A Letter from Your Host:
Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,
I can’t believe how long it’s been since I saw you last! I’ve been gone far too long, and for that apologize. As my previous posts have made clear, this past semester nearly did me in. I’m rather disappointed with myself, actually. During the Fall semester I managed to keep mostly on top of my blogging despite my PhD study and teaching, but for some reason I just could not do it this semester. In my defense, it has been universally agreed among my fellow English grad students at UH that this semester was especially heinous for some reason we can’t identify. For some reason the workload, the time-crunch, the number of things going wrong, the stress, were all WAY worse than usual. Bad juju. Gypsy curse. Karma biting us in the ass. I have no idea.
Anyway, the semester officially ended for me a week ago. I wrapped up three papers (I got an A- on one which I am particularly bitter – an A- is grad work is about equivalent with a B-, maybe even a C, in undergrad work, and I know for a fact that the prof simply did not AGREE with my argument). I graded an enormous stack of freshman papers, and turned in my grades to the department.
The same day I turned in my grades, my mother graduated, receiving an Master of Science degree in Technology Projects Management, with a focus in Future Studies (pictures of which I have been forbidden to put online because my mother is paranoid about the internet, despite – or because of – being a computer programmer/engineer).
That was two Fridays ago.
I have spent the last week wrapping up a last bit of work as part of the editing staff of University of Houston English Department’s literature journal Plaza: Dialogues in Language and Literature. It’s our second year doing the journal, so we’re still getting the hang of things, but we’re pretty proud of it. It is free and (as far as I know) you don’t need an account to view it, so please feel free to take a look. It showcases the work of my fellow graduate students, and is affiliated with the graduate student conference I mentioned early in the semester.
I also spent the last week with my mother, who took a week off her day-job to celebrate graduating and get a little bit of a vacation. We’ve been up to a lot this past week, and it’s too much to cover in one post so I’m spreading some of the fun out over the next few days to stretch my blogging-muscles and get back into the swing of things.
Besides spending a lot of money at the mall as a belated birthday present to myself (my birthday was May 6th, right in the middle of finals, so I didn’t have much chance to celebrate), there were several highlights: a trip to Brenham, TX where Blue Bell ice-cream is made, my mother’s birthday (which was May 18th), and seeing the Irish alternative rock band Snow Patrol in concert (but more on all of that tomorrow, and probably Wednesday).
I have a lot of plans for this summer that I’ll probably be sharing with you as well. I intend to start revising Midnight’s Knife, the novel I wrote a first-draft of last summer. I want to start practicing the piano again (I say this every summer, and I always do for a while before it falls away again). my mother bought me a fantastic painter’s easel for my birthday and I’m going to start drawing (again) and painting (which will be a bit new, despite a little experience from high school). I have an ENORMOUS stack of books I want to read (I started Hunger Games – FINALLY – on Friday afternoon, and finished it on Saturday night). And I’ll be doing a bit of traveling as well.
On top of that, I am planning to sit down and build a new syllabus/curriculum for my freshman writing course, which will incorporate a lot of student-blogging. I was not at all happy with my performance as a teacher this semester. I mean, I was admittedly extremely busy with PhD stuff, and I still did okay by my students – I didn’t completely slack off or anything. But I had much more trouble this semester staying on top of things, and keeping my students engaged. I firmly believe that what I do is important, but that only remains true if I do a good job, put serious effort energy into it, and I did not do as good a job as I could have this semester. That’s going to change in the Fall.
I also have some ideas for ways I want to change-up the blog. And I’ll be frank, that’s not so much for the benefit of you, my readers, as it is for my benefit. To keep myself moving, to keep myself interested, to find a focus or a rhythm or whatever that will work for me, and will hopefully make it possible for me to keep this up through the Fall semester when things have gone upside-down-wacko again. I’m fiddling with some ideas/plans, and I’m waiting on one major component before these changes will begin to take shape. But I’ll keep you in formed about that.
In the meantime, I hope I didn’t lose too many of you during my extended absence, and I hope I can keep you entertained over the summer at the very least. I’ll see you tomorrow!