Saturday, January 1, 2011

Wait, I'm still here?

I guess I am.  Funny!

Welcome to the new year, everybody.  New Year's Days are good days to take stock of ourselves, since they mark out endings and beginnings, and yet nothing actually changes.  The significance of the new year is entirely within your own head, so it's up to you to give it meaning.  Yes, you.  Or in this case, me.  You are (momentarily) off the hook.

I didn't mention it here at the time, because I had a lot of things on my mind, but in December I received my MAT degree from Pacific University.  This means that, in addition to being a Right Honorable Bachelor of the Arts Past and Historical, I can now bear the additional title of Learned Master of the Esteemed Art of Pedagogy.  Please note when reading aloud that "learned" is pronounced with two syllables.

So I've got that going for me.  If I have one resolution for the year (and I do), it is to put my new credentials to work, teaching children the joys of social studies and earning myself a steady paycheck.  You hear stories about the bad job market, and I am sure it is not great.  But when I think about what skills I've got, and the progress I've made, and all the support I've gathered about me, I think I have some real cause for optimism.

It's amazing what can happen in the course of the year, but I feel infinitely closer to the goal of positive employment than I did a year ago, 10% unemployment be damned.  I think 2010 will turn out to have been a defining time in my evolution as a human being, and I have a set of great teachers, cohorts, and (dare I say?) colleagues who I can thank for that.  I'm looking forward to running my own class and making what difference I can, one of these days.

Alright, enough of that.  Let's talk about the blog.  The blog!  Oh how I have neglected it.  The Wolf of Albright is still in progress, and I wish to emphasize that it has in fact progressed. It had to be rewritten a few times, and it had to go through many mental revisions before I felt comfortable putting the latest version of Part 2 on paper, but it is growing into something that is meaningful and aesthetically pleasing, at least to me.  If you'd like to read it, you may not have to wait much longer: I'd like to put it up this month, once I finish polishing it up.

Yesterday I made a post of poetry without comment, which is pretty strange given that I obsessively comment on everything I do here.  I decided it would be better to talk about it here, because yesterday's poems constitute a single connected work, and I thought any notes would distract from that and prevent them from speaking for themselves.

Christmas, Evening is the more-or-less end result of an idea I had a few years back about trying to capture the true meaning of Christmas as I actually experienced it  Because my poetry is infinitely weaker than my prose, and because I was a little tired of the rampant holiday cliches that inhabit Christmas verse (both secular and sacred), I decided to challenge myself by doing it in poem or song form, but I couldn't figure out how to put it down.  About a year ago, the idea morphed into an actual narrative about love lost and redeemed through spiritual growth.  I wrote a poem or two every now and then, and composed a good majority of it before last summer was through, but it was very unsystematic, and the order in which I've placed them does not reflect the order of their composition.  In fact, I was still quibbling with the precise order only a few days ago.

It happened that I started a relationship this November that went nowhere faster than I'd anticipated, and actually had an influence on the project.  The experience provided the impetus to finish the story, partly as a way to cope with disappointment and settle my own thoughts on the matter.  It also gave these poems a meaning that perhaps is more evident to me than they could be for anyone else; I certainly don't consider them my best work.

Incidentally, I have a whole new respect for lyricists and poets who attempt to tell stories across multiple pieces.  Saying anything at all in a poem is tough work, and following an arc (and making the arc legible to an outside reader) was harder than I thought it would be.  But I like the result well enough, so I stand by it, and when I try again I'll do better.  Such is the way of things, I think.

That's about all I've got to say about that, then!  Enjoy your new year, everybody.  Try not to be a jerk, and try not to blow any one up with nuclear weapons.  That last bit of advice really only applies to my readers who are either heads of state in countries that have nukes, or terrorists.  But the first applies to everybody, so let's go with it!

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