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After six years of hustling the adjunct system, I am finally a full time professor.  It’s only a one year contract, but it is huge progress in moving towards my dreams.

The year is quickly drawing to a close, and I have spent much of it feeling inferior to my colleagues, frozen in anxiety that I am not a good teacher, not a good writer, a fraud.  In January, I realized that I did not have to be a passive victim of this.  If I feel like I’m not good enough – my vocabulary isn’t strong enough, my teaching isn’t innovative, my knowledge of theory and practice aren’t up to par – there is something I can do about it! I CAN LEARN. I can regularly add new words to my vocabulary, I can read journals and books on best practices; my education isn’t over just because I’m done with my schooling.  Of course, it’s not like the day I graduated, I stopped trying to learn.  I go to conferences regularly, but I find that unless they are in your discipline, they are much more theoretical than practical.  So I have subscribed to a few journals, and rather than spend time on social media, I’m spending time on The Chronicle of Higher Learning and ProfHacker.  Just making that small change has changed the way I view myself.

This leads me to beneaththedirt.  I find myself frozen when it comes to writing for my peers.  I’m so worried about looking dumb and inept, it’s become impossible to churn out material – even simple things like emails.  And I realized – I don’t write anymore!  I read A LOT of writing (bad writing) and I’m out of practice.  The older I get, the more I appreciate the concept of practice.  I can tell when I haven’t had to “small talk” in awhile because it becomes this foreboding, scary thing.  It’s something you have to practice!  Writing is the same.  I have to practice.  Just because I’m not in school, doesn’t mean I can’t churn out a few words to keep myself on top of my discipline.  I guess I stopped worrying about writing because I don’t consider myself a writer – I consider myself a reader. I read things. Tons of things. That’s why I became an English major.  I didn’t want to write the next great American novel – but I did want to read it and talk about it.

So I’m starting this up again.  I don’t know who reads it and that’s not important.  I want to take pride in my work and have a place for it to go, and it might as well be here.

On to The Handmaid’s Tale

So what better place to start than a book I read in graduate school and currently returned to for my school’s book club.

This book.  Gahhhh.

I love to love it and love to hate it.  Margaret Atwood is a genius, and I need to read more of her work.  The writing is phenomenal.  As an English professor who teaches a lot of grammar, I spent a good amount of time during this reading considering Atwood’s use of the semi-colon.  She does not use it correctly, but I guess it could be similar to choosing to write in fragments.  The semi-colon means full stop (though maybe lesser so than a period) and she uses it frequently where a grammar nazi would use a comma.  I’m not sure that I have an answer to this, but it is interesting.

I finished the book of The Handmaid’s Tale and immediately watched the Hulu show.  The first time I read this book, it sat on my chest like a rock for a month.  I couldn’t get past the darkness of this patriarchal society. It felt real and scary.  I particularly remember reading about how the coup happened – no one had money anymore, and everything was credit cards. The Sons of Abraham took control of the banks and removed money from all of the women’s cards.  In a world where we rarely use cash money, this seems like something that could pretty easily happen.

I still felt cold reading this a second time. Perhaps not shocked and also not trying to figure out what was going on.  One of the joys (or perhaps displeasures) of reading dystopian fiction is trying to figure out the world that you are in. What happened to bring the current world to this state? What are the new rules?  But I didn’t have to do that this time.

The show…is fantastic.  I watched the first episode and did not like it. By the fourth episode, I could see that what they were trying to do is different than the book.  In a good way.  In some ways, I wish it was called something different. Let it be its own thing. [spoilers ahead] Essentially, they take the epilogue of the book and speculate on a few different things.  It’s ambiguous with what happens with Luke and Nick in the book. We don’t know.  The show plays with that and gives them a story line.  Since we know that eventually the regime falls, they also start to show what that might look like.  The handmaids do have power – if the society is really only concerned with the procreation of future generations then the handmaids DO have the most power.  They just have to figure out how to use it.  Presumably, the second season will deal with that.  I’m excited – the book and show end at the same point, so now anything can happen

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I had a bad run today.  I ran five miles…but in the end it was more like ran four, walked one.  I got home and felt defeated.  I wished I hadn’t even run in the first place.  Not the way you want to feel after you work out.

Then I started to think about this time last year.  There is no way I could have run four miles.  And earlier this year, I said “I’ll train for a 10K but I can’t run a half marathon.”  Then I DID run a half marathon.  I have come a really long way in the past year with my running, and I should be proud, even on my bad days.

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I have pruned a lot in the past week, in great efforts to save the garden.  Every morning I cut off about two or three more leaves…the plants bounce back but the powdery mildew is still there.  The cucumbers and squash might have it but I can’t tell yet.  They are starting to flower.

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The eggplants have grown a lot though I do not see any baby eggplants yet.

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I have been concerned that the peppers are not thriving.  They definitely are still alive but their flowers fall off and die and the plants have not gotten any bigger.  I did some research and I’m neutralizing the soil so we’ll see if that helps.

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The lettuce is still flourishing and we harvested our second zucchini today.

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well…..

We caught the powdery mildew fungus. BOOOOOOOOO

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I spent a lot of time in the sun today pruning out infected leaves.  Only the zucchini and squash had it, so hopefully I caught it in time.  This is what wiped out my last garden and I am feeling a little disheartened.  I also bought a copper oil fungicide to spray tonight which may help.  I guess in the future I need to just spray fungicide every 7 days to prevent this from happening.  I definitely overplanted the garden which may have led to the powdery mildew.

On a happier note, we still have tons of lettuce!  The egg plant is growing up nicely as well as the beans.  I didn’t know how cool beans looked as the grew!

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And LC likes to find a shady spot on sunny days.

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I scowered the garden today looking for flowering plants and came up with multiple zucchini flowers, one bell pepper flower, and one tomato flower.

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I am officially feeling hopeful for my peppers!  

I have been away since last Friday.  I got back late last night and was so excited to see how the garden was doing, I went outside with a flashlight to check it out.  And my oh my has the garden grown!!!

Our seeds of simpson elite lettuce have really grown:

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We basically cannot eat the lettuce as fast as it is grow.  Every day I give packages to friends and eat salads and the garden virtually replenishes itself overnight.

Our snap peas have started growing.  I was really hopeful when I left because the snap peas had started to flower….now they are peas!

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The cucumbers are finally starting to look alive.  It might just be that this variety has weird looking stalks.Image

As a whole, the garden looks beautiful:

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And look at the gorgeous rainbow I saw yesterday:

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I have to say, I’m a little spoiled these days.  I am teaching online classes from home, living minutes from the beach, and I get 3 day weekends with Fred every weekend!  I feel pretty blessed.

Our three cats are starting to get along.  For those of you who do not know, Fred and I just moved in together, creating a new environment for my two male cats and his female cat.  After much hissing, skeptical glances, sniffing, and smelling, things are starting to get better.  LC will willingly stay in the same room as Hermes and Hades and even let them sit close to her.

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Better than just this news, the garden looks FANTASTIC.  The zucchini are coming up in full stride, we have lettuce every day, and I just planted some healthier-looking pickling cucumbers. I am very very excited for pickling!!  More than anything, I want a plethora of cucumbers for making pickles.  I’ve looked into a few different recipes and just think that would be soooo cool.

I also “coffee-ed” the garden on Monday so we’ll see if that does any good.  We’ve been saving our coffee grinds for a few weeks now and I put little handfuls at the root of each plant.  I am planning to also add some vinegar to the water for my bell peppers once they are a little bigger.  I hear they like a nice acid based soil.

So that’s about it!  We are doing great in CT!