Sunday, February 28, 2016

"Exceptional Minds: Movie Magic"

28 February 2016: Today's good thing has got to be this uplifting piece from Parade magazine, about how people on the autism spectrum have found success in the animation industry.


27 February 2016: Treated myself to a movie on demand last night and finally watched Spotlight. What a terrific movie it is, a testament to the power of old-school journalism. Plus, it featured my imaginary boyfriend, Mark Ruffalo.

Friday, February 26, 2016

Midterm grades: DONE!

26 February 2016: Stayed in the office until well after 8:00 today grading midterms and getting everything class-related ready for Monday. It was kind of awful and kind of awesome. I had to get this work done or I will start panicking a bit about meeting my March 11 deadline. I need to work on this project (a short essay on Sarah Winnemucca that will be included in a new reference work on Realism) this weekend--and only this project. Because I am getting nervous and because new stuff keeps popping the heck up to complicate my schedule. It's...stressful. So yeah, I needed to get midterm grading DONE. And it was a slog, my friends--especially my ENGL 204 exams. Ugh.

But now it's all done and I am home and ready to attack that project tomorrow.

Was there chair dancing? Of course there was.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Storer Award Ceremony

25 February 2016: Today I got to see my friend and colleague Richie receive the Storer College Award, a recognition of his work on behalf of social justice issues and diversity. It was a lovely ceremony for a completely deserving person.

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Not a bad start...

24 February 2016: Found this on a friend's Facebook page today and it really works for me. After a long and busy day when I still couldn't stop thinking about upsetting political news, this made me smile.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

"That dream shall have a name"

23 February 2016: I spent a lot of today working my way through That Dream Shall Have a Name, a terrific book by David L. Moore on Native American literature.  Moore gets his title from Simon Ortiz's from Sand Creek. I confess to not being that familiar with this work or with Sand Creek, but these words are quite moving:

"That dream
shall have a name
after all,
and it will not be vengeful
but wealthy with love
and compassion
and knowledge.
And it will rise
in this heart
which is our America" (95)

About these lines, Moore writes, "With such a vision, Ortiz and other Native writers are clear about America: at the heart of that dream is tribal sovereignty, an extreme test of the plural is America's goal of e pluribus unum" (27).

"Elizabeth and Mary"

22 February 2016: While on my walk on Monday night, I started listening to Part 2 of the Strangers podcast's series on "Elizabeth and Mary," two women at the center of kidney transplant procedure. It's a complicated story (listen to Part 1 first!), but gave me a lot to think about in terms of charity, altruism, and the value of any one life.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Hitting the "send" button

21 February 2016: Hitting the "send" button felt pretty darn good today as I sent off a book review. It isn't due for a while yet, but it's one of the four scholarship deadlines I had that fall between February 8 and June 1. Two down, two to go. In terms of difficulty, this was the easiest one, but it still feels good to chip away at the list. Next deadline, March 11. On we go. 

Felt like spring...

20 February 2016:  Temperatures in the 60s + 1 window = 3 happy cats.

Dinner and a movie...

19 February 2016: [Playing a bit of catch-up on my posts, so I'll keep these brief.] Friday evening was kind of awesome. I had dinner with my friends Anna and Josh and then we saw The Witch. (Yikes...that's an intense movie but to my mind, such an accurate representation of the American Puritan mindset.)

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Dinner with the family

18 February 2016: My parents, Tara, Colin, and Olivia were in town today and I had dinner with them. This cold is still slowing me down a bit, but seeing them made my evening better.

Taking on "Little Baltimore"

17 February 2016: West Virginia, like a lot of places in the country, is struggling with an drug epidemic, especially here in the Eastern Panhandle. Martinsburg has even earned a depressing nickname: "Little Baltimore." Not a day goes by that I don't see some story about an overdose. It's overwhelming and so very sad.

So I was quite grateful for this event held on campus yesterday. The judges who were there were all clearly moved by this problem and open to new ways to help. If people like them can help lead the way, maybe we can make some progress.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Over the shoulder...

16 February 2016: Still struggling a bit with this cold, feeling a bit anxious about some stuff, and a bit frustrated about some other stuff. Then I look behind me and see this little guy there and things are a bit better.

"Alexander Hamilton"

15 February 2016: Monday was a strange day--troubling weather, a cold coming on, just kind of yucky. But I was thrilled by these four minutes or so from the Grammy awards. Amazing.

Update: looks like Youtube has pulled the video clip, so I'll just post this clip of Lin-Manuel Miranda's acceptance speech.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Miniscule Heat Wave

14 February 2016: Today was supposed to be just about as painfully cold as yesterday, but when I went outside to pick up a package at around 2:30, I saw that there was enough sun to make it almost tolerable. Just tolerable enough for an hour-long walk--something I didn't think I'd be able to do. Excellent.

Galentine's Day: Part Two

13 February 2016: Saturday's good thing was another no-brainer--celebrating Galentine's Day with another group of friends. This time, I even had a waffle. Leslie Knope would approve.

Friday, February 12, 2016

Galentine's Day: Part One

12 February 2016: I celebrated Galentine's Day a bit early with two good friends by having dinner at Waffle House. (Wish I had taken a piture, but the gif below will have to do.) Despite having to drive through some nasty snow to get there, it was just a great way to end the week.

Thursday, February 11, 2016


11 February 2016: This clip, this you hope for the world just knowing there are kids like her out there.

Gotta love this list...

10 February 2016: A bit late in posting this one, but something unexpected and delightful that charmed me yesterday is this list ranking all the songs on Crazy Ex-Girlfriend so far, written by the amazing Glen Weldon, who is one the folks behind Pop Culture Happy Hour. I think I agree with him about number one and most of it overall:

Though "Settle for Me" would rank much higher on my list...

Tuesday, February 9, 2016


9 February 2016: My friend is out of town, so I am keeping an eye on her chickens. They are fun to watch--a bit absurd and full of attitude. And look at the reward I got today!

"Who's My Pretty Baby?"

8 February 2016: Monday's good thing is this song, which I find myself singing to Baby Cat (aka Veronica) all of the time...

...even if she won't let me hold her. She did let me pet her for about five seconds in the morning, which was delightful.

She'll get there.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Like Christmas, at least for one little cat...

7 February 2016: Today's good thing is actually a couple dozen things: two caches of cat toys. Cache #1 was actually discovered yesterday. You see, yesterday while I was making dinner, Baby Cat, aka Veronica, came tearing into the kitchen and wouldn't stop staring at the stove. I realized she had knocked something under there. I got a stick from the garage and tried to dig it out. The picture below sums up what I found. The rough math here is about eight mice, four balls, and a fish. (Not pictured: several twist ties and a whole lot of dust bunnies.) Needless to say, Baby Cat was thrilled.

Today, on a hunch, I checked under a cabinet in the kitchen. Get a load of this.

That's about a dozen mice and this feather-tip thing she broke off the toy she got for Christmas from Christian and his family. (She broke it off in about ten minutes, but continues to play with it.) Oh--and a small glow-in-the-dark duck, because this is, after all, my house and there are always ducks around. (Also once again not pictured: several most twist ties and even more dust bunnies.)

Pictured here: one happy cat. Not pictured: five minutes later, when the feather thing was stuck under the cabinet again.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Kitchen dancing

6 February 2015: I am just about the world's worst dancer, but you'd never know I thought that if you saw me dancing and cooking dinner tonight. The soundtrack? Well, here's what really got me started...

Unabashed nerd alert!

5 February 2016: Friday was a very busy but productive day that included office hours' meetings with at least 12 students. One of them with a student I've had in several classes who is now in her last semester. She wanted to talk about revising a paper she started in one of my classes so that it could be her senior capstone project. She's a great student: responsible, smart, ambitious, and very sweet. She's also pretty darn quiet. So you can assume correctly that when she came to talk to me about her project--which examines two of my favorite books, The Scarlet Letter and Jane Eyre--that I found myself with no shortage of things to say. I probably went on a bit too much, given my enthusiasm. But I do think it helped her get a grip on what she can do with her already impressive project. As we were wrapping up our conversation, I said, "Can you tell how excited I am about this topic?"

"I am, too," she said, smiling shyly. And that of quiet enthusiasm? Friday's one good thing.

Thursday, February 4, 2016

"Simplify, Simplify."

4 February 2016: Sometimes you get little moments of recognition from complete strangers that make you feel pretty good about the world. Today--in less than 90 minutes--two separate people stopped by my table at Panera to tell me that they liked my shirt, a shirt I got at Walden Pond with the words "Simplify, Simplify" on it. One guy even said, "That's my man, Henry David!"

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

"The Amnesty"

3 February 2016: Today's good thing is this poem that I discussed today in my ENGL 301 class. The poet, Caroline Bird, is doing such interesting things here with phrases that work both literally and metaphorically. Enjoy!

"The Amnesty"
Caroline Bird

I surrender my weapons:
Catapult Tears, Rain-Cloud Hat,
Lip Zip, Brittle Coat, Taut Teeth
in guarded rows. Pluck this plate
of armor from my ear, drop
it in the Amnesty Bin,
watch my sadness land among
the dark shapes of memory.

Unarmed, now see me saunter
past Ticking Baggage, Loaded
Questions, Gangs of Doubt; my love
equips me. I swear, ever
since your cheeky face span round
I trust this whole bloody world.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Like peanut butter and chocolate

Remember this post, in which I got so excited about Sarah D. Bunting guest hosting on Pop Culture Happy Hour? Imagine my sheer delight when hearing that Linda Holmes from PCHH is this week's valued guest on EGH. So amazing.

My old man...

2 February 2016: Unlike yesterday, which left me a bit grumpy at times, today offered lots of options for the "good thing" on any ordinary day: a productive work session at Panera, an equally productive meeting planning a cool campus event for next week, some kick-butt revising, all kinds of little things checked off the to-do list...

All of that pales in comparison to the winner for the day: My dad had surgery for a hernia today--the last in a long line of surgeries and procedures that stretch back months and months--and it went well. He's home and resting. He'll certainly be uncomfortable for the next few days, but it's so wonderful to have this checked off the list.

Monday, February 1, 2016

All hail Kelly Bishop!

1 February 2016: Today's good thing is this interview with Kelly Bishop about the Gilmore Girls revival. The part that really made me smile? When she said, "This is how I explain it to people: 'You look at a room. And then you just tip it sideways a little bit.' That’s Gilmore Girls. It’s a little tip." Can't wait for these episodes.

We're #2!

31 January 2016: Our trivia team came in second at the big tournament yesterday. We had a blast. Love these people!