Coffee Shop Check-In

Photo by  wu yi  on  Unsplash

Photo by wu yi on Unsplash

I can’t believe it’s February already. When I told my kids (and by that, I mean the college students I teach) that the year was 1/12th over, they all groaned. It’s like they don’t recognize the passing of time in the same way. They’re anxious already for Spring Break to come. I would prefer that it stayed away. There isn’t enough time in a day for all the work I need to do

My days are packed right now, with lesson prep, grading, reading, designing stickers (have you checked out my etsy shop yet), snuggling Gary, and spending time with friends. Research and writing are crammed into the moments that I can spare from my students and social circle. How on earth does a human finish a dissertation? I watched my friend, H, one of the best humans I know, finish hers somehow while also being an extraordinary professor, mother, wife, daughter, and friend. I have decided she must have some sort of superpowers or Hermoine-like ability to stop/turn back time. I can’t accomplish half of what she does and I don’t have a child, spouse, or family locally to take care of.

I spend most of my time at a local coffee shop here in Denton that is run by volunteers. It’s my perfect place: big tables, kind and friendly staff, and my money is going towards something that I can support (a home that helps men overcome addiction and get back on their feet). Gary and I have befriended other regulars who often come up to us and say hello, check in, and are generally good people. If my beloved Jupiter House ever reopens, it will take a while to readjust—the setting is so different. But both allow me to accomplish far more than I can at home or in my office. Here, there are no dishes to distract, no craft projects to tempt me. I am anonymous and can function without the anxiety that comes from being in an office filled with people whose primary way of coping with the anxieties of the PhD is to gossip about each other.

There are some difficulties in working here. I can be distracted by cute children, observing awkward first dates, and people who, upon realizing that I have a service dog, generally look and point and talk about how cute he is (they’re right, he is). But, overall, coffee shops are my new houses of productivity. Plus, they have coffee.

The new semester has presented new challenges, but also has allowed me to embrace new adventures. I’m teaching my first technical communication class, which has my class schedule even more full. I honestly don’t think that teaching three classes is any worse than teaching two, especially given the nature of the course. It’s a lot of learning new genres of writing and styles of teaching. I took it on because I needed money and sold it to others as a “good learning experience,” but honestly, it’s turned out to be just a lot of fun.

Teaching Ethnic Literature has been by far the most rewarding part of the semester. I am excited to go to class each Wednesday night and talk about things that matter to me with my kiddos. At the request of my last literature class, I have changed up my curriculum design so that the conversation is more guided by me and less by them. It’s more work, but I think they might be learning more. Plus, it’s so much fun thinking about what we can discuss in each of my favored texts.


Teaching comp is about the same as always. I have another good class of kids who could probably use a grammar class before comp to give them confidence and knowledge they missed out on in the test-driven education system, but instead I’m just going to have to help them gain that confidence myself. I’m one of the few people I know who genuinely loves teaching comp. It’s fun to talk about writing and help students gain confidence in their writing. The theme for this year is talking about writing through the lens of race and we are preparing for a visit from Paul Beatty, author of The Sellout, in March.

Anyways, I just thought it was about time for a life update. There is more to come this week, so come back and check in!