Dry Well #SOL17

The well is dry today.

It’s not that I don’t have things to write about.  I had a wonderful snow day with my family.  I could very easily write about the antics of my daughter, or the snow falling softly on our new lawn, or how much I admire my husband for going out again and again to keep our driveway and walkway clear.

But I put off writing this post until after I did some work on my dissertation.  And after working on that, let me tell you, the well is dry.  I’m surprised I can form coherent sentences!

So instead, here are some snippets of what I’ve been working on: the prospectus for my project.

Pater, Pietas, and Patria: Fathers, Faith, and National Identity in Ulysses and the Aeneid

The Homeric epics of the Iliad and the Odyssey have long been the fodder of authors seeking to retell those classic stories.  From antiquity to Hollywood there is no shortage of versions of Homer’s tales.  As author Jonathan W. Rosen points out, the genre of reimagined literature is “a vibrant transnational genre—a genre constituted by the conversion of minor characters from canonical works into protagonists” (Rosen 139).  This dissertation will look at two such retellings: Ulysses by James Joyce and the Aeneid by Virgil.  Specifically, I will be looking at three common elements: the idea of faith and pietas, the recurring motif of fathers and sons, and the intent and struggle of both authors to create a national identity out of disparate political and cultural influences.

While this dissertation will address each of these topics separately, it will also look at the confluence of faith, fathers, and the fatherland in the two texts.  Both Virgil and Joyce use the question of faith (pietas for Virgil, often lack of faith for Joyce) and relationships between fathers and sons as a way to form a national identity.  This dissertation will explore the complicated relationship that both authors had with their homelands and their patrons as well as the ways they used common motifs to develop larger statements about what it means to be Roman and Irish.

My mind is fried, and I still have an annotated bibliography to finish!  Thank goodness for a delayed opening tomorrow!

This post is part of the Slice of Life writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. You can find out more about the challenge here!
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Momom, help. #SOL17

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“Momom, help,” my daughter says after struggling to open her marker.

“Momom, help,” she says, pulling the chair away from her table.

“Momom, help,” as her hands reach for the coloring book she has left on the floor.

“Momom, help.”  The top of the marker has come off of the back of the marker and this cannot be allowed to stand.

“Momom, help,” as she decides she no longer wants to color that page but this one.

“Momom, help,” gesturing to the Thin Mint her father gave her that she left on the floor.  (Thin Mints are the worst cookie to give a toddler.  Chocolate EVERYWHERE.)

I have been home for less than 20 minutes, and I have heard “Momom, help” over two dozen times.  But help I do.  Because the other day I asked if she need help getting off the couch.

“No no,” she replied, shimmying backwards until her feet landed on the ground and bounding away.

So I help for as long as she’ll let me.

 

This post is part of the Slice of Life writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. You can find out more about the challenge here!

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Family #SOL17

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We had a packed house today.  My sister-in-law and her wife brought their daughter to play with Baby McK.  To be fair, there’s not a lot of “playing” a 17 month old can do with a 7 week old.  But she didn’t mind.  My daughter has not been able to stop talking about her new baby cousin.  She says her name, Kaelyn, more often than any other word some days (even more than Elmo, which is saying a LOT).

My brother-in-law decided to capitalize on the proximity of his sister and niece by coming over too.  My sister came over because I left my phone at a party last night and she was returning it.

My daughter was thrilled.  All of her favorite people in one place.  She popped from loved one to loved one, spending more time with the baby than anyone else.  Tonight, as I put her to bed, she recounted her day, saying, “Night night” to everyone she saw today.

It was a long day and I didn’t get to accomplish anything I wanted to accomplish.  But it was nice to be surrounded by family; I was reminded how lucky we are that we can see each other so regularly.

This post is part of the Slice of Life writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. You can find out more about the challenge here!

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Drawers

My daughter’s drawers are overflowing.  For such a tiny girl, she has an awful lot of stuff.  So today, while she and my husband played, I tackled her clothes.

My goal was to get rid of anything that no longer fit.  She is in 18 month clothes now, and I haven’t gone through her things since before we moved in November.  My mother in law packed a lot of her boxes, so I actually barely knew what was in her drawers at all.

The answer?  A lot.  Clothes as small as 9 months, socks that said 0-3.  I purged and purged, tossing onesie after onesie into a bin.  I tossed all of the bibs she won’t let us put on her anymore, and pajamas that no longer zipped over her little belly.  I got rid of pants that were more like shorts and hats that wouldn’t fit on even the tip of her head.

I was sad as I did it.  I spent some time reminiscing over this outfit or that, remembering my baby as a real baby.  But then my husband brought her up to “visit” me in my work, and she sang her ABCs (or at least a 17 month version of her ABCs).  And I thought about the little girl who was taking the place of the baby.  I’ll miss her as a baby, but I’m excited to watch her grow into a girl.

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Notebooks #SOL17

I had an important workshop today about Guided Reading.  I am a new K-12 Language Arts Literacy supervisor, but in my former life I was a high school teacher.  While I know the outlines of elementary education because of various early teaching experiences, I am always trying to learn more.  So I was ready to sit down with my notebook and take as many notes as I could.

I have a notebook for important things.  I’ve been keeping it since I started at my new position in July.  It is carefully indexed so I can easily find information I might need in the future.  It has gone with me to every important workshop and meeting I’ve had in the last nine months.

But this morning, as I settled the presenter in and readied myself for the workshop, I realized that the notebook was not in my bag.  It was in my office.  I panicked.  Yes, I could always take digital notes (and I had been planning on taking digital notes as well as hard copy notes anyway).  But my notebook allows for freedom that the computer does not.  I can write in the margins, make connections.  Computers just don’t do that.

I frantically searched my bag.  I found a small, pocket-sized Moleskin my sister had given me.  I wasn’t sure what I would do with it when she gave it to me, so I did almost nothing.  I had filled a few pages with random notes from a department meeting when I had no other paper, but I hadn’t done much else.  It was a beautiful notebook (don’t Moleskins always make you feel Parisian?  They make me feel Parisian.), and I didn’t want to “ruin” it by using it haphazardly.

But lately I’ve been inspired by the many journal posts I’ve seen, the authentic writing I’ve been doing.  So I kept the notebook on the table in front of me.  And while I took my formal, digital notes, I also kept gems in the notebook: reminders of things I wanted to remember about the workshop, about teaching, about life.  I think I’ll continue to use the notebook this way: as a place to record my thoughts and thinking that I want to remember, even if it’s not as carefully organized as the rest of my note-taking.  It felt authentic and real, and isn’t that what writing is supposed to feel like?

This post is part of the Slice of Life writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers. You can find out more about the challenge here!

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Hamilton #SOL17

I can see the way the other people in the park look at me.  I’m running with my jogging stroller, enjoying a rare morning at home.  My daughter is starting to whine.  The whine grows louder and louder.  It is nearly a cry.  How selfish, I can hear them thinking.  She should take that baby home.

But I know what will calm my girl.  I slow to a walk and remove my phone from the basket of the carriage.  “OK,” I assure her.  “Mommy will put on your tunes.”  I scroll through my albums and hit play.  Not shuffle.  She hates shuffle.

Dun dundundundun dundun 

How does a bastard, orphan, son of a whore . . .

If the people doing their laps of the park weren’t judging me before they are surely judging me now.

They may not be able to hear it over the hiphop coming from my phone, but my daughter’s whining has stopped.  I don’t have to look down at her to know this for sure.  It always stops when I put on Hamilton.

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A VERY old picture, but it shows how deep her love runs.

When we were in the hospital with her after she was born, there was no television in the room.  So my husband and I listened to the Hamilton original cast recording, which had come out the week before.  We had seen the show several times: once on Broadway, once off-Broadway, and once in a concert version at Lincoln Center.  He is a history teacher, I am a theatre nerd.  It was a natural fit.

 

And when I would drive with her to see my mother and grandmother, when she was so small she barely fit in the car seat, I would listen to it to calm my nerves.  And somehow it just became the songs she liked.  Now whenever we are in the car and she fusses we play it.  She calms down immediately.  For her, Lin-Manuel Miranda is an old friend.  When she sees him on TV she stops and sits and watches with an attention that is usually only reserved for Elmo or another resident of Sesame Street.  (The first character’s name she could say was Murray.  Is it a coincidence that Lin-Manuel sings Murray’s song?  Probably not.)

 

My girl and I finished 3 glorious miles in the sunshine today.  It’s supposed to snow tomorrow.  At some point one or both of us will get cabin fever from being cooped up all weekend.  Fortunately, I’ll know I have my secret weapon.

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Little Purple Flowers #SOL17

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These are not my crocuses, but they sure are pretty!

We moved into our new house during Thanksgiving weekend.  Sometimes it feels like we’ve been living there for years.  Other times it feels like we are trespassing in someone else’s space.  We have painted and put new floors down; taken down wall paper and put up our pictures.  We are starting to make the space our own.

Our new house still surprises and mystifies us.  We don’t know how to turn on the lights in the back deck.  There are outlets everywhere.  The house creaks and groans in the wind.

Still, we are learning.  How to drain water off the pool cover (we have a pool!).  How high we need to set the heat at night.  How quickly our ice maker can make ice after a party.

This morning as I walked out our front door I noticed them: tiny purple crocuses peeking through the dirt.  I grew up in an apartment in Brooklyn but spent many years helping my grandfather and then aunt plant these flowers.  I know they need to be put in the ground in the early fall, just as we put an offer in on the house.  The previous owners planted these flowers knowing (or at least hoping) they would never see them.  Now they are here to welcome us.  Purple is my favorite color.

I want to remember these purple flowers and the joy they brought me this morning: spring is almost here; our house’s surprises can be good; time marches on whether we’re noticing it or not.  And this fall I’ll be sure to plant crocuses again.

 

This post is part of the Slice of Life writing challenge hosted by Two Writing Teachers.  You can find out more about the challenge here!

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