Sunday, January 31, 2016


Work continues
Of course
As always
As ever it does

Today is no different
Some might say so
Citing some book or other
And I might say in return
That I have livestock
Fallen into a ditch

Help me lift them out
Or leave me to do it
And go

I could
Not work
But I could not
Accept the consequences
Of not working
Because they will not fall on me alone

Therein lies the conundrum
Riddle it out who can
I doubt the answer adds up to eighteen

Saturday, January 30, 2016


Go to work, work, come home, take care of baby
Work some more
Take care of baby and work some more
Go to work, work, come home, take care of baby
Work some more
Take care of baby and work some more
Go to work, work, come home, take care of baby
Work some more
Work a lot more
Work a lot more
Go to work, work, come home, take care of baby
Work some more
Take care of baby and work some more
Go to work, work, come home, take care of baby
Work some more
Take care of baby and work some more
Go to work, work, come home, take care of baby
Work some more
Work a lot more
Work a lot more
Go to work, work, come home, take care of baby
Work some more
Take care of baby and work some more
Go to work, work, come home, take care of baby
Work some more
Take care of baby and work some more
Go to work, work, come home, take care of baby
Work some more
Work a lot more
Work a lot more
Go to work, work, come home, take care of baby
Work some more
Take care of baby and work some more
Go to work, work, come home, take care of baby
Work some more
Take care of baby and work some more
Go to work, work, come home, take care of baby
Work some more
Work a lot more
Work a lot more

Friday, January 29, 2016


I had forgotten that today is payday. I remembered, though, and in time to pay bills this morning. That task is more or less done now; other bills will be coming in soon enough, but I cannot pay them until they do. All that have come to me for the month are paid, and that is enough for the moment. My bank accounts do not thank me for it, but those parts of my life that rely on bills being paid--those that like having a place to live and a vehicle to get me from place to place--certainly do. And I am sure that the Mrs. and Ms. 8 will, as well; they are currently asleep and so do not yet know that I have done as I have done to ensure that they may remain at Sherwood Cottage. Ms. 8 likely will never be, but the Mrs. will...

On the topic of Ms. 8: I have noted that I do not often recall my dreams, so that when I do, it is notable. I recall one I had today; I woke from it some ten minutes before I had set my alarm to ring. In it, Ms. 8 had shat her diaper--but that is not unusual, given her age. She had shat it spectacularly--but that is, again, not out of line, as I have known her to do it on more than one occasion. What stands out as strange in recollection are two things. The first is that she was wearing all pink, which is something I try to avoid when dressing her and which the Mrs. also tries to avoid, partly because the all-pink ensemble annoys me and partly because neither of us wants to encourage her towards princessification. (Quite enough of that will happen without our promoting it, thank you very much.) The second is that nobody but me seemed to notice the spreading brown smear on her--and I was prevented from taking care of the matter for some reason I do not recall from the dream. Even the Mrs., who is far from inattentive to her daughter, neglected to work on the problem--and a shit-covered toddler is a problem. What the symbolism indicates is unclear to me, although I would welcome ideas about its interpretation.

Whatever dreams may come will likely have less time to do so over the next few days, as work continues. I have another freelance order, one treating an author with whom I am unfamiliar; it will be interesting to experience new characters and a new writing style. I also have additional work to do on a different paid project. Further, students in three of my classes have papers coming in, and I must attend to them over the weekend. Far from minding, I am happy to have the work to do. I did just pay bills, and I do have more coming in, and payday on its own does not pay quite as much as I would like to have it do...

Thursday, January 28, 2016


I evidently either forgot to set an alarm or had a battle with my snooze button that I do not recall. But I am awake now, and so I am considering the ongoing work with which I am presented. A surprise meeting awaits me today, for example; another was determined necessary, and since the meetings pay, I decided I would happily put in to attend. And another level of work on the same project is looming; I have put in to do some of that, too. Sherwood Cottage and those who live in it need me to make money, and the rate of pay offered by the meetings and the next level of work is certainly attractive; I am happy to put my time to those ends, especially since my more regular freelance work seems to have tapered off a bit. To borrow from an old adage, the sun is shining, and a scythe rests in my hands.

That there is something off in the image of me as farmer, I concede. Although I come from farming folk, and only a generation or two removed therefrom, I am very much not a farmer. (I can also hear several members of my family snorting and saying such things as "Ya think?") Make no mistake, I appreciate what farmers do; I like to eat, as should be obvious. But I also like to be inside with my books, reading them and reasoning through them and their implications to make new knowledge. Tilling fields and hoeing rows does not generally allow of such things, to my knowledge; the outside work I have done, helping to dig ditches and install electrical services, has not. (Working the smoker does to some extent, however, which is part of why I like to do it. Another part is that I like smoked meats. They taste good.) To picture me holding older farm equipment, then, is a bit odd, and I know it.

The scythe also has strong associations with The Reaper, whom song tells us not to fear. That image is also somewhat odd to apply to me. For all the unpleasantness that is associated with me--and I have read over no small number of comments that make the association--I am far from a fatal figure. Ms. 8 might argue, had she the words, that the opposite is true, since I join her mother in giving her life and do no small amount to keep that life going. (That I will be unsuccessful in the end is not a source of joy to me, as could be imagined.) I do not move unseen through the masses, swinging my sharpened blade from side to side and gathering in that which its passing fells. I am instead overt and obvious in my dealings, and when I do swing a blade--and it has happened before, on occasion--it is generally in a vertical motion, chopping or cutting down rather than to the side. So it is not as if I do as Death does, and I am not as certain in my approach.

What is certain, though, is that work continues. Equally certain is that I need to attend to it.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016


Work continues once again.

Yesterday saw me push through the freelance order I had noted having. I managed to crank out some 6,000 words to address the write-up, of which something like 500 were concerns of formatting (subject headings, chapter titles, and the like). The order is awaiting acceptance at the moment, but the client for whom I do the writing has rarely if ever turned back work I have done; I expect that I will be getting notice soon that money for the work awaits me. I am told also that another order is on its way, which will likely make me happy; I have noted that I largely enjoy the work I do for freelancing (for the most part; I am occasionally asked to read things that I would rather not, such as a sample of vampiric pornography some time back), and I certainly like the money that it brings in for Sherwood Cottage and its indwellers. More of it would be decidedly welcome.

Even if it does not come, though, I have much to do. Teaching goes on, and I meet with all four of my classes today. Formatting documents will be a concern, and I think I will have them fill out some kind of survey or another as a homework assignment. I like to collect demographic and other data on my students, in no small part because I get asked about my experiences addressing diverse classrooms; being able to assert that experience based on reported information is helpful with doing so. Additionally, conducting such surveys and compiling the data collected from them into reports is useful practice for me in other ways. I am told that a number of occupations ask those who follow them to do such things, so my demonstrating skill in doing so seems a good idea against the thought that I may need to take up such an occupation in the future. So there is that idea to work with, too.

For the teaching work, too, I need to do a couple of things to generate new assignment materials. My students are coming up on their next sets of major tasks, and I need to lay out for them what I expect them to do. It is not a simple thing, certainly; I tend to write detailed, step-by-step instructions that far exceed in length what I want my students to accomplish. (One assignment in the current term asks students for 1,050 to 1,500 words; the assignment sheet butts up against 3,000.) And students do complain about my work, finding it hard to navigate. The problem is that I believe they need the words on the page, and I am not sure how to format more clearly for them to reduce their burden. I am also not sure I should reduce their burden, as working to parse out the information--which I do write plainly on the page--helps them develop skills that they need in life. (I have got to stop worrying so much about student complaint.)

Tuesday, January 26, 2016


Work continues, of course. A freelance order did come in yesterday, one asking me to read the latest volume in a series I have read for my client before. There is some comfort in returning to a familiar fictional milieu, to a set of characters already known, to a writing style both already encountered and easily negotiated. The reading was quickly done, and the write-up that will proceed from it is begun already. Whether I will be able to finish today or not, I am not certain; another job has asked me to attend a meeting, and that meeting time will necessarily cut into the time spent on the write-up. Even if I do not get the job done, however, I will get a lot of work done on it, so that anything I may have to take care of tomorrow will be easily handled. Or such is the idea I have about things. I hope it is a good one.

Aside from that piece, I have some scholarly reading to do. I was able to update one of my projects yesterday; the update can be found here. I also picked up another book that has a section I might need to include in that project--but I have to do the reading involved before I can make that determination. It will likely be a day or two before I can get on that work; I do need to clear out the paying work before I can turn to the not-paying, and the research work is at this point not paying (although I continue to hope that it will pay off in improved prospects for academic jobs). I enjoy it, though, and there is some chance that others will find it useful; it is the kind of thing I would have liked to have seen when I was doing some of my own research. Accordingly, I hope to keep it going for a while yet, as well as pushing out a few more things that might well appear on it later.

More scholarly writing needs doing, too. I am working on a paper I hope to send to College English at some point; I hope I may be forgiven for withholding details about it. Still, there is a lot of data-crunching that needs to be done; I have pulled quite a few numbers from my source materials, but there is other information I need to note, and doing that will require more detailed investigation than I have yet made. The work should not be difficult in itself, but it does seem as if it will be extraordinarily time-consuming, so it will be a while before it is done--and it is all the more urgent that I get on the task in short order. (I seem to recall saying similar things about the revision of my dissertation into a scholarly monograph. A working copy of it still sits on my desk, gathering dust; maybe I ought to attend to it first.) And other projects likely need attention as well; obviously, work continues.

Monday, January 25, 2016


Work continues, as it is wont to do. I will be in the classroom for four classes today. Three will be conducting peer reviews, students practicing reading and critique on one another's papers while I take quiz grades and make some few comments. The fourth will be a regular lecture and discussion. Things should work out well enough for all involved, and I will have a bit of time to attend to other concerns during office hours. In terms of my regular employment, then, as well as one of my side-jobs--because one of the classes is not like the others--the day should be decent enough, and I look forward to it.

Another of the side-jobs, the one in which I conduct write-ups of popular fiction (and now non-fiction), seems to be on hiatus. This has happened once or twice before; sales are down a bit, and so there seems less demand for the products I produce. I am somewhat worried, however; I need the money that the work brings in, and I have not heard from the client in longer than I would like. An email is in order, most likely, and if it yields no results, well, that would be a shame. I will have to see about securing some other kind of work in the meantime, or else attending to some other writing entirely and trying to sell it. But I am glad I have kept my regular job in the meantime; it is exactly this kind of thing that I anticipated as being a problem for full-time freelancing.

I have to note, however, that the time not spent buried in work has been rewarding. For example, yesterday saw me and the Mrs. take Ms. 8 to a local playground. Our little girl had a hell of a time, climbing all over the playground equipment and happily engaging with a pair of other girls who were also there. (There are not many children on our street, and, as they are older, they tend not to play with Ms. 8.) She even played on the swings--not the baby swing, with a back and leg-holes, but the more common swing, with a backless seat on two chains. It was her first time doing so, to my knowledge or my wife's (I think), and it was no small joy to see her smiling face in the winter afternoon sunlight as she went back and forth in delight.

Even among such joys, however, I am concerned. Work needs doing because Sherwood Cottage and those in it need access to resources, and work provides that access. Problematic as the system may be--and there are problems in the system, to be certain, but discussion thereof is something for another time and another venue--it is the one in which my family is enmeshed. I find myself caught by Laertes's question: "May one be pardon'd and retain the offense?" As with many forked sticks, it is not a comfortable position. But I do not know how to extricate myself from it--or those stuck in it with me, which is all the worse.

Sunday, January 24, 2016


My little girl is still asleep
I was just in there
Looking at her
And I could not help but touch her
Rest my hand upon her back
To see if she is breathing
Feel the young, smooth skin of her arms
To make sure she is not too cold

She was not
I left the blanket as it was

She stirs under my touch

In her sleep she says

And so I am not looking at her
And so I am not resting my hand upon her back
And so I am not feeling the young, smooth skin of her arms
And so I am here
And my little girl is still asleep

Saturday, January 23, 2016


Everybody talks about the weather
And I am part of everybody
So I should play along

We are told
The blizzard is coming
And that we should not expect ice cream

I wonder who will bring some of it
Onto the Senate floor
This time

I am told
By friends
That the snow is not so bad
Maybe an inch
Where feet are expected

Centimeters to meters
For the more reasonable

But I remember
Boxing Day 2010
When snow was expected
And came
And despite living in the
Best of the boroughs
I waited long before the streets were clear
And my garbage could again be collected

I am not so blithe about the weather

Friday, January 22, 2016


Have I said that I love my wife
Because I love my wife
And I have loved her enough
To change

Not just the changes
That happen
In time
Growing grayer
Growing paunchy
Hell, just fat
Growing more comfortable
But others

My world is smaller
In some ways
I go out less
Why do I need to?
What I need
Is at home

But if it covers less area
It goes deeper
Digging down to strata
Unseen in years
If ever

And I have changed
To be sure

I do things I did not do
Not because of reward
But because they need to be done
And she ought not to have always to do them

And I do make the small contacts
The phone calls and cards

And even if my ego is fragile
And it is
Because reasons
I try not to ask her to salve it
At least, not often
And I work to salve hers, as well
Partly through small gestures
The text message at work
The note on her pillow
Rubbing feet, even when they smell
(And, to be honest,
Feet that have been shod
And standing
And partly
Through listening

When I ask
And she says
I act on what she says

And I do it
Because I love my wife

Thursday, January 21, 2016


That I am delayed in writing in this webspace, I know. I overslept somewhat, as, having woken several times in the night and not being required to maintain a tight schedule today, I decided I would allow myself to remain abed for a bit. I am not sure that I am pleased to have done so; there may not be a freelance job waiting for me at the moment, but there is still much for me to do, and I have lost some of the time in which I would be able to do it. Perhaps I would not have been able to be effective had I not done so, but I do not know if I will be effective even having done so, and if I am not, I would have to question why I indulged myself. To what purpose will I have done such a thing?

I ask because, as I note, work does continue despite the lack of a present freelance commission. I probably ought to prepare materials for my next class meetings, which will need to include quizzes, since too many of my students yesterday showed me that they are not yet doing the readings assigned to them. I would like to stimulate discussion in my classes, but unless the students read the materials, there is little upon which they can build discussions that conduce to the ends of the course. Last term's students managed to get away without provoking quizzes--the proverbial spur to their flanks--but they knew I had them ready. Perhaps the looming prospect of such activities is needed.

I have never known how to stimulate intrinsic motivation. It is one of the flaws of my teaching that I have not been able to connect to students in such a way that prompts them to want to learn about what I have to teach without the threat (a small threat, indeed, but still a threat) of punitive grading--and even that does more to foster surface-level compliance than to promote actual learning. I have tried activities of various sorts; I make a point of putting materials online for student review, using learning technologies that are supposed to help meet students at their own level. They still, in the main, do not engage. They will sit sullenly for games, silently for discussions, and on the verge of sleep through more traditional forms--and their performance does not change, despite what I do. (In the main, of course; there are always a few who get it, and there are some who are naturally eager.) And all the lovely theories about teaching that I read, all of the wonderful activities I see described in the literature, depend upon students being engaged with what is going on in the classroom--something I evidently do not know how to make happen or to allow to happen or to encourage to happen.

I think I am justified in feeling frustrated.

Wednesday, January 20, 2016


Work continues today. I will be back in the classroom again, although this will be the only day this week I have all four of my classes. (Friday, I will only have the three plus an extended office hour; I will also have some side-work to attend to in the late afternoon and early evening.) One set of classes has homework coming in--nothing complicated, simply a means for me to check on whether or not the students are lining up as they ought to for the major assignment on which they are working. The other will have an assignment introduced to them. Both have examples of how the assignment should work online; I work hard to ensure that there are resources available, and students do, in time, notice that the materials are there for them. I could stand to see them realize it more quickly, though...

I do not currently have a freelance piece lined up, although I completed one yesterday and have received word that it was accepted. I find that I look forward to the next one, not only because it means I will be bringing more money into the household, but also because I will get to read something that breaks me out of the isolation typically ascribed to academics and which they recognize in themselves, as this piece and others acknowledge. (I am not on the dating market for anyone but my most excellent Mrs. Much of the advice applies to simple friendships, though. Be advised.) I have referenced the work I do as a freelancer in my classrooms, I have referenced it in other writing that I do (for example, here), and I have used it in conversations with people outside academia entirely. Being able to discuss bestsellers helps.

The search for more stable employment continues. I am wading through a stack of academic job applications, trying to knock out one or more each day. (I am usually successful.) Given contractual obligations, I cannot in good faith seek work outside academia at this point; I would need to start sooner than my present circumstances would allow, and I do not want to screw around with those students who actually care about what they are doing by walking away from the current work. Come the end of the term, however, if nothing else has come up, I will see about shifting my attention elsewhere. At that point, I will be able to walk into another job, and I am willing to move to take one (although I recall how the last move affected the Mrs....I would not care to repeat the experience). I try to be flexible, as much as my circumstances allow me to be.

In the meantime, though, I can but press on as work continues. To borrow an old adage, the hay stands tall in the fields, and the sun is beginning to come over the horizon in the east...

Tuesday, January 19, 2016


A couple of years ago, I noted in this webspace that my wife was standing for a baby shower (see it here). Now, with the Mrs. sleeping in the bed we share and Ms. 8, whose expected arrival was being celebrated, sleeping in her own bed, I find myself reflecting on some of the comments I made then. I have come to the conclusion that I was having some of my forms of privilege checked at being effectively excluded from the event. (I know I was formally invited. I know also that I would not have been truly welcome, that my presence would have imposed upon the others there gathered. And so my absence from the proceedings was appropriate, as it will doubtlessly be from similar circumstances later. I am okay with this.) I know it was only some, of course; the mere fact of being (indirectly) the beneficiary of a baby shower (and not having to buy as many diapers and other baby paraphernalia was a benefit to me) marks me as enjoying some privilege of social positioning. But the assumption that I belong in a given place was decidedly not at work.

As I think on it now, I have to wonder how many other times I have acted on that assumption when I ought not to have done so. Several come to mind quickly; I am intrusive, I know, and I am aware of some occasions when I have inserted myself into affairs as I ought not to have done. But I have to wonder how many others (and I know there are others) happened that I do not recall, either because the events have faded from the parts of my memory I commonly search or because I recall the event but was surrounded by people too polite or too concerned with my self-esteem to tell me that I had erred. The idea that I have made so many mistakes and not been aware of making them is not a comfortably one, and while I can see the counterpoint that I cannot alter events as they occurred, I can also note that I might like to avoid such errors later on--which obliges me to know how they happened. But I am also not about to backhandedly assert privilege by insisting that others tell me how and when I made my mistakes; that would also be counterproductive.

What, then, to do? Perhaps the best answer is to be silent and observe from outside, but I am also told that doing so is an exercise of privilege; the ability to leave--at least, to leave without consequence--is not something all share. And I know from experience that I will not be allowed to do such things as much as I might otherwise prefer...unless I can be sufficiently convincing that work continues. That, at least, allows me some way around things; it is hard to argue against my persistence in trying to support my family, particularly for those who benefit from that work...

Monday, January 18, 2016


She asked
How's the weather there
And he said
The skies are mostly clear
And the few clouds that gray
The lightening cornflower
Are limned with pink
And orange
And red
And yellow
As the bright sun rises
Over the crisp and chilly air

She said she loved the poetry

The skies instead
Were heavy
Bubbled over with clouds
Boiling from an unseen source
Gray and gray and nearly white
But still gray
Rushing to some other end
Or fleeing some strange thing


The skies had come to ground
Immuring everything in an off-white sheet
That makes the light come from everywhere
And hide far more than it shows


The weeping skies rage
Flashing in heat and sudden strikes
Against things unseen
But known destroyed from the sound
Howling at times and running circles in anger
Picking up and throwing things
Before exhaustion
And leaving others to clean the messes
Left behind

Would she love such stanzas, too?

Sunday, January 17, 2016


I know I slept in this morning
Allowed myself to linger longer
In bed
Than I ought to have done

Lingering is for those who have the luxury
Not to work
And I have not that luxury

I apologize
That I have not the money
To allow me to do such things
That I have not the time
To allow me to do such things
That I have not the peace of mind
To allow me to do such things
That I am among the many
Who must work
Who cannot rely on income from other sources
Who did not happen to have a trust fund
Who do not have investments wisely made
Because long-term planning requires short-term survival
And that is far from assured
With even a narrow margin

I apologize
That I am the person I am
And not someone better than I am
Because I am clearly not enough
Because I clearly have not got enough
And the only valuation that matters
Is preceded by a currency sign
Or followed by the word that sign abbreviates
And that is not something to celebrate
But the opposite

I apologize
That I have not set things up
So that my wife can have furs and pearls
If she wants to have such things
And that I would deign to ask
If she wants to have such things
Instead of telling her that she wants such things
Or having found a wife who already knows
If she wants to have such things
The answer being

I apologize
Because I am sorry

Saturday, January 16, 2016


Work still continues. A freelance order came in during the day yesterday, which is something of a relief. Evidently, my regular client had misread or forgotten a message sent him, one indicating when I would be back from my many travels. That matter seems to be resolved, now, and I have not been quietly dismissed from working the kind of work that I work so well. I think I am understandably pleased at that, as well as at the emergence of a tutorial client; we met yesterday and negotiated a meeting schedule. I get to prepare formal grammar lessons for one-on-one work, which ought to prove interesting--and profitable, given my hourly tutorial rates. So there is that, too. And another freelance project is ongoing, which should result in a fair payout for me. The household will be greatly improved.

My regular job has not subsided, of course. Yesterday, I taught my gamut of classes, introducing the first major assignment and some of the peripheral work to be done in support of it. (I say "some" because 1) I do not yet know if I will be assigning anything else, and 2) I do not know the whole slate of work that students will have to do to do what I want them to do.) There was some confusion about due dates, but those concerns were allayed. (I explicitly advised taking notes on them, and I post such things to my teaching blog, here.) I also managed to produce an example of how that assignment should be addressed, continuing a pedagogical practice I have found useful for instruction at all levels. The hope that students will benefit from the work done to support them and their progress continues.

I face a longer weekend this weekend; classes do not meet on Monday. I am not the only one for whom this is true, and so my father-in-law and stepmother-in-law (I have said I have a blended family) have come over from the next state east to spend some time at Sherwood Cottage. The Mrs. and I are always glad to have them, of course, and Ms. 8 was delighted to see them. Indeed, after they arrived, she spend a good hour bouncing around among the four of us (father-in-law, stepmother-in-law, the Mrs., and me), shrieking with joy and exclaiming "hug!" as she wrapped her tiny toddler arms as far around each of us as they would go. "Pa-pa," "G'anny," "Mama," and "Da'y" are good words to hear from her smiling face. I count myself fortunate that I get to hear them from her so often as I do.

What we will do today is unclear to me. I do have work to do to ensure that the bills stay paid, and I have a bill to pay sitting on my desk even now, as well as others of which I have been advised by email. The Mrs. has a half-day at her job, too, and the weather does not look like it will be the best for outdoor fun and adventure. We will manage, of course, but I remain uncertain as to the details.

Friday, January 15, 2016


Work continues today. I will round out the first week of the term with three classes today, discussing with them the first major assignment now that the syllabus and course calendar have been covered and I have some introductory sense of the kind of writing of which my students are currently capable. Some have already shown me that they do not read well by not attending to the details of the texts they encounter; asking questions in a reply to an email that already answers those questions is not helpful. Others have already shown me that they are positioned to be engaging and entertaining throughout the term. So it is a term like any other, it seems; I am happy to have some semblance of an idea of what to expect as I build up new courses. (And I am getting materials built; I drafted one of my student samples yesterday, and it has already attracted some favorable attention.)

Other work continues to present itself, as well. I was able recently to make a small update to one of my scholarly projects, here. How important it will be, I am unsure, but it is something I am doing and that I enjoy doing, showing some of my academic activity as well as helping me with coding in some minor fashion. Additionally, since freelance work seems still to be on hiatus, I have time to work on other matters entirely, which is to the good; I need to get some other projects taken care of so that I can perhaps have some small chance of continuing my scholarly career. (I know that I can continue to study independently of institutional affiliation, and I know that I can maintain institutional affiliation as an adjunct. The other benefits of scholarly life--namely, the academic schedule--are attractive, however; they allow me time with the Mrs. and Ms. 8 that I value greatly.) And maybe I can turn my attention to more commercial endeavors, as well.

Moving into the second long weekend of the year (since New Year's was on a Friday, and many people had it off from work...), I have much to which I must attend. There may be things coming in from students; on any given day, I do not know whether or not they will have a quiz of some sort. I may well see about writing another student example, since those seem to benefit my pupils and me. The ongoing search for a permanent position will go on (and, yes, I know the phrasing rankles; too bad). Some in-laws are coming in; they also have time off, and they are near enough that they can get to Sherwood Cottage easily. The house must be prepared for them--although the Mrs., in her excellence, has already done much to that end. Maybe, too, I can scrape together something worth looking at and convince other people that they want to support such endeavors...

Thursday, January 14, 2016


Only a month remains
Get things ready
For red and pink and white
All night
All day
The flowers need buying
The candy, too
Restaurant reservations need making
And maybe babysitters need to be arranged
And all of it has to be done now
Because later will be
Too late

There is only one day to do it
Because there is only one day to do it
The others can simply pass by unattended
Since there is the one day to do it

One day
For an orgy of outpoured amorousness
Is all anybody needs

One day
It is coming.
Be ready.

Wednesday, January 13, 2016


Work continues, if perhaps with fewer individual tasks than I had expected. Freelancing seems to be quiet at the moment, which is somewhat troubling; the money it brings in is quite helpful. My work in and for the classroom, however, resumes today, and I was busy with it yesterday, too, churning out two assignment sheets (close to 3,000 words each) for my students. I still have reading to do to be able to teach their classes, and I still need to write the sample assignments I provide them for use as models. (Students tell me that they help. I wish they would say it on the formal evaluations for which schools ask.) So perhaps it is good that there is a bit of a gap in the freelancing; I have other things to get done at the moment, even if they do not directly pay.

Family concerns are minimal at the moment, thankfully. The Mrs. continues to work her work, the two of us trading off working time and schedules so that Ms. 8 receives the care and attention she needs. (We cannot afford day care here, and most of the people we know are child-free or have kids who have already gone off to live their own lives, so there are limits to her interaction with other children.) Ms. 8 is forming short sentences now--a few of them, but only a few as yet--and is beginning to say "please" when making requests--without having to be prompted. She seems also to be engaging in more pretend play. These seem to be good things, generally, although I do wish there were better venues for her to engage with other children here. I suppose it is the price of living away from family and starting our own family relatively late.

The weather continues to be cool, into cold, around Sherwood Cottage. The deeper chill of earlier seems to have passed, at least for the moment; temperatures drop below freezing overnight, but they are ranging into the mid-40s F. Today, they are expected to get into the 50sF. How long the little snap of spring will last is uncertain to me; I anticipate another substantial drop in temperatures before too long, one that will wait just long enough for plants to think it safe to grow again, only to crush them in a cold blanket that catches the sunlight and throws it painfully into the eyes of those who look on. (I know that I anthropomorphize to do so, but I read reality as a smart-ass. How else to have the platypus, among others?) For now, though, things are reasonably pleasant.

I should do more to enjoy the relative pleasantness, I know. I also know that I am not likely to do so. Work continues, after all, and pleasant circumstances do not diminish what must be done.

Tuesday, January 12, 2016


Work continues, as it of course does. Yesterday's went well enough. I met with my classes for the first time, laying out the syllabus for them, and it seemed to go over well enough. Tomorrow will see diagnostic writing exercises; I have my students do them so that I can get a view of the kind of writing they do. Having that view helps me to determine how to begin working with them as a class, and I tend to build review time into my course calendars--even if I do not always avail myself of it. So things are off to a decent enough start in the classroom.

I have much reading to do. My scholarly texts are piling up on me again, and I need to winnow out that pile quickly. Too, my teaching load is of an unfamiliar course and with textbooks new to me; I need to plow through them to get ahead of my students at the very least. And I need to find a text I can use to model some of the activities I need to do for the term, which means yet more reading in support of me writing the kinds of things I ask my students to write. No freelance work is currently on offer for me, though, so I have a bit of time to tend to that reading.

Perhaps I can get on to some of the needed writing, as well. In addition to needing to draft samples of the assignments I ask my students to complete, I need to draft assignment sheets for those assignments. One of them is already in progress and is, in fact, nearly done. I need to have more than one of them ready, though. I think I will not work on the others in the same way that I have worked on the one I have in progress; drafting the text offline works better for me than doing so online, as it happens. (Thinking with hyperlinks in place is markedly useful, however.) And the writing I need to do for my own other projects remains in need of doing, of course. I did not attend to it during the last month nearly so much as I ought to have done, and I will doubtlessly feel the lack of it in the coming weeks.

It seems, then, that I remain busy as the new semester begins, shifting once again the kind of work that needs to be done but altering in no real way the quantity of it--unless it will be, perhaps, to increase it more than the initial bump at the term's beginning suggests. I will somehow get done all of what needs doing, as I have no other recourse. I can only hope that it ends up being worth the effort; I still have no idea how effective have been my earlier efforts.

Monday, January 11, 2016


The new school term begins today,
And so I must soon away
To face new classes and to say
To each that I can show a way

Through school's demands that perhaps aid
In job-getting and comments made
By pundits yelling undismayed
As for their minds the public's played

And if two deaths have blemished things,
As I go out to work, there sings
Yet now, and still there rings,
The voice ignored by many kings

And queens and others of all state,
For wisdom notes that much we hate,
Since we enjoy, to abate,
Should stop, and now instead of late.

Wednesday, January 6, 2016


Work continues, of course. I find myself scrambling to put together materials for my courses, which begin next week. The first two days of classes are accounted for; given the schedules I am facing, the second day of class will be the last day in which all four of those I am teaching will be aligned. (One section is on a two-day schedule; the other three are on a three-day.) I suppose I am about to plunge into another headlong rush, but that is as I should expect it to be; my line of work is what it is, after all, and after as long in it as I have been, I ought to know that the teaching term is a pressing series of weeks. Not that things get easier between terms; all that happens is the work changes form.

Not only do I have classes at two institutions to handle, I have my own research to do--and freelancing demands attention, as well. I have a gap in that at the moment, which is to the good, but I also know the gap will not be long. The money freelancing brings in is entirely too attractive for me to leave alone for long; it is an addictive quantity. (I would say the access to resources it affords is addictive, but I know that the truth is that the money itself is the compulsory thing. I am acculturated as I am, and even if I might try to fight it, I rely to a great extent on the system that compels the constant search for money. I do not have the luxury of extricating myself from it, not if I want to do the work I do--and I do want to do that work.)

Attending to my family also demands attention--and rightly. Ms. 8 was somewhat problematic yesterday, waking in a foul mood and venting that mood repeatedly during the day. Some such venting took the form of screaming, as it does. Some took the form of playing slap-daddy, which occasioned a pointed response from her unwilling playmate. Some took the form of bite-daddy, which also occasioned a pointed response from her unwilling playmate. I know that matters will ease in time. I simply hope to have a face and arms yet when they do, as well as intact genitals--since Ms. 8 manages to kick, slap, or headbutt them daily or more. (I gather she does not want siblings.)

I suppose there are things to be said against my writing the kind of writing I write in this webspace. I suppose many will read it as whiny--"Suck it up" comes to mind as a likely response, as does "Back in my day, we didn't complain." But I do not think that "sucking it up" (which requires sucking; am I being told I should suck? Then why complain if I do?) has helped people, and "back in the day" was a good time only for people whom I and many of those for whom I care are not. Why would I want to go back to that?

Tuesday, January 5, 2016


There have been changes around Sherwood Cottage in the last few days. For example, the Mrs. and I had had a child-latch on the one toilet in the house, as Ms. 8 was at one point lifting up the lid and playing in the water in the bowl--as toddlers will do. The latch ceased to function last weekend, and so I removed it; there is no sense in keeping around a lock that does not lock, and I am not a locksmith that I could repair it. More, it would have cost more to repair said lock than to simply purchase another--not that we have bought another. Instead, the toilet lid shows the marks of having had the lock on it, and Ms. 8 has not yet begun again to play in that particular font of holy water. (And if you recoil at that image, consider how many note praying to the porcelain god. I am hardly the first to make the connection.) I am not about to test her forbearance in other matters, however, and I am not going to remove other locks from the house. They may not stop a dedicated thief, but they will keep honest people honest. Supposedly.

Other changes include some of the refurnishing going on. Ms. 8 is growing and changing, herself, and she has a tendency to rearrange the furniture in the living room. I am not always thrilled at this, of course, but the work is easily enough undone. What perhaps presents more difficulty is the increasing presence of her toys about the place. She is beginning to have playsets, and putting them outside seems...inadvisable at present. But there is only so much space inside Sherwood Cottage, particularly space in which she can play. Finding where to put her stuff is becoming a challenge, and while I know that the Mrs. and I do need to pare down our own holdings, we do not need to do so to such an extent as would easily allow Ms. 8's things the room they need in full. (This is both because she does not need so much of it out and because the Mrs. and I do need to have some of ours out and accessible. We get to live here, too.) At present, such changes are reasonably slow and easy to manage, but their acceleration seems to be coming.

I had thought that I would have more to say about the matter when I started. I do not, though, at least not that I am willing to share with the world, and that annoys me somewhat. I had had the thought in the shower; shower ideas are often good ideas, and I was pleased to be able to hold on to one after drying off. Evidently, it was something in the water that allowed the idea to form, and removing the water removed the thoughts. I am certain a metaphor inheres in it, but explicating it will have to wait for some other time.

Monday, January 4, 2016


Work continues, as ever it must. I have a few items left to complete on one task before sending it off for review. Afterwards, I have preparations to make for my classes in the upcoming term (it begins in a week), and I have a book to read for a write-up that needs to get done in haste. The reading, at least, should go quickly; the book is short and is a work of popular romance. I have read the author's work before, and I found it akin to a liquid diet; it is taken in quickly, and it leaves just as fast. So I have some hope of getting things done in the next couple of days so that I can be ready to move on to the next thing. It is not as if my "to do" list has an end in sight at any time near to hand, after all--as if anyone's ever actually does.

The Mrs., Ms. 8, and I had a visit from an old friend yesterday. The Mrs. and I have known said friend for more than ten years now, having met her while we were all in graduate school; Ms. 8 has known her for most of her life. She seems to be doing reasonably well, our friend, finding that teaching at the secondary level has substantial rewards and positioning herself to find yet others through particular programs that involve teaching at the secondary level. (Were I not in the position of having had, and having let lapse, certification to teach, I might avail myself of them. But I am, and so I am given to understand that I am not eligible for them. But I do not think I could go back to that kind of teaching, not because I am "too good" for it, but because I am not likely good enough a teacher to do it anymore.) It was good to see our friend, to be sure; it had been entirely too long. We understand about having to go where the work requires, though; it is for that reason we are at Sherwood Cottage even now, handling the dry chill that pervades the area this winter so far.

The visit is done, though, and things are beginning to return to some semblance of normalcy after two weeks of disrupted calendars and crazy travel plans. How long it will take for them to get back to "normal" and how long they will remain so is yet to be seen; I know that my teaching schedule will be somewhat disordered by another observance soon enough. I think I will be able to adapt readily enough, however; I always seem to do so. Having so much work to keep me busy is a help with that; the amount to do changes little, even if the kinds of things to be done differ. And that, too, is as it is for many if not for most or all.

Sunday, January 3, 2016


Just three days in, I'm already behind.
Lag from the last time yet lingers in mind,
And I scramble about greatly hoping to find
A way to do all of the tasks I've outlined
For myself and all of them to me assigned
By writers of paychecks, not always kind.

What can wait for later? What must be done now?
What order of working allows me to cow
The many tasks facing me? Let me know how
To structure the day such as will best allow
The discharge of duties, will help me to plow
Under the work, increasing somehow.

Saturday, January 2, 2016


Work continues as the new year progresses. I have another order on deck already, as well as the continuing work on the other project-for-pay that I am doing. The usual gamut of other concerns is also in place. There is much for me to do, and I feel as if there is no time to do more than a small part of it. Such is life, I suppose; there is always more to do than there are time and resources in and with which to do it. (At least in the sense of what is accessible; time and resources may well exceed the amount of things to do in toto, but none of us has access to the actual totus. And you thought I'd make a joke about a Kansas dog or a band most popular in the 1980s...sensibly, I admit. I do make that kind of joke, and far too often for anybody's comfort.)

It continued yesterday, of course, although the work was largely around the home, with the Mrs. and I tending to the domestic chores that had piled up around Sherwood Cottage. There are yet things for me to do in that regard; many of my shirts need ironing, as some of them have for some weeks now. But that does not mean I did not get things done during what ended up being a two-pot day. Among others, I secured a pair of shoes to replace an old pair I had worn for at least five years; I may have bought them in The City when I lived there, but I might have bought them while I was yet an on-campus student in Hub City. (The latter label should not be difficult to untangle, given my love of crawfish and boudin.) The uppers on the old pair were letting in air and water through several large tears; it was time to replace them. My feet will take some time to get used to the new shoes, though; things ought to be interesting for a while.

As the Mrs. and I worked, Ms. 8 showed that she continues to develop. Her vocabulary is increasing markedly, and she engages in pretend play, "feeding" dolls she received in the past weeks with play cookware and food she also received in the past few weeks. (She makes slurping sounds as she puts spoons to their lips and tilts them up and chewing sounds as she puts fake fruits and vegetables to them.) She also plays with blocks she has had and received in the past weeks, and she dances enthusiastically at odd times--whether or not music plays around her. I admit to some worry about the potential enforcement of gender norms, but the Mrs. points out that what she does mimics much of what we do and have done; we feed Ms. 8 (albeit not from a spoon anymore), we push her around in a stroller at times, we carry her, and we both cook for her. (The Mrs. admittedly cooks more than I do, but I do a fair bit of cooking, and not just eggs on occasional mornings.) Ms. 8 also likes to rough-house, which I take as a good thing, although as her doing so continues, I hope she will stop kicking or slapping me in the genitals...

Friday, January 1, 2016


A new year has begun, as it would seem often to have done; I have spoken to it here, here, and here in this webspace. The Mrs., Ms. 8, and I were all abed long before the beginning of it at Sherwood Cottage; waiting for midnight has lost its allure, although I do recall some good transitions from year to year. (I recall some far less pleasant, as well.) My wife and I have had our fun, and Ms. 8 is as yet too young to recognize the holiday or value it. The neighborhood in which Sherwood Cottage stands is relatively empty with school not in session. Between the two, we were able to have a quiet evening spent reasonably peacefully. It was nice enough, if hardly the kind of thing valorized in public perception--but it has the great benefit of having prevented us from being hung over.

For me, the world has not much changed; I have to alter numbers on my blog posts and on the checks I sign (and, yes, I still write checks for a fair number of things; I like the existence of a physical record). Work still continues, with more freelancing waiting for my attention, as well as class prep and any number of other projects about which I have written on no small number of occasions before. The weather around Sherwood Cottage remains wintry (by area standards), with nights below freezing and days not much above it; the ground remains wet from the passing goliath, since there seems not to be enough warmth in the air to dry it. The lawn needs no attention, however, so some of the consequences of that problem are mitigated. Ms. 8 still does not get to play in her yard as much as she would like, though, and that is far less good. Unlike her father, she enjoys the outdoors, and I would give it her if I could. I would give her many things if I could. I cannot, though, which I do not think is a mark of pride.

To return to an earlier point--that I like the existence of a physical record--I am beginning a new volume of my journal today, having wrapped up the last one (after entirely too long) yesterday. It will be the thirtieth such volume since I began keeping a journal on something other than a legal pad in 2005. Just shy of three volumes a year is not an impressive rate of completion, I know, and there are gaps in each volume I have maintained that bespeak times either of substantial stress or indolence. Each time, I hope to do better; each time, I do not. I know such things about myself; it is part of why I do not make resolutions, as is traditional as one year becomes another. I know I will break them, and I am already often enough forsworn. I do not need to compound errors by repeating them; I can, at least, make new and different mistakes in the new year recently begun.