Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 as a fever dream

Here we are on the final day of this bizarre year but instead of celebrating, I'll be swigging cough syrup and popping aspirin and taking long, fevered naps. Yes: I'm sick. Fortunately, this wretched cough didn't strike until our final day visiting relatives in northern Ohio, but since we've been home I've done little more than cough and sleep. 

The cough syrup fogs my mind and I fear that attempting any profound thought about the year just passing will be impossible. Besides, what can I say about 2016 that I haven't already said before? Here, then, I offer highlights (and some low points) of my year:

In January I celebrated my 10-year blogiversary with an abecedary of reasons to keep blogging (here) and bought a sweater with zipaulettes or epaulippers (here). I photographed birds in Florida in January (here) and April (here) and May (here and here), which is three times the normal rate of visiting Florida but I had a good reason.

I said goodbye to my sweet mom (here) and hello to a new grandson (here) and tried to make sense of our circle-of-life summer (here). We welcomed the onslaught of  17-year cicadas (here)  and flipped the canoe in the Ohio River (here). Later, we took a left turn at Normalville (here) and enjoyed some R&R in southeastern Pennsylvania (here).  

I railed against writing as punishment (here) and the selfie stick as research tool (here) and lame introductions (here and here), and I wrote a sonnet to plagiarism (here). I tangled with imaginary mindless bureaucrats at the  Crisis Scheduling Service (here) and real ones at Frontier Communications (here).

Simon Newman of Mount St. Mary's recommended drowning and/or shooting the "cuddly bunnies" in our classes (here), but I found some other ways to engage students in learning: through interpretive maps (here), comedy (here), adding Bob Dylan to the syllabus (here), and making my students write for a real audience (here and here). Along the way, I read an extra 27,000 words of student writing (here). 

I gave a paper at a conference in Toronto (here) and later tried to explain my work to the nurse prepping me for a colonoscopy (here).  I wondered about degrees of evil in Catch-22 (here) and let a song transport me back in time to an annoying memory that turned into my second-most-popular post of the year (here).

I reviewed poetry by  James Massey (here) and celebrated the tasty casserole that is Winesburg, Indiana, by Michael Martone and a mess of other interesting writers (here).  I reviewed Ethan Canin's A Doubter's Almanac, which won me over in the end (here) and Thomas Pynchon's Bleeding Edge, which did not (here). I reviewed two books bringing troubled childhood to vivid life: Kao Kalia Yang's The Latehomcomer and Robert Gipe's Trampoline (here). I found Don DeLillo's Zero K disappointing (here) but enjoyed Ian McEwan's Nutshell (here). And Hope Jahren's Lab Girl may have been the best book I read all year, but it also inspired my most popular post of the year (here).

After all that fuss and bother, the year ended on a quiet note: reading W.S. Merwin on my birthday (here) and decorating Christmas cookies with my granddaughter (here). And now come the cough and the sniffles and the long, fevered naps. Happy New Year! Now I think I'll go lie down. 

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