Why Do You Write Like You’re Running Out of Time?

I avoided Hamilton was it first became a cultural zeitgeist. In 2015, I was mired in a depression and I didn’t want an uplifting piece of pop culture that I was sure I was never going to get to experience in person in my life. The musical (and everyone I knew that somehow managed to…

July

It’s July this week. I don’t know where the time went, because it was just March, wasn’t it? The kids finally finished school, or whatever it was that they had been doing for the rest of the academic year. I have been working and working and working as the world burns. I don’t write anymore…

Stuff 6

Like all good kids in the 1990s, I made mixed tapes. Primarily, I recorded songs off the radio, focused primarily on the weekly Top-40 countdown, waiting patiently by the boom box to press down on Play+Record, ready to press pause as soon as Shadow Stevens started talking. And then, my step-father won the lottery. Not…

Refusal

There are lessons I have learned in my life. I have worked to make myself small as not to be noticed because when I am noticed, I tend to get into trouble. Or ridiculed. Or cause trouble. Or all three. I am an extrovert who was forced into introversion as a survival strategy. But then,…

Trying

I’ve been too busy to write. I’ve been too tired to write. I’ve been too busy and too tired to do very much more than make lists of things that I want to do, that I should be doing, but instead setting them aside for the pressing things, like saving our university. We are all…

What If…

It started as a brief Twitter thread, how living in a townhouse complex during COVID-19 is a lot like being back in residence at university. You live with people 24/7 with strange habits and routines and varying degrees of commitment to the work they have to do. And there aren’t enough bathrooms. People are up…

Everything Old is New Again

Hi, welcome back to readywriting.org. Looks a little different. I had to move to from Ghost back to WordPress because…reasons. It has to do with the kind of shared hosting service I have through Georgetown Domains, versus the kind of hosting service I need to run Ghost and that I’m cheap. Fun fact: Ghost makes…

Prune

I love to eat. I don’t really like cooking all that much, with the ADHD and all, but I have always loved to eat. Cooking was always too much time and patience and concentration; I would burn everything, time-blindness made me completely unable to have things come out done at the same time, and because…

Art

The title was enough to tempt me: “How to Make Art at the End of the World.” It came out less than a year ago, but surfaced to me on one of those lists of books necessary for this moment. I clicked on the link and then saw that it was as much about pedagogy,…

Tired

I have trouble getting up in the morning and even more trouble falling asleep at night. I didn’t work out before all of this happened, relying instead on the steps I took back and forth at the pool while coaching, and I’m finding it hard to fit it into the routine we’ve all fallen into,…

Photograph

One of people’s pass-times while being stuck at home is to go through old photographs and sharing them on facebook. One of my friends and former teammates found a picture of all of us at a swim meet, faces orange (our team colors were orange and black), and half the boys with shower caps on…

Birthday

My daughter turned 13 on Friday. We celebrated with take-out Italian from one of her favorite restaurant and a cake we bought, smuggled in, and hid in our overflowing fridge. We sang Happy Birthday and she is smiling in the picture she let me take. Her grandparents all FaceTimed with her. I was sad that…

Pink Moon

There was a pink moon last night, the fullest and closest and brightest moon of the year. It was overcast, but not so much that you couldn’t see the light from the moon shining through, lighting the clouds from behind. The clouds were white in the night’s sky, and when they broke and the sky…

Sunday

It didn’t feel any different than any other Sunday. We got up, husband made a more-elaborate breakfast than most days, while I had to get my daughter up and my son off the Xbox to eat. I started the laundry while the kids grudgingly did their weekly chores. Then I sat on the couch with…

The Future

I never remember if “future” has an “e” at the end or not. In French, the language that I first learned to spell in, the word doesn’t have an “e” and like apartment or literature, I always remember the French spelling and not the English; this is when the red underline is helpful for me….

Bike

I went for a bike ride two days ago for the first time in, oh, 5 years or so. I bought the bike when I started my new faculty development job in Lexington and we found a place about a mile away from my office. The ride was fairly flat, and so we bought a…

Bread

There are so many things I didn’t think I’d ever do. I wear makeup now (yes, now, even today, because I paid for it, damn it) in part because my daughter became obsessed with it (and because she dances, so performance makeup). I prefer dresses now (because, in part, it’s easier to just pick one…

No More Feelings

Given the current situation in the world, if you buy one of my two self-published books, I will donate the proceeds to Hope for College. Buy Learning to Breathe which focuses on mental health, and Twist, Weave, Untangle about my becoming a critical digital pedagogue. I’m tired of talking about my feelings. I am grateful…

Trauma Time

Given the current situation in the world, if you buy one of my two self-published books, I will donate the proceeds to Hope for College. Buy Learning to Breathe which focuses on mental health, and Twist, Weave, Untangle about my becoming a critical digital pedagogue. Next week, April will begin. February feels like years ago….

Canceled

Given the current situation in the world, if you buy one of my two self-published books, I will donate the proceeds to Hope for College. Buy Learning to Breathe which focuses on mental health, and Twist, Weave, Untangle about my becoming a critical digital pedagogue. My kids’ school is out for the rest of the…

Bad Timing

March 2020 marked the 10-year anniversary of my being online. I spent a lot of January and February writing a year-by-year reflection, as well as curating and creating two self-published books that collected some of my extensive online writing from the past decade. All but one of those posts still sits in draft format, unpublished….

In Bloom

I had to drive into the office early yesterday morning to pick up my office chair. I’m not as young as I used to be, and my back cannot tolerate sitting on a wooden bench or kitchen chair for 8hr days or even a two-hour webinar. DC is in full bloom, and as I drove…

In The Moment

I started teaching in an online program for people in prison. I’m teaching a writing course to incarcerated men and women scattered across the country. If you thought the LMS was bad, wait until you experience the prison LMS, let me tell you. The students have to download all materials on to a proprietary tablet…

(Untitled)

When we would have snow days, when the world would shut down because there was too much snow on the ground to safely travel anywhere, we knew that, eventually, and even quickly, the snow would melt. Or at least that it would be cleared enough so that life could return to normal. And, as we…

Working from Home

Day one of the new normal, we’re all social distancing and working from home. Kids are off school, and for two weeks won’t have organized, assigned, and required work while the district scrambles to figure out how they are going to manage this. Daughter snaps and facetimes and texts her friends; they making video diaries…

The New Normal

I want to start with a quote from a good friend of mine who posted this in response to these extraordinary times: “Nothing will be perfect. Everything will be ok.” He wrote this in response to his institution moving to a distance learning format for the rest of the semester, like so many other institutions…

Gratitude

The email showed up in my inbox and, as always, I immediately clicked on the document to contribute. It was the monthly (monthly? bi-weekly? stupid ADHD time) prompt from Mary Churchill, co-founder of the University of Venus blog, where I gained prominence almost a decade (A DECADE!) ago as a blogger, for a collaborative blog…

1k Words a Day

I jinxed myself. Last week, I made the observation on Twitter that I usually write about 1k words a day, and if I don’t, it feels strange, like my day isn’t complete. They could be words written for work, words written for my research/books/publications, or words written for me. I write here, I write for…

#Domains19 Reflections

A little more than 4 years ago, I was at #dlrn15 hearing Jim Groom talk about Domain of One’s Own, and Eddie Maloney talking the graduate degree they were developing, the one that would become the MA in Learning, Design, and Technology. I was about to start at UMW, and Jim’s talk was daunting to…

Alt-Ac, 5 Years Later

I was reminded today that five years ago, I officially received a job offer to join CELT at the University of Kentucky, kicking off my Alt-Ac career as a faculty developer/academic technologist. Morehead feels like another lifetime ago, not five short years. I have (finally?) settled down and found my perfect alt-ac job here at…

Spoilers Ahead…

There’s something that I do, or rather, there is something that happens to me at the beginning of any big deal “live” cultural event: I tear up and cry. Not great sobs or anything, but water leaks out of my eyes and runs down my cheeks for a few minutes before I finally settle in…

Wasting Time

I lay in bed this past weekend, sun streaming into my room through the blinds, hitting me in the face, warming my pillow. I turned over and closed my eyes again, thinking about what a luxury it was to fall back asleep in the warm sun on a soft bed. There was no place to…

Home

There’s a song that I love, a song I don’t even know how it ended up in my orbit, on my phone. It was probably in a commercial or tv show or movie and we found out what it was called and downloaded it immediately. It’s the kind of song that would have disappeared into…

Getting Organized

I organized the apps on my phone the other day. And then I organized my dresser. And then, I organized my calendar. Now, I should note, I was also procrastinating about doing other, more pressing, but less interesting thing. I didn’t want this to be another hot take on Marie Kondo and her Konmari method…

Unexpected

I took a break from writing over the month of December. I mean, I still wrote things for work and I still tweeted and I still wrote FB posts and I still wrote emails (so many emails) but I didn’t write anything here or on my tinyletter or for Popula or work on my manuscripts…

Pulled Together

“You always look so pulled together. How do you do it?” I’ve been doing a little project this semester on my instagram account, taking a picture of myself every day wearing a different dress to work. I did this in part because I wanted to wear all the dresses I have in my closet, but…

Letting Go

Baby Lion has been an integral part of the family since my son was born. We just didn’t know it at the time. He was one of the first stuffed animals that was gifted to my son, one of many, however, sent to us by a family member before my son even born. He was…

Learning to Breathe

My swimmers had an amazing meet this past weekend. They all got at least one best time, and most of them got at least one cut time (which is ultimately meaningless, but goal times are goal times and it keeps them motivated, so ultimately not meaningless at all). This is my third year coaching some…

My Favorite Hockey Player

I wish I could remember why I chose Lyle Odelein as my favorite player on the Canadiens. He was an old-school defenceman, tough and reliable, with many, many penalty minutes each season, but a player that could be relied on. He wasn’t flashy, although he did score a hat-trick once which absolutely delighted me. Somehow…

Plant a Tree, Start a Forest

This is a post that first appeared as a part of Digital Writing Month in 2012. Since it only exists it in the Internet Archive and I was recently haunted by the memory of writing it, I’m re-posting it here. I can’t believe it’s been almost six year since I wrote this. Obviously, I’ve written…

Moving Up

I’m sitting in my new office overlooking the Potomac, at my new job, at one of the most prestigious universities in the world. Nine years ago, I was getting ready to move across the country, having given up my tenure-track job that I had held for only a year. This isn’t new or news; it’s…

Messy History

From I Tried Leaving Facebook…But I Couldn’t: Facebook had replaced much of the emotional labor of social networking that consumed previous generations. We have forgotten (or perhaps never noticed) how many hours our parents spent keeping their address books up to date, knocking on doors to make sure everyone in the neighborhood was invited to…

Writing All The Words

I wrote myself into existence, literally, from early journaling to what you see here #WhyIWrite— Lee Skallerup Bessette makes zero magic (@readywriting) October 20, 2015 I have written a version of this tweet a couple of times on Twitter, and it has been my pinned tweet for a while now. I meant this in a…

Anxious Pedagogies

These are my prepared remarks for MLA18 Panel 202: Anxious Pedagogies – Negotiating Precarity and Insecurity in the Classroom. Please join us if you’re in NYC on Friday morning, bright and early! I dedicate these remarks to Miranda, to Margaret Mary, to Robert Ryan, to all the adjuncts and contingent faculty who literally gave their…

Bye-Bye 2017

There are two sides of 2017 for me – before the anti-depressants and after the anti-depressants. That cleaving of the year in two roughly coincides with my son breaking his arm this year, twice, the second time right in front of me. That moment of me, doubled over, hysterically sobbing on the pool deck in…

Fun with MLA and AHA Programs of Conferences Past

This post is missing the original images because I’ve moved this blog around way too much. Sorry. You’ll have to take my word for it, I guess. I work with a pretty smart data science guy. In the past, when the MLA Conference program hit online, I would enter in words like “teaching” and “pedagogy”…

On Quitting

My daughter quit swim team today. Or rather, I sent the confirmation email to the appropriate people that had her removed from my roster (she swam in my group). It’s been a tough four months; she does three different activities before school and was swimming or doing ballet every day after school. We were constantly…

Normalizing Abuse

I have always been “coach mom” – emotionally invested in my swimmers, and attempting to be nurturing to them and their love of swimming. I’m the “nice one” or, to others, the one who is too easy or soft on the swimmers. I coach 8-11 year-olds – I’m ok with the accusation of being too…

Working in In-Between Spaces

I started my second season coaching swimming last week. Well, it’s not my second season ever. I’ve been coaching swimming off and on since I was a teenager. But my second season where I have my own group on a local team, going to meets, building swimmers. Building swimmers. I’m really looking forward to this…

On Still Being an Academic

I want every academic to ask themselves: is what I’m writing about important? If so, write a book accessible to more than 100 people.— Sara Goldrick-Rab (@saragoldrickrab) July 30, 2017 I wrote some pretty strong words last week about putting both the alternative and academic in alt-ac. Now I’m living with the reality of putting…

Putting the Alternative Academic Back in Alt-Ac

When I left IHE and started this new “blogging” space, one of the things I wanted to get away from was the reactionary hot-takes post that had fueled my writing for so long. I was exhausted from the cycle, which the inevitable counter-reactions I would get. I also wanted a space for longer, slower posts…

Friendship, Intimacy, Community, Swimming, and Twitter

While #Digciz is over, I want to put this out to share. This blog post is about making and breaking friendships and the intimacy of swimming and social media, and where I call home. I swear it will all make sense at the end. I write a lot of words. They always create something more…

It’s Not Who You Know, It’s How You Help Them

*I was invited to Georgetown University to give a talk on my experience with and vision for Digital Learning. You can find the slideshow at http://bit.ly/DigLearnHelp and the text, mildly edited, is below. * Good morning. Thank you all so much for this opportunity to share my approach to and experience with digital learning. In case you’re not…

Remembering Spring

I don’t remember last Spring. I don’t remember noticing the change in the weather, the grass turning green, the trees blooming, and the leaves coming out. What I do remember is slowly falling apart, and then all at once. I remember being with friends, thinking to myself, I should be happy, and so I acted…

Thought-Chain on Learning to Code, Credentialism, and Higher Education

We’re deep into our “Learn to Code” module in Applied Digital Studies. The students have all chosen a language (HTML/CSS, Python, JavaScript are the top choices), and chosen a platform (Codecademy is the big winner). For the next two weeks, their task is to regularly and systematically “learn to code” using the platform of their…

Challenging the Narrative of “Learn to Code”

In DGST 395, we’re dabbling in coding. I wrote about the experience taking the course and “learning to code” last semester, and this semester, I decided to take a different approach. While we’re going to spend a few weeks on Nick Montfort’s book, I want the students to think critically about the rhetoric and strategies…

Erasure

This semester, I’m teaching DGST 395: Applied Digital Studies. It’s an upper-division required course for Communication and Digital Studies majors. It’s the first time I’ve ever taught this course, and the first time in a long time that I’ve been able to teach an upper-division course of any kind. Given what’s been going on over…

Blogging my way to the MLA (2017 Edition)

I have a strange relationship with the MLA, especially now that I am in an alt-ac position that doesn’t have anything to do (not really) with my original research and PhD. But I was invited to participate in the panel Working Out Loud: Online Identity Building, Digital Networking, and Professional Development, and then in the…

Dear 2016

I’ve written this post, variations and fragments, bit and pieces, stops and starts, in my head over the past week. And when I open up the text box, it all melts away. The words refuse to be made concrete. The thoughts resist being articulated. My whole self shuts down at the thought of making sense…

Assessing Non-Traditional Assignments Design Sprint

When I advocated for this Design Sprint over the summer to be a part of our Digital Liberal Arts series, I envisioned the opportunity to bring in Fine Arts faculty to describe and walk other faculty through their process of assessing the kinds of work (art) their students produce. I thought it was time to have…

One Last Post…

“I think I do overshare,” Fisher says. “It’s my way of trying to understand myself. … It creates community when you talk about private things.” I wasn’t going to write another post this year. I thought I was done writing about 2016, and that I would start fresh in 2017, writing about going (once again)…

Finding Their Place on the Web: Ed Reform by Undergrads

*This is a lightly edited version of a talk I gave at MLA 14 that is still seems relevant. * In 2014 (or rather, in 2010 when I first created this project), doing a class blog is neither cutting edge, nor particularly revolutionary for many of us. For the students I teach, however, it was, in fact,…

Learning to Code – Why Now?

TL;DR – BECAUSE, THAT’S WHY. This semester, I’ve put myself in the strange position of being a student again, in my colleague Zach Whalen’s DGST 395 class, Applied Digital Studies. It’s strange for a number of reasons (for me at least), least of all is being a student in the same space as students who…

Faculty Development for the 21st Century and Beyond

*This is a talk I gave for a job interview almost two years ago. I’m still pretty happy with it, and I thought it was time that I share it here. Unfortunately, my slides were lost in a former google account email from a former institution. Sigh. All you need to know is the image…

Many Hands, One Manuscript

The Acknowledgement section of my book, A Journey in Translation: Anne Hébert’s Poetry in English, (WHICH IS OUT) is four pages long. That’s what happens when you’ve been working on something for more than fifteen years. And even that, to me, seems excessive. No one write that many pages of acknowledgements. No one thanks everyone. Not in…

On The Tragically Hip

Today, all of Canada, and most Canadians around the world, are suffering from a massive emotional hangover. Last night, CBC broadcast, live, the last ever concert by The Tragically Hip, as their lead singer. Gord Downie, has a terminal, inoperable brain tumor. You can read here a piece trying to explain to Americans what The Tragically…

Reflections on Praxis at DPLI2016

It’s done. I did it. We did it. It was hard and challenging and exhausting and invigorating and inspiring and just so much fun. But it’s over, and I’m left trying to make sense of what exactly happened last week during Digital Pedagogy Lab Institute 2016. I taught the Praxis track, and you can see my…

30lbs and a Two-Piece

Last summer, I finally relented and agreed to buy my daughter, then 8 years old, a two-piece swimsuit. She had been begging for one since she was old enough to express an opinion, which means since she could talk. That’s not exactly true. When she was younger, she wants the ruffliest, most blinged-out swimsuits she…

On Failure

My kids are on the swim team this summer, for the first time in their relatively short lives. They both love the water, and have taken swimming lessons occasionally on our various stops to here, alongside my attempts at teaching them how to swim (a total failure, despite my continued instance that I USED TO…

#YesAllWomen – A Response to Rape Culture

*This post first appeared on Educating Modern Learners, and I’m finally republishing it here in reaction to the recent light sentencing of convicted rapist Brock Turner. The intended audience for this piece was K-9 teachers, but I share it here because it needs to be said, over and over, we still have far to go. * When…

Keep Fighting

You know, I made my name blogging everything and anything. It brought me joy. Don’t know why I don’t go back to that.— Lee Skallerup (@readywriting) May 30, 2016 Years ago, when I had just started blogging, unemployed, trying to start a business, taking care of two kids under the age of three, in a…

The Fog is Lifting

Timehop is helpfully reminding me of the time back when my son, only a few months old, screamed and cried about about 90 minutes every night when we put him to bed. Of course, it felt like hours (and some nights it was). And even though it only last a few months, to our family,…

Praxis – Digital Pedagogy Lab Tentative Course Outline

If you’re reading this, you probably already know that I’m going to be teaching the Praxis track at this August’s Digital Pedagogy Lab here at UMW (Sign up today! Spaces still available!). I’ve written elsewhere about my approach to the course (Intimacy! Vulnerability! Fun!), but I was inspired by my fellow instructor, Audrey Watters, who is teaching…

Bob Ross-ing It

Jess: What is this sorcery?Me: We didn’t need Harry Potter; we had Bob Ross. It’s late afternoon in the office, and, looking for something else, I happen upon The Joy of Painting with Bob Ross on Hulu. I decided that there wouldn’t be a better way to end the day than with 30 minutes of…

What if I Never See You Again?

Last week, I was at the Educause ELI conference. I have more thoughts about the conference, particularly as it relates to my new role at DTLT and UMW, but for now I want to reflect on the experience of the conference itself. Going to ELI meant that I was able to more fully connect with…

Teaching and Learning as Paying Attention

Last semester, I taught a book and an author I have long loved and studied, but haven’t been able to engage much with in a classroom setting: I am a Japanese Writer by Dany Laferrière (yes, he’ll come up a lot in this space). The book is a meditation on identity, authorship, creativity, and memory. I…

Telling and Retelling

Dany Laferrière has a new book out. It’s a(nother) retelling, another version of his arrival in Montreal as a young man, fleeing Haiti and dictatorship, in 1976. I have been fascinated by his constant and continual revising of his life story through varying levels of autobiographical fiction. I also just love his writing. I sat…