Archive for August, 2007

but it is progress. More printing is being done today after problems yesterday with Kinko’s and their not allowing copying of copyrighted materials, even though he is the author! Envelopes are addressed, business cards are glue-dotted to cover letters. Last night I created PDFs of the newspaper clippings he’s got on file. Today is Wednesday, August 29. We’ll see if he makes the deadline of “during August.”

I am learning, too.  Next deadline will be a date, not a month!

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Revisiting July 5th

On July 5th, I wrote a posting about what we were doing for self-syndicating Ron’s columns: compiling db of names/papers, creating schedules, goals, timelines, etc. Today, approaching 8 weeks later, no letters have been mailed. Now, letters have been written; stationary has been procured; business cards have been designed and printed; glue dots (don’t even get me started!) have been purchased…progress is being made!

Why am I so impatient? I want this to be done yesterday! I am almost intractable in my desire for him to HURRY UP and do this! I wonder what is going on . . . .?

Part of it is that our styles of doing things are vastly different: Ron is a thinker, a planner; I am a do-er, a worker-bee. He considers the angles, the positions, the choices; I line things up and knock them off like I’m at target practice. I’m doing well to write a blog entry and wait till the next day to post it. He will write something, edit it, wait a week and edit again, rewrite it, let it steep another few days and maybe post it in week 2…different styles.

Part of it is history. In the past, as he pointed out in his excellent interview with Matt Selznick on Writer’s Talking, is that he has been different in the past in terms of pursuing his writing. He has had an approach-avoid method of writing: approach it, look at it, turn away and run. Much more time spent running away from it than writing. Years, in fact. Maybe even decades. Stewing, steeping, considering the positions and angles. I am afraid that this new behavior, this writing behavior, may go away and we may be back where we were 5 years ago: not writing. It is a fear I live with every day.

He assures me, has assured everyone that this is different. He is ready to write. He is committed to writing. He is writing! I think my impatience for him to move forward, to put things out into the world, to commit publicly is my way of dealing with my fear of his stopping. However, that said, I also know that public commitment is no guarantee of anything, that things will change, including his commitment to this writing “thing” he does, and that my impatience does not help either of us.

He promised me that he would have letters out in August and there are 50 printed out as of noon today. We’ll see what happens….stay tuned!

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Martha, who seems to be doing the tracking of users on Podiobooks and Dancing Cat Studios, gave us the update last week that we have about 500 subscribers! And, we don’t even know what iTunes is doing in terms subscriptions! Amazing! When we started this, I wanted to have 1000 subscribers. Don’t ask me why I picked that number…probably thought it was both achievable and the first number that occurred to me that would be a “significant” audience. This has only been going since Memorial Day weekend and we’re halfway there! It must be the product…

Writers Talking” hosted Ronnie on Saturday, and it was a good interview. Matthew Wayne Selznick is a very good interviewer and the second guest, Tee Morris, was his usual lively self. It was an hour of interesting and intelligent conversation between three writers talking about their methods, rituals, and problems. I learned some things, even about my own writer. Very good job, honey! Maybe I’ll listen to the “green tea mantra” too…..

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Work Stuff

I spoke with a friend yesterday who has recently undergone a traumatic life-change in terms of work here at the university, something many have gone through in the last 10 years of turmoil and chaos. He is shattered, broken, lost…going through a crisis of “anomie” in his words. As I listened, I thought of my own journey just a year ago as I was struggling to keep coming to work amidst the plotting and secrecy (none of which was really secret), struggling to maintain my sense of decency and fairness, and my sense of self beyond what I do for “job.” It is not easy to be shattered inside but need to continue to function on the exterior. I told him that the best revenge was “living well” — to thrive despite others’ best efforts, to maintain dignity and poise, to keep one’s balance while the world was tilting.

It was easy for me in comparison, because I just left. Left the university, left Hattiesburg . . . left. For six glorious weeks, we traveled and visited other places, saw new things, had new experiences, drove endless roads through some of the most beautiful scenery on earth, walked among trees as old as God, and let my soul heal. My friend needs time…and friends.

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Things Past

Last night, Ron and I sat with Barry & Georgia and looked at old photos of family and friends. Our goal was to find some pictures of Crow-baby and Prentiss for a project Georgia and Ronnie are working on, and we did that. But we also found beautiful memories of things past: our trip last fall to the US-West; our trip to Alaska in 2004; birding trips to south Texas; trips from many years ago to Destin and other places. It was truly a memory lane….

So today, I am nostalgic both for times past and for the future, for new wanderings, new adventures. I was just browsing for something work-related, and I ran across the following email I sent from Alaska to our friends and family just about 2 years ago. Thought I’d post it here for your reading pleasure, too:

Subject: Saturday in Alaska
Date: Sun, 7 Aug 2005 01:19:24

Hi, guys…It’s 10 p.m. here (about 1 a.m. Sunday) your time. We are sitting at our hotel after an 11 hour tour of Denali today….saw grizzlies, caribou, moose, and Dall sheep, golden eagles, magpies, gray jays, stellar jays, townsend warblers, and lots of other stuff. We are staying in a wonderful hotel called NordHaven (I leave the rest to your imagination) situated in a spruce forest. This morning over home-made cinnamon rolls and coffee, we watched birds flitting all around us from our 30 foot balcony . . .it’s pretty much heaven! But, of course, as the tour guide said today, “This is Alaska. Winter is pretty much the season we have. I’m expecting snow any day!”

Probably our most eventful happening so far was getting delayed just enough on take-off from PB Thursday morning that we missed our connection to Minneapolis. We ended up getting to Anchorage around 5 instead at 3 as expected so that put us getting to Talkeetna very late…around 11 p.m., but still light outside! Amazing!

Part of why we were so late is stopping to watch a moose try to cross the interstate, and, of course, we got lost in Anchorage…what’s an adventure without getting lost?! Oh, BTW, the moose won but did not make it over the interstate, accepting the better part of valor was to try and fail, before wandering safely back into the marsh it tried to leave to continue grazing….apparently unscathed by it’s near brush with 4-wheeled death! We, on the other hand, were seriously affected….I constantly scanned the sides of the roads for the next 4 hours as we drove!

So, we are having a wonderful time. I wish you were all here with us. It would be even more fun than our Texas Adventure last Christmas! Y’all take care. Next time I get somewhere that has internet service, I’ll write another piece of the picture. Just an FYI — I am only able to check email infrequently, so don’t be mad at me if you email and I don’t respond.

Thanks. See you all soon. September is just around the corner!

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End of the Term

I finished grading and entered grades yesterday for summer term, and it felt very final somehow. I suspect it is because I’m not schedule to teach till next summer (and who knows what may happen between now and then?!). Since I haven’t talked much about this part of my life yet, let me tell you a little.

I teach at The University of Southern Mississippi in the Educational Leadership & Research department. My field of study is Adult Education, and our program is graduate-only: Master’s, Specialist’s, and doctoral (Ed.D. and Ph.D.). Our educational system does many good things and some bad; one of the bad things is teaching students (whatever their ages) that the “teacher” holds the key to all information in the subject and they should wait for the key to open some magical doors in their heads and all will be revealed! Fortunately, age and life are good teachers, too, so most of my “adult” students get that they are going to have to do some exploration and thinking on their own. Many of them don’t like it. They’d rather be told what to take notes on, what to think about a topic, and what to study for the “test.” Life is the test. Practice is the test. The “test” does not really happen in a classroom.

So, it’s the end of what has been a hard semester for me: work full-time and teach two classes: one online and one on weekends. The weekend class was a required course for any degree in ADE and is required also of another degree or two on campus. The online course (ADE 750) was an elective and can be used to fulfill certificate requirements for gerontology.

I love teaching gerontology courses, possibly because I am steadily aging (better than the alternative!) and because I learn so much about the subject and about people in general each time I teach one. It’s fun to see students opening their minds to the possibility that they may someday be something other than what they are today. It’s fun to see people “talking” about what it means to be “old” and to hear other “old”-sters talk about their experience. It is even more fun to see people engaged in learning that they chose, to “see” the light bulb go off above their heads when they discover something they didn’t know or hadn’t realized. And, to combine that with self-exploration, self-study, to discover what prejudices and biases we hold and act on, knowingly or unknowingly.

Wow! I sound like I like my job! Hmmm….I’ll have to “reflect” on that for awhile…..

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Dog Days

Well, the semester’s over (except for the grading!), the students are mostly gone from campus for this week, and we are allowing ourselves to breathe, to relax, if only for a minute. Our off-campus access to the net has been on and off all week; if it holds, I should have grades done and turned in before the weekend.

Southern Arena Theater finishes its summer run this week. We ended our season last night with “Shakespeare in Hollywood,” by far the best of the three performances we saw this season. It was a great comedy, well-acted, well-produced. This is the first year in several that we didn’t go to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival in Montgomery; I miss it, even more now.

Today, Lilian and I decided to cancel our travel-study program to Highlander Research & Education Center for their 75th Anniversary celebration. Low enrollment, coupled with the timing need to get students registered at HREC for their events, simply wouldn’t allow us to continue the course on the books. In some ways, it’s a great relief to me as it means I won’t be teaching at all in the fall term. In other ways, I always mourn my time out of the classroom.

And, of course, there’s the financial side of that. Despite the fact that I’m paid less than minimum wage to teach graduate classes, it’s income. We’ll miss that, especially with Ron in the building process with his writing, meaning more money is still going out than coming in from his writing. But he has steadily progressed on the “hot list” we made for him in June, and I have high hopes that this next week will see newspaper packets being put together and sent on their merry way.

In the meantime, our garden is growing lush with the recent rainfall; I’ve made two batches of pesto for the freezer already and will have more before first frost. We’ve also eaten at least one portion every time I’ve made it to put by. Pesto is truly “summer on a fork” for me, even more than watermellon or home-made ice cream. Everything about pesto screams fresh and summer to me.

Summer….August and September still to go. I’m already day-dreaming about a fall vacation….a real vacation. Where would you go?

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