Happy New Year, 24 days late

Hey, peeps!

Welcome to 2018.  Yes, I know I am 24 days late, but who’s counting? I have been dozing through these winter days, longing for light like a drowsy moth.  The rain keeps pelting us like little silver pearls out here in the PNW, but at least we aren’t buried up to our eyeballs in snow, or floating away in a flood, or running for our lives from raging fires. Life is good. Oh, well, except for the constant threat of earthquakes.  We were reminded of that just a couple of days ago when a rather large quake rocked the area off the coast of Kodiak, AK. The weather across the country has been nothing short of alarming.  Climate change is real.  Is it natural?  Yes.  Is it man-made.  Yes.  It’s both, in my very unscientific opinion.  So don’t quote me.

The school year has gotten off to another great start.  The students are hanging tough through flu season.  And I think most of the teachers are as well.  We hold our breath in class and carry around gallon bottles of hand sanitizer and disinfectant.

I am teaching a completely online course this quarter, and I really love it!  I wasn’t sure about it at first, but it’s kind of interesting.  Students have been great about meeting the deadlines.  And they seem to like the discussion boards every week.  I think that it is especially good for students who are shy in class because their shyness is no barrier online.  They can “talk” as much as they want.  I encourage them to be creative as well.  For one recent assignment they have to make a video explaining a stage diagram of a scene from “Trifles.”  Their pictures will indicate the type of stage they are using, such as a Thrust stage or a Black Box, as well as blocking, lighting, props, etc.  Students who have never been in a play learn something of what it is like, and those who have performed before get a chance to demonstrate more of their knowledge of stagecraft.

I have also been writing more songs–it is my perfect escape.  Regardless of what is going on around me–teaching, meetings, whatever–taking time out to follow the thread of a song into completion gives me peace and satisfaction.  It is like putting together a puzzle; or tracing a design in the air, only to see it become real and solid. It is somewhat difficult to describe, I guess.  I only know that it suits me.  I have no regular writing schedule for this escape–I know when it’s time.  When I was about three years old, I remember being extraordinarily moved by the music at church during the offertory.  And then when my brothers started playing the piano, I did, too.  At about age four or five, I remember climbing up on the piano bench and trying to recreate the little songs my brothers were learning to read in their music books.  Music, it seems, has always been there, like a friend. When things got crazy at home or school, or wherever, I knew that music would be there. I’ve been in many choirs over the years–all through grade school into adulthood.  Ah, but I go on too long. Songwriting is my haven.  I think it is a calling, just like teaching. I can’t NOT do it!

Time to sign off.  Hopefully it won’t be another 24 days or more before I write again.  Take care. Don’t get the flu.  And keep on walking. Or running. Or flat-out flying!

Author: Nicole

I am an Assistant Teaching Professor at the University of Washington, Tacoma where I teach courses in literature and writing. My first book, entitled Virginia Woolf and The Power of Story, was published in the spring of 2017. My most recent book project is FemPoetiks of American Poetry and Americana Music: A Woman's Truth. This book focuses on three poets--Anne Bradstreet, Phillis Wheatley, and Emily Dickinson--and three singer-songwriters--Brandi Carlile, Rhiannon Giddens, and Lucinda Williams. I am also a singer-songwriter with four albums: Little Queenie (2016) No Limits (2017), Songs for Unsung Women (2017), and By Your Side (2021). My next album is in production now, so stay tuned!

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