Still Another Rumination on Memorial Day

I have commented about this day’s observances once or twice before, I think. I am not moving this year, nor am I preparing to move, as was the case last year. I am moved, perhaps, but for a different reason and a far worse one.

Image from the district’s “School Spirit & History” page, used for commentary.

It remains right and proper that those who have died in honorable, upright service be remembered and honored. That what they died to defend suffers such as has happened–again, and again, and again, in Uvalde as in too many other places across too many years–is far, far less so. And it is hard for the reverence due the victorious dead to be given against the grief due those slain unjustly.

Let us make our world one worth the sacrifices made, one where such grief need not be felt again.

For this Memorial Day, please donate to the folks in Uvalde, Texas, who have their own memorials to erect. Send checks payable to the Robb School Memorial Fund to FSB of Uvalde, 200 E Nopal, Uvalde, TX 78801, or donate via Zelle at robbschoolmemorialfund@gmail.com.

Another Advertisement

I noted not too long ago that I’ve shifted over to freelance work. It’s going decently enough at the moment, and I’m enjoying it, but I’m happy to have additional clients. I’d be happy to put the skills and expertise I’ve developed through years of frequent presentation and occasional publication, decades of study and teaching, and a lifetime of reading and writing to work for you!

I’m easy to work with, I promise.
Image is mine, severally.

I’ve got more than a decade of experience teaching college-level writing and literature classes, doing so at R1 and Big 12 universities as well as small colleges and technical schools. As a private tutor, I’ve worked with high-school students and higher-level scholars, helping them succeed at class assignments, preparation of application materials for schools and for the workforce, thesis and dissertation writing, monograph writing, and novel writing. Fields have ranged from general education to aerospace engineering, business, cybersecurity, language and literature, and psychology.

Further, I’ve written ad copy; infographics and information summaries; social media materials; grants; research proposals; formal literary research at various lengths; less formal essays on teaching, writing, and media works; book reviews; and various creative works. I’ve also drafted many lesson plans–including linked full-group, in-class individual, and independent-learning activities–as well as assessment materials–including multiple-choice questions and short-answer and essay prompts. And there’re other materials in this very webspace, free for review and consideration!

I’d be delighted to help you meet your needs. Please get in contact with me using the form below; I look forward to hearing from and working with you!

And, if you’d just like to send a little support along, I’d not mind that at all!

An Advertisement

As it happens, I’m working primarily as a freelance writer and tutor at this point, other work not being what I’d thought it would be. Now, those of you who’re looking at this know how I write and what I tend to write about, and those of you who keep coming back seem to like what I do, so I’ll put it to you this way: If you’ve got some writing that needs doing, some writing that needs reviewing, or some literary or writerly thing that seems to be messing with you, or somebody you know does, reach out. My rates are reasonable, and my results speak for themselves.

How can you say “no” to this?
Image is mine, multiple ways.

I work in the following:

  • Literary research
  • General informational/documentary research
  • Proofreading
  • Style editing
  • Grant writing
  • Copywriting
  • Creative writing (especially poetry)
  • Literature and writing tutoring
So, if you or someone you know needs help with any of those, reach out in the comments below. I’ll see them there!

I look forward to hearing from and working with you!

I am happy to accept payment for services here.

An Announcement

Since I’ve gotten official word and have told the people who needed to know first, I can say this now: I’ve accepted a position teaching English at Burnet High School in Burnet, Texas. I’m looking forward to returning to the classroom and to the work I trained to do; I’m looking forward to getting back to my professional roots.

Reliance Architecture - Burnet High School
The scene of what’s to come…
Image from Reliance Architecture, used for commentary.

I’ve enjoyed my time at the Hill Country Council on Alcohol & Drug Abuse, Inc., in Kerrville. It’s been a good job that has allowed me no small amount of autonomy, and I appreciate both of those things. The Burnet job is more in line with my history, though, and it offers things I cannot get in my still-current position; I start teaching again on 7 September 2021, and I hope to be doing it for a long time to come.

Go, Dawgs!

Care to help me make the transition?

I Wish I Had This Batting Average…

If I have things figured correctly–and I may well not, I admit–this is the 1,000th entry in this blogroll. It is something of a milestone, certainly, although the kind of statistical breakdown that often accompanies such things will wait until the usual annual report I make on the blog about the blog. No, for now, it suffices to mark the occasion–something at which I do not excel, as those who know me in person know.

Such idle pasttimes…
Photo by Steshka Willems on Pexels.com

No, I am not quite so often celebratory as might be thought; I don’t generally see myself as having reason to be so, or not enough reason to set aside the time to do it as is needed. I’m happy to celebrate others, to mark their birthdays and anniversaries and achievements. Mine, though…not so much. And that is as it should be, really; it is enough for me to note that I’ve made it this far and to keep going.

I haven’t done enough yet, not by a long shot.

I do thank you, though, for reading, and I hope that you will continue to read what I write, whether my odd essay or the rereading series that is still going (and still has a long way to go). I have every intention of continuing to do the writing, whether it’s to note some new occurrence or just to keep things going along; I hope folks get some use or enjoyment out of it–or both!

Help me get to the next thousand?

A Birthday Rumination

Thirty-eight years ago today, I was pulled screaming into the world. I am told–and I have to rely on what I have been told, since memory does not serve me quite so well at that remove–that I was a forceps delivery, and the image of sterile salad tongs cupping my head and yanking me out into light and cold seems apt enough. I wonder if I am the tomato or the carrot in such a salad, or if I am the olive or the cucumber or what.

Chamberlen forceps (Malden found 1813) in K. DAS after Kilian.jpg
Found on Wikimedia Commons, https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Chamberlen_forceps_(Malden_found_1813)_in_K._DAS_after_Kilian.jpg. Presumably public domain.
Something like one of these, perhaps?
Image from Wikimedia Commons; I am told it’s public domain.

Whatever salad-fixin’ I might have been or might still be, though, marking another circuit of Sol is something that often prompts reflection and consideration. There’s been enough to consider, certainly, and not all of it has been a comfort. Occupying the position of privilege that I do, I know I am insulated from the direct effects of much of the unpleasantness and outright evil that has been at work in the world, and I am neither unappreciative of that ease nor unmindful of those who do not have it. I work with no few of the latter, and I do sometimes pay attention at work.

I am more or less comfortable at this point, as I sit and type out this post (well ahead of time, I have to admit; I mean to be at work on the NaNoWriMo project when this goes live). And that is a dangerous thing. It breeds complacency, laziness. I already do not do enough. But I also grow more and more accustomed to comfort, easing into it and succumbing to the inertia of my own indolence. I’d imagine I can get more than a few more years out of myself in such circumstances, but whether or not that’s advisable…

As it is, I have more writing to do and different. I also have a new year of me starting, and I had probably ought to see if I can’t enjoy some of it.

It’s my birthday, precious. Give us a gift?

A Note on the New Year of Hindsight

Now that everybody in my part of the world’s had a chance to get woken up and get their hangovers under control, a few comments are likely in order. It is a new year, after all, and the new year does tend to invite this kind of thing, the more so since I did not do a retrospective over 2019. (I usually do that kind of thing on the blog’s anniversary, which happens in June. I hope you’ll stick around for it.)

Image result for new year's day kerrville"
Image from the Kerrville Convention and Visitors Bureau, used for commentary

For one, I’ve given up teaching. I realized, later than probably ought to have been the case, that I was not doing any good in the classroom anymore, that I was simply doing it to collect a paycheck. I’m in a position now that I don’t need the income–there was quite a while that I very much did, but such is not the case at this point–and it’s enough of a disservice to those who would attend classes to have someone who has more or less checked out that I decided I would, in fact, check out. I will not rule out the possibility of teaching again at some later point when I might be able to do some good with it, but I do not see such a time coming again for me at any point in the foreseeable future. I am not a prophet, though; again, I’ll not rule out the possibility.

For another, I do mean to continue to work in this webspace. Even if a lot of the traffic to it since I started has been driven by my students needing to access it, not all has been. Indeed, some of the stuff I’ve done here has helped some people do the things they’ve needed to do. Insofar as that’s the case, then, I’ll keep working on this. In truth, since I’m not teaching anymore, I might well have more time to put to this project; I’ve not been as good about keeping abreast of it as I ought to have been, I know, and I am not proud of it–but I can work to address it and make sure that, moving forward, I give it what it ought to have.

For the record, that does include the Fedwren Project and the Robin Hobb Rereading Series. And it will resume including my commentaries, in which I had formerly engaged and which I would like to turn to doing again; I have missed thinking about things and writing about what I think, even if I am not likely to get anything placed in any kind of scholarly journal and do not really have a need to do so. Again, I’m not teaching; I’ve long since given up on having the kind of academic position that requires publications, and it makes little sense for me to compete with the people who are (and who have institutional access to apparatus) and whose continued livelihoods depend on them getting (back) into print.

For a final note or two: I’m looking at getting a couple of poetry collections compiled and into print. I will, of course, be plugging them here as I get them closer to being done (I’d be a fool to not, and I try not to be a fool). Too, I’m looking at putting together a kind of synoptic history of a local group of which I was part and with which I am associated once again. More on that will come later, as I get more put together, but I will be plugging that here, as well. So there are some things to look forward to as I move into the new year, and I hope that you’ll follow along, as well! I’ll try to make it worth your while.

Did I bring you as much pleasure as a cup of coffee does? Half a cup? Could you kick in as much for me so that I can keep doing it? Click here, then, and thanks!

Another (!) Rumination on Teaching

I wanted to be a teacher when I was the age my daughter is now. I went through high school thinking I would be a teacher. I went through most of my undergraduate study thinking I would be a teacher, though the subject I thought to teach would change. I went into and through graduate school thinking I would be a teacher, if at a different level. I spent my early career years–and that’s a strange phrase for me–thinking I would be a teacher. I’ve spent the past few years clinging to that thought, holding tenuously to the notion that I should spend at least part of my time at the front of a classroom, trying to help bring others along.

the hobbit work GIF
Image from Giphy.com, used for commentary. Clearly.

At this point, though, my grip is slipping–and not because I am holding on with one hand to keep my bloated self from falling into a pit from which there is little chance of escape. No, it is because I am struggling to hold what I realize has been an increasing weight off of the ground, one that I have been carrying for years in no small part because I have been too stubborn to put it down. I have tried to do well at the work, tried to be responsible and responsive, tried to make some difference. And perhaps I have done those things in some small way; I do, from time to time, hear from one student or another, and I am gratified by it.

More, though, I have made excuses for remaining in the college classroom, as a glance back across this webspace will make clear. I have tried to justify my continued presence in a system that has made clear it has no permanent place for me, even as I have found what seems to be a permanent place outside it (and one that does, in fact, allow me to make good use of the skills and expertise I developed during my formal education, if perhaps not as I might have expected and not as well as others with more focused training might have done). And it is clear to me that the excuses no longer work; it is time for me to put the weight down.

Given the academic labor market (about which, perhaps, this and this), I am certain that others will soon pick up the weight I set down. And it is possible that I will need to pick it up again, myself, in time to come. But for now, so far as I can see, I am ready to leave it. I am ready to let go my grip and finally straighten a back that has bent at such work, usually hunched in a chair in front of a computer not unlike what results in this present piece of work, drafting things that will not be read. But at least such work as this is work that I enjoy, and I can no longer say the same for what I do in the classroom, despite years of making a go at it.

Thirteen years of it is enough of a sample, I think.

Even now, I remain thankful for what you give.

Initial Comments on the November 2019 Session at DeVry University

I have been offered and have signed a contract to teach a class at DeVry University for the November 2019 instructional session, a section of ENGL 135: Advanced Composition. It is wholly online, with the session spanning 28 October 2019 to 5 January 2020; consequently, instruction will be almost wholly asynchronous, though I will hold a regular office hour, likely on Wednesday evening, given other scheduling concerns I have at the moment.

An IStock image by Jaroslav Frank appearing on Robert Ubell’s 13 December 2016 Inside Higher Ed article “Why Faculty Still Don’t Want to Teach Online,” used for commentary

The redesign I mentioned previously seems still to be in place, but they seem to tend to less grading than I recall from earlier experiences teaching ENGL 135. I will have to generate new examples, of course, but I need to be doing more writing, anyway, and students continue to benefit from having the models to follow. Given broader events, I am not sure how I can produce ethically sound examples that will still do what I need them to do; I am not the master of my own curriculum, here, but am obliged to follow a prescribed sequence once again. I knew that going in, though; my comments from more than a year ago still seem to hold.

For all the problems that are in place with the kind of teaching I will be doing, I am still glad to have the opportunity to do so once again. Though I presently need the funding less than I have in the past–the regular job I work treats me pretty well in that regard and in several others–it is still welcome. More welcome is the chance to once again put to work the skills I spent so long developing; I hope they have not atrophied such that they will no longer serve me or the students enrolled in my class.