Reflections on Project 1, ENG 305

This fall, I’m fortunate to be teaching one of my favorite classes again: our junior-level composition course. I taught it for the first time last fall (2013) and it was a genuinely excellent growing experience for me. My first time not teaching first-years, my first time having students who were my age or significantly older than me, my first time being able to really craft an overall course and assignment sequence the way I wanted. What freedom!

It went very well last year, so I’ve mostly been reusing the materials and the same schedule. But this year, I made one crucial change based on feedback from students last fall, and I’m not sure how it’s working. It doesn’t seem like much, but I feel like it’s making a significant impact on student learning this semester. Continue reading

Ten Books that Changed My Life

You’ve probably seen these posts circulating on Facebook: a friend posts ten books that were influential to hir*, then tags more people to make their own top ten lists.

I thought I had escaped from this social media meme unscathed, even as people who commonly tag me in these types of things posted their own.

I did not.

A couple of weeks ago, a former professor challenged me to post my list of ten books that influenced me. But I want to do more than just post an overly long status. That’s not very fun.

Seeing as I haven’t posted here in a while, I thought I would make this list of ten books an opportunity to get back into posting on Cooking and Composition.

Yay! You know you’re this excited.

10. On Beauty by Zadie Smith. I don’t love this book. I don’t even like this book. But On Beauty reminded me that I can appreciate the artistic or technical value of something without my liking it. I understand what people applaud this book (and Smith in general). Continue reading

Reactions: The Wonder Nail Polish to Prevent Sexual Assault

Since I first heard about the date-rape-drug detecting nail polish Undercover Colors on Wednesday, I’ve had a lot of conflicted reactions and thoughts. I seriously cannot stop thinking about it.

Last night, my partner and I had a thought-provoking conversation about our reactions, other people’s reactions, and the necessity of this kind of product. 

My initial reaction on Facebook.

My initial reaction on Facebook.

My thoughts and ideas sort of went down the rabbit hole quickly, from feeling generally positive about the product to anger about the world we live in and the constant urge to place the brunt of responsibility on the survivor, not the perpetrator.

This isn’t fair, but it’s definitely something that happens.

I’m still sorting through all of my thoughts about Undercover Colors. While I ultimately want to commend Ankesh Madan, Tasso Von Windheim, Tyler Confrey-Maloney, and Stephan Gray for what is, truly, a good attempt at creating a tool that integrates with someone’s lifestyle in order to help prevent a disastrous situation.

First, full disclosure: I am a survivor of alcohol-related sexual assault. My drink was not drugged. Society tells me I should be more responsible, more aware, and less trusting if I do not want this to happen to me; otherwise, society places part of (or all of) the blame onto me. This experience definitely affects my reactions to and opinions of Undercover Colors. Continue reading

On Being a Young Academic

The start of the school year reminds me of one thing: I am young.

Well, not really. But at least in terms of professionals teaching university classes at my particular institution, in my particular department, I am a baby.

Hi, I’m your composition instructor!

I frequently get asked if I’m a student, and sometimes my students forget that I am, in fact, their instructor. It does afford me a different relationship with them than, say, my 40-year-old colleagues who are greying and haven’t sat in the classroom in fifteen years.

But I become acutely aware of this every time I step foot into my 300-level composition class. I have to start this by saying that it’s absolutely my favorite class to teach. I have a blast doing it because I teach using discourse community theories with a strong focus on bolstering reflection and metacognition. In short, I get to geek out.

And that geeking out about my academic interests helps because I’m pretty close in age to these students–who have to have a certain number of completed credit hours (which usually puts them at junior-level status). And at an institution where there are many nontraditional students and many students who simply take longer than the “typical” four years to complete a degree, this means that I could be the same age and even younger than the majority of my students in these classes. Continue reading

Is summer really more than half over?

Do I really go “back to school” for the fall semester in about a month?

I’ve been so quiet, readers. I’m sorry. However, we all know that summer is the time when academics stop doing anything related to work or school (okay, maybe not). I made some major life changes this summer that I’m super excited about:

  • I interviewed for and accepted a full-time (non-tenure track) teaching position.
  • I moved to an adorable house that is still not quite put together.
  • I received an award for my dedication to first-year student success.
  • I went on a wonderful vacation to Grand Junction and Palisade, Colorado.
  • And, oh yeah, I started teaching.

Continue reading

Wonderful Father, Wonderful Day

It doesn’t take a special day of the year for me to remember how lucky I am to have my father. Unlike many people I know, I’m lucky that my father is in my life, but I’m also lucky because he’s a genuinely wonderful, great man.

I have a very special bond with my father. It’s kind of funny because as an infant/toddler, I wanted nothing to do with him. But I grew into a daddy’s girl after my first couple of years of life, and now I have so many exciting, fun, and silly memories with my dad.

Like this: watching a storm roll into Kansas in 2010.

I’ve already written about my love of reading and that connection I share with my dad. But I’ve been realizing lately just how much my dad has shaped my personality. From pushing me to be a self-sufficient, independent person to nurturing my creative side, my father (and my mother, too, I won’t deny) has always been there for me, making me into the driven and spirited woman I am today.

So for today, in honor of Father’s Day, here are some things that I associate with my dad:

“Little Black Back Pack” by Stroke 9.

Do you know this song? Because most people my age don’t really remember it. I’m pretty certain I still know all the words, and that’s because Dad and I heard it twice every week when he drove me to and from dance classes. It seems odd to think that approximately 20 years later, I don’t even listen to the radio in my car (I plug in my ipod or phone), but back then all we had was the radio!

Making Home Videos

My dad used to occupy my brother and I with the most creative stuff! We would sometimes make our own music videos. There’s a great home movie of my brother singing “Keep on Rockin’ in the Free World” with my dad. We also created our own newscasts. I’d love to dig through my parents’ home video VHS collection (and update it to the digital world!) so I can see and relive those silly moments.

Class Field Trips and other School Events

My dad was the first father to be a room parent at my elementary school. This was a big deal–the newsletters came home asking for “room mothers” and my dad volunteered. My teachers were really excited that he wanted to chaperone our field trips and plan our holiday parties. After first grade, my school finally started asking for “room parent volunteers” instead of limiting it to mothers. Go Dad!


My dad was always great at Halloween. One year, he dressed up as Two-Face. I’m pretty sure my brother was Batman, and I was, less appropriately, the pink Power Ranger. When I was two or three, my entire family dressed up as the Ninja Turtles. As I got older, we stopped making these family outfits, but it was still a great memory/experience for me.


From the fun (snow ball fights, snow angels, and snow men) to the practical (shoveling snow), a fresh snowfall always makes me think of my dad. But when I started driving, the snow brought a new appreciation for my dad, who always left for work before the rest of the family. Whenever I would go out to start my car, the snow and ice was always mostly scraped off. When I started college, I cried reading “Those Winter Sundays” by Robert Hayden because it reminded me of the little things my dad has always done for me.

I’m so grateful that I have a loving father who has always helped me and supported me. I could talk more and more about how much he has shaped me, but I think I will save those for another post. :)

Today was a great Father’s Day for my family. We made homemade, grilled pizza (yum!), and my mom finally broke out the ice cream maker we bought her for her birthday.

Blackberry ice cream, dark chocolate brownie, whipped cream and almonds. Delish!

I hope you all had as much fun today as I did. What do you love about your dad? What’s your favorite memory or the most interesting way your dad has shaped you?

Hello, Summer!

Is it really summer already? I know I’ve been “done” with teaching for a couple of weeks, but it doesn’t quite feel like a “vacation” yet.

I’ve been mostly quiet on the blog sphere. The end of the semester always exhausts me. Between the marathon grading (and it was, up to the last minute almost this semester) and dealing with students complaining about their final grades, I’ve been thankful to have a couple of weeks where completely vegging out was possible.

I haven’t kept up with my e-mail.

I haven’t read any other blogs.

I haven’t even been inspired to blog.

Today, I was hit with a panic that I had forgotten to submit my 4C14 proposal. But, I did just turn it in (thanks to a friend’s reminder of Facebook!) and it’s all out of my hands now. Continue reading