Friday, October 28, 2011

Writing: I think I like to write

You might think that title is obvious, as I voluntarily write a blog. I started this blog, however, as a way to continue to stay a well-rounded human being. As a student, especially a graduate student, writing and reflection are automatic actions. If you can't put your thoughts into words, you are done. Similarly, those thoughts have to show insight, tact, and intelligence. You can't simply scribble on intelligently, you need to show growth and progress. In school this growth and progress was  measured in semesters; where you were at the beginning of the course as compared to where you ended up during finals. (Ending up with finals is never a good place, however.) In short, I felt I need to reflect more, so I started up a blog as I started up a new chapter of my life.

Up until now, I have not had any great epiphanies. As you can see from my blogging, I am not all that interesting. My yoga journal failed dismally. My most recent post was about how I could find nothing to write about. I started thinking: maybe I am not a writer, nor a reflector.

Yesterday, (cue chimes), I was working on an online tutoring script. I have a big meeting coming up next week in which my boss and I are going to present online tutoring to the Online Policy Commission here at UWM. I am responsible for the technical parts of the presentation, as well as the actual demonstration. To prepare, I was writing out a script that we, a fellow tutor and I, could use as a blueprint. Here is the exciting part: I really liked writing this script. I was pulling information from the various scripts I study from sessions every week. I had also written the sample paper and assignment and I felt like I could imagine myself as the tutor and as the writer of the assignment (maybe even the instructor). As odd as it sounds, I actually got lost in writing this script for over an hour. (Of course, I just submitted it to my boss this morning, so we shall see if I remain this giddy about it). I got lost in the dialogue and back-and-forth conversation between the tutor and the tutee.

I truly enjoyed that hour of work. I remembered back to 6th grade, the last time I really got caught up in writing a story with characters and plotlines. Although I dabbled in a few fiction courses in college, I stuck to poetry and to creative non-fiction. Looking back (warning, here I am doing that reflecting I set out to do), I don't think I wanted to lose myself in other characters and so I never wrote short stories. I wanted other writers and classmates to do the work for me, to provide me with stories and novels, but I wanted to remain at a distance writing pretentious poetry and reflecting solely on my (great) life.

Truly, I used to want to be a writer and novelist. I loved reading (I still do) and I loved writing. I really wanted to write the next To Kill a Mockingbird. Now, I think I just want write, something. Maybe this blog will do, or maybe I will fire up a word document and lose myself in a character - perhaps an online tutor! I don't have a new, life-clarifying goal. I am not going to drop everything and become a writer and scribble away at the Great American Novel. I am, however, already a writer and I will try to do it a bit more often.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Yoga journal...not so much

As you can read, I have not done well updating the blogosphere on how yoga is part of my daily life. Overall, I would say this is evidence that I have not incorporated yoga into my life. I am sad, however, that tomorrow is my last yoga class. I am glad that I had this opportunity. I feel like I have a good basis for any further yoga I practice, either on my own or in a class. However, as yoga ends, I am not sure I am going to practice as regularly (in terms of an hour an half at a time), but hopefully I can focus more on strength and conditioning with a bit of yoga everyday.

I have lots of other things that are floating around in my head, but nothing else yet for a coherent blog. For example, I recently reread E.B. White's three children's novels as well as a new biography on White. I have also been further delving into the world of social media, and not only have I created a Twitter account for the Writing Center but I am now tweeting myself. Actually, I don't often tweet, but I do scour other tweets. It is how I filter my news. I am also coming off a wonderful weekend in Door County and am gearing up for another weekend with visiting friends here in Shorewood. Overall, lots to think about, enjoy, and digest. (Speaking of digesting, last week I made both homemade applesauce and homemade apple pie for my first time. Both delicious.)

Here is to a more coherent post next time!

Monday, October 17, 2011

Yoga Updates

Here is a run down of how I have incorporated yoga into my daily life:

October 14:
Stephen and I went for a run. I tried to focus on my yogic breathing during the run, and afterward, I extended my stretching regiment to include new stretches from my yoga class. I felt great that night.

October 15:
At the gym, I tried to incorporate more yogic stretches.

October 16:
Upon waking up in the morning, I tried to do more stretching. I incorporated the "dead bug" pose before I even got out of bed. It helped my back feel ready for the day (if there is such a thing).

Stay tuned for yoga and today...

Thursday, October 13, 2011


To legalize my student worker status this past summer (which was necessary for my job this fall) I am auditing an 8 week Yoga 1 course. I have taken a few drop-in yoga classes before and before that I had taught myself most of the yoga poses through Yogamazing podcasts. These past six weeks I have done yoga more consistently than I ever have. While I have not learned lots of new poses, I have learned about the history of yoga, yogis, and yoga wisdom. I have also discovered Each week we were assigned to research a topic and report on it. Because I am an auditor, I don't have to, but I still felt like a slacker every time I did not do it. For the final two weeks we have been assigned to journal everyday about how yoga has been a part of our day. Of course, I don't have to hand this in and my first thought when our instructor assigned this was, "I don't think I am going to do this." It is true, however, that you get out what you put in. And perhaps a little more reflection and a little more yoga might do me some good. So, for the next couple of weeks, enjoy my yoga journal.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011


While I have another post in the works, I am going to write just a bit about a recent trip my husband and I took.

We visited Denver and Boulder. More importantly, we visited good friends, Kelly & Mike. We ate Mexican food and sushi. We drank margaritas, martinis, and beer. We saw our first snow, and we saw the Rocky Mountains. We laughed, a lot.

                                   Stephen and I in Boulder - the weather and snow are clearing.

                                      Kelly and I at dinner - friends since elementary school.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Persuasion - the art of liking Jane Austen

I had my first book club meeting last Sunday, and I almost did not attend. I was having one of those delightfully busy, yet cozy in my own home, Sundays. However, I had already purchased all of the ingredients for my potluck dish and as the time to depart grew nearer, there was no doubt that the Green Bay Packer's were going to win. (By the way, I made a savory bread pudding from Cooking Light. It was delicious. I am making it for dinner again tonight.)

I made it to book club and was overwhelmed by the number of new people I was meeting. I had to remind myself that one of positives of the book club, in fact, was meeting new people. Luckily, there was lots to eat and drink and I settled in with a plat full of food ready to discuss Persuasion. I was hoping the discussion would make me love the novel, Jane Austen, and give me a whole new lease on literature. (Spoiler: this did not happen.)

I am not a die-hard Austenite, as many book club goers are.  My initial awakening to Jane Austen occurred when I was a teenager and watching You've Got Mail. The main character, Kathleen Kelly, loves to read Pride and Prejudice and the film itself is a re-telling of the story. Eventually I decided to pick up the novel and I slogged through it. I also read Emma, after checking it out of the library several times. I discovered the film, Sense and Sensibility and loved it. Eventually, I read the novel it was based on. My best friend in college (she still is my best friend), Caitlin, loves Jane Austen and I watched more than a few versions of Pride and Prejudice with her. I even studied for the GRE English subject level exam by watching BBC versions of Austen classics with her next to me on the futon.

My most positive experience with Jane Austen came recently. With my iPad, I have access to many free books, one of which being Pride and Prejudice. I spent the first few days of June searching for wedding accents and feverishly reading Pride and Prejudice. For the first time, I was caught up in the attraction between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy; the pride and the prejudice.I could also feel its "modern" connect. (And because I am no longer enrolled in grad school, I can use modern and not interrogate too much what that means. I leave that to you.)

With the excitement of a new book club, I dove into Persuasion hoping to love it. In this novel, the heroine Anne's love interest is named Captain Wentworth. Captain Wentworth and Anne were in love 7 years prior to the novel's plot and Anne rejects him because of the advice of a friend. In the novel, they meet again and are both still in love.Like in Pride and Prejudice, there is a tension in the traditions of primogeniture and the land-owning rich. In Persuasion, the possibility of power (at least for men) exists in the navy, especially for Captain Wentworth and Admiral Croft.

Overall, nothing excited me about the plot. Austen writes in a lot of glances, a lot of equivocating, and a lot of internal struggle. The dialogue that moves Pride and Prejudice forward is much slower moving and less focused in Persuasion. The climax of the novel, however, is the letter that Captain Wentworth writes Anne, declaring his constant and everlasting love. I must say, I loved the letter!

Overall, I don't think I will read Persuasion again. I really don't love Austen. I was glad, however, that I went to book club and listened to Austen scholars discuss the novel. And, it gave me something to blog about - when I finally got around to it. I think I will stick to movie adaptions of Austen, from Colin Firth to Bridget Jones to Clueless. And of course, You've Got Mail.