summer time

to doI’m sitting in a mostly dark room on a summer night watching lightning flare in the distance. This is a good thing; it’s too dry and rain would be welcome, even if it comes with some weather drama. Normally it would still be light in the sky at 9:00 pm, one of the things I love about northern summers. But lighting shimmering behind dark clouds is worth the view.

The summer solstice is past and days are already growing shorter and though my summer’s less than half over that childhood dread is inevitable. It’s almost over! Which is odd because I was invariably bored, but it was my boredom to do whatever I wanted with. Childhood doesn’t work that way anymore, but I still feel a weird clutch of panic. Almost over! So much I still want to do!

In June I participated in a digital humanities workshop and decided it was time to reskill and reset my job to focus more on digital stuff. I am not sure exactly what to call it. We’re likely to expand from DH to Digital Liberal Arts or some other more inclusive terminology for this loose collaboration of faculty across campus. Digital pedagogy is what I have in mind – not ed tech (bleh!) but thinking about ways students can learn by making things other than offline projects shared only with one teacher by providing faculty and students with the kind of exploratory and collaborative help designing these learning experiences and helping students as they work on projects. It’s information literacy or transliteracy or metaliteracy or something . . . but it’s what I’ve always done (or wanted to do) but with more of a digital creation focus. So one summer project has been thinking this through, doing some reading, and identifying tools I want to learn and areas where I’m weakest so I can fill in some gaps.

Then there’s the book project that got stalled what with one thing and another. I really need to draft a sample chapter and get my act together there. (I got discouraged when the editor who wanted it and was so wonderful went to another house. What is it with me and editors who move on? It never doesn’t happen. I am kryptonite.) Then there’s the other book project, fiction that’s two thirds along and has been for a long time. Another summer project.  (Did you know you can upload a document to Kindle and suddenly see all the problems because it looks like a real book?) There are the websites that need updating and a fall course to prep and a January course to design from scratch. And family to visit and things that need doing around the house. Where did those tiny ants come from?

And of course I must remember to call my Congressfolk (I am weirdly terrified of phones but still) and sign petitions and write letters and not get complacent because weird shit is going down at such a rate it’s hard to remember this shit deluge isn’t normal, not normal at all.

So this summer will go by fast, even faster than usual because (as my mother warned me) time speeds up as you get older. Rain is drumming now against the windowpane, and the lightning bolts are brighter and thunder is growling softly, not too angry. I doubt we’ll hear any tornado sirens tonight. I think I’ll stay up to see this storm pass and then get up tomorrow to a fresh day. The garden will be happy.

photo courtesy of Joe Philipson


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