Category Archives: EMU

An Artistically Satisfying, Emotionally Refreshing Weekend


This week in my GEOG 333/577 class (a mixed-undergraduate and graduate seminar with two different course titles, but essentially “Geographic Thought” or “History and Philosophy in Geography”), our discussion centered on Feminist Geographies. While I’m not going to take the time now to spell out the many brilliant contributions to the field that are included in Feminist Geographies, I did take time at the end of the seminar to highlight one Feminist concept that is particularly important for students right now as we approach the highpoint of the semester: the idea of self-care.

Now, the interesting thing there is that some scholars would no doubt argue that self-care, while highly important and recommended by feminists, actually comes from health care and mental health, but whatever—I’m not here to argue semantics.

Anyway, the point is: after a rather dark and depressing turn in our class discussion about how we frequently arrive on difficult topics in my classes, such as how to fight racism and patriarchy, I could sense that we were collectively approaching a point of exhaustion. For one, the class meets from 7:20–10 pm, and for another, discussing difficult topics can really wear on people emotionally, particularly if they aren’t used to engaging with difficult topics on a regular basis. So I ended the class, essentially, by modeling for students (without directly mentioning it by name) the concept of self-care. I said, something to the effect of:

Go home, hug your kids or pets, do something you love, and get some sleep. And then wake up tomorrow ready to fight on.

I swear I was probably more eloquent in class! As you might expect, I felt that this really reverberated with the students, and I subsequently experienced what many of us in the education world call a real “teaching high” moment.

And then I came home and made the mistake of looking at Facebook. And what I saw made me angry. So angry, I couldn’t go to sleep for a long time. I woke up on Friday, still trying to mentally move on from what I read from Facebook. Somewhat angry. Then I went to a two-plus hour faculty meeting, which ended with several less-than-pleasant announcements. Which made me angry all over again.

And then I made a conscious effort to engage in self-care. It is amazing what that decision can do.

I went to EMU Choir rehearsal and prepared for a concert.

Karen and I drove to the Detroit Athletic Club for an amazing dinner and evening with friends as we performed for our church’s annual parish dinner.

On Saturday, I slept in, and perhaps to my future peril (but present delight!) I truly took the day off. Yes, I now have a few extra emails to reply to tomorrow morning and a recommendation letter to write because I didn’t work…

But I made time for tea (and a lot of it to substitute for coffee, lest I get a caffeine headache later!) I turned on the TV and found that with our limited number of stations, I could watch the UT-Alabama game (though there was no need to finish watching…) I got chores done. Ate some really good meals with Karen. Got ready for a concert, and then shared in sheer music-making artistry with my new EMU Choir family—a truly special group of people.

Then this morning, after I accidentally over-slept a bit more than I intended, we drove to Detroit, again: this time to church to celebrate Mariner’s 175th anniversary with some absolutely stunning music. (If you have never listened to Charles Hubert Perry’s I was glad when they said unto me, please go rectify that immediately.) Then, as if the weekend weren’t already amazing enough, Karen and I also had the opportunity to see the Michigan Opera Theatre’s matinée production of Verdi’s Rigoletto, which was fantastic. (Thanks, Ted, for the tickets!)

To top it all off, we ate supper at Cracker Barrel! (Insert witty phrase here about “you can take a person out of the South…)

So what is the point of this overly long-winded post, which, as always, I suspect all of five people will read?

Take the time to engage in self-care. When you do, don’t forget to be thankful for the time and opportunity you have to engage in it.

And then wake up tomorrow ready to fight on.

First EMU semester in the books

As of 6 p.m. yesterday, I wrapped up my first semester as an assistant professor at Eastern. It took a whole day of grading GEOG 107 exams (with some distractions, as I was also in the process of moving offices up to the main floor of Strong Hall) but I got my grades in two days early. I call that a win.

Despite a few initial moments of fear (and loathing, frustration, surprise, adjustment, etc.) in the first month or two of teaching, my first semester was ultimately a very rewarding and overall positive. There was only one day I wanted to quit or at least pull my hair out—the time when I got back from a long weekend of fieldwork about six weeks into the semester to find my office desk covered with my entire collection of academic books that a mold remediation company was allegedly going to “be very good about keeping organized.” Yeah… that didn’t happen. Oh, and the mold remediation? Took about twice as long as predicted, and no one’s quite sure that it won’t happen again, except that our building is supposed to be renovated starting next summer, Lord willing and the creek don’t rise. (And state legislature-willing, too.)

It’s taking some “getting-used-to” to adjust to the heavy teaching load here, and I’m not even at four courses per semester yet. It’s a balancing act to be sure, and my research and writing have certainly slowed.


The good news is that we have four months off in the summer…imagine how productive that could end up being!

But other than that, plus a day of trying to figure out what on Earth to do about staying positive after the election, the semester can decidedly go in the “Win” column. I like it here. I like my new colleagues, I love my students (well, most of them—but that’s no different from teaching at UT Knoxville!), I love our new-found singing opportunities and church, and I’m starting to love the area, too. I even think I can survive the winters, just with lots of driving patience, Kleenex, and hand lotion. Seriously—I thought my hands were falling apart in Knoxville during the winters… Oh, and possibly a bigger humidifier. We’re running that thing 24/7!

Anyway, as much as I have missed (and definitely continue to miss) Knoxville and all our friends there—and it’s just about the only place I can think of where a job could tempt me away—I think I will do well here. And that’s very reassuring. (But ask me about it again later when I’m closer to my tenure review!)

In the meantime, while you’re here, look around the site and let me know what’s missing. I always have the best ideas and plans for the website but never the time and energy to get around to it.