finishing on a good note

it’s been fifteen l-o-n-g weeks of challenges this semester. i’ve been mired in some time and labor-intensive university administrative responsibilities, the kind that require turning over old stones and peering into dark crevices, the kind that remind you that an academic institution can somehow juxtapose inspiring heights with some pretty dank lows, the kind that ask you to document what’s happening without empowering you to do anything about it. i admire those willing to take this kind of thing on full time, especially those impressive few who elude cynicism.

on a brighter note, MBDA launched this spring — the programmer and i worked too many hours to count; we had an excellent sprint, and we’re both admittedly a little tired. but was it worth it? absolutely. HUGE kudos to our amazing project team for a successful launch!

from a teaching perspective, the semester was unusually challenging. it’s not uncommon to guide undergrads through a crisis or two each semester, but more than a few of my students struggled with serious personal issues this term, and it was difficult to leave my concerns about them behind when i left campus for home every day. it’s not clear to me why this semester was different, but i am reminded that teaching is often serious and complex in ways i don’t anticipate and that educators have responsibilities that can’t be defined by learning objectives or measured by outcomes assessment. many of our responsibilities are traditionally instructional to be sure, but many more, if less tangible and more elusive, are no less significant.

good moments? a few, actually…

it’s not exactly academic, but running a half marathon with my nine-year-old son while his brother (my older son) ran the full 26.2 and meeting half way through the course (which overlapped) was pretty spectacular. my runner’s high lasted for days! how to keep a nine-year-old motivated for 13.1 miles? a rockin’ playlist that makes you laugh. here’s a sampling from ours:

  • Newton: Streamline
  • Cake: The Distance
  • Bad Religion: I Want to Conquer the World
  • P-Square: Chop My Money
  • Yanni: The Storm
  • Knoc-Turn’al: Muzik
  • The Temper Trap: Sweet Disposition
    and Love Lost
  • Bach: Cello Suite No. 1 in G Major
  • Mamadou Diabete: Joukouya
  • Revenge: Minecraft Creeper Song

reading this hilarious (and somehow sage) quote in a book my sister recommended: “worrying is like praying for what you don’t want,” a quote i’ve now discovered is so ubiquitous as to be cliché, was also a good moment (it’s hard to take yourself too seriously when a phrase like that really resonates with you). that same book admonishes: “you are what you think.” and yes, i confess, this too resonated with me. did i mention it’s been a tough fifteen weeks…

finally, a few weeks ago when i was contemplating how to best negotiate a difficult decision and weighing it out a bit too assiduously, having a senior colleague offer me some of the best professional advice i’ve ever received: “chill out” was humbling and awesome. it’s difficult to grow cynical when someone you respect puts things in perspective for you like that, but it’s easy to be grateful. and i am.

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meeting my son during my 13.1 and his 26.2