Settling in for the summer

Life has been quite complicated lately. The first week of May was finals week. The end of my first year as a Ph. D. student. I didn’t write the best papers for my classes, but they were good enough to get me Bs. It took me almost another week to get caught up on my grading. But, my students didn’t seem to hold it against me too much. I got some of the best feedback I’ve ever gotten. Even their problems and critiques were useful, not just “it sucked”. I am so happy and grateful to have had this class. They really helped me to become a better instructor.

The weekend after grades were due was Marcon. It was so nice to get to see my friends again, go to panels, and be on panels. I’m starting to realize that my attitude is keeping people from approaching me in costume. I don’t know how to change that. It’s who I am. But as much as I am an introvert, I do like getting compliments and recognized when in costume. I put a lot of work into the whole thing, from the clothing to the props to the make-up. But if it doesn’t seem like I want to be approached, no one will. I need to be more aware of it when I can. Lets face it, sometimes you have ten minutes to get all the way across the con –  which is a very long distance at DragonCon. Sometimes you can’t be stopped.

Anyway. After Marcon, summer semester began. Well, the first term of summer semester. We have two terms over summer, two six-week classes that contain all the information of a 15-week class. In order to get caught up with where I should be, I’m taking one class each term. My first class is online, and it’s a split undergrad/grad student class. That is the more interesting aspect of it, not being online. Grad students have different readings and different responsibilities. Thankfully, because of my two theory classes and International Popular Culture, it’s going over topics I’m already very familiar with. It’s from a slightly different angle, but similar enough that I’m not too stressed over it.

At the beginning of the month, my dad moved to New Hampshire. It’s a very good move for him. He didn’t need to take any furniture with him, so I got to take some things off his hands. We now have a dining room table, the old microwave hutch (which is at least 20 years old, probably more) that is now our bar, one of the end-tables that my parents have had since before I was born, and an almost 20-year-old wood futon frame. The futon is in my room, patiently awaiting the spring mattress to arrive so I can finally properly use it to stretch out on and study on.

But those weren’t the only things he couldn’t take with him. He couldn’t take Harry. We have had Harry almost his entire life. He’ll be 15 at the end of July. But between his age and the fact that he’s black, we knew that he wouldn’t last if my dad took him to the local humane society. He’d be high on the list to go if they needed more space. We’ve been taking care of him until Saturday. He hadn’t adapted well to being here, and we just can’t take care of him properly right now. So I drove him to Columbus to a no-kill shelter. They couldn’t take him. They had no space, but, more importantly, they couldn’t have taken him even if they did. He’s never been to the vet. Without vet records, they couldn’t take him. The lady there said that at his age, the best thing would be to have him put down. He’s perfectly healthy, as far as we can tell, for a cat his age. Why would I do that? So after a breakdown in the car, I decided to take him to Columbus Humane. But they require you to make an appointment to surrender a pet, and charge more than I can afford right now.

So I changed plans. I found Marion Area Humane Society and headed there. I felt bad because it wasn’t cool out yesterday, and he had been in the carrier for over an hour at that point. But he seemed to be okay. We got to MAHS and I started to break down again. He had been part of the family for almost 15 years. They had space for him. As they processed his information and mine, I talked with one of the volunteers. She said that they get people looking for older cats sometimes. More importantly, she told me that they are a no-kill shelter! He is going to be taken care of for the rest of his life. I am completely fine with MAHS being his home for that time. They are going to take care of him. Last night I had to fight the urge to check on him behind the futon – where he had made his home. I miss him, but he’s going to be fine!

Remember, always take your pets to the vet. You never know what will happen to you. They may have to go to a shelter, and vet records are required by some before they will take your pet in.

Well, that went longer than I thought it would. I’ll just leave this here and get back to working on the paper and presentation I need to have ready for CPAC and my summer watchlist.

Class is done

About fifteen minutes ago, the last exam was handed in. My Spring 2018 Introduction to Popular Culture class is gone. I’m kind of sad.

It’s been a great semester. I know all teachers say this, but they really did help me to become a better teacher. Just asking them their opinions helped on that front. Around spring break, I made an anonymous survey that they could participate in if they wanted to. I took all their feedback into account, but I implemented the more common responses. I integrated more videos into class. I integrated discussions into class – instead of lecturing for a day or two and then having a whole class just for discussion. I learned to release my grip on the control of class just enough to let them have some input. I was still the instructor in the end, but letting them bring up examples worked so much better than me trying to explain my own at times.

I know there were days where it was mostly lecture, and that tends to be kind of boring. But there are some topics where you have to get the basic information explained before you can discuss it. But, once we were able to discuss it, off we went! I’m looking forward to grading this last exam and seeing their feedback from the course evaluations. I can’t say I’ve ever had that feeling before. I’ve usually dreaded the evaluations, but not this time.

So if any of you reading this were in my class, thank you for a wonderful semester. And thank you for helping me to become a better teacher!

Now to get their papers and exams graded, and write three papers of my own – of varying lengths – so my semester can be done!

Good News/Bad News time!

On Friday I got a call I had been hoping to get but never thought I would. They needed someone to teach Intro to Popular Culture this semester! I had the weekend to get things ready, which wasn’t hard since I had the class half planned already. So I now have a job, an office, and I’m teaching the class one more time! Which adds to my three class load. So that’s the good news/bad news. Good news: I’ve got a job teaching! Bad news: less time to blog here. So, basically back to the usual around here. Hehehe.

Look Around List

“Look around! Look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!”

tobillo24601. This is the account Lin made to give playlists to the world. And he’s made three more: Add Yourself, Happy Galentine’s Day 2017, and 2016 We Still Got This Music (inspired by those we lost last year).

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No matter what it is your fighting against, you are not alone!

TEA!

I’m up to the Sixth Doctor and I’ve enjoyed every one so far (finally!)! My “Room With a Moose” is pleasantly nutty. And of course I have more Mary Morstan. I’m sure I’ll have a post soon about the fun I’ve been having.

My students. Seriously, I’ve got the best group of students yet. They’re really understanding what I’m teaching and are planning to write some pretty amazing papers. I’m really looking forward to reading them!

Successful presentation. I presented a paper at the Kino Club 313 2017 Conference at Wayne State University based on my personal relationship with Hamilton and joining the fandom. It went really well, reinforcing the desire to write my dissertation about the whole thing.

Don’t stop looking around! There’s so much that we’re lucky to be alive to experience!

Look Around List

“Look around! Look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!”

“America the Beautiful

Listening to these amazing ladies sing, while getting to see it beautifully signed? Where are the tissues?

Cooking. I got back to my apartment tonight and did dishes. It’s hard to cook if you don’t have clean dishes. I cooked up a very tasty dinner, and that always feels good.

Groceries on sale. I’m on a bit of a budget right now. So when I got to the store to discover that I could get over 3 lbs of boneless chicken thighs for about $1.50 a pound, as well as peppers and mushrooms for $1 each? I was so happy! I was able to get everything I needed as well as a few wants and got change!

Media apps. I do not have cable. It seems so silly for me to have it since I bought a Roku last year and have had Netflix and Hulu the whole time. But, networks are pulling their stuff from Hulu, which is frustrating. So today I made a couple of changes. First, I finally got CBS All Access. It’s the only place they are going to be showing Star Trek: Discovery, and hubby and I have been discussing getting it for that reason. Luckily, most of the TV I watch is on CBS. So it’s a double bonus for me. Second, I figured if I’m going to get CBS without commercials, I should upgrade my Hulu so I don’t have to deal with commercials, too. That will actually be useful when teaching because I only have 50 minutes to show something. Take out the commercials? It fits!

Technology. All of my love for the fact that I don’t need cable is such a privileged thing. The fact that I can afford to have a Roku stick with all these apps on them and a television and to be able to pay the monthly fees to keep using some of them is privilege. But I’m still grateful for that privilege.

Teaching. As I’ve mentioned many times lately, I am grateful for the opportunity teaching gives me to make a difference in the world. I know that might sound cliche, but it’s true.

Pure Leaf Raspberry Iced Tea. Sometimes it’s the little things. Being able to go to the store down the road to get this instead of giving in to pop…something I am very grateful for.

My hubby. I am always aware of how lucky I am to have him in my life. But this weekend he went above and beyond. He not only set up our haircut appointments, but he sprung for me to get my hair back to red. My hair is now not only shorter, but a lovely shade of red. I love it! Of course, that’s not the only reason, but right now it’s a big one.

Teaching is Activism

teachingisactivism

I know I wrote about this recently, but it’s a very important topic for me. I am friends with a lot of people who go out and do things. They go to protests. They organize rallies. They make speeches. And sometimes it makes me feel like I’m not doing enough. I make sure information is shared on my social media accounts. I lend my emotional support to them and anyone who is out there doing things. But I just can’t. I’m sure if I actually went to something, I would get swept up in the emotion and the energy. But the problem is getting over the anxiety of thinking about going.

Even when it comes to teaching, I sometimes feel like I’m not doing enough. Like I should be directly including what is happening in my class. But I haven’t found a good way to do that. There are certain things that need to be covered in this class and I am determined to cover it all. But because there is so much to cover, I can’t spend too much time on any one thing or else something else may not get covered. The joys of teaching an intro class.

Also, there are theories and history that need to be covered at the start of the semester. It’s not easy to include what is going on right now in those lectures for me. Soon, we’ll be moving on to the other topics which will be much easier to include current events in. Last spring my day on ethnicity (I know, I know, a day is not enough!), we watched “Formation” and discussed it. It worked really well. I’m honestly worried about focusing on just one thing and excluding others; there’s just so much happening!

But, it will all come back the fact that there are undeniable facts that I can teach. Focusing on those facts will always be my go-to. There are opinions and there are facts. Knowing the facts makes it easier to discuss opinions. If everyone knows the same facts, they have a shared knowledge base which allows them to discuss.

And when it all becomes too much, just sit back and listen to the amazing playlist Lin-Manuel made for the world. It really does help one to get re-energized.

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Knowledge is Power!

Image is from the cartoon Schoolhouse Rock with schoolhouse Rocky holding up the ! to keep it all from tumbling over.I have been struggling with something. Ever since the election started heating up, before election day, I was not talking about it with my students in class. Part of me knew I was avoiding it so we wouldn’t have an argument on our hands, since this is a topic that can easily spark one. But part of me knew that I should be bringing it up. I’m teaching about popular culture. The election and everything leading up to it falls into this. But I know I’m not great about keeping my emotions separate and my mouth sometimes runs without checking with my brain first. Especially when I’m nervous, which is usually when I’m teaching.

Today I may have come up with an answer for myself. I have always believed in the power of knowledge. That knowing the facts will allow you to be able to at least understand what is going on if not the people who disagree with you. That is what I am trying to do in my class. I am trying to teach my students about the role popular culture has in our lives, but also the facts so they can better understand the world in general. I’m thinking about how to say something about this in class on Monday. I want them to know that I’m not ignorant or ignoring what is happening. That my approach to dealing with everything going on is to be as well-informed as I can be, and making sure they are as well. I don’t get upset with someone who disagrees with me. I get upset with someone who is ignorant of all the facts and thinks they understand what is going on.

Knowledge is power, people. Knowledge is power!