Saturday, October 19, 2013

Fall. The leaves are turning and last night it was cold. The old radiators in the apartment have kept Jinx and I warm and right now as I write the living room window is open. It rained this morning but the skies are supposed to clear by this afternoon, maybe by the time I get done writing this. This morning I got up relatively early for a Saturday, put some clothes on, shuffled through the wet leaves and got some breakfast at a diner down the street. Read the paper. On the way back I stopped by the farmer's market to pick up some apples and some cider, and came home and cleaned up the kitchen. Last night Corey and Eric came over to play music and we did, and drank some beer and later played Sheep's Head, a complicated trump based card game late into the night. 

School has been incredibly busy but this weekend is the first weekend for about a month that I don't have a crushing amount of work to get done by Monday. Of course I could spend the entire weekend working and still not be done with everything I have to do, but I can put some of these things off. The sun is starting to peak through the clouds as I write. I finished a paper last weekend for writing assessment, trying to answer the question of what can't be assessed in writing, or in other words, cataloging some of the unsaid expectations we have for our students that are difficult to justify to the administrators who determine our budgets. Things like "critical self-reflection" or "creativity" or "empathy." As it's said in the world of writing assessement, what doesn't get assessed disappears from curriculum, or more broadly, if you are one of those who believes that young people can't write, look no further than programs like Bush's No Child Left Behind and Obama's current Race to the Top initiative and their focus on testing the surface features of writing (grammar, structure) for an explanation.

This coming week I'm writing a proposal for my first ever conference, a paper about Purdue and Mitch Daniels and what is being said and done here at Purdue, on the front lines of Higher Education Reform. I'm excited to get started working on it. Speaking of Daniels, he came to the Writing Assessment class on Monday which was kind of amazing. Props to Daniels for meeting with us, though much of what he had to say about writing assessment and assessing the humanities in general was predictably the polar opposite of what much of the literature about effective and meaningful writing assessment has said. Time and time again, people like Daniels make it clear that the interests of those at the top are not the same interests of those who keep their institutions running. While there is much in theoretical rhetoric and Second Language Studies that are interesting to me, political issues like these are still the only thing that can compete with my creative interests.

Everything else, Modern Rhetoric, teaching and tutoring at the Oral English Proficiency Program are going well for the most part. Busy busy, but progress is being made on all fronts. Personally, I am finally crawling out of the depressive/anxious hole that I had been in since August, and finally starting to reinvest, and relocate a sense of self independent of she who will not be named. Finally starting to realistically imagine a way forward. There are trade offs from this perspective, where on the one hand, getting away from a desperate need to confess and explain and communicate with the ether of her possibility impacts my output in terms of poetry like objects, and it feels like I am writing into a void. No taters. No sop. However how I had been oriented, entirely towards her, wasn't healthy. Now that I am shifting out of crisis mode the impulse lessens and the river slows. I haven't reached its banks quite yet, but at least my feet are touching bottom. Of course I still miss her, still can't look at the moon without thinking of her, and still hope, but now I'm also hoping for other things as well. And I could dwell on this, tell a few stories, but I have work to get on with. I'm going to close the window, pour a cup of cider and get started.