These Are Days

This fall begins the next phase of my professional development journey. I will be pursuing an MEd in Interdisciplinary Studies at UVM, my undergraduate alma mater. The flexibility of this program, as well as the proximity, feels like a good fit.

The first course I will be taking is Scholarly Personal Narrative Writing, co-led by the director of the program, Dr. Robert Nash, and Sydnee Viray. Last week we had our first class, an introduction to the course and an enjoyable getting-to-know-you conversation that modeled the code of conduct outlined in the syllabus. Robert and Sydnee’s deliveries complimented each other very well, and my fellow students represented a broad range of interesting backgrounds and experiences. This seems like the perfect stew for engaging interaction, we shall see what happens as the pot is stirred.

I’ll admit I feel anxious when I look at the syllabus and see “Write a minimum 10,000-word manuscript…” While my friends were writing 30-80k thesis papers, I was learning songs in four different languages for recitals (my friends insisted that they preferred the papers). I question whether I can pull together that many words in one piece and make them sound coherent, let alone interesting enough for someone else to read.

The first assignment was to read the first half of Anne Lamott’s “Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life.”1 I found Anne’s writing genuine and compassionate, as if she is a companion taking you down a path. She encourages the reader to explore the small, hidden, connected trails while still moving in a forward direction. She has a fascinating way of sharing the realities of writing, each one is a candid story on their own. When Anne has an idea that has the potential to make it into a story, she writes it down on an index card that she keep folded in half, lengthwise, in her pocket. I wonder if I could do something similar with my iPhone, we will see how it goes. For now, I’ll jot down some ideas in this post, topics that keep coming up in my mind recently and may be ripe with good material.


Family & Relationships

I have lost count of the number of times I’ve told the “how I met your mother” story. Both of my parents demonstrated a desire to contribute beyond the job, whether it was building a Babe Ruth league or leading cancer support groups. The somber (relatives passing, my parent’s divorce) and the joyous (birth of our daughters, vacations) all seem worthy of written words.

I’ve also had the privilege of meeting, and doing things, with very creative and intelligent people. The occupation and vocation hold memories that could use some increased resolution.



Will my approach and experience with writing be the same as it is with creating music? Will the process of creating a piece be more satisfying than the publication? Will I fall prey to a formula, then become inspired by another point of view that reinvigorates my interest?


The Commute

Middlebury is an incredible place to work, filled with brilliant quirky people who share their passion with very motivated students. There is always something going on, Summer Language Schools, J-term classes, MiddCORE, MIL, and the list goes on.If I could change anything about my job it would be the commute, a 38 mile route through the valley that happens twice a day. The landscape is beautiful, and there is something to be said for being able to listen to your own music for a long period of time. There has also been a recent spike in the enjoyment level with the purchase of a Nissan Leaf.

A colleague of mine was doing a similar commute, and during my first summer at Middlebury she said something that has always stuck with me. “You never feel like you are a part of either community.” At the time I was feeling that I was just extending my existing community down Rt. 7, broadening my circle. As I walked from the Gutterson Field House to my class in Living & Learning B last week, memories of what it was like working in the same place where you lived resurfaced. Writing may help me reconcile these thoughts.

The hope is that as the class progresses these topics will become targeted and worthy of a reader’s time. For now the journey starts with a 771 word post.


The title is a hopeful song by 10,000 Maniacs, which sums up how I am feeling about this paper.

1 Anne Lamott, Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life, First Anchor Books, 1995.
“Just Write” by Sean MacEntee

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