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Nothing to Write Home About

As a jumpstart in my writerly life, I am participating in a 30-day challenge to reflectively write at least 150 words and then post online. We’ve since expanded on the idea with international colleagues into #modigiwri. Join us and here goes!

So, I am supposed to be writing and posting at least 150 words a day, and I have some lovely colleagues who have taken off with the #modigiwri challenge (check out this Wakelet curated by Wendy). You can get a taste of the range of digital writing they are sharing and responding in the short exchange below.

And where have I been? Well, for the most part I’ve been doing the holidays that we celebrate…and still adjusting to life with a newborn. And I have written some—about 150 each day at least. I just haven’t posted them. They haven’t felt post-worthy. My fragments have felt, well, like fragments. I have been inspired by how beautifully Darlene (who inspired this jumpstart) weaves together the everyday and the truly meaningful, and how Betina addresses the atrocities of our world head on, and how creative Wes is in the variety of his posts. And so I aspire to be more like them in my writing. In the meantime…I need to meet this challenge and post something even if I feel I have “nothing to write home about.”


The theme of dots and connections has bubbled up in the #modigiwri activity (see Sheri’s post), and so I’ve been thinking I’d just let the fragments be just that—fragments or dots with no apparent connection, or maybe they’re just hide and seek connections that you get to make! I’ve got it, let’s pretend this a Choose Your Own Connections activity…

A One-Item Favorite Things List

Some of the posts have reviewed folks favorite things, and so far I have only one thing I want to write about…tea, particularly, licorice tea. Let’s be honest: Licorice tea is part dessert, part warm cozy blanket. I try to rotate through teas a bit—another favorite being a Ginger Dragon that is made by a local coffee shop here—but I always come back to licorice.

I started thinking about this when Betina mentioned having a warm cup of tea next to her as she wrote a post, and it made me think about how important a warm cup of tea has become in my writing process. It helps me focus, and triggers an enjoyable reflective posture for me. Those are lovely and helpful, but if I’m honest, this “favorite thing” may be a crutch. A warm drink, big windows, people to watch, and background conversations (though not too loud)—these are the features of the ambiance of my writing environment, not my ideal writing environment, but what has become a necessity. (I even have the Coffitvity app downloaded on my phone. It creates a pseudo coffee shop sound for you. I’m sick. I know.)

This writing challenge is helping me challenge this crutch, thankfully. I am finding myself writing at night, on the couch, with Dragon dictation, with one hand while holding a baby with the other, all times and in spaces I don’t usually get writing done in. And it has, at the same time, reminded me that even if I can’t get all the features together, I can quickly grab a cup of warm licorice tea as I sit for a bit to write. And by association, in that way, writing can be part dessert too.

Tick Tock, Tick Tock

Time is one of the many things I am not taking for granted anymore as we head into 2019. I have such a newfound appreciation of it. For a long while I’ve been fascinated with time (eg. here and here), but mostly the long expanses of it, and for the theories and physics of it. With the brand new addition to our family this last month, now I am appreciating the practicalities of minutes, hours, and afternoons like never before. I’ve never realized how long the night is, and how many hours there are from 5:00 am to 8:00 am. I’ve known that my colleagues with young children were miracle workers, but now I know they’re time wizards.

Up Next

I have a growing list of things to read bookmarked online and piled next to my desk. Here are a few. If you read them first, let me know. Maybe having a bit of accountability to someone else might help me get some reading back into my life! (Or maybe not…see the Time fragment above…)

As always, I apologize that WordPress has begun to force ads on each post. Please ignore any ad that follows. I have not vetted and do not support whatever is advertised below.

Un/Sanctioned Play

un/sanctioned play: academic writing retreat + running path + Zombies, Run! app + weekend playing #TvsZ + AERA proposals accepted

A few threads:

  • Last week Hurricane Sandy destroyed dreams and lives. Of lesser importance, it also hijacked the NYC Marathon. I was set to run it as a celebration of my birthday and with the intense training I invested, I aimed to triumph over my younger self with a PR. The disappointment of the cancellation was nothing compared to the suffering of dear friends and perfect strangers. What surprised me in the heated debates about the marathon were the number of people who expressed disgust with the commitment runners have to their sport. Our long runs were said to be self-absorbed acts, and our racing to be self-serving. Apparently, we should be ashamed of our selfishness. I never imagined the people in the cars passing me as I run down the East River might feel that way about the hundreds of “weekend warriors” plodding along.
  • Last weekend I sang karaoke with a group of 15 friends until 1:30 AM. I air guitarred “Sweet Child O’ Mine” like nobody’s business.
  • Tonight, I met a fellow academic who “came out” at dinner—no not in terms of her sexuality, but as a fangirl, a closeted, longtime, still-active member of several fandoms. But she c/would never tell. Y’all might remember my Guest Post on Peter Gutierrez’s School Library Journal blog, New York Comic Con and the Literacies of Fandom, in which I chronicled my first experience with Comic Con through the lens of literacy practices. I have always been aware at the open derision for geek culture, but arriving there looking at so many “grown adults” in costume, I realized for the first time that age was a factor in looking down on those who do cosplay. I am sure there are many who feel costumes are for children (period).
  • This weekend I played #TvsZ, which the creators publicized as:

Inspired by the popular campus game Humans vs. Zombies, join @Jessifer and@allistelling for an epic zombiefied experiment in Twitter literacy, gamification, collaboration, and emergent learning. Part flash-mob. Part Hunger-Games. Part Twitter-pocalypse. Part digital feeding frenzy. Part micro-MOOC. Part giant game of Twitter tag.

I had no idea what it was, but immediately signed up. I can’t say many of my Twitter followers followed suit. The most common reaction I got was, “You’re doing what?”

On Monday, November 12th Adeline Koh will be interviewing the creators in a livestream through Duke University. Their topic is: Digital Pedagogy, Play, and Mass Collaboration. I was struck by this section of the description:

While institutions ponder how to make excursions into new media more efficient and profitable, the pedagogues at the digital table must push the other side of the envelope. We should be creating critical and reflective sandboxes that invite learners to set their own goals, make mistakes, collaborate, and improvise.

In Deep Play, Diane Ackerman writes, “We may think of play as optional, a casual activity. But play is fundamental to evolution” (4). George Dennison offers a similar account of play in The Lives of Children, in which he describes “children’s natural play” as “expansive and diverse, alternately intense and gay,” whereas more formal play (games with umpires, rules, etc.) becomes “strained and silent,” “serious,” and “uncomfortable” (195-196).

I was struck how quickly once play was mentioned that children were invoked.

Play is obviously important to human beings…and as Rorabaugh and Stommel argue, in the digital era it’s a characteristic of learning…and as Ackerman claims, important to evolution. I am left to wonder: What are the sanctioned ways for adults to play? If it is so important, shouldn’t there be a few? So endless are the ways that imaginative and embodied activities of adults are derided. Why is this so?

Poll: Up for Conversation?

I take the idea of “conversation” seriously.

In fact, I just tweeted about it this week. For a whole week I was stuck trying to figure out how to frame a very small passage of my dissertation. It wasn’t until I was talking to a friend about his dissertation —> that led me to read something —> that got me thinking about a whole new framework for another section —> that I bounced off my chair in an email —> that resulted in an exchange with another regarding another project. So incredibly productive.

I actually started this blog once my first book was published—not as a publicity stunt, but because the words—and more importantly, all the ideas and conversations and teaching and learning moments those words embodied—were sitting still on those pages. I wanted to breathe them back into life. And although I can see the great number of readers and clicks and shares (thank you!), I’d love to get more of you commenting…and in turn, us conversing!