Monday, December 31, 2012

The Year 2012 in Pictures

This year, in January, we moved back to our tiny city near the capital. In the mild winter with which this year began, Lizzy and Hamlet would look out onto the old deck to their new much-reduced yard (we went from more than 2 acres to square footage here), and to the still-green grass. The house is much smaller and older but my husband and I agree that our decision to move back and to sell the house near my small college on the hill was the best one we made in 2012. When we walked back into this old house, we both felt like we'd been away from home for too long (almost four years!).

In February, we spent three weeks in Puerto Rico, in a tiny studio near the beach in Isla Verde, right across from a grocery store, and at walking distance from Starbucks and from our favorite panadería. The three weeks were the most productive time in my entire year of leave and in my work on the book manuscript (which, btw, I emailed to the editor last night!). We also enjoyed our morning walks and, interestingly, got to eat in three different Peruvian restaurants treated by friends and family. Who knew that there were so many Peruvian restaurants in Puerto Rico?

In March, and back in Ohio, we enjoyed being in our old neighborhood where my husband took this impressive photo of an approaching early spring storm.

In April, the apple tree in our backyard blossomed in all its spring glory. I had actually missed that tree while we lived away from here so I was thrilled to watch as it grew more and more flamboyant as the spring progressed.

This Japanese maple, which I helped save after a late frost in April almost killed it many years ago, also exploded in magnificent color in May.

By June, the month in which my one-year leave ended, I lived temporarily, for about three weeks, in an apartment near my small college on the hill while working in the summer program I've been a part of since 2008. I took Lizzy and Chiquita with me but Lizzy couldn't get used to the fact that she didn't have a yard to play in. The worst part of that experience was betting stung by a horse or deer fly, which caused my right hand to swell and had me rushing to the doctor for antibiotics. Eww!

To celebrate our 18th wedding anniversary in July, my husband and I went to a favorite inn in the beautiful Hocking Hills, now much nearer to us, and had a lovely time staying overnight and enjoying a wonderful anniversary dinner.

After planting several tomato plants in spring, August produced a feast and I was able to indulge one of my favorite sauces over cooked spaghetti: fresh tomatoes, fresh basil, balsamic vinegar, and Italian spices. Unbeatable.

September saw the first in a series of major improvements that we made this year to this old house, this one my husband's idea. I was not sold on it, at first, but have to agree that I don't miss the decrepit, ugly deck and that we've really enjoyed our new patio and the new stairs my husband built for us. We also updated the main bathroom with beautiful tile, fenced the backyard for the dogs, and my husband recently painted the dining room and the small downstairs bathroom. Slowly, but surely, this old house is getting lots of the TLC it deserves. I think it's very happy we're back.

Halloween was always my favorite "holiday" here in our tiny city, when I would dress up with my evil witch's hat and hundreds of children would clean us out of any and all available candy. I had missed celebrating Halloween while we lived on a country road that was not walk-friendly so I was absolutely tickled that I got to restart our Halloween tradition this October. Lizzy, however, was not so happy about having to wear her costume.

In November, we went back to Puerto Rico for a third time, since I also went in June to teach a two-day seminar at the University of Turabo. This time, we went for a conference and stayed at a different place, more directly in front of the beach, but I still prefer the tiny studio that we called home in February. The highlight of that trip was spending time with the friends who had hosted us when we visited Oregon a few years back, and we were able to return the favor. They were so appreciative and delighted with everything we showed them that they made the experience a pleasure.

Unlike the end of 2011 and the beginning of 2012, this December has not been mild and January promises to come in like a lion, with highs in the twenties and lows in the teens and single digits this coming week.

Still, 2013 opens up, like a blank book, for us to write on it what we want, and what fate will have readied for us.

Wishing you all a very happy new year. Here's to a kinder, gentler, and more peaceful 2013 for all of us and for the world in general. ¡Feliz Año Nuevo!

Saturday, December 29, 2012


The first snow came on the 21st, the day the semester ended, and then returned, fast and furious, while I was in Memphis, visiting with my entire family at my brother's place. The visit was lovely, especially because I saw my mom and sister, and spent quality time with my luminous nieces and nephews, and with my brother and his wonderful wife, whom I had not seen since my father passed away in 2010.

We all went to our favorite fried chicken place, we all went to see "Les Miserables" (way too much crying and singing for my taste), and we all went to a Mongolian-style grill place for dinner, which was definitely a first for me (you even get to choose your spices! I was intrigued by the concept of "Dragon Salt.")

I may have missed the first big storm in Ohio on the 26th, but overnight between Friday and today we got about 4 inches of snow and there's more expected on New Year's Eve.  I am so glad that I canceled my plans to go to MLA in Boston this year since that would have meant I'd be traveling, again, next week. No way, José! There's no place like home for the holidays, like the Carpenters' song says.

I've basically spent the entire day in my basement office (with the space heater on) in a writing and revising marathon, and now have the book's Introduction,  Epilogue, two chapters and the Working Bibliography updated. Tomorrow will be more of the same but I'm going to aim to finish it all by tomorrow night so I can email the 256-page manuscript to the editor a day early. That will allow me to focus on the grading (my husband says this is probably the most-mentioned word on this blog nowadays) and on letters of recommendation for current and former students, all of which are due on the 2nd.

Hang on, I tell myself, once the New Year is two days old, I will be done with EVERYTHING! I can taste freedom, which awaits. In the meantime, I'm diving back into my work after taking a  quick interlude.

Monday, December 24, 2012

¡Feliz Navidad!

On Nochebuena, or Christmas Eve, I like to think of the all the possibilities for starting anew that tomorrow, and that the new year, bring as gifts. May this holiday season we healthy and tranquil and loving for you all, and may the promise of a new beginning shine bright in all our hearts. ¡Feliz Navidad! (And nobody sings it better than our José Feliciano.)

Friday, December 21, 2012

First snow!

Well, the world didn't end (again) but we did get our first major snow in these parts. The day has been so cold and windy and raw that, other than a quick drive this morning to Starbucks and to get a few staples at the grocery store, I parked the car in the garage, and stayed inside working. Lizzy didn't even get her daily morning walk so my husband threw her squeaky ball for her to chase outside for a little while. Even that didn't seem like its usual great fun for her because she was ready to quit after only a few throws.

I had planned to be up at my small college on the hill today but I'm so glad I decided not to brave the elements. I even considered staying overnight with kind friends who're always ready to put me up, but then I would've had to deal with the bad weather coming home. According to the evening newscast, the accidents on the road were so many throughout the day that the police stopped responding to anything that didn't involve an injury. Video of bumper-to-bumper traffic on the highways further persuaded me that I was right to err on the side of caution and stay home on the last day of the semester.

Although I didn't get up to school, I spent the day working on reducing the piles of grading that await attention, writing letters of recommendation (an interminable though important part of what we do), and trying to make some headway on revising my manuscript. Tonight, there'll be more work but I do plan to squeeze in some time to watch a Christmas movie, one of the many adaptations of my favorite A Christmas Carol.

Tomorrow and Sunday there will be more grading and more manuscript work to do. I don't want to spend another Christmas Eve working, as I've done many times in the past, but I am thinking that finishing with all the pending work by the 31st wouldn't be a bad idea. That way I can start a brand new year, for real, on the 1st, with absolutely nothing pending. How might that feel? I think I may just want to find out! (We'll see how much I can get done over the next few days.)

The dismal, wintry weather is great encouragement to stay home and do work, as my husband pointed out. There's another storm forecast for mid week but I hope it here while I'm visiting with my family and not on the day I'm scheduled to come back. As anyone who knows me knows, I hate traveling so I'm not good with trip delays, disruptions, or interruptions. However, I will make sure to take plenty to do  in case I have to deal with any contretemps, which hopefully won't be the case.

Even though the weather outside is dreadful, like the song says, I'm glad that the world didn't end (I still have too much to do for the End of Times to get here now) and that this long, long semester is finally, officially over. Woo hoo!

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Countdown to Christmas

Well, classes are finally over (woo hoo!) and now there's just piles and piles and piles of grading that need to get worked through before final grades are due on Jan. 2. The original due date for grades was Dec. 28 but someone (or someones) must have complained because the day was set back, thankfully, until after the end of the year.

Unlike previous years, when I've found myself grading on Christmas Eve, feeling rather Grinch-like, I plan not to have a grading marathon over the holidays. Instead, I'm aiming to get a lot of that done this coming week, which is finals week. I still have to go in to school to give one exam and to hold "special office hours," which I offer so my students can touch base with me and thereby reduce their panic levels. But with the later due date for grades I will enjoy being able to work solely on my book manuscript for the week of Christmas before it's due to the editor on the 31st. That's a huge relief. I've been able to sneak work on it here and there for the past week, which always feels good since I can see the project becoming crisper and more polished, but I won't be able to devote any full-time hours to it until schoolwork is finito.

Having no more classes means I also get to spend more time at home, which is something Chiquita, whom I should have named Sombrita because she's like a tiny shadow following me around all the time, loves. And home is just where I want to be these days. Now that we're back "home for the holidays" in our new old house (as the pretty home-made card my husband designed for us this year announces in either English and Spanish, depending on the recipient), I've become even more of a homebody than ever.

Just as my husband had predicted, the commute to and from my small college on the hill has been quite tiring (it was about an hour in the mornings, when I had to leave before dawn, and more like an hour and a half in the evenings). More so when I couldn't start for home before dusk, which was basically the norm given that there was usually someone or something to attend to (a student, a colleague, a meeting) after my last class ended at 4 p.m. But I'm willing to put up with the commute for the joy that I feel at being back in our neighborhood.

Also, thanks to the long commute I've become a much more informed person because I can listen to NPR for a few hours each day, which I have loved. And I've been able to listen to several good audiobooks of books I'd never have time to actually read, which is a plus once the NPR signal dies out in the boonies where my small college on the hill is located (I plan to take up the audiobook of War and Peace once I begin commuting again in the new year).

Once the semester closes officially on Dec. 21, I am eager to commute less and spend most of my time here, with my beloved husband and furry children. We have a nice tradition for Christmas Eve and early dinner reservations at a favorite restaurant for the 31st so this is definitely going to be a homey end of the year, God willing. In between, I will take some time over the holidays to see my family when I travel to my brother's home. I haven't seen him since 2010, when our father died, so this will be quite special.

And then, once January arrives, I'm very much anticipating the two weeks of peace and quiet and of no more major projects to conclude or embark on. Thankfully, in spring I'm teaching two classes I've taught before so there won't be a lot of prep and maybe, just maybe, the spring semester will feel like I've finally mastered the art of balancing life and work. That's a good thing to look forward to in 2013.

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Ready for Christmas!

Yesterday, instead of doing the gazillion school-related things I could have done, and after doing what felt like a hundred of them and needing a break, I decided to turn on the holiday music and decorate our home for Christmas.

It's always a bittersweet pleasure to "deck the halls" (though we have nothing as large as a hall, mind you), and to hang our decorations (some of them almost crumbling from old age) from our miniature fake Christmas tree. Getting ready for the season is a mixture of joy and sadness for me, and I'm not really sure why. I don't know if it brings back memories of my childhood, when the family was all together (now so dispersed and far apart). Or whether it's because it makes me realize all that has been lost, especially in those who have left us behind, human and furry presences alike (my abuela, my father, my beloved old satos, Rusty and Geni, my old, old cat Nube).

But I remind myself of how blessed I am with (relative) health and love and challenge and reward and the ability to appreciate it all, so I give humble thanks for everything and look on the brighter side.

Once this semester ends, not a day too soon, and once I send in my draft manuscript to the press editor by year's end, the new year will awaken brand new for me in more ways than one. For the first time, there will be no impending professional goals to meet. The long-worked-for tenure review is in process, and the manuscript will have been finished and sent off for whatever may come of it. I look forward to 2013 because it will be my year to actually slow down and enjoy the feeling of not having any major professional project or endeavor looming ahead. What I felt I needed to demonstrate, in terms of my teaching, my scholarship, and my commitment to service, I have done. There is nothing else that needs to be proven to anyone else at this point.

I have been so driven for so long (in this iteration of my life it's been since entering graduate school ten years ago) that, despite the doubts my husband has expressed that I will actually know how to wind down, I'm not just anticipating but also will welcome and actively promote a change of pace.

More immediately, once December 14th arrives, if you hear, in the faraway distance, what seem to be shouts of unabridged joy, think of me. I will be celebrating the end of a challenging semester, and though I will still have to finalize my 200+-page manuscript in only two-weeks' time, I'll at least be able to do what I love doing best: being a homebody in our lovely, beloved home, now all prettily decked out for Christmas.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Change of air

Earlier this year, while we were in Puerto Rico during my Whiting Teaching Fellowship leave, I found out that the American Studies Association would be having its first-ever conference here on the island. Confident that I would get my work on Ramón Emeterio Betances accepted at the conference, whose title is "Dimensions of Empire and Resistance: Past, Present and Future," I booked the flights, registered for the conference, and rented a studio in Condado, right in front of the beach, at a fraction of the cost of the conference hotel.

(Betances is considered the "father" of the Puerto Rican independence movement because he masterminded the only major revolt against Spain in 1868 and foresaw the rise of the United States as an empire in this region.)

Alas, my paper was turned down but, since I was all paid up and this is the second most important conference in my field, here I am. Thankfully, this provides a much-needed break from what has been and still is a very challenging semester. Though I'm not much for traveling these days, I can appreciate the ability to do school work while listening to the waves crash against the beach and while sitting here in a T-shirt and shorts, something I won't be able to at home until mid-2013.

In February, as you may remember, we lived in an Isla Verde studio (also at a fraction of the cost of a hotel room) from where we'd walk about a mile each day to the nearest Starbucks. Those walks not only provided great exercise, which did a lot to counteract the caloric influence of the rich Puerto Rican food (and of my favorite fritters), but I found them to be quite romantic. Here, the Starbucks is a two-minute walk away, which is a lot more convenient, but there's not much romance in that. (This Starbucks does have a cute place to leash dogs, which I've never seen before!)

We arrived late Wednesday and then on Thursday we met up with a couple of friends, who were very kind to take us around Oregon in 2008 when I traveled up there to turn in my dissertation. We became their tour guides for a day after my husband planned a wonderful route and, after renting a car, we all went to visit the beautiful areas of Piñones, Loíza, El Yunque (below), and Luquillo Beach.

At El Yunque National Forest, we went up 92 steps to the Yokahú Tower for a bird's-eye view of the east end of the island's northern coast, and then we stopped at La Coca, one of the many waterfalls in the rain forest. From there, we continued on to the beautiful Luquillo Beach.

We stopped for lunch at the famous Luquillo kiosks, choosing a perfect one where the food was quite typical and delicious.

Thursday felt like the first day off I've had since the semester started and it was a welcome feeling. Yesterday, I worked for most of the day but, in the evening, we met up again with our friends and ate at Pikayo, my favorite restaurant in the whole world. It's quite upscale so it's not the kind of place we can go more than once a year, if that often, but the last time we went it was many years ago with my dad, so I thought he would want me to introduce these friends to that experience. It is such a pleasure to be with people who are eager to know more about the culture and who are so appreciative of the natural beauties and the complexities of my Isla.

Today, it's more work and conference panels, but we're making the most of the ocean breeze that comes through the open windows and of the yellowest sun and bluest sky imaginable.

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

All Hallows' Eve!

During all the years we lived in our old house the tiny city near the capital, before we moved to the country house near my small college on the hill, I loved when Halloween arrived. I would don my witch's hat, with its hanging red-eyed spiders hanging from its creepy veil, and at least one child each time would either burst into tears or refuse to come near me until I took off the hat.

But after we moved away, Halloween ceased to be what it was because our country house was on a country road with no sidewalks and no one traversed it on foot to beg for candy on a night such as this one. Ever since we moved back here early this year, I've looked forward to tonight. It did not disappoint.

In the past, we had hundreds of children who stopped by for their treat and, although this was a miserably cold and drizzly night, we still had lots of children and actually ran out of candy and had to start digging into our own "private stash" of Hershey's Kisses (my favorite).

While sitting outside with my heaviest parka on to fend off the impending chill wasn't exactly what I had in mind, it didn't dampen the fun that Halloween provides for me, as the children come by in their costumes, some store-bought, many home-made. Like Halloweens past, there was one little girl who refused to come up to get candy from me until I took off my witch's hat.

It's sad that Halloween goes by so quickly. But now I can start looking forward to next year!

Friday, October 26, 2012

Fallish things

Now that I can only walk the dogs four of the seven days of the week, since I have to leave for work before dawn on the days I teach at my small college on the hill, I am taking more time on the days I do walk them to pay attention to the sights of fall.

This bush at the back of our house, for example, doesn't say much for most of the year, but in fall it explodes in scarlet, which makes it a lovely sight.

October is also a good month to enjoy butternut squash, one of my favorites. I recently got a recipe from  Martha Stewart Living for a "mash," and since I'm leaning more toward vegetarian dishes nowadays (have lost some of my interest in eating even chicken, a lifelong favorite), I welcomed the opportunity to fix the squash in a way that was meant to conserve most of its minerals and flavors. That's because the recipe didn't call for boiling the squash but for sauteeing and then letting it "sweat," with a little added water, in the pot. The result was delicious and low calorie, even though I did cheat and added two tablespoons of margarine.

These are also the days of diminishing hours of daylight when Chiquita will make the most of a little patch of sunlight for her naps.

Sunday, October 21, 2012

On a beautiful day

If on a clear day you can see forever, on a partially cloudy day you can see wonders, too. Yesterday, my husband and I rebelled against the idea of frittering away another beautiful early afternoon on a weekend by working the whole day so we leashed up the dogs and went to the part of a nearby metro park that we hadn't visited before.

I love it when we go for strolls like this, especially when we can enjoy the outdoors and see new sights. At Heron Pond (photo above), the ducks were in the water, with their white tails sticking up in the air as they submerged in search of food. My phone doesn't do justice to the image, but it's enough to paint a picture.

The sun shimmering in the water, a sight my father loved, was lovely.  (I remember the day he taught me the word "riela" in Spanish to describe how the sun makes the water sparkle.)

The puffy clouds over the horizon, looking down on a lone burnt-red tree, were a treat to the eye, too. Again, the phone camera fell short (it couldn't find something to focus on), but I like the almost Impressionistic effect that it gives the landscape.

Lizzy, hunter dog that she is, enjoyed the outing, and was especially excited by the ducks and the geese, pulling on the leash to be let into the water to chase them. Of course, she did not get her wish.

The outing was short and fun and marked a highlight in a quiet, tranquil day spent at home, a much-needed break after having to travel up to my small college on the hill every day of this past week.

I try to keep myself uncommitted the two days a week I don't have to commute for teaching, but this past week was unusually busy. On Monday night, we had a the Reading of Latin American and Latin@ Authors to cap Hispanic Heritage Month, which ended on October 15. The event was a great success again (last year we had 18 people who read and, this year, we had 24!), but it ended past 7 p.m. Mondays are my roughest day because my morning office hours are usually full and then I teach the three-hour honors seminar in the afternoon. Thankfully, dear friends put me up that night so I didn't have to drive home after night had fallen.

Tuesday was its usual busy self, when I teach two classes and hold office hours, and this Tuesday I also had a meeting to decide on the honors proposals; on Wednesday I had a faculty seminar at which I presented; on Thursday I gave a writing workshop for  KEEP and REACH students after my classes ended at 4 p.m.; and, on Friday I drove up for the Parent's Reception, where I talked to five sets of parents over the hour-long activity.

On top of a crazy-busy week, on Friday morning I had to go to the orthopedic doctor because my right hand (especially my thumb and wrist) had been hurting incrementally for about a week or more. He diagnosed tendonitis, and gave me a cortisone shot at the base of my right thumb, and a hand brace. Today, I'm doing a lot better but I was glad I had all of yesterday to recover from an exhausting week, and from the cortisone shot (which hurt as much as the doctor said it would).

I'm ready to welcome this coming week, which is a more normal one. Then my mom will come visit for my birthday, and then there's Halloween, so there's a lot to look forward to as my favorite month of the year comes to its usual shining close.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Feasts of fall

October is my favorite month, and not just for the obvious reason that my birthday falls within it. The feast of fall is color full this month and I find myself feeling blessed and grateful for the breathtaking glory of the dark oranges, yellows, and greens this month regales us with. It is a gift to the eyes and the spirit, which they eagerly consume before the denuded trees of winter make them hunger for green again.

At the home front, our old new house is now ready for Halloween, a tradition I missed during all the years we lived near my small college on the hill. Our house there was on a country road, which no child or parent would want to traverse that or any other night except in a car and on the way somewhere else. While my wonderful husband humored me and helped decorate the house with our lighted pumpkin in the window and the little bat lights on the porch, I couldn't help the creeping sadness of knowing no tiny trick or treaters would be coming over. For several years, my wonderful witch's hat, which has black plastic spiders with red eyes hanging from its ghastly veil, was tucked away in an attic, purposeless.

Not this year! Now that we're back and that Halloween falls on a Wednesday, when I do not have to be up at work, I plan to don my scary hat (which is known to have made at least one trick or treating toddler cry!) and stock up on treats for all the tiny trick or treaters who come from all around this area and enjoy a pre-sunset stroll with their parents or older siblings through the safer streets of our neighborhood.

The lighted pumpkin, with its wicked grin, is at the window, as are the little purple bat lights that we can't even remember how old they are, as are the real pumpkins awaiting to be carved for that spooky night. On the night that my husband took this photograph, our very own black cat, Hamlet, dutifully looked out of our window and one of his eyes glittered, appropriately, for the picture.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Farewell, September!

Though fall didn't officially begin until shortly before 11 a.m. on the 22nd, it actually arrived weeks ago, gifting us with a glorious September of cool temperatures and sunny days. Like most Sundays, I had to spend today prepping for my three-hour seminar tomorrow but my husband went off on his motorcycle, armed with his good camera, in search of fall pictures for blogging, and of apples.

He brought back a trove of wonderful apples from our favorite orchard, and there's already an apple pie, made from scratch, in the oven, which will be his reward.

Apparently, the drought conditions that we had in July and August, which were followed by the generous rains this month, were good for the apple crops in Ohio so there's apples galore and they are wonderfully tasty.

I was sorry that I couldn't take a motorcycle ride with my husband today but I'm glad I finished all the reading I had to do for my honors seminar so that my lesson plan will be ready tonight, and I can devote the morning to grade. For the first time since the semester began my office hours are not full tomorrow, so perhaps I will get some quiet time to do work in the office.

This will be another busy week with a Hispanic Heritage Month event on Thursday (I won't be sad to see the celebrations come to a close a week from tomorrow), but we have October Break next week so at least there will be some down time from school work, which I plan to devote to the book.

In the meantime, farewell September, and thanks for having been a lovely month. May October, my favorite month of the year, outdo you both in beauty and in mildness. 

Friday, September 21, 2012

Out with the old


Around here, September has been a busy month, not only because the semester is in full swing for me, but also because we've been in the midst of long-overdue household improvements. When we first moved into our old house in the small city, the deck and the backstairs were not in great shape but they deteriorated markedly over the years that we were away, living close to my small college on the hill.

When we returned here in January, we decided (at my husband's insistence) to get rid of the deck and the old stairs and replace them with a patio. I was not convinced, thinking that building another wood structure (another deck or a simple platform) might be better. But I have to say that my husband was right all along and the finished product has exponentially improved the back of the house.

My husband did all the work of dismantling the crumbling deck and of removing all the debris and contracting with someone who came and took it all. Then he also found someone else who laid the foundation for and then prepared the cement (exposed aggregate) patio.

Once the patio was finished, my husband also built our new stairs both from the back door and from the sliding glass door that used to lead onto the deck but now leads to the lovely patio. My husband also saw the $89 patio set that we bought (I had budgeted about $200-$300 for a table with an umbrella and some chairs) at a discount store. It might not be the highest quality but it's functional, pretty, and comfortable and no one's complaining about the price tag.

I've already had a chance to sit outside to read for class preparation and, though we have not had a chance to eat outside yet (we planned to do so today but the rain kept us inside), we're looking forward to getting many years of enjoyment out of the new patio. Tomorrow, we hope to find two evergreens to plant in the two large brown plastic pots I found at Walmart, also for a very good price, to give the patio some greenery.

In addition to the patio, next week we'll be getting the floor of the upstairs bathroom redone, after my husband pulled up the ancient, stained carpet (who puts carpeting in a bathroom?). I've disliked that carpet ever since we first moved into this place in 2004 but we never had a chance to replace it until now. Today, we bought very nice tile for 57 cents a piece (can't beat that price either!) and I can't wait to have a floor in the bathroom that I can actually mop.

This next week it'll be a month since classes began and so far so good. I love my three classes and have really good groups of students in all. The Honors Seminar is fantastic but I also enjoy my 100-level writing-intensive class and I also have a lot of fun with the group of students who are taking my Latin American/Latin@ literature class. It's a work-heavy semester, especially since I'm also up for tenure so I've had to spend a lot of time putting materials together for that, but I've been enjoying being back in the classroom.

I'm glad I have until December to finish the book project because, even though I have all four chapters and the Introduction written, so that I only have the Conclusion to write, I don't foresee getting much of a chance to work on it anytime soon. I don't want to rush the year away but I will not be sorry once my three-course semester, my tenure review, and my book are all done. I can look forward to the start of  2013 when I won't have to worry about at least two of those anymore.