What Makes a Good Blog Post?

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So my Creative Writing class is curious as to what makes a good blog post. They ask how long it should be, should the title have a hook, do they HAVE to edit for grammar and spelling? (YES!) What say you? We’re looking for ideas! What attracts you, the reader, to a blog? What does an enjoyable interesting post look like to you? What keeps you coming back for more? Leave some constructive advice in the comment section. We’re grateful for your input!

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photo by Middlebury Institute of International Studies

Woo, Hoo! We’re Blogging!

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My wonderful Creative Writing students are spending the rest of the semester creating and maintaining their own blogs, and, of course, as their intrepid leader, I’m following them all! We’ve got lots of sports, fashion, military, music, inspiration, and coffee, so check them out! You can find them under the “Blogs I Follow” widget!

What the Heck Happened to Tomorrow?

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It’s a warm summer afternoon, and I came across my blog that I started in college. I’m reading the last thing I posted over a year ago when I realized I was supposed to get back to you the next day about a teaching job I was up for. So what the heck happened?

So much, I hardly know where to start…

I got the job!

…and then I lost it a month later when the teacher that had it before me decided she needed to keep her position.

The day after my graduation party my husband blew the L-4, L-5 disc in his spinal cord and became paralyzed. So yeah, THAT was a super fun summer! (He’s ok, though, learning to walk on crutches and forging ahead. Is there any other option?)

Then about two weeks before school started I was blessed to get another position teaching high school English, further away from home, in the town I was born and grew up in. Let me tell you, getting up at 5:00 am to drive my husband to his job, and then an hour to mine, teaching teenagers all day, and then pointing my car in the other direction to do it all again in reverse is exhausting. Exciting. Terrifying. Exhilarating. Rewarding. And right back to exhausting.

But I feel like I’m where I was meant to be. I’ve learned so much in the last year, and as trite as that phrase can be, it’s true. I’ve made some good friendships, been blessed with great mentors, and taught some amazing kids. And in one month, I go back and do it again, this time with an AP class and my own Jane Austen elective to add to my American Lit classes. Oh yeah, and I can’t forget the knitting club I started for the kids Monday after school

And if that’s not all enough, I’m going back to my alma matter, MMU, to get a post-baccalaureate in education and my teaching license. ‘Cuz I guess I’m just not “edumacated” enough yet!

Big deal, I’ll add a couple of night classes to the mix. Because as the old saying goes, “that which does not kill you makes you stronger.” I’m going to either end up like one of those weight lifters in the olympics or six feet under. But as always, I’m determined to enjoy the ride!

Paradoxes

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commencement-landing

This weekend I graduate from Marquette University with a Master’s degree in English literature, and my feelings are bittersweet. I decided not to pursue a PhD for several reasons. The idea of spending another five years in school is daunting. The competition for jobs is fierce, especially for someone my age. I need to stop living a Peter Pan existence and get out and work! And most importantly, I fell in love with teaching.

The last two years have been…I don’t even know what to say…exhausting, exhilarating, disappointing, frightening, grounding, growing, worth it. I feel in many ways I lost my life and gained another. I have always felt an affinity with butterflies, and I think the chrysalis is finally opening. Finally.

They say (who is “they” anyway?) that the Master’s degree portion of academia is the most soul-sucking of all three levels, and I agree. I am not used to a learning style that is more of a “trial by fire” or “hazing” experience. I’m pretty straight forward…teach me something, and then hold me responsible for that information through assessment. I have been told to figure it out for myself, I was told when asking for help with my first seminar paper that, “Writing is a promise. You make a promise, and then you keep it.” Huh?

My entire degree was based on a written exam (something that the department is, thankfully, trying to change) on material I had to learn on my own. Taken from memory. Historical time lines from about 500 A.D. to the present, literary movements and periods, authors, works, close readings, essays,you name it! And I PASSED it, people! It cost me about nine months of my life studying and 15 pounds, but I did it!

Now don’t get me wrong, I’ve had some wonderful and supportive professors along the way, and some great survey-type classes that did help me pass my exam, but I found academia to still be a bit of a good-old-boys club that I discovered I didn’t want to be a part of. And don’t get me started on campus politics!

What I DID take away is that I love teaching, and what I DID learn was what kind of teacher I want to be. The caring kind. The helpful kind. The kind that serves her students and institution. A team player out for the greater good. Someone who puts her students and their education first. Not a complainer. Not an elitist. Too idealistic? Unrealistic? Perhaps. But I’m going to try, because this is important to me.

So I’ve applied at several area parochial high schools in order to give myself a gentle start to this new career of mine, and I think I’ve found just the place! Small, nice kids, super-supportive and serving staff. They really seem to want me, and I want them too. I’ll know for sure tomorrow. Stay tuned!

Another New Grand Baby!

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Well, our little Turkey Day surprise surprised us by coming two and a half weeks early!

This is Levi Michael, born yesterday on November 9th at 10:35 pm to my son Michael and his partner Erika. He weighed 7lbs. 6oz. and measured 19 inches long. He looks just like his proud daddy! We are thrilled to have him, though his timing could have been kinder to his Nonna, as I am in the middle of final seminar papers and projects for grad school, sigh! That’s ok, though…come winter break, he’s all mine!

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What the Heck Happened to the Potential Prof?!

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So much!

First this happened…Image

I spent spring break here…Image

Then this happened…Image

I turned…

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photo by kirstyhall

I spent part of the summer here…Image

And finally I started my graduate studies here!

Imagephoto of Marquette University by Gruenamann

I was blessed to receive a full teaching assistantship to Marquette University, where I am paid a stipend and receive free tuition towards my Master’s degree in exchange for teaching first year English, i.e., Comp and Rhetoric, to 19 amazing students! While it isn’t the Doctoral program in Chicago I was hoping for, I am able to stay in my hometown with my family and be part of a wonderful program at a top-notch university. I also realize three weeks in that there is no way I would have been able to handle the rigors of a PhD program without a Master’s degree first. While a humbling experience, God has a way of putting me right where I belong!

Stay tuned…

Happy New Year!

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41biP9KM9JL._AA160_Hello everyone,

I would apologize to you for not posting in such a long time, but that would be a lie; I’m not truly sorry.

When one’s life is structured to the extent that a college student’s is, and everything becomes a “must do,” and said student finally reaches the end of the semester and is facing a six week break from the “musts” of life, they lose their minds a bit.

For example…I had pecan crescent Christmas cookies for breakfast this morning. Powdered sugar melts on my tongue in utter decadence. Happy New Year to me!

Long preface short, I found a wonderful literary quote for my next tattoo. You see, this year, 2013, come July, I will have lived on this planet for half a century. I can’t begin to count the wonderful experiences I have filled my life with thus far, and I can’t wait to see what the next fifty years will bring!

This May I will graduate with my BA in English Literature and hopefully embark on my next exciting adventure called grad school. I have marked some of the greater milestones of my life with small, discreet, tattoos, and I think I have found the one I want to celebrate this momentous year with.

It is a quote from the British author, Zadie Smith, from her inaugural novel written in the year 2000 called, White Teeth, and it goes like this:

“The past is always tense, the future perfect.”

Like my beloved professor, Dr. Paula Reiter, I can’t resist the “zing” a play on words gives my brain! This quote is literary, like the field I love, eludes to the verb tenses that for some reason make sense to me in French, and represent the way my half century has gone thus far in a funny, ironic, and hopeful manner.

Wishing you all future perfect tenses this year and always,

-Christine

What Goes Up Must Come Down

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While Washington Island doesn’t have a mountain per se, it does have a tower one can climb on Mountain View Road, and on a clear day, the views are spectacular!

 

But wait…I’m getting ahead of myself. Before we can enjoy the view of other distant islands from the top of the tower, we have to climb a lot of steps.

 

…and we’re not done yet! We still have to get to the top of the tower! Whew! I’m pooped!

Looks like Sophia and her friend Zoe made it up just fine. But then their hearts are thirty-five years younger than mine! In fact, those steps aren’t for the faint of heart. They are open, and if you suffer from vertigo like I do, you may prefer to stay on terra firma. Sometimes, I can’t resist the views, though, so I take a deep breath, screw up my courage, and go for it!

 

On a clear day, you can catch a glimpse of one of the islands that belong to Michigan.

 

Or turn around for a bird’s eye view of the woods and a spectacular autumn sunset.

 

Of course, what goes up must eventually come down.

Washington Island Attractions

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We interrupt this college blog to bring you another snippet of our Door County vacation!

One of my favorite tourist sights on very Scandinavian Washington Island is the Stavekirk. Built several years back in cooperation with Trinity Lutheran Church and a brigade of authentic Nordic craftsman from the old country (yes, folks, they could barely speak to each other!), this beautiful church was built using only wood pegs (stave means wooden nail, and kirk means church) in a traditional and time-honored manner. It was built across the road from Trinity in a gorgeous wooded setting with a prayer walk in the forest to the rear of the church. The front is bordered by gardens including native flora, and even in late fall, though not many flowers are left, the dried prairie grasses are stunning.

The building has many traditional Nordic symbols as well as Christian ones, all carved in wood.

The inside of the Stavekirk is built to resemble the hull of a boat turned upside down. Fisherman would weather storms by flipping their dingys upside down and huddling underneath for protection. In the same way, a church shelters the faithful.

This is the altar of the church with its brightly painted altar piece, and, yes, services and weddings are held in the Stavekirk’s intimate setting.

If ever you’re lucky enough to find yourself on Washington Island, be sure to visit the Stavekirk, take a peaceful and contemplative stroll through the prayer walk, and enjoy the beautiful gardens. This is truly God’s country.