Wednesday, June 29, 2016

A&R: Done!

29 June 2016: Another set of Advising and Registration sessions comes to a successful end. Like when any task is completed, I feel happy. But it's also bittersweet. Until next summer, camp friends!

Another good win...

29 June 2016: Our trivia team is on a bit of a roll, winning three of the last four weeks. Tonight's game was a blast, not just because we won, but because we have some relatively recent regular additions to the team who are adding so much--and not just in terms of knowledge, but in terms of fun. Today was a very busy day, but ending it with these folks was just wonderful.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Yeah, I know...another podcast recommendation...

27 June 2016: Monday's good thing? It's gotta be this episode of the StoryCorps podcast. It made me cry, made me think, and made me smile.

Sunday, June 26, 2016


26 June 2016: How great was this season of Veep? Since my friends have been coming over the past few weeks to watch Ghosts of Shepherdstown, I've been a little late getting to Veep every week, but man, the belly laughs when I finally get to it. The finale tonight was terrific. I have no idea where they will go from here, but I can't wait.

Local fun

25 June 2016: I really love where I's some of what I did on Saturday.

1) Attended my first ever "poultry swap" in Sharpsburg. Two of my friends have chickens, so they were interested in checking it out. As far as I could tell, no poultry was swapped for anything other than money, but it was fun for people (and poultry) watching.

2) Attended Shepherdstown Street Fest, which is always a blast.

3) Attended the "New Voices Play Festival" at the Old Opera House in Charles Town and saw four one-act plays, including one starring my friend, Kelly.

The day's good thing, though? Probably getting my picture taken with these two Ghosts of Shepherdstown stars.

This show is so ridiculous and and my friends and I are having a blast watching it.

Friday, June 24, 2016

Summer grading: DONE!

24 June 2016: Summer school flew by and was, as I've already written about, a lot of fun. Nevertheless, it always feels good to submit those final grade. Commence chair-dancing. Feeling 80s New Wave today...

[The Psychedelic Furs, "Pretty in Pink"]

Go, Joshua, go!

23 June 2016: I had dinner with my friends Anna and Josh (who just finished his first year of teaching middle-school English) on Thursday and was thrilled to learn that his students had amazing success on their test scores. In fact, his school had the highest scores in the county. I know the year was a bit challenging for him at times--undoubtedly because he's too hard on himself--so this validation is just terrific (and yeah, test scores aren't everything, but come on!). So proud of him!

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Last day of summer school...

22 June 2016: It's all over now except the grading. But this was a great course--maybe the best combination of students I've ever had in a summer class. I told them today that I had bragged about them--each of them--to anyone who asked how the class was going.

Bonus good thing: this is just adorable.

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Best headline ever...

21 June 2016: Guess which one I donated to?

Close call...

20 June 2016: Monday's good thing post was delayed because I was a bit busy. But I think it was for the best because it wasn't until the next day (today) that I really understood what that good thing was. My friend/colleague, Carol, was at A&R yesterday and suffering from some nasty poison ivy, especially on her lower arm. She had it all wrapped up, but by the evening, she was quite uncomfortable and we could see the infection moving up her arm--we could literally see her veins getting redder. We had to push her to go to urgent care, but thank God she did. If she had waited, it could have gotten very bad. The doctors drew lines on her arm to show how close she was to the point of no return.

Go to the doctor, folks. And listen to your friends when they are bugging you about it. So glad she got some care and that she'll be fine.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Saturday, June 18, 2016

Brown Girl Dreaming

18 June 2016: I spent a large part of today re-reading Jacqueline Woodson's fantastic Brown Girl Dreaming, a book we are discussing on Monday in my summer class. This is the third time I've read through it, but something new speaks to me each time.

Consider "Greenville, South Carolina, 1963," in which Woodson tells of her mother's journey from Ohio (where she lives with her husband) back to South Carolina (where she grew up), but this time accompanied by her three Ohio-born children. After chiding them to be quiet, sit up straight, and be deferential to white folks, she has quiet second thoughts:

"Then her mouth softens, her hand moves gently
over my brother's warm head. He is three years old,
his wide eyes open to the world, his too-big ears
already listening. We're as good as anybody,
my mother whispers.

As good as anybody."

Just Mercy

17 June 2016: I spent some time yesterday with my friends talking about Just Mercy, which is Shepherd's Common Reading selection for the upcoming year. To call it a powerful book would be an understatement. Here's just one of the passages I can't stop thinking about:

“Proximity has taught me some basic and humbling truths, including this vital lesson: Each of us is more than the worst thing we’ve ever done. My work with the poor and the incarcerated has persuaded me that the opposite of poverty is not wealth; the opposite of poverty is justice. Finally, I’ve come to believe that the true measure of our commitment to justice, the character of our society, our commitment to the rule of law, fairness, and equality cannot be measured by how we treat the rich, the powerful, the privileged, and the respected among us. The true measure of our character is how we treat the poor, the disfavored, the accused, the incarcerated, and the condemned.” 

Thursday, June 16, 2016

Thursday Matinee

16 June 2016: One of the perks of a summer schedule: even in the midst of summer school teaching, I was able to take in a movie with a friend today. We saw The Conjuring 2--a pretty cool film.


15 June 2016: Wednesday's good thing is a possible breakthrough in my relationship with BabyCat, aka Veronica. Here's the story: at least once a year, I get irrationally afraid that the cats have gotten fleas. Usually all it takes is me seeing each of them doing a bit of scratching. And that happened on Tuesday. First Wes, then Bing, then Veronica. I usually put Revolution on them anyway in the summer months and I had just stocked up when I had Bing at the vet, so I thought, "it's on!"

I managed to dose Bing and Wes on Tuesday night. Even though they are super friendly, the task is never easy. As soon as they get the idea of what I am going to do, they start squirming. It's especially difficult with Wesley and his long, thick hair. But I got it done. I went over them with the flea brush, too, and didn't find anything. (See above paragraph where I refer to the fear as "irrational.") I didn't have the energy to even think about getting Veronica and dosing her. It had to wait until Wednesday.

Wednesday rolled around and I armed myself with the Revolution (a fun phrase to type), the brush, and the laser pointer. I used the laser pointer to get her to run upstairs (she can't resist it). Then I tried to get her to chase it into the master bathroom or the office (where I could shut the door and trap her), but she is pretty smart. Though she couldn't resist the dot, she also knew what I was up to. She would dart into the room, then she me moving to the door, and dart out. This went on for a bit, but I finally got her trapped in the office. Then I got close enough to grab her and well...grabbed her.

Step one...the brushing--the search for evidence. Again, it turned up nothing. (Once again, see first paragraph and my use of the word "irrational. Ha!) But here's the thing: as soon as I started with that brush, Veronica relaxed and well, she loved it. I mean, eventually she took off (after step two, the dosing), but I haven't ever held her that long without her resisting.

Later that night, I took the brush out and showed it to her and darn it if she didn't run over and sniff it. Since then, she continues to show lots of interest in it, but hasn't let me brush her. I am telling you, that cat is smart and stubborn. But if I can get her to give in again, I think we might be onto something.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Lingering over lunch...

14 June 2016: We finished up our second (of four) Advising and Registration sessions today. All went well, but man, with my summer class and some other stuff (cat-sitting for a friend, trivia tonight, SSAWW work), I had a TON to do. One of those "there literally aren't enough hours in the day" stretches.

But darn it if I didn't find myself lingering at lunch in the dining hall when my A&R work was over. I just couldn't tear myself away from my "camp" friends. The people I work with at A&R--from departments all over campus--are just wonderful and we all have so much fun together. So I lingered maybe longer than I should have. And I will have to maybe stay up a little later tonight. But totally worth it.

Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

13 June 2016: Last summer, I taught Aristotle & Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe right after attending the Pride Festival in DC for the first time. The book went over really well with that class and I remember feeling hopeful and inspired by the confluence. But I am not naive. I know we are a long way from having books like this one taught regularly in the school system. This past Saturday, as I prepared for Monday's class, I wrote in my notes, "'pie in the sky' book of the semester," meaning it was a book I was discussing with these teachers-in-training because we could hope and dream that someday they will be able to have a book like this one in their classrooms. That was on Saturday.

After Sunday's horrific events, I still think it's "pie-in-the-sky," but man, I want my students to be able to grab that pie. How vitally important these kinds of books are!

So yeah...Monday's "good thing?" My wonderful, creative, smart, compassionate, and energetic students, six teachers-in-training who of course recognized another confluence (this time, much darker)--this book and our national tragedy. They wanted to talk about this book, about Orlando, and about how we can use our classrooms to help change the world. Yes, that's idealistic and sentimental, but so what? We need ideals and sentiment and love. That's the only way we'll win.

Sunday, June 12, 2016


12 June 2016: Today's good thing is actually a memory. One year ago, my friend Amy had to go to the DC Pride Fest for a class she was taking. Another friend and I tagged along with her. It was an experience I will never forget--filled with love, community, and just lots of happy people. It made me proud to be there. Proud of my country and my community.

The thing is, for a large part of my life (much longer than I would like to admit) that's an event I would have associated with scorn or at best a "definitely not for me" attitude. I am so glad to have grown and changed from the person I was back then.

I was thinking about all of this even before today's awful, tragic, unfathomable news broke. Today, it's hard to feel anything other than pain and sadness, but I am so glad to have that memory of the good times last year, and to know that the LGBTQ community--so battled-tested, so strong, so noble--will endure and continue to spread a message of love and acceptance.

After a hot day...

11 June 2016:

Friday, June 10, 2016

Clean bill of health for my buddy...

Picture taken at the vet while waiting for the doctor. Note how thrilled he looks!

This guy had his yearly vet visit today. Though he behaved badly (growling and hissing, though thankfully not scratching or biting), he appears to be pretty darn healthy. A touch of chin acne (like a human 13-year-old!), a lump to keep keeping an eye on...other than that, all looks good.

So thankful. Just wish I had one cat who could behave at the freakin' vet.

Thursday, June 9, 2016

Code Switch Podcast

9 June 2016: I blew through the first two episodes of NPR new Code Switch podcast. So far, it's terrific: smart, interesting, and so important. Give it a listen.

Wednesday, June 8, 2016

Appliance shopping

8 June 2016: I am pretty sure that I need to replace my oven/range and might as well replace the refrigerator, too. Both are, I think, original to the house and are builder's grade. So off to the stores I went--but not alone! My friends Amy and Emily joined me, which made it about 1000 times more fun.

No purchases yet. The search will continue, but we have some good leads. And my friends are awesome.

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Broadway Carpool Karaoke

7 June 2016: How can this not be today's good thing? So much fun.

Monday, June 6, 2016

"Scary Movies"

6 May 2016: Today has been a good, if busy and slightly stressful day. I had my summer class in the morning and then the first A&R session all day and both went very well. Nevertheless, I found myself feeling more anxious than I thought I would, mostly likely because I had a lot to get done before tomorrow morning.

As I was taking a walk just a bit ago, I was listening to the Poem of the Day Podcast and thinking about what to blog about for today. Then this poem, Kim Addonizio's "Scary Movies," came on. I think I had heard it before (some of it was vaguely familiar), but I certainly hadn't connected to it so strongly before. If you follow the link above, you should listen to the audio version, which contains an extra stanza--actually the stanza that moved me most.

It's not that this is an uplifting or happy poem--it's not. It's about nagging (and sometimes crippling anxiety), the sort of movies of what could happen that play in your head and threaten to disrupt your life or at least your peace of mind. Again, not cheery stuff. Yet I found beauty and comfort in hearing this poem tonight because I am familiar with these kinds of moments from time to time. In fact, I was feeling them earlier in the evening.

In a lovely way, this recognition--this moment of "that sounds like me"--forms a kind of bookend to my day. In my class this morning, we were talking about what good literature can offer: sometimes tiny but powerful moments of recognition, seeing yourself, your emotions, your experiences in someone else. These are some of literature's most profound gifts to us.

Sideways rain

5 June 2016: There's something that delights me about brief, intense, summer rainstorms. I think they remind me of being young, playing outside, and getting soaked--something so harmlessly decadent (a paradox, I know) about it. We had a storm like that on Sunday. It probably lasted three minutes. I was upstairs taking clothes out of the dryer when it started. By the time I got to closing the windows, the floors about two feet from them were wet--that's how intensely the wind directed the rain, so that it practically came in sideways. The cats were a bit freaked out, but I thought it was kind of fun. And yes, quite quickly over.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Herndon Festival

4 June 2016: So happy to get to go to the Herndon Festival again with Jane. Just as in the past, it was a blast.

Advising Workshop

3 June 2016: Friday brought the annual workshop for this year's Advising and Registration sessions (which begin on Monday). As I've written about before, though a lot of work, these sessions are always fun and rewarding, so it's good to be back at it.

Thursday, June 2, 2016

"Too many women"

2 June 2016: Calling it early today, but this post from the women at "Stuff You Missed in History Class" wins the today's "good thing" contest. I love love love that they answer the haters with data. And of course, even if the balance were "off" in favor of women, it would only be filling in all the stuff you missed in history class.

Chicken run!

1 June 2016: You know what was both random and fun yesterday? Going with my friend Emily to pick up her new chickens. She got two new ones and now has four total. Should have taken a picture, but they are pretty cool looking and it was a fun break in the middle of the day.