Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Tuesday Night

I just have time for a quick update!  I am about to walk into my night class but I spent the entire afternoon working on the rewriting for Chapter 2.  My major issue (and I am sure that there are tons of minor problems as well!) was that I needed to be clearer (more aggressive) about what it is that I am doing with my research.  As I mentioned previously, it is sort of a psychological "thing" for me to be more assertive about what it is that I am trying to accomplish.  My biggest fear is that I have nothing to bring to the table -- I have somehow complete misunderstood everything that I have ever read.  So I went through the entire chapter, trying my best to connect my thinking with the words on the page (and there was a fair amount of deleting and reshaping).  Now I need to do the same for Chapter 3.  I liked giving myself a self-imposed deadline of today for Chapter 2 so I am now giving myself a self-imposed deadline for Chapter 3 -- next Tuesday (Feb 5).  I will then -- hopefully -- be ready to restructure and rethink the remaining chapters.  So if you see me around -- ask me how Chapter 3 is going!  Pressure me!  If I am going to graduate in May, I need to be fully committed to finishing this project.  And peer pressure can't hurt, eh?!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Now the Real Semester Starts!

I can't believe how long it has been since I wrote that blog posting at the beginning of this month about the Blessing Jar (which is still going strong!).  Classes for the Spring 2013 Semester started last Monday and things are already a little busy!  I just got some feedback from Dr. M, the most amazing dissertation director/ coach ever, so things are about to get a little crazy!

I have found that writing always helps me sort through my thinking, so here goes.  Here is why I am already starting to panic:

1.  I am teaching 7 classes this semester -- two are literature courses (and, thus, a little smaller) but the five writing classes (ENG 95, ENG 96 -- two sections, ENG 101, and ENG 102) are packed to the ceiling.  That's a lot of writing to evaluate and get back to students.  Three of those courses are portfolio-based and I pride myself on how well students do with this end-of-the-semester assessment.  I know a few of these students will just fade away but that is still a lot of students!

2.  Now that I am starting with dissertation edits, it is feeling more like "re-writes."  But I had a realization yesterday.  What was feeling "bad" to me when I turned it all in to Dr M at the end of December is exactly what she noted.  So here is an attempt at trying to describe where I am at with this whole project -- I don't do a good job of just coming out and "owning" my thinking, the very thinking that gets at what I am trying to say by establishing my own footprint in knowledge-making.  There is a huge part of me that is like, "What?  How in the world would there be anything that you would have to say that would be worthy and could swim equally with all these other rhet/ comp scholars?"  So I think what I did in much of my writing is hide behind the "skirts" of these other scholars and then sort of peeked around the corner:
Instead of using these writers as tree branches and forging ahead, I just sort of played it safe and hid behind everyone else's ideas.  And I know why I did this (I think).  It's not just the "ordeal" of a dissertation is hard -- it's also that I am scared to death that I will pipe up and say what I want to say and then discover that I missed an important text/ source somewhere that talked about this very idea.  You know what I mean?

But the good news is that I know what I need to do.  I need to wade myself back through those chapters and be more assertive about what I think.  And here is what I think:  We live in a comp world where folks use themed FYC courses all the time, so much so that it's a given and these types of courses need no justification at all.  I mean, even many FYC textbooks are divided up by theme and there are even some FYC texts that are written especially for a themed FYC course.  I used race as the organizing theme in my experiment.  I think it worked and it didn't work (it's complicated).  But my research has led me to think about the bigger picture here.  If we comp folks are not reflective about our practices (i.e. how we organize a course), then we might not be doing what we think we are doing.  And it is this that my future research (post-dissertation) is leading me.  I want to be the writing person who encourages more research about themed courses in general.

3.  I applied for graduation on May 11 and I have -- finally -- taken all my dissertation credit hours by the end of this semester.  I have to finish by then.  Period.  I imagine there will be a lot of late nights the next few months but it will get done.  I have drawn a line in the sand and as long as my dissertation committee will help me reach this goal, then the only person stopping this from happening is me.

That's it.  The key this semester, I imagine, will be organizing and keeping ahead on things.  I have a few things already in the works (like the fabulous Jane Austen Tea Party I am hosting next weekend) but please don't be annoyed at me if I can't do something with you.  I don't think I have ever wanted something so badly in my entire life.  And it is all up to me!  :D   (PS:  I hope Jim survives this, too!)

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

A Blessings Jar

Happy New Year!

A few weeks ago, I saw an image going around Facebook of something called "A Blessings Jar."  Basically, this was a jar with a lid that come with some pretty simple directions.  Here is the actual image that I saw, along with the directions:
So ... I thought that it would be cool to try something like this for 2013 -- you know, especially for those days in which you might be feeling super stressed!  Wouldn't it be cool to pull out this jar and read some of the little notes that you had left from previous days?

This is what I came up with after (1) dragging Jim through Michael's earlier today and (2) a little bit of crafting:

First, I had to use a purple color scheme because, well, there is no cooler color than purple!  I originally wanted to use glass paint to jazz the whole thing up but after getting lost in just reading the directions on some Martha Stewart stuff at Michael's, I quickly moved to stickers!  Near the counter -- where they have some of the cheaper things -- I found a bunch of sparkly circle stickers in green and purple -- as you can see, I added those to the cool terrarium-like jar that I found.  I also nabbed some marathon and travel stickers in the scrapbooking section of the store and viola!  A Dianna-themed Blessings Jar!  I also found some inexpensive scrapbooking paper in green, purple, and yellow and I cut those up to serve as the "scraps" of papers to write each daily blessing.  My first one -- for today, the first day of this new year! -- was to honor my body for having the energy, motivation, and endurance to make it through a 5K (3.1 miles) in freezing temperatures earlier today (it was about 25 degrees and a lot colder in the wind!).  I also felt happy to run into fellow runner and triathloner Bill and his family while waiting for the race to start!  

As you can tell from the pictures of my jar, I plan to use the same directions as the original!  I think 2013 will have a lot of exciting adventures -- including finishing my dissertation and graduating (hopefully!) and traveling through Scotland and Belgium in July (to celebrate Jim's 50th birthday!).  I know, like any year, that there will be sadness and frustration and stress -- so I hope this jar will help to counterbalance all that "bad stuff"!