October 19, 2004
Jurgen and I were both home sick today, but somehow I think he felt a lot better than I do. He was running around the house half-naked, getting into lots of trouble. Well, not exactly trouble, but he dumped all of his cars out of the bins, and he got into his puzzles and had two of them scattered all over the floor. I'm glad he's not into the 1000 piece ones yet.
My family is coming to visit starting tomorrow, and I wanted to be cleaning and getting ready today. That didn't exactly happen, for sure. I'm only feeling a little bit better after a day of so-called rest. Next time, I guess Jurgen should go to school, but he started out the day sick. Maybe there's hope I'll be better tomorrow?
October 18, 2004
I just read another blog on UThink by a grad student who was writing about the irony that grad school seems to be about training us all to be good graduate students, not good faculty. There is some odd irony there. And, of course, it's also true that we won't fully realize the extent of our preparation until we get there.
It does seem to me that so much of graduate school is about initiation into the profession, and that we never truly get past the initiation stage until we go through that final initiation ceremony--the dissertation defense. I don't know if this model is working that well anymore. John Guillory points out that once upon a time, graduate school wasn't so much about publishing and other professional activities, but it certainly is now. With so few jobs out there and so much competition, how else are we going to get hired? I've heard it said that the focus should be changed, but changed to what? Someone told me recently that she thinks the purpose of doctoral school is to develop professional, scholarly writing. Hmmm...it seems to me that faculty think we should already have professional writing.
Anyway, I'd like to see a new model, with more mentoring. But, I'll probably have to wait until I'm faculty until I can make that kind of change. And maybe then I'll find out the "secrets on the other side."
October 17, 2004
Mall of America
I'd like to say that I don't shop at the Mall of America, but, let's face it--it's the closest mall to my house. It's definitely easier to shop at a mall when you have a three-year-old. Getting him in and out of the car to go to a myriad of different stores gets old fast. So, off to the mall we go, sometimes when we need things, sometimes when we just need to surround ourselves with some good ol' American commercialism.
Jurgen already knows the Mall of America when he sees it from the freeway. "It's the Mall of America!" he squeals. Sometimes he insists that he'd prefer to go to IKEA, which is pretty amazing, considering he's been there only twice. Jurgen likes the mall because he likes Lego Land, all the kiosk vendors trying to push their overpriced toys onto weary parents (it never works for us), and Marshall's (where he often scores a Thomas the Tank Engine toy of some kind or another). He also likes to stroll through Camp Snoopy and watch the rollercoaster zoom by.
The expanse of the Mall of America can be really overwhelming at times. I don't like going there when I just want to go to one store because it seems like I have to walk forever to get to the one store. And, the crowds can be a bit crazy to maneuver through with a stroller.
So there I was, on Saturday, going to the Mall of America with Jurgen and my friend Holly. We drove there in Holly's car, and before we left, I couldn't find Jurgen's stroller so we ended up renting one at the mall. The mall strollers aren't very good at confining a three year old, and they're also so low to the ground that it's hard to hear what he's trying to say. So, of course he threw a bit of a tantrum when he thought we weren't going to where he wanted to go. We walked almost the entire circumference of the third floor trying to figure out what he was wanting and simultaneously hoping he was going to collapse into a nap. When we realized he wanted a turn to shop (ah, three-year-olds!), things got a lot easier. But between the pre-Halloween crowds and the Pokemon festival, we decided there wasn't anything we were really yearning for, and we decided to leave.
That's when the real challenge began! We'd parked on the roof, and on the way out, we somehow ended up in a serious traffic jam, taking us almost 30 minutes just to exit the parking ramp! I'm definitely looking forward to the day when I can take the light rail to the mall, stroller and all.
October 11, 2004
There's something really beautiful about October in Minnesota. I just returned from a conference in Alexandria, MN. Driving there and back, I wondered what New England is like this time of year--can it possibly be any more beautiful? The changing colors of the trees are absolutely beautiful: deep reds, paling yellows, and so many shades in between. Some little towns along the highway have old church steeples towering over the trees, and I wonder why there aren't more postcards of some of these scenes? Fall is definitely a time to enjoy Minnesota, but I am ever vigilant of impending winter.
I wish I had gotten more done this weekend, but I feel like I'm going into the week not very well-prepared. I have so much to do for so many of my university roles--I need to write an exam, grade some papers, fill out some forms, meet with my advisor, and do some reading, etc. This weekend, I rearranged my furniture, and yet, I can't even really say that I'm starting the week with a clean house because there's still piles of stuff that has to be rearranged. Sometimes my intertwining responsibilities feel out of control (most of the time, though, I thrive on all this complexity).
October 4, 2004
Since I've been back in the cities, I've definitely felt the pace of life picking up. Of course, I manage to teach, take (a few too many) classes, nurture and support Chris (also a doctoral student), and parent the most wonderful child on the planet. As I somehow manage to balance these committments with enthusiasm, blog time seems to fly by. So, dear readers, I apologize for the more irregularity of my postings. Summer in Portland definitely offers a more leisurely pace to chronicle life as I continue the journey.
The past week has been devoted to the final organization and editing of a book chapter I have been involved with. The book is about the General College as a model for developmental education, and the chapter is about the Commanding English program as a model program for Generation 1.5 students. As I've been working on the final parts of the process, I've been reminded how much I enjoy the revision part of writing. There's something downright fun in reverse outlining a long piece of writing and reconsidering the organizational structure. Of course, my long-term goal is to learn to do that part without having so many print -out copies that end up in a jumbled mess on the floor.
With my eyes glued to the screen this last week, I haven't really noticed that the temperature outside has really dropped. The cool, crispiness of fall has definitely arrived, and sadly, that means winter isn't far behind. I enjoy fall, with the swirling dead leaves, pumpkins, and want for a steaming cup of apple cider, but I wish we could somehow skip winter.