The Updates #10

Estimated Reading Time:  10 minutes

Week 10 of the updates--I made it to double digits!  


Things are slowing on the research front. the challenge is always the last few miles, right?  I've got 16 interviews completed and another five or so scheduled but ideally, I need to get to 24 participants and need more representation by tenure-track or tenured faculty. If I can get 3 or 4 more of those to complete the intake form and schedule an interview, I can be done with data collection; if I can do it by November 8, it will mean I completed it in 2 months. If you're looking to help, feel free to learn more on the research study page and consider reaching out to your faculty or consider resharing/reposting my calls on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, or Reddit.   For more information, you can always check the research study webpage.

A photo of a plot of land with raked dirt and a few plants (8 in pots, several in the ground).
Closing the Garden

The best way I could describe returning to work was that I was stepping back into a river and that has me thinking about one of my favorite quotes. It’s from Heraclitus (and that’s largely the summation of what I know about Heraclitus, to be clear):  No one ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and they’re not the same person (yes, updated to reflect a fuller spectrum of humanity).  

Being away for 2 weeks is what I needed.  Moodle was an intense project and though we’re not “past” Moodle, we’re in a very different phase than the last 5 months.  Most institutions take 18 months to implement an LMS; we did it in 5 and that meant a lot of things had to happen and we managed to do as well as can be expected given a variety of different challenges.  

I didn’t think much about CU when I was away–I did my best to stay away from work email and as I came to last weekend, I could feel the desire to return–the excitement.  That’s a great sign–to be excited to go back to work after being away for 2 weeks.  But yeah, I also feel different coming back.

I’ve led a massive transition that is largely successful (that is, while not perfect, by and large we have made it into the new space and many folks are using it and using it well!) and it’s something that someone in my work may never get the chance to do.  I’ve completed a year and feel like I more fully understand my work and role here at CU (shifting as it may often be).  I’ve learned from and continue to work with amazing people over that year and also, a bunch of new amazing folks that have joined us.

So, as I settled into CU this week, it was interesting to see that CU also changed while I was away.  There’s a new understanding about the shape that CU is taking in the future and groups working to help make that happen.  We have amazing new(ish) people and people in new roles and I’m marveling at the way they are showing up and doing what we are here to do–advocate, push, raise concerns, and try to make us better at supporting each other, our communities, and our students’ lives and learning.  

I also had a lot of conversations this week–many folks asking me about my break but also deeper conversations about how we think about power, decision-making, and structure.  We aim to call ourselves “unbound” but I wonder about how that challenges, augments or reinforces deeper cultural structures of power and decision making.  I wonder particularly as we think about expansion and what it means to bring people in and what lessons we take from those that leave.

What I'm Reading
Only 3 books this week but dang, they were powerful books!

The Cancer Journals by Audre Lorde: Lorde's reflections and observations about what it means to have cancer as a woman in the early 1980s is one more way she's a powerful writer provoking questions of power, agency, body, and justice. It is reminder that there is not mind without body and that how bodies are treated in different states of existence are also informed by cultural expectations (and demands).  

How to Be a Friend to a Friend Who's Sick by Letty Cottin Pogrebin: Pogrebin's book is a must have for all of us.  Inevitably, we will find ourselves with someone in our life who is sick (and sick can mean many different things as the book points out).  This book is fantastic in guiding you through thinking about how to show up and how to think about the ways a friend who is sick might need you or not need you.  Pogrebin helps us to de-center ourselves, our beliefs about sickness, and our issues, to see more clearly how we might support and be there for our friends.  She does this through her own narrative of being sick and also through many interviews with people who are sick--asking them what they wish their friends would do or did do and how it made them feel.  Lots of great insight, advice, and ways to make us be our best selves when people we love may be at their worst.

Educated for Freedom: The Incredible Story of Two Fugitive Schoolboys Who Grew Up to Change a Nation by Anna Mae Duane: Duane explores the lives of James McCune Smith and Henry Highland Garnet, two Black men in the early 1800s who became leaders and advocates for the end of slavery and would find themselves in conversation, contention, and competition with each other and others involved in the Abolitionist movement, including Frederick Douglass. In particular, Duane explores how Smith and Garnet worked to discard and undermine the dominant assumptions about the abilities and potential of Black people in different disciplines throughout their lives.  It's another one of those books that remind me of how much white culture pretends that the argument for equity didn't exist at the time.  Texts like these provide a deep understanding of the problems of slavery and racism in the US has been ever-present since our country's inception.

What I'm Watching
A small bunch of white flowers with green leaves in a wet fire pit
Flowers in the Fire Pit

: Episode 5 continues to give us more unraveling of Cassian's story in the present but has largely abandoned his past story while we get more about Mon Mothma and I'm wondering when the two shall intersect. So much of the story still feels like it could have been augmented to be a Han Solo origin story about his agnosticism to the whole world, but also appreciate the deeper narrative they're giving to a Star Wars character who literally was unknown until 5 years ago.  It gives me hope the franchise will continue to explore secondary characters and expand beyond those of the central narrative.  

She-Hulk: Ok--this episode had a good rhythm, plot turns, and of course, Daredevil--so glad to see him back. Never a bit comic fan of him, but the Netflix series gave him the life that felt much more interesting for me.  The chemistry of Maslany and Cox as fighters, lawyers, and lovers was pretty solid. I'm wondering if there is a bigger payoff to the breaking the 4th wall between Waters/She-Hulk and the audience but I'm doubtful.  I think this might be a missed opportunity and loses some of its appeals if it's just her talking to us.  

Abbott Elementary: There's a bit of "it's funny because it's true" about Abbott Elementary in terms of the pluck, determination, and frustration that emanates from many of the teachers. The (intentional) failure of systems to try to undermine the work of teachers feels palpable in the series even if it can feel like, at times, good and determined teachers can save us without any real support.  Still, the smokey-eyed optimism of the show is appreciated by any who teaches in impossible systems.

I Confess: An Alfred Hitchcock film from the early 1950s that my partner and I learned about when we were taking a boat tour in Quebec City (The boat we were one was the same from a few scenes in the movie). The film was interesting in its telling of a murder whom we know from the beginning who is the murderer but feels a bit too convoluted in how it makes many of the characters stuck in their inability to do right or make things clear. Some of the story's mechanisms are a bit anachronistic in terms of perception.  Still, it creates these interesting quanderies to consider about truth, trust, faith, and what it means to make promises.  The other fun part of watching it was figuring out if we could tell where different scenes were where we had been.

This Week's Photos

Closing the Garden:  The outdoor garden is coming to a close.  I took down most of the plants--leaving up the Chard because, why not.  There's some herbs that are still thriving and I'll bring them in soon enough but otherwise, the garden for 2022 has come to a close. I got a good final harvest (peppers and eggplants mostly--a few beans and a final squash).  It was a stellar year for the garden this year. Next year, I think there's ways to improve but really enjoyed the opportunities to do it so big this year.  

Flowers in the Fire Pit:  I was doing some cleaning in the yard and stumbled upon these flowers growing out of the fire pit. They surprised me as I was tipping out a part of the pit that was waterlogged and saw these flowers peaking out.  On one level, it makes sense--the ash and collected water makes wonderful nutrients for any seed that finds (and survives) its way into the spot.  On the other hand, it's like, damn, this flower is determined to survive in the pit of fire!   

What's on My Mind

So many things.  Trying to keep my focus on getting the last people signed up for my study; trying to prepare for a conference I'm helping to run in 2 weeks; working with deadlines for a part-time job I'm working, and trying to time with my partner and friends as fall is in full flourish.  I have things that I want to get to and write about--a whole list but life is full right now--with wonderful things but definitely full.  I look forward to being done with the dissertation and a bit more spaciousness to explore some of those thoughts and writing.  

Till next week...

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