Friday, December 26, 2014

Where the end of the year muses

Language. Lately, I constantly find myself thinking about words. Like what does a year in review mean?

I'm listening to NPR's All Songs Considered podcast and pondering rationale for their list of 2014 music. Sun Kil Moon's Benji's album lands because it's "quite possibly the most depressing record...ever heard in my life." Beck's Morning Phase is "surprisingly wonderful," Chris Staples' "Dark Side of the Moon" has "been a close companion," and Alvvay's "Archie, Marry Me," is essentially a great pop song and "there can never be enough of those."

And so I forget for a moment about words and think about marriage as I rock to Alvvay. For my year in review would be incomplete without a mention of marriage, my marriage, the year Nan and I tied the knot, got hitched, I do'd. Almost midway, a day shy of the center of the year, Nan and I became Spouse A and B, legally wed our style at the Marriage Bureau in NYC. We didn't know it would be this year--we can't plan the vagaries of politics. But the timing was right. Our stars aligned. Like Rent's "Seasons of Love," sometimes you can measure the year in love.

And travel. Lots of travel. Most years include new places, revisited places, chances to move away from myself a bit and see anew. Stop. It's often a forced stop since I am away from distractions, technology, that which distances me from being mindful. And 2014 was all of that, beginning at dawn, a literal daybreak of the year awaiting the Taj Mahal. Breathless through many moments of India. I don't call it a trip of a lifetime, as some might. Not because it wasn't remarkable, unlike anywhere I've been, but because I am lucky to venture many places that amaze.

I don't want to make lists, try to be comprehensive, capture it all in a single sliver of reminiscence. Digression. A shooting star of mind. Scattering.

I wrote in 2014. That matters. Lots. New material. Unfinished. Almost finished.

Honestly, I don't want to assess my 2014. I assess all the time. It is my profession. It is my mind. It is my natural lens to the world.

At year's end, I am grateful.  Fortunate. Thankful for the day, today, when the snow forces a quiet and I choose the time to reflect.


Sunday, December 7, 2014

Almost Done

Done is not until actually done, but tonight, for the first time in months, I can feel the end, the moment of deep breath. Each semester, I swear I'm going to videotape myself musing on the art of exhaustion, insisting that I've never felt this tired, never felt like I wanted to crawl under the covers and sleep for hours without any hint of technological memory, student chatter. Nothingness.

Tonight, though, I'm reminded of the end of semester joys, the pure pleasure when I get to sit back and roam through my students' learning. I've spent the last day or so reading research based multigenre/multimodal projects, and for the most part, when they rock, they soar beyond the ordinary. I read a student reflection on how her original position regarding GMOs in Africa changed during the course of research, moving away from a simple stance of GMOs are bad no matter what to arguing for the use of GMOs in Africa to help deal with starvation. Another student discussed the nuance of audience and why putting her project about a generation of hope in North Korea on tumblr made the most sense. And yet another student demonstrated how her project argued that wearing a motorcycle helmet should be a personal imperative rather than a legal one, discussing ways she employed both ethos and pathos throughout her project. I'm blown away and happy. And of course they don't all sparkle, but they all show a level of engagement with their research and presentation that goes beyond simply accomplishing the task for a grade. Note to self--future research project looking at student engagement with multimodal composing (get that IRB started now).

My last week was spent reading lengthy fiction portfolios, falling into students' stories, seeing their experimentation and willingness to trust the process of drafting and drafting and revising and not feeling done. I watched literature students perform rewritten plays, seeing the creative snaps of adaptation, happy to sit back and applaud.

So yeah, I try to remember not to rush through it all, not to sprint to done, because then I might miss the view. And the view is kinda nice after all.