First, let me apologize for the long absence. I was offline for some time, as expected, but just when I would have gotten access again, I got very sick. Nothing serious; just a very bad cold, but I was weak and feverish for about a week, and am only now starting to feel healthy again. As Kevin doesn't have net access from home, it's only recently that I've felt up to walking to campus to log in. So apologies to all, especially those poor souls who have been leaving little notes in my mailbox asking when the journal will come back. It's back, and I hope not to leave you for so long again.
I'm not going to try to cover the missing weeks in detail; it would just take so long, and my memory is faulty. I managed to keep a journal for three days near the beginning of my trip -- those entries have been appended to the December '97 page, and those of you who are curious may wish to go back to them. They mostly cover the New York portion of my visit. Connecticut was pleasant; everyone in my family appeared to be on their best behaviors (yours truly included), and while perhaps nothing serious was discussed, neither were there any major battles. I'll take that, for now. It was wonderful seeing the family again, and eating my mother's cooking -- yum! She may not be the best cook on the planet (she says *her* mother was much better), but she's one of the best I've found.
After arriving in Chicago I met Roshani's new boyfriend and his utterly charming mother; we spent a day traipsing around the Art Institute and the Bahai Temple before I got really sick. As always, lovely to see the Art Insitutute, and the Temple was a simply gorgeous piece of architecture; I'd never visited it before, and I'm very glad I went with them this time, even if it did make my cold worse. Then I went up to stay with Lisette for three days, and generally sniffled my way through them, resting and watching videos (six hours of Pride and Prejudice!) and reading Foxtrot comic books. Then back down to Hyde Park to stay with Kevin, now back from visiting his parents for the holidays, where I've been resting more, watching more movies (Love! Valour! Compassion! was quite good, and I'm planning to watch Evita later today), and starting to think about working. Actually, I have started working, reading the anthology submissions that piled up while I was gone. A fair number left to go; I'll try to get through a bunch this afternoon. (You know, I keep expecting this anthology editing to turn into work, and it hasn't yet. It's still fun. If it keeps being this much fun, I may need to think more seriously about spending a portion of my career as an editor).
Ah, my career. That's what's really on my mind these days. I just finished reading Jane Tompkins' retrospective, A Life in School. Tompkins is a literature professor, and author of a book on reader-response criticism; I've read some of her work before. This new book is a fascinating look at what she calls a desire for a more holistic approach to teaching. I don't think I can really encapsulate it in a paragraph or two, but it was a pleasure to read (okay, I found the early part a bit tedious, and I think it could be trimmed, but otherwise...) and made me think more about what kind of teacher I want to be. I'm very comfortable in the traditional academic mode, in the lecture style, in the classes where the 'bright student' shines....yet there appear to be quite a few pitfalls with that design, and I worry about how useful it really is to the students. I know I'm a good lecturer, and I don't want to just fall back on that and not think about whether I'm being a good teacher. It would be so easy for me to be emotionally lazy; I can easily picture myself as the traditionally overprepared teacher who works desperately hard and never feels like there's enough time to cover everything. Well -- I'm not going to keep ranting about this here. If Deborah (professor) says it's okay, I'm going to add my reading logs from her course on theories and strategies of teaching writing to these pages in a separate section, and then those of you who are interested in that subject can follow my ramblings and incoherencies there as I struggle with the field.
This all assumes that I will teach. I hope to, certainly, but the thought of what would traditionally await an M.F.A. graduate (a round of single courses at various community colleges for some years) sounds inexpressibly dreary. Not the teaching itself, but the low pay, low prestige, necessity of running around to multiple schools, exhausting oneself in the commute simply to make enough money to make a living...eh. It seems arrogant to say, "I ought to be able to do better", but nonetheless... On the other hand, if I look at four-year college teaching positions, it's clear that I'm generally underqualified for those. Well. I haven't really started researching this properly, so perhaps the picture will lighten up as I go. This is all complicated by not knowing yet where Kevin will be next fall (he finishes his math Ph.D. this June) and various decisions as to whether to try and get a job near him, etc. Two academics dating -- ick. We'll be lucky if we get jobs in the same state.
Before I go, I want to rave about a new book by Emma Bull and Will Shetterly -- Freedom and Necessity. Written in 18th century epistolary style, this book by two noted fantasy authors just blew me away with its brilliant combination of adventure story, double romance, Hegelian philosophizing, detailed historical and hint of mysticism. Couldn't put it down. Recommending it to everyone. And Engels is a major character -- what more could you ask? (The philosophy does get a bit dense for those who aren't into it; just skim it if you need to.)
Well, quite a lot of babble to little effect. I still haven't written an anniversary entry for the journal; perhaps I won't. It's going well, and I'm happy with it -- let's leave it at that. I also haven't done my New Year's resolutions; perhaps I'll do that tomorrow. We'll see. I'm not going to stress about it.
Hope you all had a wonderful holiday and are thoroughly rested and rejuvenated. I'm starting to feel that way.