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Because I promised

August 28, 2008

Ohh, we are such terrible bloggers! But I promise to reform. So, it’s August of 2008 and I’m about to start my last year of grad school. Everybody shout huzzah! The thought of committing to a Ph.D right now makes me crazy; I have so many things I need to do and places I need to be – I’m a girl “on the go” (to use one of my most detested phrases). But, while I’m counting the months until I’m finished the MA, I’m determined to enjoy this year. I’ll be taking courses in Old English (with Nathan!!) and Shakespeare, so this is practically a dream semester for me. I’m simply not going to let myself continue to be consumed with self-doubt, like last year. In fact…while I was lethargically lying in bed this morning, not entirely certain whether I was still sleeping or awake, Nathan came in looping his tie and plopped down a Bible, read me John 1. Then he began spouting off some brilliance about how he’s been discussing with his students that education is an important part of imitating Christ and becoming the new creation through studying this creation (I think this is what he said – sorry if I’m wrong, sweet!). So now it’s 9 a.m., I am finally coherent, and I am trying to recollect all that he said to me. Wouldn’t that be something if I worked to imitate Christ while studying for my comp exam? How can I do that best? What if that’s even more important than passing them? (but honestly, people, don’t you agree that Christ would’ve skipped Tristram Shandy too?) Oh Sarah…!

But now I have to tend to the two furry pieces of creation that are currently tearing apart my living room. Have a nice week – please pray for us students!



Midnight’s stars, woods

July 28, 2008

There’s a particular feeling to midnight.  It’s different from sunset or after-sunset.  I went out a little past 12 last night (this morning) to throw away our kitties’ litter-productions for the day &, after completing that duty, I took a minute to look & listen.  It was deeply calm – a stillness that comes long after people have gone.  The insects & peepers were singing in the woods that envelope the complex.  Mist hung in the air.  The yellow streetlamps lit up the mist & the dark-green leaves of the trees.  Despite the streetlights, I could see some tracts of night-sky & stars.  I wanted to stay out all night – to wander through the woods & look at the stars. 

It’s been really hard to spend time outside this summer – I miss the Mary-land fields & forests.  I’ve had a desire for a long time now to go with my closest friends & family into the countryside, to some rolling field marked out by lines of woods, & to stargaze.  To lie on blankets watching the stars, learning the constellations (Latin: con [with] + stella [star] = stars that are together or with other stars), eating berries & cheese, drinking hot chocolate, talking & singing.  Sheer bliss, basically.  What is your favorite thing to do in the countryside?  What is a dream of yours?

The only thing better than passing notes…

July 17, 2008

…Is blogging while you are supposed to be teaching. That’s right – I am teaching a study skills class at Nathan’s school at the moment with the husband. Students are working on a group project right now, so blogging and looking at seemed like the best option for me. Nathan is reviewing his Greek flash cards. Later on today we’re taking our research writing class to the UD library, which I’m super excited about. I love thinking about how smart and ahead-of-the-curve these kids are going to be when they get to college, unlike my UD freshmen who refuse to even set foot in the library no matter how hard I try to make them go.

Our kittens have an internal alarm clock that tells them to wake us up at 6:15 a.m. by climbing all over us, rubbing against our faces and purring loudly. I do wish they could adapt to our sleep schedule, but honestly, what could be better than being woken up by a tiny fluffy creature who is dying to play with you?Man, I love these kitties so much.

I’m also loving teaching again. I was pretty burnt out by my E110 experience, but these kids are giving me confidence that I do have meaningful things to impart and that I can teach a reasonably awesome lesson. These guys are much younger, but they are much more interested in talking with me and sharing their lives and experiences with me, which makes me much more comfortable and helps me know how to reach them. I not-so-secretly hope that I can come back here after my graduation and teach high school literature. This is a special place – not only are the kids smart, but the administrators and parents are pleasant and reasonable, and have an excellent sense of humor (which many educational institutions in our pasts have NOT possessed. Ahem.).

Well, it’s time to actually go teach again. We’re teaching them about planning and organization today. My mom would be so proud!



Irish kitsch, kittens, & reading lists

July 10, 2008

Tired of several days of air conditioning, I’ve opened up our sliding glass door in the living room and one window in the bedroom.  They’re opposite each other, & they create a decent cross ventilation.  The air is thick and muggy, but not too hot.  Our kittens love the open windows, with feeding birds just feet away.  I encourage them to scare the blue jays away.

I’ve been commissioned to put together a reading list for school.  My challenge is to decide/propose what texts our students should have read by the time they graduate.  I turned to the Norton in my time of need, as well as a few reading lists from various classical schools.  Homer to Achebe, Augustine to Chesterton.  The challenge is to resolve the desires of a classical school with what the broader academic community has been learning; Norton makes a good effort at including works by women & minorities, but many of them don’t seem to be “canon” yet, particulalry in the classical schooling world, thus it is hard for some to understand why we should read works by such authors.  But I sense a rather urgent need for Ellison, Equiano, Arundhati Roy, and the Bhagavad Gita in the curriculum.  What do you think?  If you had to pick one work to add to my school’s reading list, what would it be?

Sarah & I spent last evening with a good friend at an Irish pub.  Bailey’s, Murphey’s, Irish coffee, banoffee pie.  The energy of Wednesday evenings at this pub is the live music – two fiddlers, a bagpiper, a fellow who played the bodhran, a mandolin-ish instrument, and a big pipe that looked like a flute turned forward like a clarinet.  Any idea what those were?  The musicians sat in a circle, taking turns starting up a tune, the others joining in.  They were playing for the enjoyment of it first, second for the entertainment of the customers.  Irish kitsch is definitely kitsch, but it is awesome nonetheless.  What is your favorite world culture, or the one you identify with best?  Which do you think is least appreciated?

A post, a post!

July 1, 2008

Hi, it’s Sarah today. Nathan insists that I post on our blog tonight so that I will stop distracting him and let him study Greek. Fair’s fair, as they say. But right now I don’t really know what to write (hence I continue to pester him) – it’s 10 p.m. and it’s my least favorite time of day. I enjoy the early evening but I really hate night. Hate hate hate. I have always found myself irrationally sad during that time when it’s too late to begin any new task but when it’s also not quite time to go to sleep. Daytime, productive activity is safe, and sleep is safe (though something that I like to put off), but I feel so unsettled during that half hour when I am mustering up the resolution to go to bed. Hmmm. I am especially melancholy this evening because I finished watching the Masterpiece Theatre series of Dicken’s Bleak House this evening, and am dreading Virginia Woolf’s To The Lighthouse, which next awaits me on my reading list. Woolf, Dickens and night are enough to drive anyone to despair (Lady Dedlock anybody?? Honestly!). But more to the point: what do you think about evening? Can you give me positive associations?

But in other news, I spent a lovely afternoon at the Maryland Tillman abode and was given the privilege of collaborating on the curriculum for a high school homeschool American literature course. I also got to meet the new kitty-in-law, who was adorable. Oh, I was in heaven – cats, families, books. I am not certain how much of the American literature course I will get to teach this year, but I am very excited about it. I can’t wait to finish the MA and be able to teach full time. It’s nice to think both that I now know what I like to do and that I am reasonably qualified to do it, neither of which have happened before. 

The Tillman visit was pretty much the most exciting thing that’s happened around here lately as most days are passed either reading at home or reading at the Writing Center. As many of you know (many? are there many of you yet, readers?), I am preparing to take a comprehensive literature exam in January, so I am reading as much as I possibly can. My blog posts will probably center mostly around this task, which may seem (and probably is) one of the most boring topics for a blog – BUT just think how useful it will be to you, dear reader: *you* will never need to read Robinson Crusoe because *I* will be uniquely qualified to tell you that you needn’t bother. Right? 

I fear I’m not very good at this blogging business. How do you do it? Oi. I will try. Much love to you all!

Birds, books, and hope

June 24, 2008

Three baby titmice were learning how to fly, pick up seeds, and roughhouse on our balcony this afternoon.  They were all grey and fluffy, without the adult white and orange plumage, and with their tiny little crests just beginning to stand up.  My favorite little one spent most of its time fluffing its wings and making peeping noises at its brothers and sisters, opening its beak widely with each noise, like a puppet.

Sarah listened to Uncle Tom’s Cabin on her mom’s Walkman as we walked through the neighborhood this morning at 7:30.  She’s excited about using audio books for her Comprehensive Exams next January, because listening makes activities like walking and driving doubly productive.  Having just read Beloved by T. Morrison and Z.N. Hurston’s Their Eyes Were Watching God, it’s very interesting to see what a writer of European ancestry gets and misses when portraying characters of African ancestry.  She and I both prefer Beloved.  While she listened, I reviewed my Greek flash cards.  

Hopeful farmers – that’s Sarah and Nathan.  We just started year 2 of being married.  Our apartment is looking much neater now that the semester is over.  We brought four bookshelves from IKEA into our apartment to manage the heaps of books for graduate school.  Next to our couch are the shelves for the library and currently-being-used books.  The 100-some books we needed for our seminar papers on Alcuin, the liberal arts, Bob Dylan, and Joan Baez have been returned and replaced by my summer books – Augustine’s Confessions and my Koine Greek textbook, and Sarah’s 20-some works of important American and British literature.  She’s got Mrs. Dalloway in her hands at the moment.

Life is ridiculously cool.  And ridiculously hard.  We’re trying to cherish hope this year, to see where it comes from and how it can sustain us.  “Spes alit agricolam,” so goes the old saying…



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June 24, 2008

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