• College Ready Writing

    A blog about education, higher ed, teaching, and trying to re-imagine how we provide education.


New-Year Meditations

Getting the year off...somehow.

January 1, 2013


We’re on our annual trip to my family’s place in Montreal for the holidays. The first night we were here, I had a dream.

I was deep in a mine. I was with an iguana (instead of a canary, for reasons only my subconscious knows), in a space so tight that the iguana couldn’t even turn itself around. He went a little further into the mine and came back, still alive. I placed him in his little mine trolley and realized all of a sudden that I had no way out myself. I was stuck, in this small place, deep in the ground.

I woke up in a panic, shaking and sweating, unable to get back to sleep. Even writing this, I find my heart-rate rising, my hands starting to shake. I don’t know what to make of it. All I know is that when I close my eyes every night, I’m back in the mine.


I’m leaving tomorrow (Wednesday) morning for Boston where the annual MLA conference will be held. I’m on two panels and have exactly zero interviews. Because of the timing of my panels, I’ll be there from the first day to the last. I’m debating how I will prioritize my time. Do I go to the panels of people I know and like and want to meet or do I go to the panels of people that I know I should meet. Do I focus on DH or do I focus on world literature? Do I go all-in for the alt-ac panels? Or, do I go to my panels and spend the rest of the time holding court at one of the hotel bars, hitting up the cash bars and freebees at the end of each day?

Whatever I choose, I’ll be sure to blog about it here. I may be putting too much weight on this, but it feels an awful lot like choosing the direction of my career moving forward.


If you’re interested, I’ve already completed my Storify for the presentations (they’re both roundtables, so shorter talk time). You can read them here and here. Also, you should check out my new blog series over at Academic Coaching and Writing. If you’ve ever wondered about the nitty-gritty of someone else’s academic writing process, you’re going to get a first-hand narrative account from me. And, as always, it will be honest and unvarnished.

If you are interested in what I am writing about, you can head over to my more research-oriented blog, Chasing Laferriere. I’ve been trying to update it a little more regularly, and I’ll be sharing my in-process thoughts for the book manuscript I’m working on. While I didn’t get as far as I wanted to during the fall semester (do we ever?), I did gather (and read) a lot of resources that have helped really focus the theoretical underpinnings of the book. I think the chapters will be a little different than in the original proposal (especially because Laferriere keeps publishing revised and/or adapted versions of his works). If you read anything by him, please pick up his first-person account of the Haitian Earthquake, now available in English.


I just realized that despite my goal of attaining some focus for 2013, I will be starting the year off in a flurry of activity. From the MLA in Boston, I’ll be back to Montreal to get on a plane with my family to Lexington, only to turn right around to fly to the Digital Humanities Winter Institute. I apologize in advance to those in the Digital Editions session with me, as I am not sure if I’ll have any clean clothes by then. I didn’t plan very well.

I’m looking forward to this course, as I have been working on my dissertation materials (in my “free” time) in order to be able to produce a digital critical edition of some of her translations. I realize now that I need to get some of these projects done or give them up in order to be able to move forward. This particular project is hard for me to let go, as I have been working on it for so long (first as a dissertation, now as my first foray in digital humanities).

I get back the day before classes start for the Winter Semester. I’m teaching an intro to French course for the first time, so I am particularly nervous. And while I am excited about the new challenge, I am also wary about how this fits into my new aim to find some focus. But, really, I’m just looking forward to playing “Go Fish” with the students when it comes time to learn numbers.


Am I the iguana in the coal mine, testing the air where no one else wants to venture? Am I in too deep in a situation I feel like I have no escape from? Neither? Both?

May 2013 bring clear messages filled with hope. 


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