Friday, November 7, 2008


I am excited about the recent events in our country for several reasons. Not only does the election of Barrack Obama feel like a good move for America, it also feels like a good move for my generation. In a decade that is characterized by our disconnect as a nation, it is exciting to see so many people come together to, at least, try to move America in a better direction. As a Christian, a twenty-eight year old, a student, a husband, a person that loves people and my country (in that order), a son, a teacher, someone that loves the outdoors, and someone who strives to endlessly search for and question truth, I look forward to seeing what we can do for our country. As my wife told me last night during our drive from Marquette to Grand Rapids, "If we truly want change in America, we also have to change." I feel like we've made a good first step, but we can't forget that much of the responsibilty is on the shoulders of us as Christians, families, humanitarians, and citizens.

Wednesday, August 27, 2008

The Biannual Post

So, I definitely have not posted in a while. Below are a few of the things I have been doing:

Backpacking the Porkies in the very North-Western part of the UP with my dad and friend, Ajani:

Kayaking (The second one is my dad--click on it for a better view):

Tigers Game with my brother Steve, my dad, and my grandpa:

So, the summer has been great. It is even better, though, to be back in school. The semester started last Monday, which means I am back to teaching, back to studying, and still writing. Also over the summer, I read Pynchon's 1973 masterpiece Gravity's Rainbow. It took me most of the summer, but was well worth it. I also was able to sneak in George Saunder's Pastoralia, David Foster Wallace's Brief Interviews With Hideous Men, and Lee Siegel's latest, Love and the Incredibly Old Man. I am not sure if I mentioned it in a past post, but I've been in contact with Siegel, having written my MA thesis on his incredible and exhaustive novel, Love and Other Games of Chance. So, I actually received the new novel in the mail from Hawaii, from where he sent it to me in advance of its release. He kindly enscribed it to me with encouragement and warm wishes. If you have not yet had the chance to read Lee Siegel, you should certainly do so soon.

This semester I am teaching Freshman Composition again. I am also taking a Fiction workshop and a directed study with Stephen Burn, and my friend, Elizabeth. The study is on Metafiction and the Novel. I anticipate a lot of good things to come from it. The course basically consists of reading ten metafictional novels, beginning with Laurance Sterne's 1759 masterpiece, The LIfe and Opinions of Tristram Shandy, Gentleman, which has had me laughing aloud the past few days as I've been reading it, Vladimir Nabokov's 1962 novel, Pale Fire, and eight other novels of our choice, which, for me, will be including Richard Powers, John Barth, Robert Coover, B.S. Johnson, William H. Gass, and probably some more David Foster Wallace.

In addition to these fine activities, I am golfing eighteen holes every Wednesday night, grilling often on the back porch of our lovely, new apartment, jogging thrice weekly, working at the food co-op, and riding my bike just about everywhere. (Yesterday, Stacey bought me a small luggage rack for my bike so I can ride it to campus and to the co-op without the burden of my bookbag.)

I hope you've all enjoyed my biannual post. I must turn in now. The morning will be coming very early tomorrow.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008


I've finally taken the maiden voyage in my new kayak. Actually, this is my third time taking it out, but the first time I felt confident enough to take my camera. Friday, my friends Teague and Kevin, and myself went to Harlow Lake to paddle around. It was really great. The scenery from that lake is surreal. It sets deep down between Sugarloaf and Hogback mountains, and seems to be completely excluded from the (quiet) hustle of Marquette. So, Saturday, while at work, I could only think about getting back out. When I got out at five, I raced home, pulled my kayak through my office window, loaded it into my truck, and was off. This time, I went to the Dead River. I put in just above a waterfall, and paddled upstream for an hour or so. Then downstream for about 10 minutes. I repeated this procedure until my arms felt like jelly. No, I did not shoot the waterfall. I kept my boat way out of its proximity, lacking confidence in my ability to stop and steer. Afterwards, I went to Stuckos with Kevin and Sarah to watch the Pistons. Again, as soon as I pulled my kayak out of the water, I couldn't wait to get back in. It was pretty nasty out on Monday, though some friends and I hiked several miles along Little Garlic Falls (though our Memorial Day cookout ended up being in my living room). So, Tuesday, when I woke up, I got on the internet and started researching some local lakes. There are so many lakes up here, besides, of course, Superior, which I have not yet dared to go out on. I settled on Teal Lake, in Negaunee, and made my first stop at Gander Mountain where I bought a few things that I felt would make Kayak-fishing a bit easier. The first thing: a fishing vest with over 15 pockets. It's pretty snazzy. Then I bought some much needed hooks and sinkers. And, yes, those silly shoes you see in the pictures? I bought them too. On my previous kayaking trips, I've had to take off my shoes to load my boat in the water and get in it. Then, I have to leave them off the whole time as I'm afraid I'll spill the boat trying to put them back on. So, yes, I got the crocs because they are practical, and they are probably the most
comfortable thing I can ever imagine putting on my feet, short of baby rabbits.

As you also may see, during my picture taking, I tried to display the selling point of this kayak. This picture is not simply a picture of my inner legs. It is the best I could do at a picture of the built-in beer holder in the seat of my kayak. It was a feature that cost an extra 70 bucks, and worth every penny of it.

So, on to the fishing part of the day. Never even had a bite. But, how can I complain? If this is how I get to spend my Tuesday afternoons, I may never have a complaint.

I paddled along the shore until I got to some large rock outcroppings, and some minor coves. Then, I fastened my oars to the side of my boat, and just drifted. Birds were hopping around the small brush along the rocky shores, small waves splashed against the side of the kayak, the sun burned my cheeks and the tops of my arms, and, I assume, the perch were sleeping on the other side of the lake. At times, I attached my pole to the oar holder on the side of my boat, and "trolled" around a bit, at other times, I just drifted and drifted. Since the wind was blowing steadily to the North, and I put in at the South, when I realized it was 6:30 and I had softball practice at seven, I had to paddle furiously for a long, long ways, against the wind, to get back to my truck. I guess I should've been paying better attention, but I suppose I've committed worse sins. When I finally got to shore, I spoke with an old-timer about some better fishing holes. He told me, "there aint no fish in Teal Lake." Either way, I can't wait to get back out.

Saturday, April 26, 2008

So Close

Yesterday, I defended my thesis in an event that included the defenses of myself (literary criticism), Kevin Avery and Linda Johnson (creative non-fiction), and Jeniffer Yeatts (poetry). It was a great event. We held it at the Landmark Inn's boardroom, and over thirty faculty/grad students showed up. After my presentation, where I spoke about my project and read some of the more interesting sections from it, I was asked a number of questions about theory and literature. Then, by answering their questions, I successfully "defended" my thesis. The event was a lot of fun. I actually sort of enjoyed being up there answering the questions, though I was pretty nervous. And, probably the highlight of the reading was Kevin and Linda's non-fiction, and Jen's poetry. I've read various essays or poems from Kevin and Jen, but hearing the three of them read was wonderful. It is something I love about this program, the incredible grad students I am surrounded by.

So, that defense marked the almost-end of the semester. Only 20 more final portfolios to grade, one late research essay to grade, 200 pages to read, and a final take-home essay/exam to complete by Wednesday. So close. If only I could find a job, now.

In other news, a week from Monday I am going backpacking in the Porcupine mountains with my friends, and softball season is coming.

Till later.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

we've decided

In our search for a new home, and my search for a Master of Fine Arts program, we've finally settled on what we feel to be our best option: Northern Michigan University. After receiving two acceptance letters and three rejection letters, sifting through funding options, talking with several wise advisers, and much, much prayer, Stacey and I have decided to remain in Marquette for three more years. I have been accepted into their MFA program for Fiction Writing and have been offered another teaching assistantship (funding). We are at peace with this decision. How can you not be at peace in such a beautiful place, with such great friends, and such an incredible English department? Now Stacey can finish her photography degree without transferring, and I can continue working with some of the faculty that I've built good relationships with. For now, however, thesis, thesis, thesis. Four more days until its due. Then, only a month until graduation.

Wednesday, March 19, 2008

Tuesday, March 11, 2008


"When I was very young and the urge to be someplace else was on me, I was assured by mature people that maturity would cure this itch. When years described me as mature, the remedy prescribed was middle age. In middle age I was assured that greater age would calm my fever and now that I am fifty-eight perhaps senility will do the job. Nothing has worked. Four hoarse blasts of a ship's whistle still raise the hair on my neck and set my feet to tapping. The sound of a jet, an engine warming up, even the clopping of shod hooves on pavement brings on the ancient shudder, the dry mouth and vacant eye, the hot palms and the churn of stomach high up under the rib cage. In other words, I don't improve; in further words, once a bum always a bum. . . . When the virus of restlessness begins to take possession of a wayward man, and the road away from Here seems broad and straight and sweet, the victim must first find in himself a good and sufficient reason for going. This to the practical bum is not difficult. He has a built-in garden of reasons to choose from."

--John Steinbeck, Travels With Charley in Search for America

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Beer and Bob

I made an investment late last year. With some money that I received for my birthday, I invested in a beer making kit. I figured that since I spend enough money on okay tasting beer, when I really want the good tasting stuff, I ought to spend the initial money on a kit, and then "make" the good tasting stuff. So, the day before New Year's Eve, while Stacey was at work, I started brewing my first batch of an Irish Stout. After boiling grains and malts and hops for a full hour, our little apartment (actually, probably the entire complex) smelled like the Guinness factory we visited in Dublin. When Stacey came home, she didn't care for it as much. But I loved it. So, once all the boiling is done, I had to add the yeast, put a bubbler on it, then let it sit for two weeks around 65 degrees in a semi-dark room. After two weeks, I transplanted it into a secondary fermenter. (This is shown in the pictures). I know, it looks more lie coffee than beer, but it smells great. During the process, I tasted a little sample of it. At this stage, it has not reached its full flavor (won't for another month or more) and it is not carbonated. However, it tasted great. I can't wait to try it when it is finished. I have to stock up on beer bottles now (you can see my stash next to the fermenter in the last picture). After another week, I will be ready to bottle it. It should make about 48-53 12oz beers. Once they are bottled they need to sit for at least another week while they age into its ripe flavor. Yeah, pretty crazy process. I have a lot of friends up here that also brew , so I think that when our Christmas batches are done, we're gonna get together and try each other's recipes. (yeah, like a knitting circle without the needles). My dad also got a wine-making kit over Christmas, and my brother already brews beer. So, we're all looking forward to being able to trade our brews with each other.

In other news, as some of you may know, when Stacey and I got married (2 years, 11 months, and 25 days ago from today), my brother, Steve, bought me this giant Bob Dylan poster to decorate wherever we chose to live. Knowing, of course, that Bob is my favorite. Unfortunately, because I did not want the poster ruined, and framing is expensive, the poster has been rolled in a cardboard tube in my closet for almost three years. Until today. This past Christmas, Stacey surprised me by getting the poster framed. Today, I picked it up. These are the photos I took while hanging it on our living room wall. You can get an idea of its size by comparing it to our television (27'' I think) in the second picture. For a better reference, think of it like this: The poster is only 6 inches shorter than Stacey.