Monday, September 22, 2014

Weekend Update

There are some things about me that may seem disparate. For instance, I am an English professor, and I love teaching and writing and writing about teaching. I also really enjoy watching Seahawks football. Yeah, I know. Great game last night against Denver. I'm not sure I love the new overtime rule and I think that the Broncos have a legitimate gripe; if they had won't that coin toss, wouldn't I be grumpy about it? Yes.

Anyway, this morning I put the final touches on my junior-level global literature class, since school starts back up on Wednesday. I thought back to the weekend that was and had to laugh at little at myself and the crazy identities that make up who I am.

My sister Patti came to visit. I enjoy her company. I like that; it's easy. We have a great relationship and as my husband tells me, we 'get' each other in a way that nobody else does. He hardly got a word in edgewise as we talked family and life and kids and jobs and so on.  And, of course, we went to the Fair in Yakima, to watch the stock car and sprint car races.
Patti and I got ready separately, both choosing red shirts with jeans and a ponytail. And we had bought the same jacket. And socks. From the same stores, even though we're 3.5 hours away from each other.  It makes me smile to think of it. We like many of the same activities too- gardening and canning and so on.  It's pretty touching that she has saved seeds from the squash she grows every year.  In the 1990s, our grandpa sent her some squash seeds and said to grow them. She and her husband grow and eat that squash, the same stuff Grandpa raise and which we grew up on, every year even though he died in 2010.  She loved the apple butter I made last week and I sent her home with some.

She also talked about her job and career and I realized that I have no idea what she actually *does* at work. I know the name of her company and her title and some of the projects she's worked on. But the technical thingies and doo-dads? Nope. No clue. That realm is outside of mine. I'm willing to bet that she has a whole slew of life experiences that I cannot fathom. She's ex-Army, knows how to make eye glasses, and can successfully steer and navigate large and small boats.
Likes Apple Butter

Looks like her sister 

G went with us to the races. Patti's husband is the pit crew boss for a sprint car team. I've written about that before.  This time, his driver was driving someone else's car and the engine blew halfway through the second heat. So my brother in law joined us in the grandstands with my nephew. It was a good time, even though I wore my contacts and had to rip them out of my eyes and be blind all the way home because of all the dust. We had a running joke about which of us would go home with beer spilled on us. It was me.  A lady behind me spilled her beer down my back during an exciting portion of the race. It's ok though; she was really nice and very apologetic and it turns out that she's a high school reading teacher.

G went along, not just because he had to, but because he enjoys my sister, brother in law and nephew. It's nice that he participates in my family whenever the opportunity presents itself.  And yesterday, he hooked up an antenna to our television so we could watch the game yesterday.  For someone who doesn't *like* football, he knows a lot about the game. And about getting reception on a tv with no cable. And lots of other stuff too. Currently, he's reviewing my syllabus and proofreading for errors. He is also allowing me to bounce ideas off of him for the class since he's read almost all of the readings we're about to undertake. There's still a lot I don't know about him and I kind of like that.

I think of the life we live together as a part of me that is still emerging. It's not always graceful, and sometimes I'm pretty ham-handed in my choices or too restrained in my self-advocacy, but we will keep working those things out. Every day we choose to do nice things for each other and to appreciate our relationship. And you know, thats a pretty easy thing to do.

This is a nice man.
I sometimes think that I live in two worlds; one in academe where I feel comfortable talking about rhetoric and discourse and the frightening trends in higher education among my colleagues. Where I get to teach amazing students who may or may not have realized how important good writing and good reading are or who are discovering a love of literature. A world where I get to present my work at conferences and meet interesting and really smart people and become more inspired.

The other world is just as welcoming. Part of it is just spending time with my family. Enjoying a Sunday afternoon on the couch, watching the Seahawks in a close game, eating snacks and yelling at the tv.  Making pancakes and talking about how Patti and I are turning into our grandma and her twin sister, Verline and Earline.

I think both of these identities are my authentic self, even though they don't seem to go well together. I assure you though, that my experiences as a person out in the world feed directly into my classroom teaching and interpretation of literature. After all, my nephew gets excited about reading and art museums and still races dirt bikes and has been driving since I can remember- and he just turned 14. He also exists in a rural school but isn't opposed to having his auntie hug him in public or to say "I love you too!" My grandma was a school lunch cook and a life-long avid reader. She loved romance novels but during a trip to my house, she also borrowed some of the books from my literature classes and enjoyed those too.

I read once that we each have three self concepts: the one we desperately hope is true, the one we fear we are, and the one we actually are. I hope that my "hoped for" self more closely resembles my actual self. Lots of things influence our identities, like education, life experiences, mentors and sometimes just the luck of being in the right place at the right time. It's a luxury of growing up and growing older, that we can choose to reject and accept what defines us.  I don't think that's disparate at all. I don't live in two worlds, I live in lots of them, and so do the people around me. It's these layers that are important. To be multi-faceted and to grow intentionally in ways we had previously thought unattainable. It's good for the soul but it also makes us better people, keeps our brains and thinking more flexible and staves off death by ego.

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