Happiness is...

Earlier this afternoon, I did something I’ve been wanting to do for almost a month: I brewed a mug of tea and wrote in my journal. Between being sick and being buried in the usual mid-semester flood of student papers, I hadn’t written in my journal since November 3, an entry that chiefly chronicled the cold-turned-bronchitis I caught near the end of October:

I slept yesterday, a day-long nap in an attempt to make up for nights riddled with coughing. I sometimes think I’ll never get better–never regain my strength. How is it that something as simple as a cold or flu bug can lay me out so irrevocably, and for so long?

Moleskine

Blogging counts as a kind of journaling, but for me, no amount of blogging can replace the longhand pages I’m in the habit of keeping. For me, blogging is where I think out loud for a live audience, and writing in my paper journal is where I think solely for myself. For me, the strength and authenticity of my outer, public voice is rooted in this more personal, internal dialogue. My daily scribbles are where I figure things out for myself, and my blog reflects the end-result of such ruminations.

Blogging when I haven’t been journaling feels like performing without practicing: yes, a veteran musician or singer can perform for an audience without devoting private hours to her or his craft, but after a while, those public performances can become rote and shallow. My journal is where I find and strengthen my writerly voice. Blogging when I’m not journaling feels precarious and ungrounded, like growing a tree without roots.

This is my Day Twenty-Two contribution to NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to post every day during the month of November: thirty days, thirty posts.

Dead or only sleeping?

This time last year, I blogged several photos of Laura Ford’s “Armour Boys,” an outdoor installation at the DeCordova Sculpture Park featuring five bronze knights crumpled in a grove of pine trees. Ford’s work is one that looks better as it ages, a subtle patina of neglect adding to the poignancy of slain soldiers lying among fallen leaves.

Pine Sharks

Because I’ve been going to the DeCordova for years, I remember another piece that was previously on display in this same grove: Kitty Wales’ “Pine Sharks,” which featured three circling sharks welded together from the rusted hulls of castoff appliances. As coincidence would have it, I blogged that installation back in 2009, the last time Photo Friday featured the theme, Metal.

This is my contribution to today’s Photo Friday theme, Metal, as well as my Day Twenty-One contribution to NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to post every day during the month of November: thirty days, thirty posts.

Office still life

My office at Framingham State, where I sit and grade papers between classes, is in the basement of a dormitory across the street from the main academic building where I teach. On sunny days, my office-mate and I typically leave the lights off, working by the glow of our laptop screens while students walk past our window, the ground striated with shadows.

This is my Day Twenty contribution to NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to post every day during the month of November: thirty days, thirty posts.

Student art projects

My classes at Framingham State are two hours long, so I give students a ten minute break halfway through class. While my students typically use this time to text, check Facebook, or otherwise fiddle with their phones, I use this time to walk the hallways of May Hall: a chance to stretch my legs and clear my head before teaching the second half of class.

Leaf collages

My favorite place in May Hall is the top floor, where the art studios are located. While art students diligently sketch, sculpt, and piece together projects in those studio classrooms, I walk the hallway and admire the finished projects on display: ceramic and papier-mâché sculptures, mobiles constructed from wire and paper, and colorful collages created from fallen leaves.

This is my Day Nineteen contribution to NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to post every day during the month of November: thirty days, thirty posts.

Gilbert the giving-thanks turkey

There comes a moment nearly every evening after I’ve arrived home from teaching, changed into comfortable clothes, taken the beagle out, and finished the last of the day’s chores: everything cleaned, put away, and prepped for another day. As I collapse on the couch, tune the TV to that night’s hockey or basketball game, and curl up with a book or magazine while J readies dinner, I realize there’s nowhere I’d rather be than in my own house, reading, while the TV recites its play-by-play like a litany and the beagle snores in her crate, content.

This is my Day Eighteen contribution to NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to post every day during the month of November: thirty days, thirty posts.

Cassie cuddles her chew toy

As I write these words, it’s a gray and rainy morning, and I have a spare 15 minutes before I need to shower, dress, and head to campus. The dog lies on her bed chewing her favorite bone, focusing all her attention on it as she does every morning after breakfast, as if all the world depended upon her ability to chew a simple toy.

Cassie relaxing

My classes are prepped and my bag is packed, and my journal sits on the dresser on the other side of the room, mostly neglected these past few weeks while I’ve been sick. Soon enough–tomorrow, or the next day, or the next–I’ll return to it and the simple ritual of writing four longhand pages every morning, but for now, I leave both my journal where it sits and the dog where she lies, choosing to type these words with my fingertips on my tablet, just a bit of verbal doodling before the serious work of the day begins.

This is my Day Seventeen contribution to NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to post every day during the month of November: thirty days, thirty posts.

WWI recruitment posters

Earlier this afternoon, while procrastinating my ever-present paper pile, I spent a half hour sorting through pictures I’d taken back in August, when J and I went to the Museum of Fine Arts to see an exhibit of World War I recruitment posters.

I want YOU

The exhibit included pieces from Britain, France, and the United States, including the iconic image of Uncle Sam pointing to viewers with the caption “I want YOU for the U.S. Army.” It was interesting to see the various visual techniques artists employed to grab viewers’ attention while communicating a simple appeal to enlist. The posters featured the usual patriotic images you’d expect from wartime propaganda, along with altruistic reminders that “everyone should do his bit” and a stoic, quintessentially British claim that it’s better to face bullets on the front than be killed by a bomb at home.

Daddy, what did YOU do in the Great War?

One of my favorite posters featured an understated guilt-trip, with a sheepish but respectable-looking man unable to answer his children’s simple question, “Daddy, what did YOU do during the Great War?” Better to face bullets on the front today, apparently, than to feel unmanned by the earnest questions of your still-unborn children tomorrow.

There was one image I shot, however, that promptly ended my procrastination and sent me back to my paper-pile. In one corner of a brightly colored poster urging young men to “serve in France” was a simple imperative to DO IT NOW.

Do it now

This is my Day Sixteen contribution to NaBloPoMo, or National Blog Posting Month, a commitment to post every day during the month of November: thirty days, thirty posts.

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