Monday, January 21, 2013


I feel like I am on a mini-sabbatical right now. I will stay for the bulk of the next three weeks at our cabin in NW WI to focus on writing and research analysis. I planned and protected these three weeks so that I could do just that. It means that I am away from my family and the grandbabies, but I am hoping that I can make good progress in my writing goals so that it will be worth it. I am working on two papers related to inclusive science education. My brain is swirling after spending the bulk of the day reading and reviewing literature to help me shape the theoretical perspective that will undergird the papers. I enjoy this work immensely and find it creative, inspiring and thought provoking.

I read a novel over Christmas break which is unusual for me: Anna Qunidlan’s Every Last One
I found it to be riveting, compelling and tragic. I had not read anything by Quindlen before, but this book sure did get my attention. I enjoy novels, although I rarely take time to read them because of all the professional reading that I do. I found another novel that I will start tonight by Barbara Kingsolver, The Lacuna. I read the Poison Wood Bible many years ago (good read) and have read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle with my students (a great read with lots of recipes). I like her style of writing so I was delighted to find the Lacuna at the local used bookshop.

Speaking of reading: I share a subscription to the New Yorker with a friend. I adore this magazine. They are published weekly, but I rarely can read one weekly. Instead I save them up for when I have a long break from school, like now. I like to read an issue a day while soaking in a hot bubble bath when I am not bound by the constraints of the academic life (i.e. breaks like the one I am having right now).  Two great articles from issues published last summer really caught my attention. Being it was Inauguration Day today, one of the articles featured an overview and an analysis of what the second term of Obama might lead to.  Given that this issue was published over 7 months ago, it made for interesting, relevant and probably (although only time will tell) realistic depictions of what he might get done. For me it offered a brief education of the politics of a second term. According to the New Yorker, he will have about 18–24 months to make advances in any of his campaign policies before the focus turns to the election of the next President and all the politics inherent in just that begin (sorry, I passed this article on so I can not give you the title). The second article was a personal history called “The Aquarium” by Aleksandar Hemon about a child’s isolating illness. A poignant story written by a father with poise and wisdom.  I do not think about death often, but I do think about the fact that what there is left of my life is much less that what I have lived. I am aging and that is no secret. This piece resonated with me as a mom, a grandmother and a human being. Here are two of my favorite sections of text, used without permission.

There is a psychological mechanism, I’ve come to believe that prevents most of us from imagining the moment of our death...It would be unbearably obvious that death is inscribed in everything that constitutes life, that any moment your existence may be only a breath away from being your last. Still, as we mature into our mortality, we begin to gingerly dip our horror-tingling ties into the void, hoping that our mind will somehow ease itself into dying, that God, or some other soothing opiate will remain available as we venture into the darkness of non-being (p. 54).

One of the most despicable religious fallacies is that suffering is ennobling-that it is a step on the path to some kind of enlightenment or salvation. Isabel’s suffering and death did not nothing for her, or us, or the world (p. 62).

Finally, there was the lovely piece (June 13 & 20, 2011) titled: Where I learned to read by Salvatore Scibona. The author attended  a college where the curriculum was very liberal arts-ian and students read books by authors like Copernicus, Aristotle, Einstein and Darwin rather than reading books about them. He sums up how these great works impacted him with this text: “In retrospect, I was a sad little boy and a standard-issue, shiftless, egotistical, dejected teen-ager. Everything was going to hell, and then these strangers let me come to their school and showed me how to read. All things considered, every year since has been a more intense and enigmatic joy” (p. 105). 


1 comment:

  1. Hi. I hadn't checked in on this blog for a while. Glad I did it tonight. I also liked those NY articles!!! (Well, except for the one on Obama. I'm currently in an "avert my eyes" phase in regard to political life.) This morning I read about the company that makes Purell, and about germs and our immune system. You'll get that one soon. We should plan to talk about some of this shared reading at some point (tho it's true we're not on the same schedule with it).