Monday, May 30, 2016


With apologies to the Prince of Fantasists...

Out of the wind-swept plains to the Hill Country I am come
In this place I will abide, and my heir
Until the ending of the world
Or until I find a job in some other place
Whose worth is such that leaving again
This land where I was raised
Is worth the doing
For the securing of my heirs
The one who is and the others who may come
For so long as is given me to do
But I doubt that it will be sung
As it is to be written in Tengwar

Thursday, May 26, 2016


I knew it was coming
And soon, I'll be going
Riding the roads
Amid the winds' blowing
Leaving a place
That is no longer home
Finding another
Once more to roam
Across the wide plains
And into the hills
To seek for a way
To pay off my bills

Wednesday, May 25, 2016


I sent out another job application today
This one for part-time work
In a field in which I have
Of full-time experience
And some part-time work before that

I wonder if I will hear back
I usually do not

The only thing
A firm prospect
I have at the moment
Is an interview for a position
Wholly outside my experience
For which I have little grounding
No training
But it is the only one that has said
Let's talk

While another I know
Graduate degree in hand
Will be working maintenance over the summer
After being turned down for other
I have this

I have some other plans
There is no way to not

Who gets to have stability anymore?

Tuesday, May 24, 2016


Rain fell last night
The sun on the ground
Moistens the air again
Poaching those who will be out in it
My own dumpling was one such
Dancing about the cage
In the humid warmth

Monday, May 23, 2016


Over the past few days, I have been trying to rest up after recent events. The trip to Kalamazoo was fun, but it took more out of me than I had anticipated it doing. Being sick immediately after returning from Kalamazoo did not help matters. Having to crank out a freelance order and pack against the upcoming move--we leave Sherwood Cottage forever on Friday--have only added to my situation. While I am making sure that what needs to get done gets done--meaning that I am offering some small help in getting things done to my most excellent wife, who is much better at this kind of thing than I am--I am also taking advantage of the fact that I have few scheduled demands from now until the relocation is done (and nothing comes to mind about afterwards; I have not heard anything about jobs). I do not think I am as well rested as I need to be, but I am better than I have been in a while, and I appreciate it greatly.

Doing so has thrown off my writing schedule, to be sure. I am erratic and irregular in making posts to this webspace and to the others with which I am involved, as well as with writing in the pages of my journal--and much more so than is usual for me. Too, I have ideas that I want to sit and write, but I am not able to attend to them, in part because I do have to help with packing and keeping an eye on Ms. 8 as the packing goes on, and in part because the packing has disrupted and disordered the space in which I would do the writing. That is, my home-space is all out of whack, which makes it hard for me to write. I have been concerned with writing and working spaces before, as a CCC piece and an old teaching blog piece both attest, and I wonder now if I there is something else for me to say about places of writing as a result of having mine disordered and disrupted once again, particularly since I have been complicit in occasioning the disorder and disruption.

If there is, though, I will have to wait to write it. For now, there are errands to run and other work to do; even though we are leaving at the end of the week, we have to make it to the end of the week, and that means we still have to have food at Sherwood Cottage. We still have to keep the lights on and the water flowing, for a few more days, at least. I have a little that I can do, yet, to help with such things. I probably ought to get to doing so, rather than spending the day writing, as I might perhaps otherwise prefer to do...

Saturday, May 21, 2016


And packing
And packing
And packing
And packing
And packing
And packing
And packing
And getting things ready
To go far away
Is taking up most of
Each of the days
Those few that remain
Before our life here
Ends that we've maintained
For several years
I make no complaint
The move's one we need
But now I return with
Deliberate speed
To packing
And packing
And packing
And packing
And packing
And packing
And packing
And packing

Friday, May 20, 2016


The overflow valve
Seems still to be pressed into service
And the power goes on and off

I have to wonder if I am being given a message
If I am
I have to wonder why it is
My handwriting is considered bad

Thursday, May 19, 2016


It seems a valve opened
And opened
And opened again
Flushing out pipes
And again
And again
Before occasioning backflow

Such things please nobody

Wednesday, May 18, 2016


Work continues, as ever it must.

I have wrapped up a bit more of the paperwork stemming from my recent trip to Michigan and the International Congress on Medieval Studies. The idea that the Tales after Tolkien Society should keep some record of the papers presented in its name has long seemed to me to be a good one, and although I do not think it will be possible to go back and get most of the abstracts from the first years of presentations, there is no reason we cannot be better about keeping track of them moving forward. Doing so for the 2016 Congress is a first step in that line, and one well worth taking; I am glad to have taken it, with the record appearing on the Tales after Tolkien Society blog, here.

Packing for the relocation to the Texas Hill Country also continues. I have been breaking down my desk so that it can move over, and I have gotten a fair bit of work done to that end. There is a fair bit more to do, however, and so I will be pressing ahead with it in the next few days as I am able to do so. I cannot completely take it down yet, however, since work does continue, and some of it even pays in the short term (as the Society work does not and the time spent attending to this webspace cannot). Since bills continue to come in, it is good that I have things to do--and as long as I have them to do, I have to have space and equipment with which to do them. Hence the desk remains for now.

A freelance order came in yesterday. I have bought the text and begun my reading; I was somewhat distracted by other things (paperwork, laundry, vacuuming, dishwashing), so I have not finished the text yet. But I expect it will not be long until I get the reading done, and the writing should proceed relatively quickly thereafter; I should be able to bring in the usual fee from the work in short order. It will help the family as we move forward, and that is the thing towards which I work. And I suppose I ought to get back to work...

Tuesday, May 17, 2016


I have returned to Sherwood Cottage from the International Congress on Medieval Studies on the campus of Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo, Michigan. As I think I might have noted in the last few posts, it was a good conference. My research presentation went well, and the business I had to conduct there went remarkably smoothly. There is still a bit of paperwork for me to do to wrap some of it up, but I wait on some more information to be able to do it. In the meantime, I look forward to returning to work on my own outside projects, as well as making the final preparations for the relocation from the wind-swept plains to the Texas Hill Country. Less than two weeks remain, and there is much yet left to do--although not as much as might otherwise be, given the continued diligence of my most wonderful wife. I find that I am once again lucky to have her in my life, both because she does so much as she does and because she is gracious as I go off and do what I do.

For now, back to work.

Sunday, May 15, 2016


I remain at the International Congress on Medieval Studies for a bit longer yet; it wraps up today, and a good friend and I will be indulging in my usual post-Congress tradition of taking in a movie and, I believe, resting up before the return to the wind-swept plains tomorrow. (I will probably not be making a post to this webspace tomorrow.) It has been a good conference all around, one that has done much to refresh and rejuvenate me, and I am glad to have attended it therefore. My ability to do so in the future is uncertain, given the uncertainty of my employment situation, but I nurse the hope that I will be able to make it back to this part of the world at about this time next year. I would certainly hate to miss out on it.

There remains work for me to do about the conference before I head out, of course. Yesterday's work went well and will need to be reported severally; look for information to appear at Travels in Genre and Medievalism and at the Tales after Tolkien Society website. The more recreational activities in which I indulge while here also went quite well, which is always pleasing; they account in large part for why I make a point of making it to the Congress. Indeed, I have several new project ideas as a result of having attended the event, and, given my uncertain situation, I feel relatively free to pursue them--in and around the ongoing preparations for the move to the Texas Hill Country, of course. I am confident that the work I might do will find a home somewhere, even as I continue to look for a professional home to call my own.

Good as the Congress is, though, I can hear the call of family. I have been away from the Mrs. and Ms. 8 long enough; I look forward to being back with them once again. (I note with some pride that my many friends and acquaintances at the Congress remark favorably upon my daughter, with a group of them even sending things for her with me. Is it any wonder, then, that I hold such people in the esteem that I do?) The long drive tomorrow will be welcome, largely because I know what lies at the end of it, and I will be happy, indeed, to return thereto.

Saturday, May 14, 2016


I am still at the International Congress on Medieval Studies in Kalamazoo, Michigan. While here, I have been attending to some scholarly business, which I report elsewhere--here, for example. Too, I presented a paper yesterday, which went reasonably well. But I am also attending panels because I want to attend them. Some discussion of such things follows.

My own paper, "The Malorian Kay as Fredalian Figure," reads the presentation of Sir Kay the Seneschal in Malory's Le Morte d'Arthur as enacting the kind of bullshit James Fredal defines in his 2011 College English piece, "Rhetoric and Bullshit." I admit that there is some immaturity in my presenting the paper as I did; there is something that remains funny to me about getting to say the word "bullshit" a couple dozen times in an academic paper given to an audience of academics. But that does not mean that the rubric Fredal lays out is a bad one, and it does not mean that the application of that rubric is invalid--and my audience seemed to have taken the point. There is merit in applying emergent tools to established works, and the discussions that ensue from such applications--whether directed to the topic or working on some related idea emerging from the underlying situation--are well worth having. I am happy to have been able to stimulate such things, even more than I am to have gotten to write a fun paper with a number of jokes embedded in it.

I also attended interesting sessions. One of them related to the Ballad of the Lone Medievalist, a publication to which I have contributed a chapter that is currently under review. It was a roundtable session, with a number of speakers who more or less improvised their presentations. Some common threads emerged from their discussion, at least to my mind and ear. Many speakers addressed the institutional pressures that vitiate against the presentation of the medieval in the classroom. Many also addressed the seeming impetus for medievalists to be tasked with the teaching of all pre-modern materials in their disciplines. The inherently interdisciplinary nature of medieval studies received much attention, too, as did the need to be willing to be wrong, both as a way to develop cultural competencies and as a way to be better able to approach the truth of things--the one great project on which all sincere academics are working. Each reminded me of things that I have known but have not always kept in the front of my mind, and each spurs me to something like hope in my own ongoing search for work that makes use of my talents. I have need of such hope.

There will doubtlessly be more for me to report, both in this webspace and elsewhere. Whether I will get to it soon, I am not certain; there is much to do, and some of it involves traveling well away from where I can comfortably or effectively report it. But I will continue to make the effort to account for my deeds and doings; hopefully, they will be of help to someone or another, which would make the efforts worth expending.

Thursday, May 12, 2016


I am at the 2016 International Congress on Medieval Studies, where I am currently between panels. I am not presenting today; I am simply attending today. Tomorrow, I present and preside over a couple of things. Saturday, I preside over a panel. After that, who knows? But I mean to enjoy myself while I am here. If I can get my notes and things in order, I might even be able to offer up some reports of things in my personal blog (the one you are reading right now, you lucky person, you), as well as on my more professional blog (the one at and the Tales after Tolkien Society blog ( If I cannot get my notes together in time to offer daily reports or some such thing, then I can at least give an after-conference report and analysis of the things that I have been doing and will have been doing. So there should be something to show for my attendance here, and perhaps some return to what I ought to be doing from what I have not been doing: writing.

That I have been neglectful of putting pen to paper and fingers to keys in the last days is clear. I have been traveling, among other things. And there is more traveling for me to do, so I am not done with the interruptions to my regularly scheduled posting. I do not expect the interruptions to run past the end of May 2016, however, so while there will doubtlessly be more lacunæ in my work here, they should diminish or cease by the time June arrives to do...whatever it is to the May flowers that April's showers, piercing the droughts of March to their roots, engender that June does. (Parse the sentence; it makes sense.) For now, though, I have not got my notes yet in order, so I will see about attending to that...after I get some other business done...

Saturday, May 7, 2016


With my teaching duties done, possibly forever, I decided I would let myself sleep in a bit today. I feel the better for it, actually, even though work continues--and not just the work of packing for the move from Sherwood Cottage to the Texas Hill Country, nor yet the work to prepare for the job interview I have there Monday or the soon-following trip to Kalamazoo for the International Congress on Medieval Studies. For a freelance order, one that requires me to read and summarize a novel (providing commentary) in 5,000 words and a scant few days has come in, and I have both accepted it and read the novel. Today, I write the words, which should not be a problem although I have to have it done today; it is what I will do today...beginning shortly. I need to write my words here, of course, as well as having a cup of coffee or two before I really get into things. But I am happy to have the work; I am happy to have a little bit more money coming into the household, even if the timing is not the most optimal.

I am already finding, as I think I do with every break, that I do less well with regulating my own time than might be hoped. That is, I have come to rely on externally imposed schedules to govern the shapes of my days; I tend not to make them for myself anymore. Were I able to look back through my older journals--they are packed away in anticipation of the move--I might find some such things; I recall making them at times in my life. (I also remember being better about writing in my journals nightly, even if only a few sentences, but that has been something of a struggle, and not only because of Ms. 8, although it is true that the time and effort she demands make journal-writing harder. She is worth it, however.) But this is not one of the times in my life during which I excel at doing so--and I do not think that the weeks in advance of the move, during which matters are necessarily unsettled and further unsettling, is the time to resume the habit. Once my family and I are in place, perhaps, I can start to do the thing again.

It is not the only such thing to which I look forward. In the past few years, I have not been able to pursue my martial arts studies--not that I was the best student in any event, but I did enjoy them, and I benefited from them. In the Hill Country, I will have better access to such things, and, if schedules and finances permit, I will resume them. I have the feeling that my health, physical and mental, will be better for my doing so, and that will help me to be a better provider for my family. It will help me to be able to do more of the kind of work that has popped up for me recently, as well as to do perhaps other kinds of work, entirely, and that will help ensure that work continues--as does my ability to take care of the Mrs. and Ms. 8, with which I am concerned.

Friday, May 6, 2016


That this post comes somewhat later in the day than is usual, I know. I wanted to be sure to get something done before I sat down to write: concluding my work at Oklahoma State University. I turned in to the office what I needed to turn in, including my separation paperwork, so I am now done with that work of teaching. Although my contract period does not conclude for another week yet, I am effectively done, as I will be out of the state for most of the time between now and the end of that contract term. There should still be some money coming in, of course; there is some back pay owed me. But aside from that and an agreed-upon travel reimbursement, I am done. And I do not know how to feel about it...I suppose I will write more later, when I know more.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


Administering exams is concluded for me now; all I have left to do is to grade the exams, return them to the students, submit grades, pick up one bag from my desk, and return my key, and all is done for one job. (I turned in my key for another job yesterday.) Although the paperwork will not go through for a couple of days, I will be effectively unemployed at that point--so, tomorrow, more or less. And at this point, despite having dozens of job applications out, I have few if any prospects. One job interview awaits, and only the one--and I cannot trust that I will be awarded the job, despite being qualified to do it and willing to do the work. (I do intend to take in more freelance work once I relocate, but I more or less have to wait until the relocation; uprooting in the middle of jobs does not suggest itself as a good idea, either for contractor/client relations or for the actual quality of work to be done.) I am a diligent worker and skilled in many areas--including learning new information and skills. I would be a good employee. Just make it so I can support my family.

It is also Cinco de Mayo, something my family and I mark. We do not do so extravagantly, to be sure; I tend to push against being overly celebratory in any event, and my personal connection to the holiday is somewhat tenuous. But my wife and daughter have it in their heritage, and if they decide to celebrate it (albeit in only small ways, given circumstances), I can hardly refuse them. And I have to wonder if there is not something emblematic in my getting more or less done with the work I have been doing these past years on this day, one that commemorates an unlikely victory. Part of me wants to hope so--but another part of me worries that if it is so, I am more the French than the Mexican in the event. Such worries usually pop up when I consider the applicability of metaphor and adage to my life; I may be given lemons, but what sugar is provided that I may make lemonade? And perhaps things have purpose, but the purpose may well be to serve as an admonitory example to others.

The view is not the most optimistic, I know. And I know I should be more grateful for the many good things that are in my life and the many good people who are in it. I know things could be far, far worse than they are. But I feel sometimes as if I am asked to fawn over them and act as though things are good enough. They are not. They need to be better, and I am trying to make them better through work, and no work presents itself. Nor am I in a position to be able to strike out and try to make things work outside of regular work; I flatly cannot afford the price of failure, for I am not the one who would have to pay the bulk of it. My daughter would (and the Mrs. and I were in reasonably good shape when we started getting out of the way of having her, thank you very much; we were pulling in six figures or damned close to it, with five figures in the bank). If I am not entirely happy with things, I think I have some reason for it.

Wednesday, May 4, 2016


May the Fourth be with you, always, but especially on this day, this Jedi Day, with the horrible pun that, as I think on it, relies on the idea of speech impediments (Is that the current term? I do not wish to undercut those who experience such situations by using the wrong terms for them.) being funny. So I suppose that after some years of marking the occasion, I really ought to stop making the joke. And, really, it is a hackneyed pun at this point; I should be doing better.

Less bad-jokingly, today marks the sixth anniversary of my posting in this webspace; I have commented about the date in such regard before, and more than once. Matters largely continue as I have attested in previous years. At present, I face administering exams and grading them, and I have travel plans that commence shortly after I wrap things up where I am, so I have to get things done quick, fast, and in a hurry--while still doing things right. And I am facing a loss of employment with no certain prospects, although I doubt I will receive a call while I am at the International Congress on Medieval Studies saying that I have had my contract suddenly renewed. Not this time.

Work continues even so, however. I recently pushed through a series of short definitions in response to a series of freelance orders. Each paid only a little, but I can dash off fifty words in a scant few minutes, and lots of small things combine into larger ones quickly. I am looking at taking on additional other freelance work, although how I will work out the timing will be interesting, given the travel plans in the next week and the move to come shortly thereafter. The Texas Hill Country calls, and I must answer, despite the opprobrium cast upon the area and its indwellers by a great many. Perhaps once I have arrived there, I will be able to spend a bit of time attending to one writing concern or another. With luck, I will be able to write enough, and well enough, to be able to bring in some money for my family from it once again. I have appreciated the past weeks of less strain on my person, but the concomitantly greater strain on my finances has been less welcome...

Tuesday, May 3, 2016


Two of the exams are given
Two more remain
Grading will follow
And follow
And follow
And follow
And some will not be pleased
And others will know
They deserve what happens
And still others will find
That one
That brings them up
They will be happy, I think.

Monday, May 2, 2016


Today, I will be proctoring two of the four exams I am offering this term. One is at the institution that offers my primary employment for a little longer; the other is at the community college where I picked up a class for a bit of added income. They are substantively similar assignments, both asking students to reflect on how instruction might be improved. From what students have told me thus far, since I have encouraged them to take ample notes and to discuss their note-taking with me, many are focusing on job-related ideas. That is, they are looking to suggest that the course sequences in which they find themselves adjust to include job-search materials such as cover letters, emails, and resumes. I do not know that the idea is a bad one, actually, although I know that a couple of later writing courses offered to the students--Business Communication and Technical Writing--attend to such concerns, and I have to wonder if their hosting programs might get...agitated at first-year courses incorporating such materials.

Such annoyance is not my problem, however, as I will be moving on once the exams are given and graded. I mean to be done with those tasks quickly, and I expect that I will be able to be so quickly done; exam submissions tend toward brevity. If things go as they are supposed to go, I will get the exams graded, get my grades submitted, and turn in all of what I need to turn in to my jobs--and then I will be done. A few more things will need doing for the International Congress on Medieval Studies, at which I have tasks to complete; I have a little bit of preparatory work left to do in advance of those tasks, but not much. After that, though, and after next week's flying trips to the Texas Hill Country (I have a job interview) and Kalamazoo (the Congress), I will be done--at least with academic work, and at least for a little bit. Packing for the end of my visit to the wind-swept plains will need to continue, of course, since that visit ends when the month does, and there will be little time remaining, relatively speaking.

Something similar was the case for me some three years ago, I know. I was facing the loss of employment (due to a layoff) and a relative lack of prospects for more of it. I was fortunate enough to be recalled, though, and my current primary job presented itself as a relief. No such reprieve is currently available--but I recall that I was recalled while at the Congress, and while I do not necessarily look for such a thing to happen again, I cannot help but have a little bit of hope that I will get a fortunate email or phone call in the next days, or that things will go particularly well for me in the Hill Country, and I will be able to look forward to having my work continue so that I can continue to support my family.

Sunday, May 1, 2016


There were showers, indeed,
Piercing the drought,
And their liquor has engendered the flowers,
But that seems to have happened early
Because I recall seeing them yesterday.
Something seems to be off,
And I wonder what other changes are coming
And whether they will be so benign
As early blooming