Well I'm back in the classroom - the first semester courses I've taught in three years. So far the experience has been pretty much what I expected: harried, hassled, and hard. But it's also a lot of fun. I'm prepping a new class (Communication and Culture), which means that I'm writing new lectures, developing new presentations, and dealing with new challenges on a weekly basis. The material I'm covering - world's fairs and expositions as sites of cultural definition and contest - is familiar to me. But finding ways to connect esoteric notions of progress, civilization, and "the modern project" with the lives and interests of my students produces new opportunities for reflection.
Elsewhere I'm teaching COMM 101 again. That's our department's introduction to communication studies class. As I've noted in other blog-posts on the subject, 101 is designed to welcome folks to the field, ideally to instill a sense of enthusiasm for our degree and department. Even so, the course - at least as I teach it - often comes as a surprise to students who'd never before been exposed to the rigors of theory or method. The terminology, the specificity, and the depth of material covered can be overwhelming. So far, most of my students are taking the course in stride, but several asked to stay for about a half hour afterward to focus on developing their topics for the forthcoming course project. I'm glad I built some office hour time after that late-afternoon class. The conversation was fruitful, and I think my students got the clarity they needed.
Then there's consulting work, development of my post-omnitopia research, submitting my just-completed sabbatical proposal, and the guilty pleasures of personal writing (that danged Asia blog-series remains on the back-burner) - not to mention all manner of homefront adventures. I feel that after sitting in a cabana most of the summer, I've taken a high dive into the pool of life. I feel the splash of cold water, and I'm exhilarated. Tired. Freaked out. Grateful. Unsure. Determined. Mostly, I feel lucky that Jenny and I are helping each other through our personal and shared struggles and opportunities. You know, on October 9th, we're scheduled to skydive (God knows why). I feel like I'm already there.