Friday, December 16, 2011

Another day another, ahem, learning opportunity.

Got an email today from a big deal journal asking me to write a review essay. It's on a new book that addresses a (the?) topic near to my heart. Indeed, it's by the Scholar Formerly Known as my Nemesis. Of course I jumped at the chance, dazzled (and let's be honest, flattered) as I was by having been asked in the first place.

And now I have to actually, you know, write a review essay. Guess I'd better learn the conventions of that odd genre. Shit.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

In praise of difficulty, part two.

One of my students came to my office today, this last day of the term. She is graduating, and this morning made the last trip to campus that she will have to make in her college career.

She lives high in the mountains, in a rural outpost of Wyoming, a full state away from my institution. She has a ranch there. During the summer she clears firelines for the forest service. Otherwise, she's been in school, which makes for some long days. Every morning she wakes up at 330 to start getting the cattle fed. They sledge out the hay to the far-flung herd. It takes 3 or 4 hours. At 530 on her class days, Tues and Thurs, she gets on the road and starts driving, so that she can make a 930 class. She stays all day, hitting the library between classes to do her research. Then when her last class ends in late afternoon, she drives back up to the ranch. Sometimes her truck breaks down, because sometimes extreme cold can make an engine uncooperative, and in many spots out here in the region where we live, there's no cell phone service, so she has a full truck-repair box. Sometimes the winds blow snow over the roads. She takes heat and food, just in case. And then she does it again the next week.

Today, she got a little choked up in my office because she was so damn proud of herself for, as she put it, sticking with her dream to graduate from college. A couple of men in her family had been to college, she said, but no women--the men didn't see any need for their wives to go to college, and so they didn't. She said that she was proud to have spited all those generations of "controlling men," and was proud to be the first women to earn a college degree. And proud to have done it on her own terms, balancing the demands of school against, or with, the demands of the life she's chosen to pursue. And the difficulty of her endeavor was both intellectual and physical, the very topography an impediment to her intentions.

And then she thanked me for teaching a difficult class, because she knows that the only things she's ever valued in life are the things that she's struggled to achieve.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

That blows.

By which I mean, the wind. Which hit 100 mph in these parts last night around 3am. What was that crashing noise that shocked me from my slumbers? As it turns out, the fence demarcating my backyard, or rather, the fence formerly demarcating my backyard and currently demarcating hither and yon, the general breadth and depth of the gale. If our inland hurricane stops tomorrow, I guess I'm going to have to go build myself a fence in the next few weeks...