Tuesday, September 13, 2011

tangles and messes

A few weeks ago, I woke up with a big snarl in the back of my hair. I am talking the size of my hand--half my head in the back. I have no idea what my dreams were to have caused such a mess. And no matter how much I brushed, I could not get the snarl to go completely away. I would comb/brush until the back of my head seemed smooth, no tangles, and then, a few hours later, I would catch a glimpse of myself somewhere with a big lump on the back of my head. The snarl was back! It's like my hair had a life of its own, winding up and twisting together as I sat at my desk or in a meeting. Each time I found it, I would brush it out. It would reappear. I was plagued with the snarl-lump for two days, and then it was. . . just. . .  gone.

This past weekend we purchased a new TV. Since my daughter-in-law moved to another state last week--and she has done everything with technology in our house for the last three years--I was left to be the one to hook up the new TV. It isn't as simple as plugging it in. I had this mass of cords tangled and twisted, some going to the modem, some going to the cable box, and some going to some other box (why do we have so many???). I wasn't even attempting to hook up the DVD or VCR. I finally got the cable to work. Yea! we could watch the game (and it was not even half-time!). Time to order pizza. Oops!  I had done something so we didn't have internet or phone. Great. I called Lindsey, and she tried to talk me through  solving the problem. This box and that cord and "where did you connect the short black cord?" and "are you sure the phone connection is plugged in?"--something I had neglected earlier.  She said to send her a text with a picture of what I'd hooked up to what. (I learned how to attach a photo to a text--I'd only sent pictures with emails before. But now I can't see how to get the photo I took for that to put on here to show the big rats' nest of cables and cords!) Before she could get back to me, I figured it out. But it was a trial. Stressful.

In November I am presenting at NCTE. I am speaking about trends in articles related to writing instruction in English Journal over its last hundred years: what do I see? what patterns? who speaks? who is ahead of the game? what are we still struggling with that was a problem in 1912? So, as part of my preparation, I am reading/reviewing past issues of EJ: 100 years of journals with 8 or more issues a year=a lot of reading and note-taking.
Here are some copies of EJ I have in my office right now, but much of the work is online. It's interesting, absorbing inquiry. But it's a mess. It's too many threads right now--and I can't yet make sense of them. I'm even dreaming about this stuff.

Right now I see my life has a pattern: tangles and messes. All I can do is trust that, like the prior experiences, this one, too, will work itself out. (Well, I actually didn't untangle all the TV cords; I just hid them behind the TV stand. I don't know what that means for my present circumstance.)


  1. Interesting pattern to your life right now. I can just picture all those wires, they make me shiver in fear that I will have to tackle technology too. Good luck with your presentation, it will be interesting to learn what has stayed the same.

  2. What an interesting winding through of your story, from hair to TV to NCTE presentation, all a mixture that's perhaps gravelly, needing smoothness, needing help to be worked out. I enjoyed the connections. No matter where our moments of stress arrive, they still need to be worked out!

  3. I'll be honest the title of this post made me think of my nieces and nephews and what my sisters would be saying about the toddlers running around the house, but it is nice to know that we all have messes and tangles in our homes and lives, even if we don't have the excuse of little ones making them for us. (I am in your 423 class.)

  4. I love the last line of your first paragraph, "I was plagued with the snarl-lump . . ." And your last paragraph really made me chuckle. I can totally relate to your piece. I have lots of snarl-lumps bugging me right now.

  5. Snarl in hair and tangled cords behind the tv - I can relate.

  6. My life requires the unweeded garden metaphor.

    Plus, did Jon tell you I tried to stop by last week but you were AWOL/teaching? Well I did. I sure hope he also added that I miss your face! See you in October.