channing-tatum-loves-books

Celebrate Your Freedom To Read

This week is the American Library Association’s Banned Books Week, a week each autumn where the ALA highlights the First Amendment, focuses on issues surrounding censorship of information, and celebrates our freedom to read.

It’s one of the best weeks of the year.

But this is the first year in a decade that I haven’t been in the classroom during Banned Books Week, and it’s weirding me out. I put BBW on my syllabus each Fall semester, and I design an activity for my students that is meant to inform and engage them. These are some of the flyers they created last year during an in-class group activity:

stop-banning-books

Click link below to see full flyer

banned-books2

fight-against-censorship

Click link below to see full flyer

fightagainstcensorship

books-are-not-scary

Click link below to see full flyer

book-banned-revision

And there are always some excellent activities at my college to celebrate BBW: panel discussions, lectures, and one year there was a mock demonstration where we marched around outside of the library with placards to “protest” censorship. Our librarians put together resources for faculty and students to bring awareness and celebrate reading, and they always do a terrific job.

The librarians made me a robot and asked me to compare Sherman (my reading robot) to the ALA's reading robot campaign.

A few years ago the librarians made me a robot and asked me to compare Sherman (my reading robot) to the ALA’s reading robot campaign.

And the freedom to read is a personal issue for me; and it’s not just because I’m an educator and a bibliophile. In 2008, just after I got hired on at MCC in a full-time, tenure track position, a student of mine objected so vehemently to a book I’d used in class that she, her mother, and their pastor tried to get the book banned. Not only did they want me to stop teaching it, but they also wanted the administrators to stop the book from ever being taught again at our college. They wanted to ban it from our classrooms and our library.

I found this shocking, and I was worried my administration might think I was too much of a trouble maker and renege their job offer. But that didn’t happen. Instead, my fantastic deans and the VP of academic and student affairs supported me at every turn, swatted the pastor away like the gadfly he was, and, of course, didn’t even consider banning the book.

The book they tried, unsuccessfully, to ban.

The book they tried, unsuccessfully, to ban.

This event opened my eyes to the uncomfortable truth that people still try to ban books. This is not a theoretical problem; this is not an old-fashioned problem. This is a problem, now. So we as educators, librarians, and champions of democracy must fight — with great big swings of our book-holding fists — every effort to stifle our freedom of expression in speech or in the press.

books-are-sacred-2

I got this tattoo after my personal book-banning incident. Is it saying something that this was the most painful one I’ve ever gotten?

This week I had to celebrate Banned Books Week in my own personal way, and of course I enlisted the help of my local public library.

bbw-display-clpl

I was so excited to see this that I took a terrible, blurry picture.

They’d wrapped up books in black paper to hide the titles and authors’ names, and then pasted the “reasons” given to challenge and/or ban that particular book. I looked over the selection and choose this one:

secret-banned-book

In my Adolescence and the Schools class this semester, we read an article about the ineffectiveness and problems of Abstinence Only Until Marriage sex education, so when I saw “sex education” on this book, my interest was piqued.

I brought my secret book home, unwrapped it, and was delighted when I saw that I’d gotten a book I haven’t read:

sherman-alexie

Although, really, I was just delighted that I got to unwrap a library book like it was a present. No, scratch that: the library book was a present.

And now I’m wearing one of my Banned Books Week t-shirts (yes, I have more than one), and I’m going to read my Sherman Alexie book this weekend and love all of the gambling and violence and offensive language that are within its pages.

So, my job for you all is to go out to your local library and get a book — any book! — and celebrate your freedom to read!

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Grad School Lessons

Last week I posted a snippet about the type of reading I’ve been doing while on sabbatical from teaching this semester, but this week, I wanted to elaborate a bit with some lessons I’ve learned during my first five weeks in grad school at UIC.

I knew that being a student again would be a very different kind of work than I’ve been used to, but what I didn’t realize was just how different the work for this degree (a Master of Education) would be compared to the work I did at DePaul University for my first graduate degree (Master of Arts in Writing). While I did take four courses for my MA that focused on theory, rhetoric, grammar, and teaching, the remainder of my eleven courses were writing courses: writing the novel, creative non-fiction, magazine writing, short fiction, and screenwriting. And it’s remarkably different when your weekly homework includes doing a close reading of a Reginald McKnight story, and writing a draft of your own story for a group workshop, than when your homework includes doing close readings of case studies from the academic journals International Journal of Environmental & Science Education and Child Development.

THIS IS NOT A REGINALD MCKNIGHT STORY.

THIS IS NOT A REGINALD MCKNIGHT STORY. THERE ARE SO MANY GYRUS!

And, thinking about these past five weeks — the reading, reflection papers, discussion questions, and one presentation I’ve done (that made me feel like a teacher again for about fifteen minutes!) — I decided to share with you the lessons I’ve learned.

I Sure Love a College Campus

Now, this is a silly lesson to learn, because I already know this. I work on a college campus, and I love where I work. But my campus at MCC isn’t what people usually think of when they think “college campus”: It’s a single (albeit large) building where commuter students walk to-and-from the parking lot with their backpacks rather than to and from their college buildings by way of pedestrian walkways and quads.

When I went to DePaul, all of my classes were in the same building (the now-demolished McGaw Hall) and I lived on Deming Place at Orchard, which was only six blocks away. This didn’t give me a “college campus” environment, either, at least not in the same way I’d experienced undergrad at Madison, where everything sprawled out over a green, hilly campus, and most of my classes were in this 165-year old building:

What you don't see is Bascom Hill, leading up to this building, and a murderer of a climb to do every goddamned weekday morning for four years. Especially during a Wisconsin winter.

What you don’t see is Bascom Hill, leading up to this building, and a murderer of a climb to do almost every weekday morning for four years. Especially during a Wisconsin winter.

So when I got to UIC’s campus and walked from the #60 bus stop to the Education, Theater, Music, and Social Work Building, and I was surrounded by young adults wearing backpacks, looking all adorable and studenty, I felt right at home. A college campus is a place where it’s totally normal to hang out at the library (I was lucky to find a tiny seat at a counter in the technology section of the first floor at Daley Library last Tuesday), where it’s not uncommon to see someone walking around in pajama pants (I’ve embraced my jeans and t-shirts, but haven’t taken it quite this far yet […yet]), and where you might see art pieces in trees as you walk to your lecture hall.

Hey, tree eagle. Treagle.

Hey, tree eagle. Treagle.

And then, when I had to drive to campus one afternoon, this was my view from the campus parking lot:

img_9968

I mean, come on. Come onnnnn.

This wonderful view, as well as my new commute using CTA buses and trains, confirmed my love of college campuses and informed the next lesson.

I Kinda Miss Chicago

After spending five weeks floating around the Loop and UIC’s campus, usually on the #60 bus or the Blue Line, but sometimes on my own two feet, I realized that Chicago is so easy to maneuver, and I really miss that.

Now, I love Camp Crystal Lake, but it’s nice to be totally anonymous for a few hours every week, to be able to get lunch somewhere and then walk half a block to get a cup of coffee and then walk four more steps to a bus that will take me where I need to go in five minutes. It is so easy. And easy is so nice.

You Can Never Have Too Many Library Cards

I now have three working library cards (yes, I still have my Chicago Public Library card because it’s hard to part with something that was very important to you for so long, and it’s so small that no one will know and my wallet doesn’t mind don’t worry I asked): my Crystal Lake Public Library card; my McHenry County College library card; and now, as of last week, my University of Illinois Chicago library card.

I CAN CHECK OUT BOOKS IN THREE DIFFERENT LIBRARIES GUESS WHAT I’LL BE DOING THIS WEEK CHECKING OUT BOOKS FROM THREE DIFFERENT LIBRARIES, SUCKERS!

Sorry. The power has gone to my head.

I Know What My Professors Are Doing

Not, like, right now. I’m not a creepy weirdo. But I do know what they’re doing in respect to their teaching and grading practices. There’s a benefit to being a teacher-student.

See, I have weekly assignments due in each of my classes: a reflection paper, discussion questions, and a chapter self-quiz in one class, and discussion questions for another. I submit these all through Blackboard, our online learning management system.

And the first three weeks, my professors gave lots of feedback for all of the assignments. My psychology professor gave comments on each of my three page reflection papers, engaging my ideas and giving me thought-provoking comments. My policy professor gave general comments about my discussion questions. I was happy to get all of the feedback, but I certainly wasn’t surprised that week four came and went with no new grades entered into my account, and, in the middle of week five, when I finally got new grades, there were no comments.

The first few weeks of any semester, teachers have high hopes for the amount of feedback they can give each student and the amount of time it will take them to grade a single set of assignments for a single class. As the assignments pour in, however, and as the semester continues to chug along, teachers understand how unrealistic their hopes really were.

I go through this every single semester. I used to beat myself up over it, but then I realized, after chatting with my colleagues, that we all suffer this same fate. There’s never enough time, nor enough hours in the the day, nor enough energy in our bodies.

So, to my professors, I say, thank you, and I appreciate you and your work, and I won’t ask you when you’ll have my group project graded. You know the one I did two and a half weeks ago? Don’t worry, I won’t ask. Promise. I won’t.

Everything Is Better When It’s Covered in Kittens

Case in point:

coefficient-cacophony-and-cats

This is a passage from a week four reading assignment. I covered it in kittens for you.

I Don’t Mind Working In Small Groups

Now, most people (at least 99.9% of my students) dislike working in small groups. I force my students to do it almost every week during the semester, even if it’s just for a small-stakes discussion or activity. It’s good to generate ideas before a large group discussion; it’s good for brainstorming; it’s good to promote teamwork and individual responsibility.

But people still don’t like it!

I’ve used this to my advantage as a student this semester to take a leadership role in my small groups. For me, it’s really easy to do, and people speak up after I break the ice. In fact, my first group was so okay with my nerdy, group-happy participation, that they didn’t mind if I took a picture of the development model we were working on:

It's a puzzle piece and we rocked it.

It’s a set of puzzle pieces, and we rocked it.

And a few weeks ago, the group I worked with on a class presentation didn’t even laugh at me when I made this picture after being stunned and driven into hysterical laughter about the Federal Abstinence Only Until Marriage (AOUM) sex education programming for adolescents:

A required piece of curriculum included a video showed a young woman asking a nurse what would happen if she had sex before marriage; this was the nurse's reply.

Curriculum included a video dramatizing a young woman asking a nurse what would happen if she had sex before marriage; this was the nurse’s reply.

Of course I didn’t include this picture in the presentation, but my group didn’t kick me out for making it, so I think we all know who won here.

Teachers — All Teachers — Appreciate This Whiskey

teachers-whiskey

Um, or any whiskey, TBH.

I didn’t learn this last one in grad school; it’s just a Truth in the world. A TRUTH.

Well, that’s it for now! It took me about four days to finish this post because each time I started to work on it, I realized that I had more reading to do. So, maybe my next post will be completed by Halloween!

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what-the-fuck-are-you-talking-about

My Brain is Working Hard

Hi, all.

It’s been about four weeks since I’ve posted anything, and this post won’t be substantial at all. But I needed to check in and let you know the following:

  1. Yes, I am still alive
  2. No, I haven’t left the house very much for the past three weeks because all I’ve done is read, read, read for my two classes and my butt is half-asleep all of the time and I already need to buy some new highlighters
  3. Yes, I am having a wonderful time doing all of this reading and being a student and I’ll tell you more about it later this week

And just to show you how much fun some of this stuff is, I thought I’d give you a little slice of heaven from the journal article I’m reading tonight, Do the brain networks of scientists account for their superiority in hypothesis-generating? (Lee, 2012):

“All functional volumes were then spatially smoothed with an 8-mm full-width half-maximum (FWHM) isotropic Gaussian kernel to compensate for residual between-subject variability after spatial normalization (to allow for comparisons across subjects) and to permit application of Gaussian random field theory for corrected statistical inference (Worsley & Friston, 1995).”

THAT’S WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!

my brain is doing this right now

my brain is doing this right now

So, just be aware that I’m working hard, even though my body isn’t moving very much.

I’ll catch you all up very soon.

The Scary Truth About Sisters in Horror Films — Bitch Flicks

This guest post written by Laura Power appears as part of our theme week on Sisterhood. Female siblings have been a go-to in horror films since horror films themselves. Sisters have been used as minor characters to fill in a cast: Daisy and Violet, the conjoined twins, and Elvira and Jenny Lee, the “Pinhead” twins,…

via The Scary Truth About Sisters in Horror Films — Bitch Flicks

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Wizard World Program

Conventioneers

It’s no secret that Trevor and I are big fans of The Walking Dead, and of zombies in general. Well, not fans of zombies, but, of, like, getting prepared for the zombie apocalypse by watching as many zombie-preparedness specials (or “fictional” t.v. shows, as you might call them) as possible.

And since we moved to Camp Crystal Lake three years ago, we enjoy Sunday nights during The Walking Dead‘s regular season with viewing parties. Now, to be clear, “parties” is a relative term and in our context means that my friend Lisa comes over and we all hang out watching our favorite zombie-fighting crew on t.v. as we eat cookies and drink tea. ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE TEA! (no, it’s just regular tea.)

So last spring when Lisa heard that the Walker Stalker Convention would be in Chicago at the end of May, she and I knew that we had to go. And we went. And it was fantastic.

Lisa Laura and Zombie on a Bench

Lisa’s brother Jason joined us (Trevor decided to sit it out [he might have been a little scared that there would be real zombies there (that’s just my speculation but is probably 100% true)]) and we three headed to the convention without knowing what, exactly, to expect.

We figured we’d see some good Walking Dead cosplay, and we were not disappointed.

Comic Cosplay

We don’t know who those two scared young women are, but we took their picture anyway, because this group was the best group of costumed fans ever!

Karl Cosplay

This is one of the best teenage Carls we saw…

But we also saw a lot of amazing Mini-Karls, and this one was with the best Carol we saw all day.

But we also saw a lot of amazing Mini-Carls, and this one was with the best Carol we saw all day.

Once we realized just how fun the whole place was, Lisa, Jason, and I got a little bit in on the action by taking pictures with some stars:

J. and Cardboard Carl

J. and Cardboard Carl

Lisa Laura and Rick Grimes

Hey, Rick. Hi. What’s up?

But those two weren’t as lively as we wanted. So we got a little closer to the action and approached some of the photo-op and autograph tables, where people waited in line to get a snapshot and a 30-second chat with their favorite stars. We almost bit the bullet to meet Sonequa Martin-Green, but I was too intimidated by her face. Because her face is the most perfect face ever. I thought it’d be like looking into the sun, and I wasn’t prepared for that.

Prettiest Woman Alive

For real, guys. She’s, like, the prettiest.

But then, Lisa and I saw a table…and we knew who we needed to meet, whose hand we needed to shake, and whose handle-bar moustache we needed to be within breathing distance of:

Bisquit

“When you were pouring the Bisquick, were you tryin’ to make a pancake?”

Cudlitz!

Cudlitz!

And meeting Michael Cudlitz was absolutely worth waiting in line. I’ve love-hated him since he recited his awkward poem to John Cusack in a high school hallway in Grosse Pointe Blank:

Look at those chubby cheeks!

And just plain loved him since his role as Officer John Cooper in the gone-too-soon Southland, easily one of the best police dramas ever to air on television. Ever.

Oh, you canceled my show? I guess I’ll just go kill some zombies. Peace. OUT.

Meeting Cudlitz was a hot minute of super-duper fun in the form of a rushed handshake, some babbling from Lisa and me about what big fans we are, and a few selfies. And after our Abraham-encounter, we did some more wandering, bought some souvenirs, and wound down the afternoon with a newfound love of conventions in our hearts. And some special time in the VIP Lounge.

VIP Lounge

This is a very, VERY important lounge.

Lisa and I immediately Googled to see when there would be other conventions coming to the area, and we saw that August was bringing Wizard World to Chicago. Of course we made plans to go. Lisa roped her daughters to join us for a proper girls’ day out, and yesterday, in a perfect summer book-end, we hung out at one of the friendliest social events I’ve ever attended.

I mean that honestly; conventions are so friendly. People come together to celebrate in their shared love of all things nerd-culture: comic books, action figures, superheroes, video games, cartoons, zombies, creatures of all shapes and sizes…And everyone wants to celebrate together. People who dress up love to pose for pictures; their faces light up when you tell them how great their costumes are; no one pushes or gets testy about crowds; and everyone is just there to have fun. I love it!

And Harper and Violet loved it, too. They dressed up as Rey (Violet) and Princess Leia Organa (Harper), and got tons of compliments, and some photos with other cosplay folks.

The gals are ready for the convention.

The gals are ready to wow their fellow conventioneers.

Harper with Creatures

I’m too old and uncool to know who these creatures are, but Harper was very excited.

Harper and Sonic

Sonic!

Harper Violet and Cindarella

And they met Cindarella! KWHAT??!

Lisa and I get in on the picture taking: Violet spies someone suspicious.

Lisa and I get in on the picture taking: Violet spies someone suspicious.

And of course we did some shopping and I got some things for other people and some things for myself, my favorite being a set of bad-guy portraits from South Carolina-based Jellykoe Studio.

They're almost too cute to be bad.

They’re almost too cute to be bad. Almost…

Clearly, Kelly and J. Spencer of Jellykoe are the greatest duo to ever create adorable things. I had to seriously control myself from getting one of everything.

But, as with all good conventions, Wizard World eventually wore us out. We’d taken some breaks, but our feet were tired and not even chocolate-vanilla twist ice-cream cones could bring us up to full energy levels.

Violet's had it.

Violet’s had it.

So we hauled ourselves to the car and hit the road home, tired, and very happy.

Minivan Selfie

I’m so tired I’m fading into the ether. Goodbye, convention. Goodbye, world.

Now that Lisa and I are two-time conventioneers, we’re hooked. We’re already talking about the big fish of the Chicago comic scene, Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo, coming in April. But while at Wizard World, we also entered a raffle to win tickets to Comic-Con International, the biggest of the big. We’ll probably win. I’m sure our odds are good. Right? Right.

We’ll see you next summer, San Diego.

SuperBox

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Notebook & Pen

Sabbatical? Sabbati-CAN!

Today is Thursday, August 18, the third Thursday in August. I’m sitting here at my desk at home, feeling strange, because for the past ten third Thursdays in August, I have been at MCC’s Fall Faculty Development Day, which is the first official day of the semester for faculty members. And for six of those ten years, I didn’t just attend the day, but, as the chair of MCC’s Faculty Development Team, I planned the day with my FD teammates.

So, while a couple hundred of my faculty colleagues are sitting in workshops three miles away, why on earth aren’t I there with them? Because this semester, I’m on sabbatical. And I’m so excited about this that I can barely handle it.

Sabbatical

At my college, tenured faculty can apply to take an academic sabbatical after they’ve taught at the college for four years, and I thought that this year was finally my time.

I hadn’t applied before now for a couple of reasons. Because I was chair of faculty development, I always felt like I couldn’t take off for a semester and leave the team in the lurch. Yes, I could have left someone else in charge while I was gone, but I was never super comfortable with that kind of arrangement (I might have a problem with delegation…maybe).

The other reason, though, is the true reason: I’d never before had any idea what I would focus on for a sabbatical. At MCC, sabbatical must be proposed “for graduate study, research, or other professional development activity,” and I just hadn’t yet found a reason for an entire semester’s worth of leave for any of those things. For the past five years, after deciding that I wasn’t yet sold on getting a Ph.D., I’ve been trying to figure out what kind of second master’s degree to pursue. I looked at a lot of programs, some fully online, some face-to-face, some full time, some part time. And after five years of asking questions, doing research, and attending graduate school open houses (yes, I really am a Power), I finally decided to get a Master of Education in Instructional Leadership at University of Illinois Chicago.

Grad School Swag

Grad school swag

After I made my decision, I talked it over with my dean and then set to work on my sabbatical proposal, which was due last Fall, the year before I planned my leave of absence. Clearly, the focus of my sabbatical would be on graduate school classes, but I didn’t want to take more than two in one semester, even while on leave. And while two grad courses will surely be enough to keep me busy, I thought I could squeeze in a bit more to do, so I added some activities and turned in a three-part proposal:

  1. Enroll in MEd at UIC and pursue graduate courses toward that degree;
  2. Work on Creative Writing “2” course proposal; and
  3. Continue to work on my own analytical and creative writing and submit work for publication.

For years I’ve wanted to work on new curriculum to add to MCC’s creative writing offerings. Each time I’ve taught a section of creative writing, I’ve had students ask about a second class. In fact, the creative writing club I advise was born out of my students’ desire to keep working on their writing in a workshop environment. And because I knew that it will be reasonable for me to write a new course proposal this semester in addition to completing my grad work, I put it on my list.

And that third bit I just threw in for fun. Last year I contributed to the feminist film websites Bitch Flicks and Cinefilles, and I want to keep doing that this year (as well as submitting some of my new short fiction to lit magazines). So why not add it on? In fact, I recently started working on a new Bitch Flicks article for their August theme week about sisters. I’m going to write about sisters in horror films, so this is the “research” I get to delve into this week:

Research is hard.

The best research can be done while eating popcorn and sitting on your couch.

While I am so very excited (I AM SO EXCITED!) to be taking this semester to focus on my own professional development, it feels weird (weirdsoweird) that I won’t be teaching until January. Yes, I’ll be in a classroom, and yes, as usual, I stocked up on necessary supplies before this new semester begins:

Notebooks

I couldn’t decide which notebook will be better: the fancy one with a fancy tab and pen holder, or my old stand-by composition book? I have four days to decide. Wish me luck.

Folders

These are my new folders.

One of my two textbooks.

One of my two textbooks.

But there are some big changes, and the one in particular that is both upsetting as well as exhilarating is the fact that I won’t be wearing my First Day of Fall Semester Dress:

First Day Dress

Hello, friend.

I found this dress five years ago at Dovetail in our old West Town neighborhood. This dress —  handmade, cotton — hung on the rack next to another dress — sleeveless, blue, handmade, cotton — and both fit as though they’d been sewn just for me. They’d been brought in together and were clearly home-sewn. I got them both, and since then I’ve worn the red-and-white number every first day of class Fall semester. It’s the perfect First Day dress: light enough for the hot weather, very teacherly, and it covers up all of my upper body tattoos (which I hold back until the second day of class; it’s like a little surprise if students stick around after we’ve gone over the super exciting syllabus).

But I don’t know if I want to wear my First Day Dress to my first class next Tuesday. I mean, obviously I want to wear it, but I feel like I need to make a change in wardrobe for this huge change in my life. Last week I had dinner with a former student who’s now finishing up her bachelor’s degree with a final semester of student teaching (yes, clearly she is my favorite student because she’s going to be an English teacher and wants to eventually get her master’s degree and come teach at MCC). She and I talked about our first day of school outfits, and she recommended that I wear something different than my go-to dress. And I think she’s right. I’ll be in a different role next week than I usually am, and that means a different wardrobe. Thanks, Shaz, for being the best.

So, I still need to figure out what to wear for my first day as a student (OH MY GOD I’M GOING TO BE A STUDENT AGAIN!) and it will likely include a t-shirt and jeans. Because that’s what I wear when I’m not teaching (because that’s really what I love to wear), but that also means that all of my wonderful dresses and skirts will be lonely in my closet all semester. Maybe I’ll take them out when I go to the grocery store.

I made another change to my appearance in preparation for sabbatical: I got a hair-cut. Now, that’s not really any big news, but it’s kind of a drastic hair-cut, so I thought I’d mention it. I’ve had short hair for some time now (the longest it’s been since freshman year of college has been shoulder-length, and that’s never lasted for more than a few months), but this week when I went to visit the Amazing Audrey, she took almost all of it off.

Hair? What hair?

Two separate days, two different t-shirts, both white. When I’m not teaching, I am so boring.

If I were teaching next week, I don’t think I would have gone this short. But there’s something wonderful about knowing that while I’m in class, I won’t have all eyes in the room trained on me; I won’t have to look professional or teacherly; I won’t even have to wear make-up! (j.k. I will totally be wearing make-up since I can’t go out to walk the dog without mascara.) This idea is so liberating that I just needed to liberate almost all of the hairs from my head.

And now, I think I’m ready. My first class is Tuesday at 2 p.m., and I will probably not sleep very much on Monday night. But that sleeplessness will also be an effect of me binging sister-focused horror movies for a week and a half. Whatevs.

Wish me luck — I’ll let you know how it goes!

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Tube Dog

Pontooning Powers

At the start of the summer, we got a boat — a big deal for us — and we’ve tried to put it to as much use as possible these past few months. We’ve been doing a pretty darn good job, although we’ve done a bit of traveling and have had a little weird weather. Even Roo is getting in on the action, equipped with an pretty cool life jacket we got her (Trevor refused to get a pink one with little anchors all over it, citing “safety” and other blah blah blahs, so she’s got a super boring yellow one with a “high safety rating.” blah.)

And I don’t really have a lot to say about our pontooning adventures; they’re pretty low-key (although last weekend while hanging out with my friend Lisa and her family we went over a big wave and the front end dipped into the lake and we thought we were going to sink and possibly perish, but, of course, we did not). But here are some stories of the floatings we’ve had so far.

The Power family came out for the weekend in July, and we even got Rachel to come up from Florida. Florida! Along with the human Power family, we welcomed a new canine member of the family to the boat: Cheekah, a little gray Chihuahua who, unfortunately, didn’t get to meet Roo, but they probably would have been best friends and moved to New York together to get jobs as fashion magazine interns. Or as circus performers. Or pasta makers.

Fran and Cheekah

Fran and Cheekah, queens of the pontoon

During the Power Family Weekend, we also discovered that I’m no good at taking selfies. Now, this is something I’ve known, personally, for a long time. I really don’t take selfies unless I’m making a silly face to text to Trevor, and I pretty much look silly in 99% of the selfies I take. And sometimes, I’m not even present in the picture at all:

1/3 of my face made it into this one! Success!

1/3 of my face made it into this one! And everyone else looks fantastic! Success!

But being on our boat makes me take selfies. I don’t know what it is: the fresh lake air, the wind whipping through my hair, the afternoon boat beer…It’s a mystery. But I think I’m getting better at them.

Pretty good, right?

Pretty good, right?

I'm 100% happy with this one -- my entire head is in it, along with some of my neck!

I’m 100% happy with this one — my entire face is in it, along with some of my neck!

We had a great weekend all around, and it was so good to see Rachel. She left us on Monday to drive up to Door County to visit Grandma Madel, but we got to see her for dinner on her way back down and before she left for home. Hopefully Trevor and I will visit her in November for Thanksgiving like we did last year. Maybe this year we can convince her to help us steal a shuttle and take a quick trip to the moon. Or whatever; we can also just eat some space ice-cream. Or regular ice cream, I’m not picky.

Last weekend my friend Lisa, her husband James, and two of their three kids came over for some ‘toon time (yeah, I just used the phrase “‘toon time,” judge me if you will). We had a great time swimming around and eating snacks for a few hours.

Lisa Eli and Violet

Lisa and her two fish-monkeys

And Trevor might have asked for some help driving the boat.

Eli and TrevorViolet and Trevor

And he also made some a new friend (a friend who was wearing a matching outfit, so…destiny.):

Walking on Oak Street

Trevor and Eli: co-captains and new best friends

On Sunday, it was just Trevor, Roo, and me, and we tried out our new tube. Trevor got it primarily so Roo could take breaks while swimming, since Roo’s “swimming” technique involves a lot of water eating. Lifting her up into the tube is easier than lifting her up into the boat, and if she’s in the tube while we’re swimming, she’s a bit calmer than if she was watching us from the boat. A bit.

How cute are these two? CUTE!

She looks calm, right? Well. Trevor does, at least.

And those are our pontooning tales! Are they everything you’d hoped they would be? Even better?! Good.

Trevor will be doing a lot of traveling in late August and September for work; he’s going to Florida and then to China (China!? I know, right?!), and while he’s gone I’m hosting my amazing book club babes for a nautical book club adventure and some of my high school girlfriends for a Labor Day ladies’ pontooning party. So our adventures are not yet over, although, they will likely be just as “exciting” as these were. I’ll keep you up-to-date.

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