Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Retiring the Clouds and Bringing Forth the Chrysalis - The 12th Year of Blogging

And it's been another calendar complete. Cumulous Crandall has moved forward to a year of metamorphosis - a Chrysalis of sorts. There's nothing better than incubating and marinating in a cocoon of reflection.

Thank you, 2018. You were good to me, but now it's time for 2019, you know what I mean? The new blog can be found by clicking below (or simply clicking the new blog here).

Monday, December 31, 2018

Well, 2018. It's a Wrap. My Last Day To Reflect on the Year That Just Was

I always tell everyone that New Year's is my least favorite holiday of the year, but it isn't the purpose of the day - it's the excessive celebration after a month of eating that I'm not fond of. I'm always ready for next steps, new visions, and much change as the ball drops from the sky. Tomorrow, begins another 365 cycle, so for today I the location to think critically about the year that just was. I'm reaching out my arm to the clouds one more time - many thanks to the Great Whatever - and recalling events, moments, and celebrations of what mattered most in the last year.

I will likely keep my heads in the clouds, but I'm ready to go inward a bit, a chrysalis of sorts, to think about what I want to accomplish in the year to come: hopefully a year of hope, legacy, new programs, and better professional connections. With that noted, here's the top ten of what I'm most proud of this year.

Love. It was a year of love and I'm thankful to Matt de la Péna and Loren Long for debuting their children's book of the same name. It provided a backdrop for classes, school programs, and writing prompts. It also was a wonderful theme to share with my family and friends, who I love dearly, and to keep my eyes on what matters most.

MLK & Running for Refugee Traditions. It was never my mission to read as much wisdom of Martin Luther King as I have or to be doing the work that I do, but in 2018, it was the 7th year for me to assist the MLK programs at Fairfield University and to support both CIRI and IRIS with their work with immigrant and refugee families, including the yearly road race and our summer program with Ubuntu Academy.

A Loss of a Role Model and Friend. No year goes by without sadness to accompany it, and it came as a total shock when I learned Dr. Vin Rosivach passed away. He and I worked closely on the salary committee and his classical wisdom always was an inspiration for the work I do in Connecticut. In fact not once, but twice, his legacy reached out to me to help make the CWP-vision possible. He saw the work I do with youth communities and teachers and simply wanted me to know, "I see you." He wanted to help the work and he did...TWICE...in tremendous ways. I will never forget his influence on my life and I hope he is resting in peace.

A Reunion with my Japanese Family. In 2002, I did a Fulbright Memorial Scholarship to Tokyo, Japan, but also traveled to the countryside to stay with the Sakano family. They were wonderful to me and this year they came to NYC to reunite (and I got to meet a whole new generation of kids). It was unbelievable to see them once more and I was so touched they reached out and made the experience possible.

21st Century Literacies Research Initiative Divergent Award. In 2017, I was contacted by Shelbie Witte to announce that I hit the trifecta and was going to be named a 2018 Divergent Award Recipient. The excitement was enormous, but Mother Nature wasn't my friend and sent a freak ice storm to Oklahoma on the day I was supposed to arrive. The event had to be canceled (even though Jennifer Dail was already there). The result was a flight to Atlanta, a long day and dinner, and a flight back. I never made it, but the lecture series was rescheduled and I was able to give my guest speech anyway. It also solidified the friendship with Dr. Shelbie Witte who became one of my greatest champions of 2018. I'm forever indebted to her for giving me this opportunity.

Tenured. I did not throw a party, I didn't make a fanfare announcement, but I did let it silently be known that Fairfield University granted me tenure in the spring and the hard work of 2012-2017 paid off. I know it is supposed to be a big deal, but I was too busy to draw attention to myself (although I had many friends stop me to say, "I need to celebrate this with you," and I let them). In my head, I thought I'd throw a party during the summer, but that never happened. The letter came and it is in the same place it was when I opened it. It's on the bench in the hallway leading to the kitchen. I still don't want to touch the letter because it simply triggers all the stress. of the past years. I don't have summers off to work on my dossier, so I held my breath and went into ram mode in 2017. I got it done. The promotion is a huge sigh of relief.

Key West. For years, my Aunt and Uncle tried to get me to visit them in Key West, where they live during the winter months. Knowing Chitunga needed a break from his studies, I made a short trip for the two of us to actually take a second to breathe. None of the writing that occurred at this time captures how wonderful it was to be in the heat and to see a new part of the world (the first time I've taken a short trip for myself since....well, since forever). I loved every second of it.

Project Citizen. CWP now hosts 100s of kids every summer and at least 50 teachers in our various programs. The last two years, we've received SEED Summer Camp grants to offer fellowships to youth from high needs schools to come to our summer programs to take part in political, argumentative writing. For all of us involved, there are few words to capture how powerful the experience is for the teachers and kids. The two weeks we spent this year working with 26 amazing kids and 11 teachers in the summer institute was remarkable - so much so that we're writing about and processing it now. In some ways, it stands for everything I believe in (and because I couple it with Ubuntu Academy) my heart is tremendously fulfilled.

Hoops Africa: Ubuntu Matters. In October, I worked with producer Taylor Sharp, my cousin Mark Crandall, and Coach Sydney Johnson to pull off a screening of Hoops Africa: Ubuntu Matters in collaboration with the Quick Center. Again, there's too much to cover here, but the evening turned out to be better than expected with standing room only for the screening and full support from University athletics. In addition, two Fairfield students went to Zimbabwe with Hoops4Hope during the summer, who were also featured during the event. It was an evening 20 years in the making and one of the biggest things I've ever pulled off (I'm still exhausted thinking about it).

Saugatuck Story Fest. Anyone who was anywhere near me this last year had me talking about the incredible vision of Rebecca Marsick, Kim Herzog and the Saugatuck Story Fest Youth Advisory Board. Initiated in January 2018, we met monthly to pull off a festival for writers in southern Connecticut and managed to bring names like Jason Reynolds, Nic Stone, Libba Bray, Gayle Forman, Ashley Woodfolk, Robin Benway and Ibi Zoboi. It was simply amazing and I am still scratching my head that all this happened in my universe. The highlight, I suppose, was having quality time with Nic Stone as her work became central to Project Citizen, my teaching, and the crushes that resulted (cough cough Kemoy).

That's my ten, but perusing the last 365 days of blog posts I realize that I really have 365 days to celebrate and I could have named any of them as the best days of year. I'm a lucky Son of a Butch. It's been quite a year and I look forward to seeing what 2019 will bring my way. For now, however, I'm simply thankful for my family, especially Chitunga, my dog, my health, my house and the technology that allows me to post such thoughts.

Tomorrow, I promise the tradition will continue, and another year, the 12th year, will commence. I'm ready for the metamorphosis to begin.

Sunday, December 30, 2018

Channeled My Older Sister and Put The Holidays Away As Soon As I Returned

I made it home safely without incident, and listened to Dr. Rose Brock's Hope Nation - essays of hope written by some of the best YA Authors in the nation. I read the book earlier this year, but listening to the essays had a bigger impact and made me think a lot about what hope means in our life and why so many choose to destroy the hope of others. Essay after essay shared stories of hopeless times and how individuals overcame them. I was particularly struck by Libba Bray's account of a post-high school car accident that almost took her life. As I listened, I kept thinking, "This is too much for my stomach and imagination," but then her delicate wit and insatiable drive for life kept me totally engrossed, especially as she described the reconstruction of a face and years of surgery. While driving, it made me take extra caution because one never knows.

One never knows.

Several of the essays account for individuals who tried to limit, damage, and knock down the dreams of the writers. These were teachers or bosses who viciously bit on the hopes of young people to destroy the vision they had for themselves in the future. These essays stuck out to me, too, because projection is Psychology 101 and people like to make others feel how they feel inside: bitter, angry, and hopeless people like to bring hatred, bite, and venom to others as a way to make themselves feel good. That's also bullying 101, too.

I have a few more hours of the audio version of the book and I'm looking forward to it, as the readers are making the text even more magical than the hard copy (so thankful that Brock's publisher gave me a copy while at NCTE).

And then I returned to CT. The first thing I did was unwrap Baby Jesus from my mother's ceramic nativity set that was given to me by my Aunt Bobbie when they moved from Kentucky to Vegas. I cherish this artwork, even though I'm on the lower scale of religiosity (but higher scale of hope and spirituality). Pam Kelly curses me each year when she sees Baby Jesus unwrapped before Christmas day. "He's supposed to be covered," so she covers him. Arriving home a few days away from Christmas, I took this photo after I unwrapped the messiah to share with her. I wrote, "I think he looks a little pale."

I also hung up Chitunga's new ornament on the tree, because it is my favorite gift of the year (even though it was given to him). I love that photo and the sentiment that it will show up every December simply makes me smile.

Then, after taking these photos, I went on a  clean-up spree and began putting everything away. I left the window lights up for tomorrow, but everything is packed and stored in the basement. I'm already thinking ahead to 2019 and getting read to put myself in a cocoon for a while. I'm also thinking that the furniture I bought last year is not designed right. As soon as I sat down to work and write, I got those sharp pains in my shoulders and back. Yes, I am blaming some of this on our new tech-crunched worldview, but I simply think the design of this furniture is no good. When I set out for new furniture my one priority was to have a reading/writing chair that would hug my like my old furniture did. I totally failed.

Okay, I don't like to complain, so I'll get over it (that is, if I can get these sharp pains to subside).

I am home again, a 3rd home to my CNY and Louisville homes. Funny, because lately I've been craving the Denmark-home which housed me many summers when I took students there. I think I'm getting anxious to travel again. It's been too long.

Saturday, December 29, 2018

Cold and Snow Returning to CNY and I'm Beginning to Think About My Return to Connecticut

I always know the CNY holiday celebration is coming to a close when Chitunga, Rhiannon and I get together for lunch (usually at the Retreat in Liverpool).

Last night, we kicked off a 49th birthday celebration for my sister Cynde and the Great Whatever (in combination with Mother Nature) gave us a 50+ degree-Friday. The result was a stupendous day to celebrate life, birthdays, friendships, and family.

Now comes the return-debate. Do I leave today so that I can take down holiday directions in Connecticut or do I stick around another day so I can watch the UK/University of Louisville basketball game (in which the Cards should be slaughtered - phew! poor U of L).

In the back of my mind, I am simply trying to get my head around the return to work and all that needs to be done - the mountains were piled high before I left and have grown thicker since I took these few days off.

It's all good. The Great Whatever will help to make the decision for what is best. What I do know is that the last 6 days have been a wonderful retreat from the hustle and bustle of academic life. Now, it's time to face the inevitable responsibilities that lie ahead. We got this.

Friday, December 28, 2018

The Holiday Traditions Continue - A Celebration of Cynderballz's Birthday. Phew! Another Year.

Mom says, "I refuse to have a daughter that is 50 years-old," so I assured her, "It's all good, Mom. Cynderballz has another year before she's half a century."

A half-century. Phew. Can this be for real? It can't! Because that means I have two years before I'm right behind her! And Casey is right behind me!

Seriously, we've always thought Cynde was slighted by having her birthday so close to Christmas Day (she should select a day closer to June so she can be separated from the December hoopla). Still, it's the tradition as it's always been and I love her that much more because of it.

Yesterday, Cynde and I drove to Ft. Drum and back to drop off Dylan as the base (I took pictures, but I'm not supposed to, so I won't post them). On the way back we had a great talk about aging, life, transitions and the whatnot (only to have some of that conversation get reborn when Chitunga and I ran into Tricia and her parents at Twin Trees). Crazy coincidences.

Ah, but this day always makes me sad, too, because it's always an indication that my time in CNY is dwindling down. My homestay is on Amalfi, my heart is split between Clay, Cicero and Manlius and now Tunga is independently living at LeMoyne.

My core is definitely Syracuse through and through. And today I'm going to celebrate it with many songs for my older sister.

Jingle Balls! Jingle Balls! Jingle all they way!

Thursday, December 27, 2018

And @kpchandl Continues to Be a Mentor! The Literacies of Holiday Mojitos in CNY

It's the day after Christmas and my older sister already has her tree, decorations and lights up and stored in the basement. Not me. I'm still in the mood of the season and last night, Chitunga and I were invited to the home of Dr. Kelly Chandler-Olcott for a meet and greet and, more importantly, so she could showcase her holiday mojito recipe that she's mastered at her camp in Sodus (with the expertise of Syracuse University nutritionists).

Verdict came in quickly - Chitunga and I definitely offered 4 thumbs-up: mint, pomegranates, cranberry, lime juice and rum made for the perfect holiday treat to go with cookies and good company.

Phew. Her kids - they've done aged on me and are definitely much older than when I left Syracuse University in 2011!!! Where does the time go?

In addition to the kids, I also had the honor of finally meeting my mentor's mom - a school administrator and teacher throughout her career and a hero to her daughter (and by default her daughter's mentee). It was a wonderful way to spend a Wednesday evening and to catch-up, think ahead, celebrate and share the lineages we've been able to create together.

Earlier in the day, Casey, Dave and I took Chitunga, Dylan, Sean-Man, and Jacob Charles to see the latest Spiderman movie (I was intrigued by Miles Morales: Spider Man by Jason Reynolds turned into the latest Marvel series). The animation was fantastic and I was highly impressed at the angles the cartoon took with the story. I am, however, more intrigued to know more about Miles Morale the book. I'm a huge fan of Jason Reynolds but haven't read this particular one (and I should - because I remember all the faces of the Saugatuck Story Fest Teen Advisory Board when they made the connection that our Keynote was the author of this book, too).

All in all, my hump-day was rather remarkable and I'm very fortunate to see my Syracuse family growing larger and larger. Now it's time to venture up to Waterdown, New York, to drop my nephew back at Ft. Drum. Packing-in as much as I can in while I'm home.

Wednesday, December 26, 2018

I'm With Dixie On This One - Just Get Me To Bed To Welcome In a New Year

My barometer for this holiday season is my sister's dog, Dixie. Somewhere amidst the holiday hubbub she simply found a box of an Earwax Candle Maker Kit and put her head down to sleep.

She was like, "I'm done. You humans have made this all a little to crazy, so don't mind me while I take this little nap."

This, of course, was before brunch, plastic cup Santa Claus surprises, prime rib dinners, and new Nintendo X-boxes (to the billionth degree). On Christmas Eve she had it and she symbolically rested her paw next to Mac Truck and Pineapple bandaid strips. According to her the season was over and in looking at photos over the last couple of days I had to agree. It was a bit much.

Now is the time to transition to some semblance of normalacy. I know I am ready, and I imagine the vast majority of excessive Americans are on the same page. We need sleep, we need regularity, and we need calm.

So, Dixie, I'm with you. Let us get rest and return to a simpler way of being. We all need this.

Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Merry Christmas 2018. We Got Our White Christmas in Syracuse After All.

And the tradition continues. Happy Holidays from the Crandalls, Isgars, and Barnwells. Cynderballs once again catered an entire household on Christmas Eve and had enough food to last us a few weeks. We just might be getting older because Casey fell asleep on the couch and Nikki was pretty subdued. The evening went by without any drama, but instead was a beautiful evening with family.

A few years ago, Cynde started the Brady tradition so my mother could feel like we actually live Days of Our Lives. We each get to hang up our personalized bulb (which I must admit is a great ritual).

This morning, we'll continue the food fest with brunch at Casey and Dave's and then back to the Cherry Heights home front to, more than likely, collapse.

The other spectacular surprise for last night was the lake effect snow that snuck in and offered 4 to 5 inches of CNY love. I didn't know it was coming and it made for a nice holiday hug.

And with this, the chaotic holiday season will subside once again into a new year and the long days of winter. I'm hoping everyone is safe today and surrounded by those they love most.

Monday, December 24, 2018

Merry Christmas Eve - We Are Safe in Syracuse and the Festivities Begin Today

Here's to you and your family during this Christmas celebration, with warm wishes for love, togetherness, memories, and nostalgia. We arrived yesterday afternoon and, of course, the pace quickly took off (as it will continue today, tomorrow, and the rest of the week - such is the way it goes).

My family and I will do the lion's share of festivities today with much food and too many gifts (leaving Christmas morning for just Chitunga, my father, my mother and me).

We are safe, however, in Syracuse and Glamis is slowly getting comfortable with all the table scraps that come her way from my father.

Also got a great CNY run which is always a pleasure upon arriving to the destination (such wonderfulness is passing the homes of so many friends).

I'll keep this short, as there's much to get done.

Merry Christmas, Everyone! Make it a memorable celebration.

Sunday, December 23, 2018

Saying Good-Bye To the Sound for a Couple of Days - Holiday Around the Corner

Yesterday, at 4:50, there was the perfect horizon of a setting sun and a rising moon on the Long Island Sound. Unfortunately, the moon rising, which was exquisite, was not as photogenic as the sunset. We almost gave up on the moon because she was so slow to find her way out of the clouds, but it was worth the wait. Yes, we were freezing and the dogs were tired of running along the beach, but we were determined to see it come.

Stunning. Great way to say aufwiedersehen to Connecticut for the holidays.

In the morning, the car will be loaded and we hope to have room for the canine, too. I only had a couple of days (whirlwinds, actually) to make Christmas a reality but everything seems to be set.

Glamis will begin her nervous Nelly return sometime this morning, and even thought I spent a couple of hours vacuuming the car yesterday, she'll quickly fill it up with dog hair as she pants and paces the entire way (she has no problem going from point A to point B in Connecticut, but spazzes when she has to share the care with bags, luggage, and gifts).

I know how much Chitunga wanted to be back in the area for a while, especially to rest after a taxing semester. He has a winter-session class and goes back to work on Wednesday - at least for a little while he was able to sleep in and chill out. I simply wish it could last a lot longer.

Wish us luck in the holiday traffic. Hoping the roads aren't that bad.

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Baking Day for the Neighbors - Getting Our Holiday On One Cookie Sheet at a Time.

Somewhere in the mid-2000s the universe was given the fantastic recipe of mini-muffin tins, chocolate chip cookie dough, and Reeses Peanut Butter Mini Cups, which might be the simplest, and most exquisite cookie recipe in the universe. The delicacy is so fantastic, that I have students from my Kentucky days still contacting me about the incredibleness of the treat. "Crandall, what was that cookie you made?"

Well, I've been making those cookies and delivering them for holiday love to my neighbors who show me genuine, non-committal intrinsic support for life in CT, and occasionally popping one here and there.

Yes, they truly are a life treat for the ages. Peanut butter and chocolate are simply brilliant.

I don't get all fancy and stuff (like buckeyes, which are equally as delicious or magic layer bars, but I have made a name for myself with the simplest of recipes. I've actually mastered them.

So, as the holiday celebrations take off and people invite us to this or that event, I'm able to arrive with the perfect blend of simplistic flavors (and I'm proud of them).

As people deliver trays of cookies to me, I'm unlikely to be tempted to dip my fingers into the healthy distractions. These, however, lure me in. I'm a chocolate/peanut butter lover and I can't think of an easier, better combination.

One more day of cookie delivery and then Chitunga and I will head northwest to Syracuse of the family love and embrace (where my mother's cookies trays will be a fantasy land of temptation. It's all good, though, because in eating these, the guilt will kick in and I'll be ready for New Year's resolutions. Growing up in Italian neighborhoods, I've experienced the trays and trays of Christmas traditions. I feel, however, that nothing beats the trays my mom ensembles.

I only wish I could do such decadence in Connecticut. A few more days of eating, then the reprieve!

Friday, December 21, 2018

A Crandall Hallmark Movie Without The Snow or The Kiss, Just Friendship

Yesterday, I was able to attend my first ever, campus-wide Holiday Luncheon. Normally, I am already in Syracuse at this point, but this year I'm still crossing i's and dotting t's. It was a beautiful spread - the entire Tully was recreated as a wonderland for staff, faculty, alumni and friends: a feast for the holiday season.

My faux pas of the day, however, was one I regret. The impeccable, wonderful retiree Dr. Mary Frances Malone was in attendance and I wanted to give her a hug in celebration of her accomplishments. I hugged her, it triggered her felt hat to flop into my arms, that knocked a cup of coffee out of my hands. The rest went in slow motion as the hat landed on the floor before the coffee. It was too late. The hat was soaked and I felt terrible.

I had to get to my office, however, after cleaning up the mess to attend a national conference call. I made peace with a wonderful human being and arrived to room 115 to learn the meeting was canceled. I took advantage of the moment to do grant work when I saw on Facebook that my colleague, Dr. Kris Sealy, was in need of a teleporting machine. Her son's E-string on his violin snapped and he had a Christmas concert to perform at. She, however, had to be at Fairfield to be part of a dissertation proposal (among  other things) and her husband, teacher extraordinaire Dave Wooley was still teaching in Stamford. I quickly called her to say, "Where are you?" She was in Stratford. "Where's the music store?" It was in Fairfield. "When are you able to drop off the violin?" In 30-minutes.

I simply said "I'm heading back to Stratford now, but I can wait 30-minutes." I met her at the music store and the hand-off was made.

Phew. That's what she, Dave and I said. I met her at the music store, they re-strung the violin, and I headed home to drop the instrument off at their home. I put it at the front door, but the middle school boys weren't home. I didn't feel comfortable leaving it, so I packed it back up and decided to drive towards Wooster Middle School. As I headed up Nichols Avenue I saw Isaiah heading home with his crew of kids, including brother David, and I pulled to the side of the road and yelled, "Isaiah. I got your goods." We waited for traffic to slow down and I handed it over.

Again, phew. I'm happy that the musical instrument was back in his hands.

That's the Hallmark moment - a kid and the request of the jazz band that he could play with Christmas music with them. It all was made possible by luck.

I'm believing in luck and heading into Friday with a smile.

"Oh heaven and nature sing! Oh heaven and nature sing! Oh heavannnnnnnnnn and naturrrrreee sing."

And with that, we are on a TGIF before the weekend.

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Got My Marvel On Last Night (Shrunk Into My Chair) & Watched Both Ant-Man Movies

You can count on one hand the number of times I've sat at home and watched a movie. Last night, Chitunga and I watched two: Ant Man followed by Ant Man and the Wasp. We were going to head to the theater but I said, "See what's on-demand. That way I don't have to put on socks."

I ran, showered, put away laundry, made dinner, and didn't feel like going back up stairs to change.

We did it in reverse order, viewing Ant Man and The Wasp before the original Ant Man. I don't think either of us anticipated the films to be as good as they were, but they are Marvel and were marvelous. R.I.P. Stan Lee - what a brilliant mind and human being. His cameos were hilarious, well-timed, and within the campiness of the writing.

Actually, the writing is what I enjoyed the most. The story lines were simply clever and playful. As the films began, I thought I would simply multi-task and semi-pay attention. The characterization, however, sucked me in and I was intrigued.

Admittedly, I initially thought the concept of an ant-man was simply stupid. I was wrong. It's actually clever and highly imaginative.

Okay. That's enough about the film. What I am more impressed about is the fact that I actually relaxed in my own house from 7 pm. - 11 pm. I chilled, I really really chilled. And it felt great.
Of course, I was looking around and began thinking, "Hmmm. How else can I find ways to actually relax in my house?"

It is something to look into for sure!

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

And Today He Begins His Shopping With The Maddening Crowds (His Fault). Happy Birthday, Mom!

This December's schedule has simply been inane. I've picked up things here and there, and yesterday Chitunga and I got a few things at Burlington (God Bless retail employees at this time of year).

I'm recalling my senior year of high school when Malls began staying open until 1 a.m. to accommodate the last-minute shoppers (I'd still have to go to school in the morning). Today, I'm sad to admit, I am one of them. I can hear the barking, rudeness, and honking now. I'm not looking forward to stepping into any store (especially since I've heard from many colleagues that they, too, are hitting holiday commercialism this Wednesday). Maybe I will put on my Santa outfit before I head out.

I must admit, however, that I don't have any school observations, student conferences, meetings or papers to grade. I need to stop at one school to drop off books, attend a holiday luncheon, and pay a teacher back a little moolah, but otherwise it can be the most wonderful time of the year.

But I hate crowds. I also have a very male brain and can only concentrate on one thing at a time: grocery shopping is the same for me, as I can't recall everything I'm there to get. So, Who the #$#@ is left on my Xmas list to buy for?

Might be easier to check-off the few I finished.

Likely to be a gift-card Christmas, indeed.

Ah, I was smart with my MOMMY! Today is her Birthday and I sent gifts early to be sure they made it in time. A week from today I'll be home and can sing (off key) to her personally. HAPPY BIRTHDAY, SUE CRANDALL (photo of a mother and son after Henry the Hernia was taken away).

Here's to a day of soap operas, game shows, talk shows, and potato chips. I hope Butchy-Boo takes your out to lunch or dinner and/or you get visitors who come say hello.

I still think one of the funniest birthdays was the night you took cold medicine and had a few White Russians at the Clam Bar and couldn't stop laughing. The memory is vague, but I know you got the giggles and had all of us in stitches (maybe you should recreate that today).

Wishing we were there with you, and knowing it will be just a few more days.

Who's making your cake?

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

Of Happy Dancing, Passion, Grading and End-of-the-Semester Hope! Let it Snow! Let it Snow! Let it Snow!

At 9:15 p.m. Monday night I submitted my semester grades. For the first time at Fairfield University, I don't have students needing extensions over the break (so I am clear and in the good). I can say I am done (with that part of my job)

Today, however, it's back to grant world and financing. Tonight I return to Stamford to do more work on mentoring student writers.

Yesterday, though, I received two compliments that I wish to share here (because it's rare to hear kindness beyond the aggressive noise of our culture - you'd think we'd be better than this).

The first came from a graduate student of history who attached a PS to her final project that put a smile on my face (her words reminded me of my teaching days in Kentucky),
Dear Dr. Crandall, I have never had a teacher like you before. You bring fire, passion, intellect, humor and joy to your classrooms, but most importantly you bring love Thank you for spreading your persona to everyone you meet. There should be a lot more Bryan Ripley Crandalls in the world.
Now, normally I have to pay people to be so nice to me (and I can't afford them), but this came unsolicited. It made me feel great, especially because it arrived from an individual in a class of phenomenal students (the group really jived this semester and every class was a joy).

The second warm fuzzy came from the incredible teacher, Jessica Baldizon, who was my graduate student, a co-founder of Ubuntu Academy, and who works with Bridgeport Public Schools. She and William King, Bassick High School, have spread Ubuntu between high school and K-8 students. Last night she texted,
My thinking as I reflect for a moment...I have this thumb ring I wear everyday since I got it and it has Hope engraved on it...this year the testing chaos in my building has my teaching feeling so fragmented, but like I told Melissa Q hope stays alive in HOPE Club and seeing the ripple effects of great things happening. It's amazing how much action can come from single people (like you). Year 1 of HOPE Club we bought Hope for Flowers for each student. This month another teacher saw an old student of mine with a copy and was reminded how she loved the book and bought two for her classroom. Then last week another teacher came to my room in search of reading ideas for her students and picked up the same book because she may buy a class set for her room...in short thanks for being you and doing what you do. I know it's exhausting but you're awesome and needed!
Okay hangnails, anvils from the sky, and dog puke in every room....where are you? The inner-Eeyore is skeptical of this kindness and karma, and now I will be anticipating my tail falling off the next day.
Lucy always pulls the football from Charlie Brown.

Still, I am flattered to end a very hectic semester (that blurred from an excessively hectic summer) )that grew out of an extremely hectic spring) with joy.

Joy is what it is all about, and I often try to demonstrate how I try to take the negative energy of the world and swirl it in a ball that I can push away towards the sky (as if I'm in The Matrix). I am not always good at this, but I will always welcome compliments and stories where my teaching has influenced someone else. I don't my positive swirls of energy.

So, Tuesday, I am beginning my day with a smile and am very thankful I'm able to do what I do. I love / to believe / in hope (thanks Brendan Kennally for the "World's Oldest Trilogy.").

I'm also wondering why, when I went upstairs to toast a drink with Chitunga to celebrate the grading was don, he was already asleep!!!! Actually, I get it. The kid had one heck of a semester himself.

Monday, December 17, 2018

Gifting Experience - Taking a Break From Grading (One More Day) To Laugh A Little

For the last year, signs on 95 have advertised The Stress Factory, a new comedy club in downtown Bridgeport. Talking to Chitunga before he returned I asked what he wanted and he said, "Experiences." So I thought about doing a comedy show in NYC, but it turned out Marlon Wayans was headlining down the street. Tickets were reasonable and I got the last 4 tickets of a sold-out show (they even added another show last night at midnight).

I allowed myself to grade all day, right up to the departure, and didn't have time to recall the In Living Color show where the Wayan brothers got their big break (as did Jim Carey and Jennifer Lopez). I sort of remember the days when I still had a tv with an antenna that would pick up the show (these were my college years, so there wasn't much time for t.v., although I often caught reruns). The show was always hilarious.

We also ate at Gustos before the show, so it was good humor, good company, and good food as a respite from grading.

To be honest, I expected the humor to be a bit crass and a little over the top, but it was not the case - yes, it was cuss-heavy and wildly outrageous, but Marlon Wayans is a phenomenal comedian. Some of the faces he makes are unbelievable and when he impersonates his brothers it is hysterical. He definitely brought life to the crowd, and one can't help but think that his childhood home must have been one hell of a place to grow up - I can't imagine all the cutting up. I also can't imagine being the youngest of all those kids and the mental damage that must have done.

Okay, Santa - it was good to put that experience into the stockings of others.

This morning, though, we clean up shop. There's more grading to complete and a pile of grants that need to be resolved and finished.

My only goal though is to get in a run. My back is so tight from all this sitting. It truly is unhealthy.

Sunday, December 16, 2018

Why Not Take the Bus and Then the Train? It's a New Experience, I Say. Ummm

This is a little happier of an experience than I am sure Chitunga actually had. After a grueling semester with a loaded week of finals, the kid wanted to come for a week to take a break in Connecticut. We debated him driving (adding miles to his lease and then having to take two cars back to Syracuse), so I said, "Why don't you take the train?"

Well, Amtrak was too expensive.

"Why not the Greyhound?"

That seemed to be a good idea, except it left Syracuse late, he arrive to the Apple late, and then his connection to Stratford needed to be later. The result? I ended up staying awake until midnight so I could get him - a throwback to our earlier days when I used to pick him up from the train station after work when he had employment in Stamford. Of course, that was typically 1 a.m.

I'm sure he will say, "It would have been easier to drive." It would.

Ah, but this is a bonus addition to the holiday celebration, especially because he wanted to be home for the holidays (which ends up being my home back in Syracuse). He has to return to work, but he needs a week in his own bed, his own room, and with Glamis the Wonder Dog. He and I are both tired, as he's gained the Crandall luck with travel this year. I'm still not over being trapped in Chicago.

On a positive note, it gave me a couple more hours of grading, even though I'm still not done. The rainbow twirl was back, but not as frequent, so I was able to jump over the halfway mark.

I'm channeling all the years my parents awaited my return, and I know the 11 hour trip from Kentucky every Christmas was a tremendous ordeal. I made the most of it, though, with books on CD and good music my students made for me.

I'm singing "Home for the Holidays," and will be singing it again next weekend when we return to Amalfi Drive.

If only we could transport or move through Chimneys like the Hogwarts crew.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Well, 2018, I Guess You Win As I Try To Finish Out My Semester. I Am Done.

I wish I could say my Friday was a successful day, like I intended it to be. The majority of my graduate students turned in required work and I set out to finish at least half of the work. I had a problem, however...

...my computer that I've brought in several times over several years decided that it wanted to die. Well, it didn't actually die, but it lost its indexing way and opening any file took hours. It was painful.

ITS at Fairfield University sent me on the way with hopes that all was fixed.  I drove home to grade and then spent a good six hours simply trying to open up the files of one student. It was miserable. Nothing I did would get the machine acting like it should. I did hear back from the University that I could get a new, functioning machine...

...in 2019, after the break.

Now, I'm hoping I either wake up and all will be well, or I am fingercrossing that I can get to campus and talk my way into a weekend loaner so I can get the files to open.

It's no big deal. I simply need to grade a semester's worth of work so I can meet the grading deadline.

I wish I could say I was productive while the rainbow pinwheel from hell twirled on my machine, but it was misery. I simply stated at it hoping it would eventually give up and allow me to score.

Seriously, we are so wedded to our machines that we don't even realize how much they are a part of our intuition and reaction. I was numb most of Friday, frustrated that I couldn't accomplish anything. It was a total waste of a day and I quickly grew miserable. I tried to find other things on my to-do list to accomplish, but I kept coming back to the Mac in hopes that it found the source of its misery.


So I am waking up today a good 18 hours behind the schedule I set to myself. I am beyond frustrated, but it is a 21st century misery. I will get by eventually. In the meantime I am 100% prayer up to The Great Whatever. I still believe. We got this. We have to have this.

Friday, December 14, 2018

Office Parties - The Timing is Never Great, But It's Always a Joy to Celebrate Life Beyond Work

I like not to be a Grinch, Scrooge, or curmudgeon during the holiday season, but the grumpiness snuck up on me this week, so when I got the alert that there was a GSEAP holiday celebration to attend, I grunted, looked at my laptop, and said, "I'm not going. I have too much to do."

Lucky for me I have a laptop, however, that chooses when and when not to work and at that very moment, she decided not to work and froze. I said, "uck it," and I headed to meet my colleagues at their retreat. I have to say, too, that I'm fortunate. Although it was an open bar for wine and beer drinkers, my boss nodded to the bartender that it was okay to add an Old Fashion to the tab.

I ended up staying a little while as I hate chicken wings that made me break out in a sweat and other fried food that gave me a stomach ache. What's a party without eating the types of food that you avoid the rest of the year. It's good to have such gluttony and cheese sticks after a day's work.

I am awaking today with a huge plan to accomplish miracles - the first being to get on top of the Work Day craziness of the University's new accounting system so that the $$$ on my credit card can get reimbursed (it's ridiculous. We've covered that territory before). It'd be nice to know this money was coming back my way soon.

And then there's the grading. There is much to grade. I send love, hugs, support and gratitude for all my colleagues across the nation who are in the same space.

We got this!

Thursday, December 13, 2018

And That's a Wrap for 2018 Professional Development - Inspired By Research

Earlier this week, I had the pleasure of taking part of a Marginal Syllabus  online conversation where I was asked to review and think about Skerrett, Warrington, and Williamson's (2018) article, Generative Principles for Professional Learning for Equity-Oriented Teachers. In the article they named that teachers positive professional development experiences focused on aspects of curriculum where teachers wanted to grow, teachers were given opportunities to recognize research-based, sound practices in regard to their own practices, when teachers' expertise was validated, while sustained over time, from sustained collegial relationships, and a respect from district and administrative instructional practices that empowered them.

Although the article and research is new to me, I highlighted the findings in my work with middle school teachers at Columbus School where I've been working for the last two years. As I showed them the slide they were in 100% agreement of the findings, especially in recognition that the PD should come from where they are and want to grow.

As we recapped the last few years, we also named the professional development they wished they had for 2019 (in which I can begin to work).

It was a great way to finish my 2018 work with in-practice teachers, especially as they work tirelessly at their school to support the young people they serve.

The one thing that I can highlight about these particular teachers is their absolute joy and love for the young people they work with, even with the challenges that come to the classroom and the exhaustion that comes with the job. They want the best for their kids, and even when experiences are harried and troubling at times, they work collaboratively to provide the best pedagogy they can to make the experiences of their students worthwhile and purposeful.

I feel blessed to have grown so close to their teaching community and can't wait to work with them this Spring.

My graduate students are slowly turning in their 20+ page projects and I know I will be grading (until I am not).

Here's to all of us loving what we do.

Wednesday, December 12, 2018

Two Snapshots of a Day: Tomorrow-Thinking and Shouting Out To The Past

(Note: This is being written during the rare moment that my computer is cooperating with me - two years of asking for help from Fairfield University to replace this computer with one that works functionally and still we go back and forth - welcome to bureaucracy. I hope this will post as my computer continues to die a slow...slow...death).

And breathe. Here's what I'm celebrating. Today, I visited a pre-K thru 4th grade school with a high-ELL population. One of my students, a National Writing Project Teacher leader, is introducing best practices for teaching writing in a school system where traditions are counter to what works best with kids. I sat in her room and watched, first hand, stellar instruction, 100% student participation and excitement, and tremendous writing interaction. The young people she served today, 4th graders, were thrilled to be in her space, anxious to participate in writing workshop, and thrilled to share their learning not only with me, but with each other. At one point, a young girl said, 'Ms, you forgot to give Dr. Crandall his writing reminder." Esther Theodore, the teacher, then went to the table and got a framed photo of two frogs in conversation. The first has his fingers over the one's mouth who is trying to say, "Ribbit." His thought bubble is, "Dude. Please be quiet. They are writing."

They are writing. They were writing. They were thrilled to be writing, and I got to witness outstanding instruction for ELLs that should be replicated across the country.

Later, I attended a retirement celebration for Dr. Mary Frances Malone, who has been an institutional visionary, a mission and purpose extraordinaire, and an institutional diva. I can't even begin to comprehend the amount of historical knowledge she has about Fairfield University, but I do know by the standing room only crowd to applaud her retirement that she is loved, she has made a difference, and she is truly, truly appreciated. I couldn't help but capture one of two cakes baked in her honor: festive, cultivated and well positioned hats that match the etiquette, formality and traditions that she has carried forth at Fairfield University.

In my years since 2011, I have come to respect and appreciate the wisdom and expertise of Dr. Mary Frances Malone and I know that her shoes (which more than likely match her hat) will be tremendous to fill. Actually, it is her mind and intellect that is irreplaceable and her leaving is a tremendous loss for all of us in southern Connecticut.

I left campus today thinking, "But who is going to hold Fairfield University together?" - that was the role of this remarkable woman (who I wish nothing but the best for her retirement). 

Tuesday, December 11, 2018

Getting By With a Little Help from My Friends (Well, Some of My Semester Hallway Buddies)

Back to the office again, but only had time to sit for a couple of seconds because of scheduled meetings. Of course, I leave my door open, so receive texts from Akbar and Vilia, each in 115 at different times, wondering where the Frog is (or as Vilia says, My Crazy Uncle - in a way, this is correct, as she comes from Long Island via the Cuz and his H4H crew).

When I return, they're both there in stereo, being end-of-the-semester silly, entertaining and all-around joyful souls. Seriously, these two have become like office mates this semester (as if there's any room) as I can always count on them being in my seats on Monday and Wednesdays. It's become a tradition and I'm thrilled that they've met one another...warms my soul, actually. Their smiles are contagious.

Also of similar delight is that a gift I bought for my colleague, Dr. Diana Hulse, arrived. Similar to the Wonder Twins, Diana has been a free-spirited spark-of-light to my colleague, Ryan, and I this semester.

She's always been willing to spread her wings in support of either of us. We are both grateful.

Next semester will be Diana's last before she retires and in her room she has a countdown of purple paper dolls until she can finally say good riddance to the University life. Knowing her love of eccentricity and admirable fashions, I looked online to see if there was a butterfly cape she could flutter about Canisius Hall during her last days instructing in Counselor Education. Lo and behold, I found one (although I wish the print was both on the outside and inside). If and when she's at a whiteboard instructing, however, her students will definitely get the full butterfly effect (or perhaps there may be a group hug there and here).

I keep telling myself that I'm going to take more time to focus on the little things that bring meaning and purpose to life (that get my heads out of the cumulous clouds) to appreciate the moments down here on earth. These three, as well as many others in Canisius, have become my happiness-triggers. They're all working hard and doing what they do as they do it.

And they do it with joy and a smile - that matters most.

Monday, December 10, 2018

Okay, Monday, Two More Weeks! A Premature Celebration. Booyah!

At 3 p.m. Sunday, I finished grading all the undergraduate papers and I thought to myself, "This is the first time I haven't had to chase down students wondering when their work was going to come in." Nope. I had sufficient and proficient, organized underclassmen who were goo about getting their work to me.

In fact, I finished before the graduate project began to pour in. I had to find a photo from yesteryear (Santa Fe, New Mexico through Bread Loaf School of English) to capture how I felt after finishing the last paper of the day.  It felt good.

Of course, having graded from Friday afternoon until now, with only an occasional reprieve (a run or a walk) has a few bags under my eyes. It's all good. I decided not to get back to graduate student concerns until this morning. I will respond to their emails after the next cup of coffee.

Now, I also have to go through my list of obligations: professional development in Bridgeport, a tutor training in Stamford, a video conference for the Marginal Syllabus articles, and laying out the next edition of POW! Power of Words! which is a good 4 months behind schedule. It will get done.

I don't have to teach this week, which triggers everyone and their mother to schedule meetings galore to suck up any free time I might have.

Still, I'm feeling good that I'm 50% on my way to lay claim to the end of the semester. It's the small accomplishments that sometimes mean the most.

And the sniffles have arrived. I knew they would come. I'm hoping they go away, so I don't have to go after the Mucinex monsters - that's usually what happens when I finally get a few seconds to myself.

Here's to everyone out there battling with the end-of-the-semester bonanza. This too shall pass.

Phew! December 10th, already.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Okay, Bumble, Following Suit for Weekend Posts, I Continue to Say, "We've Got This."

This is a more proactive falling boulder upon the head of Sysiphus, one welcomed as I spent the entire day tackling Philosophy Statements of undergraduates after a semester of Greene, Freire, Dewey, Rizga, service-learning, Ubuntu, and the YA Novel Ghost by Jason Reynolds. I have to say that this semester's crop of future teachers has been my favorite. They get it: they understand that teaching is a profession and critical thinking, questioning their own schooling, and probing the inequities in our nation are a necessity.

I started at 7 a.m. and finished at 10 p.m., with a run to distract me, a walk of the dog, a grocery store run, a SU basketball game, and texting with Rhiannon Berry to help me along.

Oh, yeah. I also caught CBS's Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer to entertain me as I graded, hence Bumble! Every time I re-watch that film I go back to nostalgic Crandall and the joy felt when catching the animation pre-holiday break. The ritual is hysterical and every time I watch it with an adult mind I find more and more humor....is the choral director's nose supposed to be a testicle. I can't help but think that was deliberate.

She thinks I'm cute. Cute!

Have to love Clarise and Rudolph.

Okay, Sunday, we're back at it. Today, I anticipate graduate students will begin sending their semester wares my way. I received many panicked emails that will kick off this morning - last minute coaching needing attention.

Speaking of, Jason Reynold's character, Coach, from Ghost, made a tremendous impression on my undergraduates - they mentioned him in almost 50% of the philosophical statements. Thank you, Jason. You are a gift to this generation of readers.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

Then, On Friday Night, When He Tried To Keep the Pace Going, The Pace Sought Revenge

I get up early and go at it. I come home and go at it. I plan ahead and go at it, and I even go at it in my sleep.

Friday nights, however, go after me.

As much as I thought I'd make it a late night to do end-of-the-semester grading (the first class), my brain simply stopped working. My nose stuffed up and my eyes got heavy. I tried to wake myself up by putting laundry away, but it just made me more tired. The boulders I keep pushing up the hill (the ones that usually roll back down) are falling on my head, so I gave in early.

Hello, Saturday morning. Let's see how productive we can be to get on top of the grading game. My goal is to be done with one class done so when the work of the second class arrives, I can get on top of it right away.

I can hear kids everywhere saying, "If you hate grading so much, then why do you assign the work?"
Trust me, kids. I often wonder that myself.

Actually, when the work is good (which it usually is) it is a pleasure to read. It's the knuckleheads that make the job most interesting - they're the ones I hate to grade.

In another department: I got a 30% Kohl's coupon just in time for the holidays. Hmmm. Now only to find the time to shop. Woot Woot. 

Friday, December 7, 2018

Man Entering End of the Semester With Everything He Has Left Hoping He Makes It

It's not over yet. I can do it. I got this, but Workday about did me in yesterday. The University went to a new accounting system and, well, it doesn't quite understand the financing of the Connecticut Writing Project nor our primary work with K-12 schools and teachers, resulting in the impossibility of getting goods and payments back to classroom teachers. When the University chose the system, I believe they had limited perspective with how research, collaboration, service, and scholarship in action takes place. The University wants everything to be numerical and commodified internally.

Well, that's not the nature of good work.

So, I spent the last couple of days attempting to get teachers reimbursed for their hard work and travel, only to learn that employees who were once hired to help out in such situations have left or been let go because the new system of online reporting is saving money and making it easier to get things done.

Welcome to customer service, University style. I told my mother that after two trips this semester, the airlines has become a simulacra of the Walmart experience. That is now becoming higher education. The limited employees (here, read faculty, left in each department) will be expected to do more and more with less and less. This is the corporate way.

I just shake my head, forever wondering why the road to good intentions must pave the way to hell.
Workday has been hell, but I'll be back at it tomorrow. Why? Because I respect and value the teachers I work with too much.

What an embarrassment for the university, though.

I hate bureaucracies. 

Thursday, December 6, 2018

And With a Wednesday Complete, My Instruction Is Packaged Away Until January (Phew)

I finished off Fall, 2018, with the last visit of 54 7th graders to work in a service-learning course. In the redesign, the young people are bused to campus so that my undergrads can participate in a writing/reading/thinking workshop with middle school kids in a lecture hall setting. It is the best of many worlds, because the adolescents teach my undergraduates much about being in schools and the undergraduates can help the learning of middle schoolers while turning their own philosophies.

Today, I was met with a challenge.

It's an odd thing to reflect on, because it took a team of 21 undergraduates, 4 teachers, and a cafeteria of Sodexo employees to mold, shape, and guide the energy and zest of 54 young people. I came home last night simply exhausted from the experience and feeling like I failed them, and my undergraduates, because keeping all of us on target didn't go as I planned (and have experienced in the past).

Some classes arrive with a reputation that precedes them and the warnings came in stereo that this would be a tricky crew to work with. Tricky is a good word and I definitely experiences the tricks Interestingly, though, when I looked at the photographs from the day and talked with the veteran teachers, the experience looks like a total success. There was learning, happiness, on-task behavior and joy. The undergraduate students were 100% behind all of this, as the ration of 6 students to 2 undergraduates helped us to divide and achieve.

At the same time, the energy: talking, laughter, cell-phones, sleeping and inability to focus too long on any one thing was something else.

I am told this is 7th grade - an in-between space of childhood to early adolescence. One second, I felt like the kids were eating out of the palm of my hands...the 2nd second, I felt they were trying to rip the fingers from my body and wanting to gauge out my eyes.

And the food. I can't imagine the stomach aches that followed from the plates and plates and plates of food they consumed in a shark frenzy in the Tully. They were hungry (and thankful) for the buffet.

We spent the previous 2.5 hours thinking about the Revolutionary War, its facts, the American vision, Hamilton, poetry, and MLK. I challenged them with two writing contests and, to be honest, when they had writing time, they were WRITING. In my reflection, the time it became trickiest is when they had time to interact with one another. That's when things went awry.

I do know I slept well last night. I also know I have much to learn from the teachers who work with such energy and focus 5 days a week.

I'm hopeful that from today, a series of essays and poems will come my way. Only time will tell.

Ah, but today until January 20th I can live life without preparation for classroom activities or having to teach/guide/sculpt around the work. I am looking forward to the downtime.

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

She Tries To Act Smart, But Glamis The Wonder Dog Wants Her Cake, Too.

It is a Crandall tradition to bake a cake on the last night of graduate courses (an Alice recipe), so I stayed home yesterday morning to grade. I took the cake out and let it cool, then went for a run. I came home and made the ganache then took a shower. While I was taking a shower, Glamis "Butter Lips" Who Is Sometimes the Wonder Dog decided she'd jump onto the counter take off the towel covering the cake, and eat half the cake and the stick of butter. I have no idea how she reached either.

I took it as end-of-the-semester symbolism, but also as the last revenge for leaving her twice for conferences in the last 3 weeks. Research showed, too, that a 20 lb. dog would need to eat 1 lb. of chocolate in order for it to cause damage - the cake had 1/2 a cup of chocolate chips grounded into dust (it was far from a pound for my 70 lb. dog) .

Walking her, I realized that it also passed through her very quickly. I cut off the ends of the cake and served the graduate students thin slices. They didn't need such a pre-holiday chunk anyway.

I also took myself to the boys' barber, The Fade Factory, and got a much needed haircut. I love everything about their haircuts and Abu's write, you need to feel sexy after a really good cut. After the cake fiasco, I felt semi-GQ and headed off to the University to teach.

This morning, I am rushing out of my house to host 48 7th grade historians and mathematicians for a workshop on Revolutionary Evolutions - Writing Our Lives for Action. I have my 21 philosophy students, too, so the workshop should be a blast. I look forward to 2 p.m. today, a series of meetings, and the opportunity to come home to collapse. Actually, I'm likely to vacuum up all the dog hair from the last few weeks. Glamis can shed like no other and her blonde hairs are on everything.

I'm still shaking my head about that cake, though. I know it is good, but I am thinking about the ways a dog doesn't chew or savor every bite and it just frustrates me. Glamis also doesn't drink coffee, which goes so good with the cake. Oh, well. You take the good, you take the bad, you take them both and there you have....

life. That's a fact.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Dang It, Dog. We Got This. Even Though You Continue To Give Me the Furry Shoulder.

I don't know why Glamis the Wonder Dog is acting all miserable and such; after all, I started my morning after an 11-hour sleep (I needed it) by taking her for a 4-mile walk. Yes, I then left her for the office, but when I got home, we wrestled with her favorite sock toy for a while and (evidence is here) she now has a cover for the furniture, so she's also back onto it (a compromise so she can get to the bay window to soak in the sun while the Christmas tree is up).

I'm back at it. I have my last two classes this week and the writing is coming in (the final projects and all the Oh-My-God-Dr. Crandall-I-Forgot-To-Submit work that sneaks its way in).

I am okay with this. I am at a location for where I am the evil empire assigning, but Chitunga is a senior in college receiving. He and I went back and forth on last-minute, end-of-the-semester stress and I have to say: he wins! He's taking a postmodern philosophy course and sent me a copy of his final reading assignment. I read it and was like, "I think I understood 1/4th of the point in the article." Seriously, postmodernists make up language and scribe it in a way that is nearly impossible to comprehend. My theory on this is that some are justifying their careers by assigning writing that points out the simplest truths in the most complicated ways. It is truly awful writing and as esoteric as it gets.

That's his problem, however. I've been there and done that. I'm proud of him for always taking the classes that are named by LeMoyne students as the hardest ones. He doesn't shy away from challenges.

So, last night began the grading bonanza. I did as much as I could (hence the furry dog shoulder). I will awake this morning to do even more, having to block out a chunk of time to get ready for a workshop with 45 7th graders on Wednesday.

As for the holiday season around the corner, I will improvise. Typically, I'm on top of my shopping game, but this year I'm a little lost as to what to do. I haven't even begun to think about what might work (except for A Flake Like Mike and A Cracker For Dave, the Crandall holiday tradition: that's a priority, to the chagrin of my sisters).

From today onward, we enter the hold your breath phase of the semester (perhaps coined by Dr. Beth Boquet or Sonya Huber). Academic calendars are fickle beasts and the BIG work comes in the last weeks of school. That is the nature of the beast.

On a good note...Abu and I will be presenting with Beth Boquet at NCTEAR in Alabama this February, and I just learned that Dr. Marcelle Haddix will be there, too. This is magic and joy. Syracuse and Fairfield unite! Go, Dr. Tonya Perry who is making this happen!

Monday, December 3, 2018

My Mommy Says It's Okay To Go To Bed Before 8 p.m., So I Did

When I was a little lad, I was the kid who would disappear to bed as soon as he was tired, leaving whatever family event was going on, simply so I could hit my pillow. The adult version of me has been a little more resistant, and I more often than not stay up way too late (and even fall asleep at the keyboard while working).

I returned to Connecticut at 12:30 today after a sleepless night in Chicago, even though I did convince United that they owed me a hotel room so I wouldn't have to sleep in the terminal. I wish I didn't have to make this up, but my hotel was quite a ways away from the airport and it was something. I have no idea what keeps ducks quacking and geese goosing all night long, but they were animated. The heat was a good 90 degrees and I had no change of clothes, so I turned on the air which sounded like a clunky old vehicle gasping for air. All throughout the night, I felt things crawling on me, too, so I didn't sleep much. I knew I had to get a cab at 6 a.m., so I might have slept a few minutes here and there.

Of course, the bar crowd came back to their hotel rooms around 3 a.m., too. They were very loud, and the room next to me kept screaming CHEESE BALLS!


I did get to the airport and had a seamless trip back to CT. In fact, the airplane was practically empty so I was able to get really comfortable so I could rest my eyes.

I returned home with grandiose thoughts of grading, cleaning, grocery shopping, phone calls, running, and laundry. By 7 p.m., however, I realized I was going to be a failure. I needed to go to bed.

So, hello, Monday. How are you? Good to see you again.

I'm already thinking I will call out from two morning meetings, simply so I can spend time grading and getting on top of the week.

The trip home was bumpy, but nowhere near as bumpy as Palm Springs to Chicago. In fact, I liked looking out at the "Marshmallow World of the Winter." Of course, landing into foggy, gray and raining CT was a total bummer.

But I am home. Glamis's cold shoulder lasted only a few minutes and we did get a walk in. She's now sleeping on the couch.

And I'm in bed...sleeping off the craziness of the last few weeks - I'm getting too old.

I did, however, sleep 11 straight hours! I have no idea when that has ever happened before.

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Ugh. This Is Not My Year For Travel. Waving The White Flag in Chicago

I have no idea where I am, but it is in the northwest corridor of Chicago. It took a lot of persuasion to get United to get me a room, too, as they said they have no control of the weather. I informed them that it wasn't the weather, because the storm hadn't hit yet. We landed and sat on the tarmac for an hour. I missed my flight by 1 minute, then waited in line for two hours to get rebooked. By 11 pm they found me a sketchy hotel somewhere 30 miles from the airport. It's attached to a bar, but as much as I need a drink, I think it is a little too creepy even for me. So, I need to be up in a few hours to start all over again.

As for the turbulence from Palm Springs to Chicago. Joy. Absolute joy. You know it is bad when they don't let the stewardesses stand and ask them to keep their seatbelts on.

I'm afraid to lay down on the bed - worried of what might be on the sheets. Yuck.

But, at least I have a place to sleep and regroup.

I need to get home to grade and plan. This was not part of the bargain (but that is what one gets when connecting in Chicago. Thankful it is not snow.

Short post. Need these few hours of sleep.