Columbus Day: Or, One Year in the Blogosphere

Revisiting some thoughts I had last year on blogging for a year, making discoveries, and on Columbus Day, which is tomorrow, 13 October…..

This year on 14 October we are celebrating, or not celebrating, depending on your world view, Columbus Day.

Either he discovered something, or was terribly lost, and then found by people who already lived where he landed.

But since it is also the day that marks one year since I have been blogging for Reflection and Choice, I am here to tell you: sometimes, whether you know it or not, you are both lost and found, unsure and triumphant.  Clueless, yet on your way to the epiphany that you never saw coming, the shore that you thought you would never see.  It’s the price of the ticket, the risk of the voyage.  You don’t know how it will end.

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When I was asked to start blogging, I have to confess that I dragged my heels for about two months.  Like Columbus and his voyages, I wasn’t exactly ready to say “Bon Voyage.” It wasn’t that I didn’t want to do it:  it was more that I did not know what I was doing. When Columbus was asked to find the East Indies, I am sure he said, “Sure, where are the East Indies?”  Much like I said, “Sure, what is a blog?”  Whenever I have a student say, “I have never written anything like this before,” I can honestly say, “I know what you mean.”

So it is true, I admit it, I was a little intimidated, and unlike a paper that you hand into a professor (as in, ONE person), you have no idea how many people will read your blog. Like landing on the shores of an unfamiliar island, there is no way of knowing if the natives will welcome you like a god, or harpoon you like a whale.  It can get dicey. Continue reading

The Train to Maine

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During the time we were in Boston visiting friends, we took a trip to Maine. Christopher, my twelve year old son, has memorized most of the routes that Amtrak takes around this great nation, and so he was quick to tell me that there had been an extension of the Downeaster route up the coast.  Now it goes from Boston all the way up to Freeport and Brunswick.  We were totally in luck because this was only true as of last year.  Through the miracle of rail, we could be in the state of Maine in about three hours.

Now in my head, I thought that New England was, well, all built up, so this was amazing to me that this train expansion was so new.  How did people get to the LL Bean shopping campus without a stop in Freeport?  My friend, Heidi, a professor who teaches college in Virginia, was researching in Brunswick, and had invited us up to see her.  Brunswick was the last stop on the newish route, and Brunswick was exactly where we wanted to go. Sometimes, the universe just seems to cooperate.

Continue reading

Bloglandia: Five Things I Have Learned So Far

jk_oldjournalThis essay was also reposted on July 2nd, 2013 by The Best Damn Creative Writing Blog.

Six months ago today I started blogging for Reflection and Choice, and it was this scary new thing that I had never done before.  Like many things in life, I just agreed to it because I like the person who thought up the idea, even though I knew, as I was smiling, and nodding my head, and saying, “Sure, that would be great!” that I had no idea what I was doing, no idea what I would write, no idea if I could even do this. Obviously, I had been overdosing on Snow Patrol songs and “Just say yes!” was ringing in my ears.  So, I said “yes.”

My first post was called “The End of Something,” but little did I know that it would be the beginning of something really meaningful to me, and a reminder of the big reason I love teaching at a university is that I get to learn something new every day.  Plus, nothing makes me happier than when a professor gets schooled: Consider me a permanent student in the course known as “Blogging 101:  You Don’t Know What Will Come of This.” Continue reading

Scarlet Letters, Waking Up, and Social Engineering

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“Don’t Worry. It’s just a fake baby.”

A version of this essay also appears today in the Gray Matters section of The Houston Chronicle, 5 February 2015.  You can read it here:

http://www.houstonchronicle.com/local/gray-matters/article/Fake-babies-won-t-stop-kids-from-getting-pregnant-6064367.php?t=e86c7a4a6479b87a02&cmpid=twitter-premium

This essay was also published on 23 December 2013 in The Imaginative Conservative.

I have a friend, let’s call her Tancy, since that is her name, and she has a child attending school in Magnolia, Texas.  Now I cannot think of a more idyllic name for a Texas town, and it is absolutely beautiful and tree laden, but apparently small towns have their problems too.

They have rejected Rousseau and have public schools.

Anyway, her child has the following assignment: she can either carry a fake baby around for a few weeks, thus experiencing the perils of parenthood (it is hard to replicate the joys of parenthood with a fake baby), or, she can write a three page paper about a similar topic.

I kid you not. Continue reading