 2016: Thanks to my neighbor, I got to be on the radio today, talking about Emily Dickinson. Not a bad way to start the day.

Great leap forward?

11 December 2016: It is amazing how many posts I have about the slow, slow, slow progress with Veronica. I mean, she's doing fine in so many ways: happy, healthy, playful, always out and about, follows me around, etc., but she still doesn't let me do much more than a nose bop and she hasn't slept on the bed since the morning I grabbed her and took her to the vet to be spayed (true story).

But when I went to sleep last night (and it counts as today's good thing because it was after midnight), she--out of nowhere--jumped right up when Wesley did and promptly went to sleep between my knees. And she stayed there for hours. I have no idea why or if/when she'll do it again, but that little leap is definitely the good thing for Sunday.

Sunday, December 11, 2016

Peppermint cocoa

10 December 2016: Saturday's good thing was the cup of peppermint cocoa that Jane made for me after we spent the day shopping and just hanging out in Alexandria. It was my first cocoa of the season, which seemed noteworthy and the capper to a fine day with one of my favorite people.

Friday, December 9, 2016

Fall 2016 Grading: Done!!!

9 December 2016: Another semester in the books. This was a strange one, to put it mildly. But also a good one, to continue the string of vague adjectives.

Time for some chair dancing...


Thursday, December 8, 2016

Accepted!

8 December 2016: Today's good thing? An acceptance letter from Appalachian Journal for my Ron Rash article. I have some revisions to do, but man, I am thrilled. This one feels really good.

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

I'll take it?

7 December 2016:


I will confess to never getting into the Harry Potter world, but this comment from an ENGL 101 student's portfolio reflection letter, is a good thing, right? It made me laugh.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

"EHG 137: Going All In On The Family With This Is Us"

6 December 2017: A new episode of Extra Hot Great is always one of the best things in any day, but this week's episode, which featured a great discussion of This Is Us and of the infamous (crappy, horrible) finale of How I Met Your Mother really hit the spot on a cold and rainy day. I listened to it while I took breaks from grading to do some chores: clean the house, make some chicken soup (yup, looking for nature's medicine at this point...and I had some leftover chicken), balance the checkbook, etc. Always a delight to hear these folks!

Monday, December 5, 2016

Honey-lemon cough drops...

5 December 2016: Yeah, so today's post, combined with this one from a couple of days ago, illustrates a certain recurring theme in my life these past few weeks. I'm on the tail-end (I hope?) of a nasty cold, one that started up less than a week after another departed. Ugh. I barely made it through the final exam I gave today, having to get up every ten minutes (and often much more often) to cough up a lung. The only way I made it through? Lots of water, pacing the hall until I stopped hacking, and a never-ending stream of honey-lemon cough drops. After packages and packages of cherry-flavored drops, I am grateful for the refreshing change.

Doughnut dipping, Part II

4 December 2016: Sunday night brought yet another Midnight Breakfast at Shepherd, the event that kicks off exam week every semester. I was eager to be back at the same station as last semester, dipping doughnuts. And that's where I was, working the fixin' bar. It was, once again, so much fun.

Emily, Amy, and I before the students arrived--ready to go!

Saturday, December 3, 2016

Robitussin

3 December 2016: Today's good thing and (let's hope?) MVP is Robitussin, which I am hoping/praying will get me through this nasty cough/cold, and more importantly, my friend's play tonight. I really want to go and support her, but I am dreading having multiple coughing fits. Here's hoping for an aisle seat, cough drops with wrappers that don't crinkle too much, and medicine that works. So far, so good--the coughing fits are getting a bit less severe and frequent. Time for a new dose!

Cats in bow-ties...

2 December 2016: I am not the kind of person who puts cats in costumes. But once a year, for the Sigma Tau Delta holiday party I host at my house, Bing and Wesley (briefly) done their sparkly red bow-ties. (Bing kind of likes his. Wesley tolerates it, but barely.) Anyway, this year's party was a success. The house was filled with bright, friendly, and gracious young people. Yet another reason to love my job...

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Video of the day....

1 December 2016: Well, this video made my day. It stars, among others, two of my most beloved professors. There's Dr. Hanstedt, who guided me through my first major independent research project and helped me get into grad school, and Dr. Miller, who led my study abroad experience at Oxford. So yeah: they changed my life. And you'll also see the guy who taught my first ever college class at Roanoke: Computer Science 101, which met at 8:00 on MWF. It's hilarious. Go Noke!

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

"Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World"

30 November 2016: I know I've been posting lots of poems as my "good things," but what can I say? I keep finding these gems.

Today's comes from Sherman Alexie. This poem says really simply something that I haven't had words for before--encapsulated first by its title. The parts of grief that can ache so much are those parts tied to material, sensory objects and memories. And it sneaks up on us when we have forgotten for a moment those we have lost. And memory is both a blessing and a burden.

"Grief Calls Us to the Things of This World"
By Sherman Alexie
 
The morning air is all awash with angels—Richard Wilbur, “Love Calls Us to the Things of This World”
 
The eyes open to a blue telephone
In the bathroom of this five-star hotel.

I wonder whom I should call? A plumber,
Proctologist, urologist, or priest?

Who is blessed among us and most deserves
The first call? I choose my father because

He’s astounded by bathroom telephones.
I dial home. My mother answers. “Hey, Ma,”

I say, “Can I talk to Poppa?” She gasps,
And then I remember that my father

Has been dead for nearly a year. “Shit, Mom,”
I say. “I forgot he’s dead. I’m sorry—

How did I forget?” “It’s okay,” she says.
“I made him a cup of instant coffee

This morning and left it on the table—
Like I have for, what, twenty-seven years—

And I didn’t realize my mistake
Until this afternoon.” My mother laughs

At the angels who wait for us to pause
During the most ordinary of days

And sing our praise to forgetfulness
Before they slap our souls with their cold wings.

Those angels burden and unbalance us.
Those fucking angels ride us piggyback.

Those angels, forever falling, snare us
And haul us, prey and praying, into dust.

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Happy 184th Birthday!

29 November 2016: I woke up this morning to a heads-up about what would be today's good thing. A former student tagged me on Facebook with a post about today's Google Doodle, honoring Louisa May Alcott on her 184th birthday. I adore Alcott and love that Google honored her--and that several of my students reached out to me about it. Something about Alcott binds her fans into a lovely community. It's a wonder to behold.

Monday, November 28, 2016

"Repulsive Theory"

28 November 2016: I came across this Kay Ryan poem today and it sort of blew me away, so it's today's good thing.

"Repulsive Theory"
by Kay Ryan

Little has been made 
of the soft, skirting action 
of magnets reversed, 
while much has been 
made of attraction. 
But is it not this pillowy 
principle of repulsion 
that produces the 
doily edges of oceans 
or the arabesques of thought? 
And do these cutout coasts 
and incurved rhetorical beaches 
not baffle the onslaught 
of the sea or objectionable people 
and give private life 
what small protection it's got? 
Praise then the oiled motions 
of avoidance, the pearly 
convolutions of all that 
slides off or takes a 
wide berth; praise every 
eddying vacancy of Earth, 
all the dimpled depths 
of pooling space, the whole 
swirl set up by fending-off— 
extending far beyond the personal, 
I'm convinced— 
immense and good 
in a cosmological sense: 
unpressing us against 
each other, lending 
the necessary never 
to never-ending.

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Christmas lights...

27 November 2016: I normally wait until after December 1 to put up any decorations, but I'm hosting the Sigma Tau Delta holiday party on Friday and wasn't sure I'd have time to any decorating before then if I didn't do it this weekend. So, the house is (almost) all decked out. And here, as usual, is my favorite part.


Saturday, November 26, 2016

"I Belong to You"

26 November 2016: "I Belong to You" is one of my favorite songs on The Firewatcher's Daughter. It came on my iPod today while I was getting some work done at Panera, including almost completing my "to do over break" list.

Friday, November 25, 2016

Gilmore Girls

25 November 2016: Oh my lord, these new episodes are soooooo good! Give Lauren Graham and Kelly Bishop all the awards.

Thanksgiving...

24 November 2016: These people...the "good thing(s)" for the day, of course.

Tara and I.

Tara and Jeff.

My dad and I, taken by Colin, who has some things to learn about photo composition.

My mom and Colin. He looks good here, but she's looking away, so we took another one...

...and he looks (intentionally) psychotic. Sigh.

This guy, our dear Wolfie, turned 18 in September, so he gets a seat at the table and some turkey.

Lots of karaoke...

Thursday, November 24, 2016

"When Giving is All We Have"

23 November 2016: More poetry for Wednesday's good thing...

Alberto Rios

One river gives
                                              Its journey to the next.


We give because someone gave to us.
We give because nobody gave to us.

We give because giving has changed us.
We give because giving could have changed us.

We have been better for it,
We have been wounded by it—

Giving has many faces: It is loud and quiet,
Big, though small, diamond in wood-nails.

Its story is old, the plot worn and the pages too,
But we read this book, anyway, over and again:

Giving is, first and every time, hand to hand,
Mine to yours, yours to mine.

You gave me blue and I gave you yellow.
Together we are simple green. You gave me

What you did not have, and I gave you
What I had to give—together, we made

Something greater from the difference.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

"The Traveling Onion"

22 November 2016: Today's good thing...

"The Traveling Onion"
Naomi Shihab Nye


“It is believed that the onion originally came from India. In Egypt it was an 
object of worship —why I haven’t been able to find out. From Egypt the onion 
entered Greece and on to Italy, thence into all of Europe.” — Better Living Cookbook

When I think how far the onion has traveled
just to enter my stew today, I could kneel and praise
all small forgotten miracles,
crackly paper peeling on the drainboard,
pearly layers in smooth agreement,
the way the knife enters onion
and onion falls apart on the chopping block,
a history revealed.
And I would never scold the onion
for causing tears.
It is right that tears fall
for something small and forgotten.
How at meal, we sit to eat,
commenting on texture of meat or herbal aroma
but never on the translucence of onion,
now limp, now divided,
or its traditionally honorable career:
For the sake of others,
disappear.

Monday, November 21, 2016

"Flu Season"

21 November 2016: Today was a strange day--no classes but lots of work to get done, cold and windy outside, just...different. Gray. By the time evening rolled around, I was starting to feel a bit out of sorts. Just in time, the "Flu Season" episode of Parks and Rec came on and, to use the cliche, it was good for what was ailing me (and the start of a mini-marathon of episodes leading to "Harvest Festival"--an awesome run!).

In an episode full of great moments, one of my favorites is a Ben and Leslie moment, as Ben is awestruck by the speech a flu-ridden Leslie is able to give. It is one of the first times you can really see him falling for her. Sigh...


Sunday, November 20, 2016

"Trying to work through the feels..."

20 November 2016: Lots of nominees for today's good thing, including the fact that it is both Erin and Kelsie's birthday.

But since I couldn't choose between them, we are going to go with another option: this episode of 2 Dope Queens. I actually put off listening to it a bit because I didn't feel ready for Phoebe and Jessica's post-election thoughts (too soon...still so hard!), but I am glad I finally pressed play. It's a great episode, beginning with their moving thoughts on where we go from here. Then they hit the comedy itself, and it's great: filthy, feminist, diverse, and just freakin' hilarious. And if they can keep on keeping on post-election, then what's my excuse?

Saturday, November 19, 2016

"Good Bones"

19 November 2016: Really feeling this poem today.

"Good Bones"
by Maggie Smith

Life is short, though I keep this from my children.
Life is short, and I’ve shortened mine
in a thousand delicious, ill-advised ways,
a thousand deliciously ill-advised ways
I’ll keep from my children. The world is at least
fifty percent terrible, and that’s a conservative
estimate, though I keep this from my children.
For every bird there is a stone thrown at a bird.
For every loved child, a child broken, bagged,
sunk in a lake. Life is short and the world
is at least half terrible, and for every kind
stranger, there is one who would break you,
though I keep this from my children. I am trying
to sell them the world. Any decent realtor,
walking you through a real shithole, chirps on
about good bones: This place could be beautiful,
right? You could make this place beautiful.

Friday, November 18, 2016

"Obvious Child"

18 November 2016: Today's good thing is this song, which came on just when I needed it to today, while I was in the midst of some serious grading. Chair-dancing ensued.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Grandmas feed everyone...

17 November 2016: How can this charming story not be today's good thing? Yeah: this is the story that America needs right now.

"The Truth"

16 November 2016: I started this episode of the Strangers podcast on my walk on Wednesday night. I knew I only about about 30 minutes of walking ahead of me and hesitated a moment before beginning a 40+ minute episode, but clicked play anyway. And, like so many great podcasts, I found myself unable to stop listening until it was over. This is a powerful, sad, and moving piece. I won't say much more so as to not give anything away, but it's really good.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Billy on the Street

15 November 2016: Season 5 of Billy on the Street premiered tonight. Such silly, stupid fun, and a great way to end the day.

Monday, November 14, 2016

"Try to Praise the Mutilated World"

14 November 2016: Today's good thing? This poem.

"Try to Praise the Mutilated World"
Adam Zagajewski

Try to praise the mutilated world.
Remember June's long days,
and wild strawberries, drops of rosé wine.
The nettles that methodically overgrow
the abandoned homesteads of exiles.
You must praise the mutilated world.
You watched the stylish yachts and ships;
one of them had a long trip ahead of it,
while salty oblivion awaited others.
You've seen the refugees going nowhere,
you've heard the executioners sing joyfully.
You should praise the mutilated world.
Remember the moments when we were together
in a white room and the curtain fluttered.
Return in thought to the concert where music flared.
You gathered acorns in the park in autumn
and leaves eddied over the earth's scars.
Praise the mutilated world
and the gray feather a thrush lost,
and the gentle light that strays and vanishes
and returns.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

"Voices Carry"

13 November 2016: This episode of "Mark and Sarah Talk About Songs," about Til Tuesday's "Voices Carry," is really good. There's a lot to like here: a great song, a charismatic and fascinating singer, and just...the timeliness of this song coming to mind at this time. Give it a listen.

Saturday, November 12, 2016

45 Years

12 November 2016: Finally got around to watching 45 Years, which is as good as you've heard. Quiet and powerful and haunting. And now "Smoke Gets in Your Eyes" (so good, sigh...) will be stuck in my head the rest of the day.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The Miranda Family Does The Sound of Music

11 November 2016: Amazing, sweet, fun, and uplifting. Love this guy and his whole family.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

A Letter to American From Leslie Knope

10 November 2016: A friend sent me this link today and it absolutely today's good thing. I think Parks and Rec will be a good a continuing source for good in the world in these depressing days.

Wednesday, November 9, 2016

"America, you great unfinished symphony..."

9 November 2016: Yesterday, I sat with my finger over the "publish" button for several minutes before publishing the day's post. It was the post's title that was hanging me up. It's so relentlessly positive. And I kept thinking, "But what if she doesn't win? Will I still feel that way?" I thought about hedging my bets a bit and going with the original post title ("History..."). But in the end, I left it as is. It was, I think, a sign of stubborn faith in this country and its people. I told myself, even if he does win, I will still feel that way about my country: We are lucky to be alive right now in this world, in this moment. Because we have the power to love and hope and pray and change and get work done.

One of my favorite literary critics, Sacvan Bercovitch, writes about the power and flexibility of American ideology. ("America, you great unfinished symphony...") For better or worse, it tells us we are always on our way to becoming the thing we are supposed to come. It tells us that dissent is actually assent, a way of staying in the system, working from within to make it better. Those ideas are sometimes problematic, but today, I find them comforting.

So yeah: lots of writers are running through my head today--Thoreau, Whitman, Alcott, and of course, Miranda. They, too, bring comfort.

I am so very sad and anxious. But I am also determined and hopeful. I think that those feelings--determination and hope, in all their messiness--are today's good things. But to stick to the rules, I am going to go with that line from Hamilton... It feels right and soothes my soul. Let's get to work, America.*

*Yup: the last episode of Angel, too, continues to come to mind when I need it to. (See #1 on the list in this post.)

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

"Look around, look around! How lucky we are to be alive right now!"

8 November 2016: Who knows what will happen today when the results come in, but I voted for a woman for president today and darn it, did my eyes get teary! I voted for hope, love, and a deep faith in our common humanity and the American experiment.

Monday, November 7, 2016

"The Other Side"

7 November 2016: On the eve of tomorrow's election, I was so glad to listen to the latest StoryCorps podcast today. Featuring an honest and moving discussion between a father and daughter who disagree on all things political, it is well worth listening to. It gives me hope, if not for my interaction with some of my own family, at least for others and their families.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Steilneset Memorial

6 November 2016: I listened to a couple episodes of the terrific "Stuff You Missed in History Class" podcast today while on my walk and really enjoyed this episode on the Vardo Witch Trials (in Norway). At the end of the episode, Holly and Tracy (the hosts) talked about the memorial constructed to remember the victims of the trials and it sounded so powerful that I knew I was going to have to look it up once I got home. It is indeed impressive and moving. Check out an article about it here.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Farewell, Daylight Savings...

5 November 2016: I just hate it when it gets dark early, so I am not a fan of what's going to happen at 2:00 a.m. tomorrow, when Daylight Savings ends. Today, though, I made sure to hit the C&O for one more evening walk, something that will be harder to squeeze in for the next few months, when "evening" is so fleeting. Here come the days when the walks that have to happen later in the day will be walks through my neighborhood. That's not a bad thing, but I do prefer walking along the river. Oh well...today's walk was a good one: great weather, pretty sites, and just a touch of indulgent melancholy (the good kind).


Almost, Maine

4 November 2016: A friend and I saw Shepherd's production of this sweet and charming play last night. I hadn't heard of it before, but apparently it's the most commonly performed play in high schools. I can see why--and that's not a criticism.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Tau Sigma Induction

3 November 2016: A very busy day today with lots to choose from for the day's "good thing," but I am going to go with the Tau Sigma induction ceremony I attended today. Tau Sigma is the honor society for transfer students, an important population at Shepherd, and it was quite nice to see their achievements highlighted.

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

"Cry to Me"

2 November 2016: Dang, this song. So freaking good. I've loved it since I was in middle-school and saw Dirty Dancing for the first time, but that's mostly because it played during that scene which made me swoon. Since then, though, every time it comes up, I can't help but stop and just...appreciate the heck out of it. Maybe age and maturity has something to do with it. (You think?) It came on my Pandora station today when I was grading (and felt like crying for another reason...ha!). I had to stop and chair-dance and sing along. So good.

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

"Boy in Photo"

1 November 2016: Today I enjoyed the heck out of this episode of Reply All. Give it a listen!

Monday, October 31, 2016

"San Junipero"

31 October 2016: My ENGL 301 students are in the process of learning about both deconstruction and queer theory. One of the points we've been discussing is how much overlap there is (naturally) between the two lens. I also just finished watching the "San Junipero"episode of Black Mirror and remembered seeing a headline for a piece I wanted to go back and read after I saw the episode. I am glad I waited to read it (spoilers abound!) and really glad I read it today, when I've been thinking about these two lens. The piece does an excellent job employing both a deconstructive and queer theory reading and it's a pleasure to read.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

"The Loving Legacy"

30 October 2016: The news has been kind of depressing these past few days (weeks, months...), so this piece from The Washington Post, about five interracial couples on the eve of the release of The Loving Story, made me smile.

4:00 p.m.

29 October 2016: Yesterday's good thing was 4:00 p.m., when I pulled into my driveway after a successful Sigma Tau Delta conference and a successful recruiting of docents for the Bodice Project event. These two events--which actually had me needing to be in two places at once that day--were on my mind as two that I just need to get through to catch my breath again, so that moment of getting home was a sweet one.

Pre-conference dinner

28 October 2016: Friday was a packed day, ending with a two-hour shift sitting with some of my best students at the Bodice Project event (the students were serving as docents), followed by last-minute prep for our Sigma Tau Delta conference the next day. In between the docent-ing and the prepping, I took these students--all leaders in Sigma Tau Delta (and the folks who organized this event)--to dinner as a way to thank them. I was tired as all heck at that point, but it was still a lot of fun. These are some impressive, hard-working, and funny young women and we are lucky to have them at Shepherd.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

From prison to bodices...

27 October 2016: What a strangely eclectic day today has been. First, my two co-teachers and I took our Intro to Women's Studies class to the women's prison in Maryland, just as we do every time we teach the class. The trip is so powerful and moving...sobering and memorable. So that's how it started.

Then I came home, graded some papers, and crashed for a bit.

Then it was off to a reception Women for Shepherd University was hosting for our Fall Event: a exhibition of works from The Bodice Project at Popodicon, the president's residence. It was also powerful and moving...sobering and memorable. So that's how today ended (at least the public part of it).

I am not sure which of these two things (the trip or the reception) wins today's "good thing," so maybe I'll cheat a bit and call my weird, amazing, "never-can-tell-what-I'll-be-doing-next" job today's good thing?

A great colleague...

26 October 2016: I have a colleague, Jim, who is one of the most decent and interesting men I've ever met. I've never heard him say a bad thing about anyone and his stories--which include time he spent driving a cab in Chicago in the 60s--are always terrific. But he's not just a talker; he's a fantastic, curious listener. When he asks you questions, you can tell he really wants to know more about you, your life, your ideas. It's good for the self-esteem. Jim and I had lunch yesterday--right smack in the middle of a busy day for both of us--and it was probably the best part of my day.

I say it all the time: my job--my colleagues, my students, my work--is such a blessing and I am so very lucky.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Gilmore Girls Trailer

25 October 2016: Another no-brainer for today's good thing. This trailer had me smiling the entire time. I cannot wait.

Monday, October 24, 2016

When Forgiveness Changes the World

24 October 2016: This wonderful piece by my former colleague is absolutely today's good thing.

Some good stuff:

"The main point of both of these stories, as I read them, is that forgiving someone who has done one a great wrong is unnatural. It defies expectations because it defies human nature. Over millions of years, both nature and culture have endowed us with a strict sense of justice where our own interests are concerned. We want the people who have hurt us to suffer, and, the vast majority of the time, our poets gratify our passions. The suitors all die by the hands of Odysseus and Telemachus. Gaston plummets to his death while trying to kill the Beast, Voldemort sort of blows up. The bad guys all get their comeuppance.

Except when they don’t. In the the occasional work of literature like Atsumori, or the story of Joseph, we get a sense of what a rare and wonderful thing true forgiveness can be, both in the seeking and in the granting. When it happens in literature, it frustrates our expectations and forces us to re-examine our tastes–and if we are lucky it makes us better people. When it happens in real life, I suspect, it has the potential to change the world."

Sunday, October 23, 2016

He's just the best...

23 October 2016: Aziz saying what needs to be said.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

"He's just the kindest, most loving boy..."

22 October 2016: I moved to North Carolina in 1999, just around the time the Rae Carruth case was breaking. Since then, I've often thought about the little boy who entered this world in such a violent and sad way. This profile of Chancellor Lee and his extraordinary grandmother, amazed me. What a joyful and determined young man and what a loving and strong grandmother. They provide quite an example for the world.

Hamilton's America

21 October 2016: How could this PBS special not be the day's good thing? It was amazing--such a joy to watch.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

The Witch

20 October 2016: I first saw The Witch when it opened back in March--and enjoyed it very much (though perhaps "enjoy" is the wrong word for such a dark film). I couldn't stop thinking about what a perfect depiction it was of Puritanism taken to its most dramatic extreme and how much it reminded me of two of my favorite American poets: Anne Bradstreet and Edward Taylor.

So when some students and a professor in the History department asked me if we (my students and I) wanted to be a part of an event they had planned for tonight, a screening of the film followed by a discussion, I happily agreed to do my part, offering all of my students extra credit for attending and preparing some remarks beforehand on Puritan literature and the connections I saw in the film. To be honest though, as this day started, I wasn't exactly looking forward to it--it's been a long and busy week. But man, I am glad we planned this darn thing. It went so very well--great audience, great discussion.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

"Schedule Scramble"

19 October 2016: I've been the faculty sponsor for our department's chapter of Sigma Tau Delta since 2008 and have had the chance to see several cycles of members and leaders move through the ranks. It's always interesting and sometimes even fun to see the ideas that the new folks come up with.

The event these new leaders hosted today--something they called "Schedule Scramble"--really impressed me. Basically, they made a bunch of breakfast food (who doesn't love breakfast for dinner?) and invited students who had questions about building their schedules for next semester to come by, get some dinner, and get some advice.

In the end, there was just as much socializing as advising, but it was still a great success. I stopped in three times over the couple of hours (didn't want to be the teacher in the room who interrupts students being themselves) and each time, it was lovely to see them all having fun. Well done.

Tuesday, October 18, 2016

"Sort Of"

18 October 2016: So it's not an uplifting song, but man, do I love this track. It sort of sweeps me up in its story and emotions. And, at the same time, it calms me down. It came on my iPod this morning just as I was feeling kind of anxious about a project I was working on. It took me away from that moment and gave me the pause I needed.

Nobel Prize Panel

17 October 2016: Last night, I attended a panel discussion of this year's Nobel Prizes. For each prize, a member of the faculty got up and explained who the winners were and why they won. It was terrific and made me appreciate once again the fabulous teachers I work with. I mean, my friend the physicist was able to explain her field's prize in a way I could understand (well, at least sort of understand). So too did the folks in Economics, Biology, Chemistry, Political Science, and (of course) Literature. An excellent event!

Sunday, October 16, 2016

"11 Years of Poetry Out Loud"

16 October 2016: I caught up on the "Poetry Off the Shelf" podcast this morning and found myself charmed by this episode on the Poetry Out Loud project. It's just sweet and fun to hear students recite and talk about reciting poetry.

Science with Jane!

15 October 2016: Hung out with Jane today, which is always the best. We had lunch, stopped by the Renaissance Festival in town, tackled the corn maze at Ridgefield Farm, and then came back home to finally complete an experiment we began planning last year: finding out which version of Reese's holiday products is the most delicious. The hypothesis was that the pumpkins were the best.

 The test materials...

Blind taste-testing... 

Taking notes...

Hypothesis confirmed!!! Pumpkins all the way!

Saturday, October 15, 2016

Caught ya!

14 October 2016: I had suspected that Baby Cat might be occasionally sneaking on the bed between Bing and Wes when they are sleeping up there. The thing is, I was also pretty sure that she was jumping down when I got up there. Yesterday, I got photographic proof...and she's even snuggled up (a bit) against Bing. Yay!



(Please ignore the unmade bed...)

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Push-back from Liberty U students...

13 October 2016: So glad to hear that students at Liberty are pushing back against their hypocritical leadership. Lately the world feels upside-down when it comes to what evangelicals are willing to tolerate, so this feels like a step back towards sanity.

"Desiree's Baby"

12 October 2016: Wednesday was a long and busy day, but like so many others, a good one. One of the highlights was teaching "Desiree's Baby" in my ENGL 204 class. This is probably in my top five of the pieces I teach in this class. It never fails and teaching it is always energizing and exciting. So we'll call this story Wednesday's good thing.

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Heck of a rant...

11 October 2016: This twitter rant is today's good thing. I see so much that I recognize here--this was me not too many years ago, realizing that I could no longer defend or identify with the part that I used to love.

Monday, October 10, 2016

Sometimes humor really saves you...




Here are some more great ones from last night's debacle.

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Midterm grading: DONE!

9 October 2016: Made it through this stack of grading.


Now heading home to mow the lawn, get some more work done, and get ready for whatever the heck will happen during the debate. But first, some chair dancing.


Happy birthday...

Thinking a lot about this guy today. Wishing I could talk to him, buy him a present, tell him I love him. He would be 42 today.



Canadian Thanksgiving

8 October 2016: After another long day of grading (midterms week, y'all), I found myself enjoying yet another lovely dinner break, this time with some friends/colleagues who invited people over for Canadian Thanksgiving. My Canadian host and his American wife are just wonderful people and this dinner was a perfect extended pause on what has been a crazy couple of weeks.

Kelsey and Emily

7 October 2016: After a long day of grading, the highlight of my Friday was definitely having dinner with Tim and Kelsey and Emily, two of our former students. Emily is now kicking butt as a reporter for the local paper and Kelsey is about to head to California and start a position with AmeriCorps. Quite simply, they are the best. We miss having them around every day, but moving on is what they are supposed to do. (It's one of those wonderful/sad things about this job...the good ones leave, too, but then they go out and make the world better...) Anyway, it's lovely when they keep in touch.

Friday, October 7, 2016

Anthony Ray Hinton

7 October 2016: I have been to a lot of terrific events at Shepherd, but I've never been to an event like the one I attended on Thursday. Anthony Ray Hinton, who spent 30 years on death row for a crime he didn't commit, was like no speaker I'd seen before. I was riveted, as was the entire audience.

Check out this article about his talk--an article written by one of my all-time favorite former students, by the way.

And cheers to Shepherd's Common Reading Program. I am proud to have been a part of this committee since my second year at Shepherd and I continue to be excited by the work we do.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Graduation application

5 October 2016: I met today with one of my advisees who has, as I told her, one of my all-time favorite advising stories. Basically, we first met when she was a freshman and a major in another department. She took my ENGL 101 class and did just fine. I do remember thinking she seemed to have a bit of an attitude and seemed kind of angry (often signs of immaturity), but otherwise, she was fine. After that, she (understandably) fell off my radar.

Imagine my surprise when, over a year after I met her in that class, she showed up on my list of new advisees, returning as a student on probation--and one who had now declared an English major. She had, the previous semester, been forced to sit out. Now here's the deal: lots (most?) of the students who return and are on probation...they don't do well. So I was really skeptical.

And I was proven so completely wrong.

Each semester, she took just what she could manage, knew her limits, applied herself...and freakin' killed it. She's been amazing. And today we filled out her graduation application. I love being wrong when it's like this.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

"Down to the River to Pray"

4 October 2016: Heard this song mentioned on one of my favorite podcasts and then listened to it while walking down by the river today. Quite a nice moment.

Monday, October 3, 2016

That student...

3 October 2016: It is always a pleasure to work with that student--the one who stood out to you from the first day you met her. The one who pushes herself to do even better than you expected. The one whose writing makes you nod your head emphatically, stop and think, and sometimes say "wow" under your breath because she's that good. When that student comes to your office hours to talk about her done-three-days-early midterm essay because she wants to make it even better, that meeting--which will be a blast--is definitely that day's good thing.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

"Wherever Is Your Heart"

2 October 2016: Today's good thing is this Brandi Carlile song, one that got my day off to a good start and helped me get a lot done, some of it work-work, some of it house/yard work, and some of it just relaxing.

Saturday, October 1, 2016

Don't Breathe

1 October 2016: Today was another chilly and rainy day, which isn't great. However, seeing Don't Breathe today with my friend Amy was great, and maybe the gloomy weather (on the first day of October, no less!) added to the effect. It's a heck of a film: disturbing but really ambitious and fascinating.

Reading Emily Dickinson

30 September 2016: I got to participate in a really cool event on Friday night: an annual fundraiser for the Shepherdstown Public Library. It's an evening of poetry and music and I was invited to read Emily Dickinson's poetry. (All of the other readers are actual poets who read their own works.) Honestly, I was a bit nervous before taking the stage, so to speak, which is strange because I speak to big groups all the time. Maybe the difference this time was that these folks had paid good money to be entertained? Once I got going, though, it was a blast. Emily never fails to entertain. What fun!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Apple pancakes

29 September 2016: Dinner at IHOP with two good friends at the end of a chilly and rainy day? Not bad at all. And these yummy apple pancakes? Yup, they can be today's good thing.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Rosie the Riveter at 95

28 September 2016: Here's a nice story that I stumbled upon, about the "real" Rosie the Riveter getting recognized--at the age of 95. We'll call that today's good thing.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

Tag!

27 September 2016: Wish I had video of it, but you'll just have to trust me: today's good thing is Bing, Wes, and Veronica chasing each other all around the house, something I found them doing when I got home from trivia. I still wish the boys were more interested in cuddling with Veronica, who is dying for them to let her do so, but it sure is fun to see them all playing.

Monday, September 26, 2016

"Not good enough Cs"

26 September 2016: It's early in the day, but it is also promising to be a very busy day, so I am going to post this very good column now and call it today's good thing. It picks up on something that always bugs me when people discuss higher education problems in big generalities or dismiss entire generations with labels like "millennials." Students and their lives are complicated and one-size-fits-all answers and explanations rarely work. This isn't to say it's not worthy trying--of course it is. But we need to think more carefully and beware pat solutions.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Baby smiles...

25 September 2016: This little smile=today's good thing.


Saturday, September 24, 2016

Going-away party...

24 September 2016: Today's good thing is the lovely going-away party I attended for a recent graduate who is joining AmeriCorps soon. I am so thrilled for her and know she'll do great things. And, as an added bonus, two more of our recent graduates were there: three great students from our program, all employed and already making a difference in the world. Just wonderful.

5:45 on Friday...

23 September 2016: My office hours go until 6:00 on Friday. Usually, no one comes after 5:00 unless big project deadlines are looming, so imagine my surprise when one of my students (one of my sweetest, best students) showed up. And because she is one of my best students, she wanted to talk about work that isn't due for a while and work she has already gotten back and has months to revise (but she wants to start revising now). She kept apologizing for asking questions and coming late in the day (which is ridiculous and a habit she needs to break!), but really and truly: it was a delightful conversation--fun and interesting. Can't think of a better way to end the week.

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Friendly Bing

22 September 2016: The cable guy got here early today to fix a problem that should have been fixed a week ago when another cable guy was here (but that's another story). Anyway, this guy was great: friendly and helpful and fixed the darn thing. So yeah, I am thrilled to have my television delivery system back at full strength, but I am going to focus on something else for today's good thing.

The cable guy (I think his name is Oliver?) was soft-spoken and didn't make a lot of noise coming in. If he had, there's a good chance Bing would have run upstairs. But he didn't, so Bing hung around and then sauntered right up to the guy, smelling his bag, trying to play with a loose zip tie, and just purring up a storm. He let him pet him for a while, too. The guy had mentioned earlier that his wife gets mad because her cat prefers him to her, so I guess he has a way. But it was really sweet to see old Bing (he's 14 now!) playful and sweet and happy with some attention from a friendly stranger.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Save the Day

21 September 2016: Another no-brainer good thing. Joss Whedon? Mark Ruffalo? Neil Patrick Harris? Tom Lenk? Julianne Moore? Daveed Diggs? And stopping the super villain who is running for president? I am all about that.

Self-correction

20 September 2016: I am going to stay vague on this, just because, well...you never know. But I think Tuesday's good thing might just be a realization I had when talking with a student. This was someone I had been baffled by earlier in the semester. I wondered if this person should even be in college--his/her work was so off, his/her confusion at even the simplest instruction downright astounding. But we met yesterday to talk about an assignment and I realized that there was some real turmoil going on at home. And I recognized just a glimpse of the person I was back in 1995 during my freshman year.

Really, that's the only connection: two people who struggled to make that transition, but struggled in entirely different ways. But it was enough for me to get started being a more decent person. And I saw that this student was trying...trying really hard. And was improving. But I think that even if he/she weren't improving in terms of course work, I still might have had this bit of self-correction, reminding myself not to judge so quickly, to always remember that people are complicated, and that I need to be more patient. Lord...patience is so hard for me sometimes. I need to keep working on it.

Monday, September 19, 2016

Walking, walking, walking...

19 September 2016: Ugh. A stressful day today. But the saving grace(s) were the walks I made myself take at various points in the day: a walk to the post office at lunch, a walk this evening after I got home. They--along with my trusty podcasts--clear my head, distract me, make me laugh, make me smile, keep me sane... So those walks are today's good thing.

Tatiana Maslany!!!

18 September 2016: The Emmys were a lot of fun last night. But boy, I was really thrilled with Tatiana Maslany's win for her work on Orphan Black. Definitely that day's good thing.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

Mount Vernon with Jane

17 September 2016: Visited Mount Vernon with Jane today. As with any event involving spending time with Jane, it rocked.


Friday, September 16, 2016

Thursday, September 15, 2016

Sites of Conscience

15 September 2016: Continuing to push through this stupid sickness, I attended a wonderful training session led by someone from Sites of Conscience. It was moving, challenging, and inspiring. If you haven't heard of this group, check them out!

Powering through...

14 September 2016: Wednesday's good thing was (once again) linked to the 50 minutes I spent in my ENGL 312 class. Since Tuesday night (and I am typing this on Thursday night), I've been struggling with some kind of stomach ailment. Amazingly (and this is luck more than anything, I guess?), I was able to pull it together for any public time (teaching and so many freakin' meetings...), but in my down time (the break between my classes between 12:00 and 2:00, I literally spent almost an hour on the floor of my office, resting my head on the clothes I brought to school with me to change into to go walking after work. (That didn't happen...)

But that 50 minutes in that class? Talking about The Scarlet Letter? I felt amazing.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

13 years old!

13 September 2016: My niece Olivia turned 13 today. How can that not be today's good thing? She's an awesome kid: full of life and energy and love. What a blessing she is to our family!

Monday, September 12, 2016

"Black Like Me? Or, How I Learned to Embrace My Inner Emma"

12 September 2016: Today's good thing is this piece, one of the options for my ENGL 101 students' homework as they work on their literacy narrative. It's such an interesting and smart piece. Well worth a read (or a re-read).

15 years...

11 September 2016: Words fail on days like today, but groups like StoryCorps do so much to help us remember the people who died and survived that day. Those stories are, indeed, good things that come out of darkness and evil. Even just scrolling down the list brings tears to my eyes. It's too much. And not enough. Father Michael Duffy's remembrance of Father Mychal Judge always stands out to me, as does Bill Cosgrove's story.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Friday, September 9, 2016

Early release...

9 September 2016: About that seminar I mentioned yesterday? Today's good thing comes from its ending, specifically the news that we were going to be allowed to finish early and hit the road to get back home at 2:15 instead of 3:00. Music to my ears!

Night swimming...

8 September 2016: After spending all day driving to and then attending this seminar on curriculum in Roanoke, WV (about four hours away), nothing could have been nicer than taking a dip in the practically empty pool at the resort. Amazing.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

"It's 3:00 already?"

7 September 2016: The post's title comes from my thought today as I looked at the clock and saw that my ENGL 312 class had reached its end for the day and we hadn't gotten to half of what I wanted to talk about. That last part--not covering everything--happens a lot in classes and it's not necessarily a bad thing. What is more unusual is losing track of the time and that (to me) shows just how strong this group of students is--smart, motivated, prepared. They are such a delight to teach and the time flies by. Today was a crazy-busy day and some of it wasn't so great. But that 50 minutes and that realization? That's today's good thing.

Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Which is the well-behaved one?

6 September 2016: Honestly, for weeks now, I have not been looking forward to one appointment on my calendar...an appointment scheduled for 9:30 a.m. today: Veronica's yearly vet visit. I mean, she's coming along here slowly but surely (emphasis on "slowly"), but she is never easy to catch and I was anticipating possible-Wesley-levels of misbehavior at the vet. But everything went so smoothly today, well, that's got to be today's good thing.

First, pretty soon after I started trying to catch Veronica, she just sort of gave up. Jumped up in the window and just howled in anxiety and sadness. But she didn't fight me. So that's good, right? And while she had some Cujo moments when I first put her in the carrier, she settled into just howling a lot pretty quickly. Once they called us into the room, I took a deep breath. The big moment of truth. Would I be able to get her out of the carrier easily? And yeah, I was. And then she just sort of got through it. Didn't even hiss at the vet tech or the vet. The doctor had only sweet talk for her. Go figure. And we were home by 10:00 a.m. (They took us in a bit early.) Hallelujah.

Here's the "before" picture, snapped while we were in the waiting room to share with my siblings who were sharing "first day of school" pics of their kids. Even here, you can see that while she's not happy, she's also not a total mess. 

Monday, September 5, 2016

Never Been Kissed

5 September 2016: You know what rocks? When you have some work to do but it's the kind of work that you can do while you have something fun and mindless on the TV in the background. And at first you are frustrated because, it being a holiday and all, there isn't a ton on TV that fits your very picky tastes. And just as you are paging through the channel guide, you get a text from your friend telling you that Never Been Kissed, a movie you are crazy fond of and had just the previously day argued is under-appreciated, is about to start on Starz Comedy. And you text your friend back and marvel at her exceptionally good timing. And then you get back to work, looking up pretty often to remember how charming this movie is (especially if you don't think too deeply about the icky student-teacher thing).

"Harlem Heroes," Part II

4 September 2016: Sunday was just a perfect day. Tim and I, along with his nephew and our good friends Hannah and Cory, headed into DC. We saw the exhibition I first posted about here. It was amazing and I found myself more moved than I had anticipated. Such powerful picture of such determined, beautiful people. We also saw Hiram Power's The Greek Slave, which I remembered reading about when I was studying The Marble Faun, so that rocked. And an unexpected pleasure? The Romaine Brooks exhibition. I didn't know anything about her before yesterday (Tim did, so he was really excited to see it), but now I am thoroughly intrigued by her.

After the museum, we headed back to Tim's for croquet and lobster (seriously--how posh are we?). What a fun day.

Ram Tracks and Battering Ram...

3 September 2016: This post's title comes from the two flavors of Shepherd-centric ice-cream my friend Amy and I were scooping up as we helped sell concessions at Saturday's opening football game. Sigma Tau Delta stood to earn some money from helping sell concessions, but we needed eight volunteers--with almost no notice. And right now, we barely have eight student members. So I volunteered to help and, because she is just plain awesome, Amy joined me. She's also a Sigma Tau Delta alum, though she's now a professor of Sociology. Anyway, we had fun and did some good work for the organization.




Friday, September 2, 2016

Taco trucks on every corner...

2 September 2016: I was watching MSNBC live when the now infamous "taco trucks on every corner" comment happened. Right after I picked my jaw up off the group, I thought to myself, "Here come the memes!" Internet: you did not let me down. Here is today's good thing.

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Produce fairy...

1 September 2016: Someone in my department has been sharing the abundance of their garden, leaving a basket of veggies and herbs out twice already this semester. Last week I snagged an eggplant, which I used for a really great stir-fry. Tonight, I used a bag of basil to make some delicious pesto. I *think* I know who the produce fairy is, but one of the things I love about the whole thing is that he/she doesn't sign the "help yourself" notes that he/she leaves. It's just such a lovely gesture and I am quite grateful.

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

"As a Boy, I Was Obsessed With the Baby-Sitters Club Books. I Have No Regrets."

31 August 2016: Today was an epically busy day. I got a ton done (though not everything on my list), which feels pretty good. But only now, at about 10:30, am I catching my breath and winding down. One of the first things I did today when I got to school, though, was open this link in a tab on my browser. I only had time to read a few lines before I dashed off to class. But even those few lines made me pretty confident that I had found today's good thing. A few minutes ago, when I opened up the tab on my home computer and finally read the piece from start to finish, my hunch was confirmed.

Y'all, I LOVED the Babysitter's Club books when I was a kid. I read and re-read them so many times. I learned so much from them. I still think of them fondly. So I was delighted by this essay, about how a young boy was equally intrigued and delighted by them, gender conformity be damned. If you loved those books, too, give it a read. I think you'll find it charming.

Tuesday, August 30, 2016

"Poem for My Love"

30 August 2016: I taught a (different) June Jordan poem today in my Women's Studies class, but that poem lead me to this one: "Poem for My Love." I hadn't read this poem before--just read it for the first time tonight while doing some additional reading about Jordan. But it's quite lovely and today's good thing.

"Poem for My Love" 
June Jordan

How do we come to be here next to each other   
in the night 
Where are the stars that show us to our love   
inevitable 
Outside the leaves flame usual in darkness   
and the rain 
falls cool and blessed on the holy flesh   
the black men waiting on the corner for   
a womanly mirage 
I am amazed by peace 
It is this possibility of you 
asleep 
and breathing in the quiet air


Monday, August 29, 2016

A surprise visitor

29 August 2016: As I was grading English 101 homework in my office this afternoon, I was delighted to get interrupted by a former student, Ashley, who was back in town to visit campus and say hello to her former teachers. It was really wonderful catching up with her--and not just because I got a temporary break from that grading.

Sunday, August 28, 2016

"Nate Parker's Past, His Present, And The Future of Birth Of A Nation"

28 August 2016: Today's good thing is this fantastic episode of Code Switch about the Nate Parker controversy. The panelists are so smart and thoughtful and, somewhat refreshingly, straightforward about their own attitudes towards seeing the film. I am still not sure if I'll see it...but this discussion gave me plenty to think about.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Twain and cats

27 August 2016: Slept in a bit today and when I finally went outside, I found a package on my doorstep. Inside was today's good thing: this amazing birthday present from Rita, Mikeee, and Ainsley.

It reads: "A home without a cat--and a well-fed, well-petted, and properly revered cat--may be a perfect home, perhaps, but how can it prove it's title?" --Mark Twain. 

 Bing approves.

Veronica likes the packaging.

Seventh inning hits...

26 August 2016: Friday evening was all kinds of awesome. Let me list some reasons...

First, I finally got around to using some free tickets I had for a Hagerstown Suns game, tickets I got last spring for volunteering to help with the "Brain Games" fundraiser. So yeah...free baseball game.

I had four tickets and my friend Amy had two. Amy couldn't go, but my friends Emily and Carrie could, along with Carrie's husband and their two kids. These are some of my favorite people, so that rocked.

Third, the Suns were playing my old hometown team, the Greensboro Grasshoppers. (Here's a post from when I last saw them play in 2009). I was a bit torn as to who to root for, but in the end, I cheered for the Suns. A bit of drama, right?

Fourth, this game was great...the Grasshopper's pitcher went six innings without a hit and had a 1-0 lead in the seventh. Then the Suns got their only two hits that inning, enough to put them ahead and ultimately win. This was Carrie's kids first baseball game ever and (understandably) they might have been a bit bored until that point. After all, the quiet tension of a close, low-offense game might be lost on a baseball novice. But when those hits came in the seventh, we all stood up and cheered our heads off.

The cherry on top? Fireworks when the game was over. A lovely evening.

Right before the big hit that brought in two runs.

Friday, August 26, 2016

The world's expert on Martha Washington and spam

25 August 2016: Thursday's good thing was another no-brainer: it was Jane's birthday and she is one of the good things in just about every day. But specifically, I am going to shout out the ridiculous idea in this post's title, since, as was revealed in our conversation on Thursday, this is one of her very many areas of expertise. Just try to think of another authority on Martha Washington and spam. See? You can't. It's Jane, clearly.