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    Wannabe Mommy?

    Now don’t get too excited Cheri or Beth…we don’t plan to give you grandchildren ANY time in the near future. However, I am diving into this possibility of studying moms and the Internet (see my last post if want to hear about all my current life-changing decisions) with my semester project. I am in a class called “Digital Literacies and Social Networking” and it’s all about participating in an online community. This class could not be better suited to my interests as I test out these Rhet/Comp waters and consider changing the focus of my PhD program. So for the next four months, I will be a “mommy blogger” of sorts. If you see me entering weird “giveaways,” doing crafts, or having “linky parties” on my website, don’t be surprised. I am studying a culture by participating in it. As of right now, I hardly know what the above terms mean, but that is all a part of the research.

    Clearly, the main problem with my research project is that I don’t have children myself. I am not a mom, but I want to study them. A few of my classmates suggested ideas to get past this obstacle… take pictures of someone else’s kids and blog about them (inconvenient, if not somewhat creepy), have children of my own (first of all, no thank you, not right now, we are waiting a few years, etc. etc. Not to mention that it is biologically impossible for me to have a child before the semester is over in May…), and then there was this idea, which is definitely the best option I’ve heard of thus far…

    Yes, I’m talking about a return to the flour babies of middle school and high school Home Ec classes. I might even have to start a new blog: flourchild.blogspot.com. I wonder if that one is taken??? Don’t get me wrong. I am not making fun of being a mom. I love moms, especially my own. I have also loved watching some of my closest friends become mothers over the past few years, and I have been trying to learn everything I can from those who were brave enough to be the first to enter into motherhood out of my circle of college girlfriends. I hope to be a mom someday… just not today…or tomorrow…or this year. So if I am forced to have a baby for this project, it’s going to be born on the baking aisle of the grocery store…

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    Straight Paths…

    I have been reading Psalms and Proverbs this month and am reminded again and again how great it is both to worship the Lord and to fear him. I just LOVE these two books of the Bible, and I enjoy reading through them at the same time. Early on in my Proverbs reading, I read the well known verses of Proverbs 3:5-6:
    “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.”
    Typically I don’t spend a lot of time reflecting on the tried and true verses that I have had memorized since elementary school, but then I realized if someone thought it was important for me to memorize this verse when I was six, it probably has some pretty good stuff in it. I started thinking to myself, “how often do I lean on my own understanding?” I am sad to say, probably way too often. I acknowledge God as my Creator, Savior, and the Sovereign Guide of my life, and yet I spend my days planning my steps and trying to control every little thing that happens to me. Yuck. I am called to trust in the Lord, even at times when it doesn’t make “sense” to do so. Even when my own plan seems sufficient or even excellent in my own eyes.
    But the beauty of trusting the Lord comes with a promise. When I trust him, he will set straight my paths. Now the writer of this Proverb probably means “straight paths” in a moral sense. He means that to trust in the Lord means that God will set you on the straight path of a righteous life. And how much do I long to be on that straight path of a God-glorifying life that leads to salvation? But I also think that trusting God means that He will guide you exactly where He wants you on this journey of life. To trust God means that you have faith that the place in which he has you (with your spouse, family, friends, church, job, ministry, trials, joys, sorrows, even your geographic location) is exactly where He wants you, and when he wants you to move along this path to somewhere new, in quiet faith you will feel the prompting of His hand and Spirit guiding you.
    I feel like I am at a place right now where God’s hand and Spirit are nudging me, possibly in a different direction. I am in Arizona to go to school, to get my PhD in English, a goal I have had since I was a child when I wanted to become a “Doctor of Books.” Thankfully, there was a beautiful marriage of my own plans with those of God, and both Micah and I feel that Phoenix is exactly where we are supposed to be right now. But now that I have begun my studies in Renaissance literature, I am beginning to wonder if this is what God wants me to study and teach for the rest of my life. Renaissance lit is a demanding field with fierce competition, inflated egos, and very limited job opportunites. I love Shakespeare, but I am suddenly hesitant about going into a field where I will be pressured to become egotistical and self-seeking or risk flailing on the outskirts, jobless and miserable. I know those are two extremes, and with God’s help, I might easily find a place in the middle where I am employed and not an arrogant scholar, but the temptations and the struggles of the literature field have caused me to see another option for teaching that I have completely overlooked in the past…
    There is a whole other field of English called Rhetoric/Composition, which until this year, I would have never given a second thought about. I took one Rhet/Comp class in undergrad and hated it. I love books and have always wanted to teach literature. But this year my TA position requires me to teach composition classes, which I am surprisingly enjoying very much. Also, with the way the TA program works at ASU, I will only be able to teach a limited number of lit classes over the next five years, while my resumé has the potential to overflow with various composition classes I could teach at ASU. I am taking my first rhet/comp grad class this semester, and I can already tell I am going to love it. My teacher is down to earth, smart but not pompous, and the subject matter (digital literacies and online networking) interests me immensely. Since Christmas, I have had this growing interest in moms and the Internet and how social networking and blogging have changed what it looks like to be a mom – specifically a “stay at home mom.” As you can imagine, studies of Internet culture are huge right now and will be ever-changing over the next few decades if not centuries. And of course, this means jobs galore for rhetoric/composition teachers. I get an e-mail about a job opening for a rhet/comp professor almost every day in my ASU inbox. On the other hand, I have seen about three job ads for lit professors in the past six months, and NONE of them have been in the area of Renaissance.
    I don’t want to forsake my dreams of being a literature professor simply because of a tough job market. I trust God way too much to base my decision on that. But I have also been reflecting a lot about how God has me on this path right here right now… I almost went to grad school three years ago to study Renaissance lit at the University of Miami. I would have been single and dedicated and no doubt very successful in a very successful lit program. But moving to Miami would have meant ending my relationship with Micah and I chose him instead of books (and am VERY thankful for that decision by the way!). Now God has brought me to grad school, but I am married and a completely different person in so many ways. As I look to the future, which now includes becoming an increasingly Godly wife, probably having children (most likely before I am done with my PhD program), and living on mission with a new church in a new city, I am wondering if God is trying to tell me something. Pursuing a literature degree seems to conflict a bit with all the other blessings in my life. It’s hard to cook dinner for your husband when you are supposed to read all of Hamlet and 150 pages of theory on sex in Renaissance by class tomorrow… It’s hard to imagine myself trying to work and network my way in to a ring of elite Shakespearean scholars while I have two babies at home that need time with their mother. And unlike most Renaissance scholars, I won’t be able to move just anywhere to take that ONE job that is available. I will always put my husband’s career before my own, which would be much easier to do with rhet/comp jobs available in almost every state. Clearly, I am at a crossroads. I have not made any decsions yet, but I am eager to see which path God places me on. I know it will be the straight one, if I trust Him with the future…
    He doesn’t promise that the path will be free of obstacles, only that it will be straight… and we know the Father walks with those on the straight path and that the path’s end is eternal joy, peace, and glory.

    Life of a Lit Student…
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    911, we have an emergency (sort of…)

    Do I get paid overtime for this???

    How many of you can say that firetrucks and ambulances arrived at your work twice in one week (hospital workers don’t count)? Neither could I until this past week. And not only did I have a 9-1-1 emergency twice in one week, but I had a visit by a big red truck to EACH of my jobs. I like to keep things even. If Sola Coffee Bar gets a visit by Mr. Fireman on Thursday, then you better belive that the Arizona State University Language and Literature Building is going to demand the same visit the following Monday. People say my schedule is too busy, but I like to think that the more jobs I have the more I can utilize our civil workers and make sure tax payer money never goes to waste.

    Now let me start by saying these emergencies were kosher, mild, almost mundane. No one got hurt. But just because I think it’s so weird to have an “emergency” at both my jobs in the same week, I feel I must explain.

    I work Thursday afternoons at my church’s coffee shop in the heart of Old Town Scottsdale. It’s a cool, trendy, little rocker joint with cement floors, exposed beams in the celing and a turntable that’s constantly spinning albums like The Black Keys and Ryan Adams and other people that I’m not quite cool enough to know much about. The 20 year olds that manage the shop are both musicians and rock music is their thing. Yes, I have two managers that are the same age as the students I teach… Anway, our shop serves great coffee, offers a cool atmosphere, and helps our church be a part of our community. Last Thursday, I arrived to my shift at 2pm and soon noticed that the lights were blinking on and off occasionally. About every 20 to 30 minutes, I would notice these little power surge-spasm-things until finally at 5pm the power turned off completely. Since other buildings around the block still had power, I knew it was something specific to our building. Thanks to the ever-faithful head lamp I keep in my car (seems nerdy, but you have no idea how often it comes in handy… think flat tire at night sort of thing), I was able to work my way into the back office, find the fuse box, and try to play Electrician. However, according to the fuse box nothing was wrong, no shorted circuits, nothing. I finally called our pastor, Heath, and he came down to check it. Meanwhile, I am tyring to clean things up around the shop as best I can with no electricity, since Heath told me I could close up early. Right when I am about to stick my hands in a sinkful of warm, sudsy water to finish the dishes, Heath comes back in and tells me to “get out of the building now.” The fire department says we have to evacuate the building. Evacuate, really? I’m not afraid of the dark.

    It turns out there was an old electrical line sparking and smoldering above our building. Doing the dishes could have been the death of me, I guess, but instead I got off work an hour early, which was a lovely surprise. I left the shop just as two firetrucks and a first aid car were pulling up, and shoppers in Old Town were lining the sidewalks to watch the drama unfold. I guess they got it fixed, because I got off work late tonight and I defintely had to wash ALL the dishes.

    So fast forward past the weekend. On Monday morning, I dropped my lovely girlfriends off at the airport and headed to ASU to get a little work done before classes started on Tuesday. The university was closed for MLK Jr. Day, but thankfully a door to the English building was unlocked and I was able to get into my office on the third floor. The building seemed desolate on the holiday. I worked for about an hour and then left my office to grab some papers off the printer down the hall. As I left the printer room, I was greeted by smoke, yes visible smoke, all over the hallway around my office door. I freaked out and ran into my office to save my computer and my books (pretty sure they don’t teach you to run toward the smoke and save your personal belongings in all the those fire safety courses you take in elementary schools…but I defied my childhood schooling and preserved my laptop anyway) and then ran down the hall, away from the smoke this time, to an outer stairwell. When I got to the stairs, I stopped. What should I do? Just leave and hope it was something stupid like someone burning popcorn in another office. But what if I left and learned later that day than an entire academic building at ASU burned down because I didn’t notify anyone? I didn’t really want to make a big deal about it, because I knew that most likely it was nothing. I couldn’t see any flames, feel any heat, and by this point (I kept sticking my head back through the doors to gauge the situation) the smoke was diminishing, not growing. I tried to call a few administrative offices on campus, but of course, no one was there because of the holiday. Finally, I decided I needed to be a drama queen and call 911, even though I didn’t want to. I just couldn’t ethically leave the building without notifying SOMEONE and the only someone I knew how to get a hold of at this point was the fire department. Three minutes later two fire trucks were pulling up to the building. An ambulance arrived a minute later. And a minute after that the Fire Batillion from the next town over arrived. Apparently, they really try to prevent state universities from burning down. Right after they arrived, a little old lady walked down from the 3rd floor to explain that she had burned a plastic plate in the microwave, which had caused all the smoke…

    As fun as these little adventures were, I would love to go at least a few weeks without seeing any fire trucks or ambulances on the job. I just don’t get paid enough for that sort of thing to happen regularly…

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