December 30, 2007

End of the year reflection

Last month during the stress of teaching, I wrote that I was looking forward to looking back. In my three weeks and almost four days of break, I got my wish. I can now look back at the drama and laugh (I will learn from them).

Leaving Logan, Utah for the winter break (reminiscing)-

The Cache Valley Airport shuttle picked me up at my apartment at 3:30 in the morning. I was eating breakfast (microwavable lasagna and vegetables), my thai roommate was still awake (he's a bit of an insomniac). He waved goodbye to me and I waved back. He returned to his room and I continued eating (most likely, I'll never see him again. I look forward to hearing from him and I'll do my best to keep in touch, however keeping in touch is always a funny and challenging business.)

I heard a knock at the the door. It was Steve, the shuttle driver. "I'll just get a quick drink and I'll be done," I said.
"Do you have any luggage I can put in the shuttle?"
"Hold on..." I went to my room and took my green suitcase.
"Just one?"
"Yup!" He walked away. I finished my breakfast and threw the plastic tray in the trashcan. I ran to my room and scanned it to see if I forgot anything. My e-ticket was in my pocket, next to my wallet full of ids, coins, a credit card and a few remaining cash, which I still had since the beginning of the semester. I even brought my passport just in case. Everything was unplugged and locked. I took my carry-on backpack. Outside it was still dark and a little chilly. Some snow covered the ground.

Steve made small talk in the shuttle. We picked up other passengers. I was surprised that he could be so talkative at such an early hour (and I thought I was talkative). His daughter was currently attending USU. She had an internship in New York and Hawaii. She majored in theater set designs.

We were a mixed bunch. A mother and a daughter were going to Africa for the holidays. A man and a woman were going to to Tennesse for job training (they're in the retail business). And I was off to Philadelphia for the break (I had let my guard done because I could- I finished my major projects and I finished grading my students papers, I turned everything in- I was able to relax. I was glad. At this moment I realized how much I missed Philly, my family and friends. Chasing one's dream is difficult).

In spite of the recent precipitation, the night sky was clear. The stars were out and the mountains' silhouette outlined the horizon. Steve started to count the cars that we passed by going opposite us. He explained the rules of the game. He wanted to see if this day was the day he was going to break his record of encountering more than 8 cars/vehicles before he reached the stop light that would lead us to the main highway. We talked about probabilities. Time was definitely a factor, also weather. There was no major snow storm to deter travelers, however, it was still early in the morning (around 4:30). Despite of the time, we beat his record passing by 15 vehicles. After this, he started talking less to me and more with the other passengers. Instrumental Cole Porter and other broadway hits played serenely. I fell asleep.

I woke up and we were entering the Salt Lake City International airport... I thanked Steve and checked in.

Arriving in Philadelphia

The arrival was 30 minutes late. My dad picked me from the airport. When I saw him,I waved to him enthusiastically. He just nodded. He started telling me a story about him and other people waiting for their family outside the airport, and cops. I told my dad that I had spent $130 in the airport mall for christmas gifts and food (I needed to start my christmas shopping). He asked about teaching. I just told him that it was fine, and I continued telling him about spending money. I assured him that I would pay him back once I withdraw cash from my account.

Instead of going home, we went straight to pick up my mom at her work. On the way we stopped by in CVS (I bought christmas wrappers) and Popeyes for dinner to go. Once mom was in the car, we drove on Broadway street and around the Rittenhousesquare area. My dad started telling stories of my mom's driving lessons (about her being pulled over by a cop, having difficulty turning, going around the parking lots and more). I just laughed.

It was weird entering my house. The furnitures were mostly in the same place. Some moved. There were more plants in the front of the windows. I went to my room, and it was even more weird to enter it. I never knew how bright my room was and how colorful. Edel-weiss the bamboo had grown wild. On the contrary, Sammy, the sampaguita, was almost bald (the sight of her reminded me of Charlie Brown's christmas tree). Dust gathered, but the room remained organized and in place. I knew there were so many things I needed to do, but I couldn't help it, I just wanted to sit there and do nothing. I kept telling my self to do something, to do something, to start my list. I didn't, I just sat on my bed and looked around. An hour passed by, and I still didn't do anything. I finally decided to sleep it off. I had been awake since 2 in the morning (I deserved a good 12 hour nap). I was going to start the next day, nice and fresh (maybe I would be able to think). Lights off, I lay there on my bed and prayed. I felt the same way I felt when I got home from my first Fall break of my first semester at SHU. I was relieved that I made it through. Then I started pondering- what if it was all just a dream? If it was a dream, I would be pissed because I wanted my trials and victories to be something, to be meaningful.

Outpour of creativity

This christmas I wanted to make something for my family. I spent three days designing and painting a bowl, a vase, two mugs, and two plates. Even though I had fun painting these, for the most part, effort was overlooked. I later learned that practical gifts were more valued than aesthetically pleasing ones. Before this manifestation, I finished my shopping, I wrapped presents, I wrote to people and send cards outs, I started my mini projects (albums, pictures, reviewing, reading). I went out with friends. Some confronted me and complained about not adamantly keeping in touch, some were just happy that I was back (I liked these meetings more than the former).

One day while walking in Center City (downtown Philly), I felt claustrophobic. I sort of missed the open space and mountains of Logan, Utah (I'm sure when I get back there, I'd miss the crowdedness and skyscrapers of Philly). I liked the feeling of familiarity (walking around the city, taking the bus, knowing the streets, the shortcuts, the RESTAURANTS- it's a wonderful feeling).

My relatives arrived. Christmas came and ended. I heard the same comment I heard last year and the year before and before- how it took a year for christmas to arrive (waiting), how one prepared for this day and it was over in a day. And it was back to WORK until New Year's Eve. Materially, I got everything I wanted for christmas, but I still posed the same question that Faith Hill sang about in the movie, the Grinch: Where are you christmas? The lyrics which stated, "My world is changing. I'm rearranging..." kept playing in my head. Basically, I have lots of redefining to do for 2008.

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 12:26 AM | Comments (2)

December 10, 2007

making a list, checking it twice, three weeks of break

what a semester!? tomorrow I'll be flying to Philly for the winter break- I have three weeks of FREE time, and I tend to use every minute of it wisely and productively having fun... I can't disclose too much here because one of my students actually found my blog this semester- it's not that I'm incriminating myself in any way, but I still have to be aware of audience...

I have to go christmas shopping, then I have to buy cards and send them to peeps, I have to do fun readings, I have to watch movies, I have to keep in touch, I have to visit starbucks, I have to resume my latte tasting party, I have to reflect, I have to meet up with friends and family...

I learned a lot this semester about teaching, about people, about myself- all I can say is that, teaching (especially for those who haven't learned how to balance self and class interest) is a selfless act- I like teaching college students because I don't have to worry so much about national testing standards, parents, and because my students tend to be more responsible (some are actually paying for their own tuition so they take education more seriously)- one thing I don't like about teaching general ed. classes is that most students don't really give a damn about the class, they're just taking it for the credit... this semester, I did my best to try to make the class interesting and memorable- sometimes it worked and other times it backfired...

I did a lot of grading, reading short essays, conferences, lesson planning- one of the things I'll be doing over the break is typing out my lesson plans and revising my addendum, the good thing is that I have the foundation for the lessons I'll be doing, I can just tweak them.... At this moment I don't see myself as being a full time teacher, I might teach in the future part time at a community college, but I still want to pursue my dream as a writer-- a compromise I am thinking of is trying to get a part time job at the University of the Arts in Philly, teach basic composition course or basic creative writing courses, then take some free art classes (free to faculty/staff hopefully) and maybe even network there, but I want to be doing something in the arts... I'll be changing my addendum a bit next semester, I'm thinking of adding a supplementary reading that'll be good for discussions and also as aide to the assignments they'll be doing... next semester will be a bit easier because I only have 30 students instead of 43 and I'll only be taking 2 classes...

my classes this semester were interesting:
Practicum in teaching Writing- we talked about pedagogy, we discussed about 1010 issues, we did exercises to help us plan lessons, hold conferences, grade papers, deal with all the fun issues and controversial ones too, the assignments were explained to us so we could explained them to students, we did adaptive papers similar to our students so we could better explain it to them... my synthesis paper is about rites of passage (particularly that of undergrad student to graduate instructor)... we were also required to work at the writing center ( i feel that I did more tutoring this time around in the course of 12 weeks compared to the year I spent tutoring at SHU's writing center)

Weird: a cultural history- in highschool I learned about two context of weird- odd and foreboding- this semester in this class, I learned other definitions- like weird as the fates (noun) and many more but at this moment I can't recall them... we started with the witches, spiritualists, legend tripping, weird locales, art, and ended with folk singer Pete Seeger (the theme of the class, is tthe marginal people/ scapegoats, the blamed ones)--- at first I wasn't sure about this class becaue it was too "weird " for me- but in the end it turned okay- for my final I wrote a paper (which I can turn in to a hypothetical conference)- about the weird in mother goose rhymes- I focused on death... one of the things I liked about this class is that we had a lot of speakers this semester, and lots of discussion, I still like our discussion about art and all the weird stuff we talked about...

Folklore theory and methods- this class ia an overview/survey course of folklore... we started with folklore history part of the nationalistic/romantic movement- discussed how folklore is an underdog in academia- demeaned because of its interdisciplinary nature- different definition of folklore- folklore is like art, it starts with "tradition" and you can complicate it and keep adding layers/ or keep opening layers... FOLKLORE Rocks! sometimes I felt that folklore is a bit rigid especially when using old definitions of it- I'm finding out that I'm agreeing more with the contemporary definition of folklore, folklore as a process, something dynamic and constantly changes, folklore is like the writing process- it's recursive, it employs the rhetorical triangle, context, text, textuality are all involved, artistic communications within small groups, did I say that folklore is awesome?-- I explored the archives, I'm learning the author-date system of citation (adjusting from MLA- another skill to learn, ) --- for my final, I wrote another hypothetical thing- I wrote a proposal just in case I want to do plan A thesis (slim chance)- I'm thinking about doing a creative plan B- if this is not possible I'll stick to plan C and just take extra classes- my proposal involves children's folklore and mother goose rhymes (surprise!)

next semester I'm taking "fieldwork" and "folk literature" (just two this time so I don't drive myself crazy)...

I also learned a little about the Thai culture through my roommate- he always cook delicious food, sometimes too spicy for me... I think he got used to me asking him "how spicy the food is" he created different degrees: little spicy is something tolerable for my tastebud, alot spicy is a triple dog dare..., I learned about heirarchy (elders first), a bit of fortune telling (which often involves love triangles), a bit on humor, even if I don't understand the language, a bit on thai alphabet, food preparation, a bit of cooking... lots on HOSPITALITY... he gave me a "thai tie" (good homonyme?)

in spite of my busy schedule, I was able to do some writing this semester and also do some artsy stuff... for my teaching practicum class,we kept a teaching journal... I also did some personal narrative (my students were my inspiration)... I read a lot of haikus (Kerouac and japanese classics), I even wrote some too... something I'm proud this semester, I was able to expose my students to some poetry and the arts, so if they were open minded, not only did they get the basics in composition, but they were exposed to the arts as well... I picked up a sketch journal and started drawing cartoons or still-life whatever...

continueing with the list- I have to re-review my spanish, I'm going to take the test on the first week of class next semester (I have to finish my degree as close to the expected 2 years- because after that, my chances of being a GI are slim to none...

I learned a lot about the mormon culture, about missions, the dogma, no cursing/drinking/coffee- scripture readings and public prayers, one of my student actually was nice enough to give me the Book of Mormon (I'll read it)... I learned how to longboard (so far I've only fallen three times- I think I'm getting good at falling, whenever I fall it doesn't hurt as much as the first time I fell...)

back to the list- I need to watch new movies, I have to walk around downtown Philly, I have to go to the art museum (U penn and art musem- I hope they're showing something nice at walnut theater )....I have to buy art...

I have to continue packing now, because I'm supposed to take a nap before waking up at 2 in the morning to get ready because the shuttle will pick me up to go to the salt lake international airport for my 7:10 flight

next semester there'll be more salt lake trips...

Posted by Michael Diezmos at 9:44 PM | Comments (2)