Category Archives: IEI

Muncie Mission. Organization. Marathon Training. And Compassion.

I was shocked to hear on the radio this morning that the Muncie Mission had a horrible fire. I was even more shocked to hear that the dormitory side of the mission was pretty much a loss and that a good portion of the men lost their belongings in the fire. How messed up is it to have such horrible circumstances that you end up living in a mission, and then have the mission along with your belongings burn down around you. Here are some links to articles about it:


Muncie StarPress


According to all of the articles, everyone got out of the mission safely, but there is about a million dollars worth of damage to the brand new building.


I am trying hard to face the things I need to face in the upcoming weeks, and I realize that I waste quite a bit of time procrastinating the things I need to do, sometimes to the point of not being able to enjoy leisurely activities because I know I have so much work weighing on me. So, one more time I am going to try to work on this horrible habit of procrastination and learn how to get what needs to get finished, finished in a timely fashion. I had to edit my plan to tackle all of the things I need to tackle by August 18. I only switched a couple of things, but here is the revised schedule of how I plan to accomplish all of it:

  • House painting—WEEKENDS
  • Dissertation—MORNINGS
  • Running—EARLY MORNING before dog walking, must get up by 6
  • Write On! and Planning for School—EVENINGS
  • Disc Golf, etc.—IN BETWEENS

With the exception of these activities, I am on an activity blackout. Unless it’s already on the calendar, it’s not going on the calendar. I’ve spent too much time playing during the first part of the summer to keep up that level of playing for the rest of the summer and still accomplish what I need to. Sorry.


Today was the first day of marathon training, and I ran my three miles. It felt good, even better since I’ve been trying to go easy to let my ankle heel from whatever is making it ache. I am trying to maintain this vegan diet to cleanse my body and to lose some weight, so I can run the marathon. I know I am going to have to stick to my run/walk pattern to finish 26.2 miles, but it might be easier to finish if I could lose a few extra pounds between now and then. Yesterday was a good eating day. I started with sweet potato waffles with berry syrup, sausages, and fresh fruit. I ended with garbage pizza that had mushrooms, squash, and tofu on it. With just a week of not eating animal products, I feel quite a bit better. I can’t really describe how it feels, but my body feels lighter and I feel more in touch with myself and with the world. Running only helps with this connection. As I was running this morning, I kept listening to my breath, feeling my feet touching down on the ground, and thinking that this is what it feels like to be alive. I wonder if that is what I will think at mile 26.2?


I’ve been reading a website called Tiny Buddha. I have been introduced to all sorts of ideas about compassion, happiness, and positive thinking. What I like about this particular website is that it’s written from multiple perspectives, and people can send in their own thoughts about various topics. It’s helpful to me to read about how to think positively, but it’s also affirming to know that some people just need to be left to their own devices. In other words, I am learning to be compassionate, but that there will be people in your life that are simply disagreeable and that no amount of trying will make them like you, respect, you, or treat you well. You have to know you have tried to be compassionate, but you also need to be compassionate to yourself. It’s difficult for me to recognize when to stop being compassionate or when to stop giving grace. I tend to err on the side of giving it too much, and I let people walk all over me. Tiny Buddha and some other Buddhist readings I have been doing have helped me to see that you can show compassion to others only when you have compassion for yourself. I am working on this.

The difficult part of this is that Buddhism also advocates forgetting yourself. How do you forget yourself and have compassion for yourself as well? Here in lies the rub.

Vacation and the Rest of Summer

I just learned that I start teaching at Burris on August 18th, which means I have approximately six and half weeks (not counting the week I will be gone to Nebraska and Minnesota) left to accomplish all of this:

  • finish painting the outside of the house (the floor will wait until next summer)
  • finish a chapter of my dissertation (or at least get a really good start on it)
  • work 20 hours each week in the IEI
  • start training for the marathon in November (once school starts add lifting weights and swimming)
  • go through all of the Write On! Featherweight stuff and get it together
  • plan for the entire school year next year (two seventh-grade, two eighth-grade, and one tenth-grade year curriculum plans)
  • play some disc golf, basketball, and possibly soccer (can someone teach me to play soccer?

Here is how I plan to accomplish all of it:

  • House painting—WEEKENDS
  • Dissertation—AFTERNOONS
  • Running—EARLY MORNING before dog walking, must get up by 6
  • Write On! and Planning for School—EVENINGS
  • Disc Golf, etc.—IN BETWEENS

I am sure there is something I am forgetting. I am not sure I can accomplish all of this in 6 weeks. Say some prayers, breathe some for me.


My family (Dad, Mom, Adam, and I) just got back from vacation in Cincinnati. Cincannati is like dissecting owl pellets: you have to wait through the disgusting stuff to find the gems inside it. The majority of the city of Cincinnati, not the suburbs or the outskirts, looks like the worst neighborhood of most other big cities. We wanted to walk to Findlay Market, but the shuttle driver at our hotel said he’d better drive us because the neighborhood was so bad. I agree. Usually, I am unmoved by deteriorating neighborhoods. I am not afraid of loitering people, or run-down buildings, but this area of Cincy was more than just derelict. People had looks in their eyes that were so down-trodden, so forlorn, that I was afraid of them. They looked the way Cormac McCarthy describes people in The Road. That desperate. That carnal. While we were there, each morning the news reported several shootings within a couple of miles of the hotel. My dad couldn’t sleep because of all the sirens, and there were literally 50 or so homeless people sleeping on the grounds of the library across the street.

However, much like other big cities, if we stayed South of our hotel, toward the Great American Ball Park, there were no worries. In fact, there were multiple tourist attractions and affluent shopping malls, complete with Brazilian steakhouses and upscale clothing stores. I wish I could rest one day from thinking about culture. I wish the injustices and inequalities weren’t so blatant to me. Sometimes I just want to go back to not recognizing the painfully obvious way our society is stratified. I can’t though, so my heart hurts. I have a hard time having fun, but I have a hard time identifying how I can do anything to help a system so big and so broken. One of my constant prayers is for God to show me my role in helping to fix our very broken world.


Also, I found this amazing graphic to help me plan meals while I am training.

The only hard part about this pyramid is drinking enough water. Our water tastes pretty gross, and even though I know algae isn’t bad for me, I still don’t want to drink water that tastes like organic matter. Ew.


Food: banana, juice, sweet potato waffles with strawberries, blueberries, and a touch of syrup, carrots, cherries, tortilla with faux peanut butter and strawberry jalapeno jelly, a few Thai chips, chocolate soy milk, salad, guacamole and salsa and chips, cauliflower, blackberries, peach, veggie burger with bread,

Exercise: walked the dogs,

Sweet Potato Waffles and Some Other Things

This morning I made vegan sweet potato waffles from an excellent recipe I found here. The only things I changed were substituting apple sauce for the oil and upping the amount of clove and nutmeg, and the waffles turned out very well. Frequently, I change quite a bit from someone else’s recipe. This one really worked as it is, but I always under-cook the first waffle every time. I forget that I am supposed to wait for the little red light to go off before removing the waffle. Once I got the hang of the machinery, I made some very nice waffles, which paired nicely with my favorite Starbucks coffee, Africa Kitamu.

Thinking about coffee brings me to another point: I need to cut back on my extraneous spending again. I was at the point during last school year where I was going to Starbucks several times each week. I wouldn’t mind spending so much money if it was going to an independent coffee shop, but I don’t go them regularly. I should. I need to remember to focus on the mom-and-pop places instead of using big, national chains. I just think it’s good karma to support people who are trying to make a living in a honest, controlled way. I realize that most big companies started with this same ambition, but companies like SBUX have lost site of their original vision and don’t pay as much attention to the little guys as the smaller businesses. For example, my friend Kellie and I went to a local smoothie place and didn’t realize they only took cash, so the woman let us have our smoothies and pay her later. All of this after they were already closed; we didn’t see the sign on the door that said 4PM.

Right now, I am sitting here waiting to go over to the 505 for Izzy’s birthday party. She is 3-years old today, and it doesn’t really seem possible. How does time go so quickly? I always used to think people were crazy when they talked about their kids growing up so fast. Izzy’s not even my kid and I am amazed at quickly three years has gone by! Anyway, Becs and I got here these really cool little books about four famous artists, and we were going to get her some art supplies and stuff to go with them. However, my mom got her art supplies and things like that, so we are just going to put our gifts together, or at least they will seem like they go together. My brother’s gift is the best, though. He got her this fantastic lady bug laboratory that comes with lady bug larvae that she has to feed and watch grow. It is really a fantastic present. I hope she likes it.

I am hoping that once I get back form vacation, I can make some headway on this dissertation. I also need to make some headway on the house painting. I really want to get it finished this summer, but I also need to plan for next school year. Those are the big three things that have to get finished this summer, along with my work for the IEI and training for this marathon. I have to keep telling myself, “You can do it!”


Food: banana, sweet potato waffle with Earth balance and pure Maple syrup, juice, coffee, baby bagel with faux-peanut butter, ten baby carrots, grape Kool-Aid slush, whatever I eat at Izzy’s party

Exercise: walked the dogs, bike ride to the 505 and back

It’s a Muddy Mess.

The tag line for the race my brother and I ran today is “It’s a mucking good time.” Sometimes tag lines match the event they’re publicizing and sometimes not. In this case, the motto matched clear up until we were waiting in line to get rinsed off. We were covered in muck that smelled a bit like pig shit, and then had to wait almost two hours for the Anderson Fire Department to hose us off. For some reason, when our group of four (Adam, Zack, Heather, a woman I met in the race, and I) got up to be hosed off, this peach-shirt-clad jack ass took over the hose because he didn’t think things were going fast enough. Instead of leaving the hose on stream, he opened it so it sprayed. We were still filthy when he declared, “That’s it. You’re finished. Get out.” Yeah, right. I am not getting in my car like this, even if I do have clean clothes to change into. I can’t even change into clean clothes because I don’t want to ruin two sets of clothes with pig-shit-mud! Seriously. I am hoping they ask for comments, because I have a comment. Get rid of Mr. Peach-Pink, Salmon Shirt, and figure out the post-race stuff!

Post race is just as important as the rest of it, which was absolutely fantastic. One of the best times I have had in a long time, aside from the fact that I look like I’m packing a kid’s swim float ring under my muddy shirt in the picture below. Awesome.

Okay, make that two swim float rings, situated one on top of the other. Doubly awesome. I have to say that for a fat, old kid, I hoisted myself over those obstacles with reckless abandon, and I’d do it again in a heartbeat. I wish I could do the one in Chicago in July, but I will be on my way to Nebraska!

On the way home from the race, we stopped at Hacienda in Anderson. Every time I eat there I get seriously bloated and tired, so I think they must put lard/animal fat in their beans and rice. And, I ordered my taco salad with no cheese, but it came with a huge dollop of sour cream. Tasty, but decidedly non-vegan. Their chips and salsa are probably the best I have ever had. I also had an new beer: Bohemia. I thought it was an excellent beer for a Mexican beer, but the beer advocate folks only give it a B-. Compared to all beer, I agree, but compared to Mexican beers only, I cannot support the B- grade. This beer blows out of the water every other Mexican beer I’ve had, which is most of them. My grandparents used to live 10-ish miles from Mexico in Harlingen, TX, so for my 21st birthday or maybe just for a birthday, my cousin Paula and I drank a variety of Mexican beers and drove our grandmother’s golf cart until the battery ran out. Grandma kept saying, “Don’t go too fast. You’ll get a speeding ticket.” We had to push the thing home.


I need to work on my dissertation and the stuff for the IEI. One will wait until after family vacation, the second will be done tomorrow and emailed before I leave on Monday. I just have to finish revising the assessments I have written, get the okay, and write the other two versions of each one. I am really enjoying the challenge of all of it.

For vacation, we are going to Cincinnati. It will be the first time we have been to the Great American Ball Park, and I am pretty stoked. They have veggie dogs. 🙂 We are stopping on the way in Dayton, OH, to eat breakfast at the Golden Nugget. I hope my dad orders the buckwheat pancakes, because he will love them! He has a thing for buckwheat. And, we are going on a Riverboat cruise, to Jungle Jim’s, and to the Cincinnati Zoo. I hate zoos, but I can tolerate it to spend time with the family doing other things we love. I am hoping to get in a couple of good morning runs while we are there, too. Marathon training officially begins on Tuesday! Woot.

On a totally unrelated note, I found a new writer/spiritual contemplative to think about. Her name is Pema Chodron, and I got turned on to her because of this quote: “If we learn to open our hearts, anyone, including the people who drive us crazy, can be our teacher.” I could use more advice like this. And then, it would help if I took it to heart.


Food: banana x 2, bagel with faux-peanut butter, juice, chocolate soy milk, chips and salsa, taco salad, beer, popcorn, slushie

Exercise: mudathlon, bike ride to slushie place, dog walking (1 mile)

Blah. And some more blah.

I need to start writing here consistently, and I need to finish the two book reviews that I started when I was in Florida. I need to paint the house. I need to finish the floors. I need to plan for next years’ classes. I need to work on my dissertation and meet with Debbie tomorrow. I need to spend time running. I need to write my presentation for the PCA conference in October. I need to revise a couple of essays and send them out to try to get them published. I need to give time to my friends and family. It’s slightly overwhelming, and all of this in a summer that I thought might be relaxed. I need to not be so overwhelmed by all of my activities, commitments, and self-assigned bullshit.

But, first, I need to finish these end of course assessments for the IEI at Ball State, which is where I have a summer assistantship.I am having a hard time getting motivated because it’s a bit intimidating to make assessments for courses you’ve never taught and probably never will teach, though I’d love to teach in the IEI. I think it would be very satisfying. As for my summer work, it’s different. It’s challenging. It’s fulfilling.

It’s different because I have never considered how to teach a language in a very short amount of time to someone who doesn’t speak it, much less if that person is beginning college or graduate school, which I think are very different considerations. I am not sure that it is as important to teach a graduate student how to keep a daily planner as it is to teach the same skill to a 19-year-old college freshman. All college freshman should have to take a study skills class, regardless of their ability to speak English or not.

It’s challenging because I have some very definite ideas about what students should know when they enter an English 103 or 104 classroom, and my ideas don’t necessarily jive with what the IEI instructors can accomplish in their seven or eight courses, which I believe are taught in seven weeks each. I could be wrong. Anyway, the classes go from fundamental (or survival) through communicative to academic. My task for this week is to design reading assessments for each course to test the learning outcomes for each class. This task is challenging when I have only learning outcomes, and no real grasp on or feel for the students. I said today when I was talking to the director of the IEI that this is challenging for me because I view language acquisition to be a much more organic process than academia views it to be. Think about how you learned language. Did you ever take an end of course assessment? Probably not, but then again, you weren’t trying to acquire a language in a few short months; you had years to do it.

Finally, it’s fulfilling because the end result is that people are equipped with one more skill that will make their lives in the US a little easier. I can imagine nothing more intimidating than being in a new culture without having command of the language of that culture. I by no means believe that all Americans should be required to speak English; we are far too diverse of a culture to require that. I do, however, believe that going to school at an American institution requires that you be able to speak, read, listen to, and write the predominant language of that institution and to be able to do it well. Particularly, the humanities require this. I am still trying to decide if getting a science, math, or another non-language-intensive degree should require a command of English, since we are in the US (I suppose the predominant language at some American universities is Spanish, Portuguese, or French?). I am leaning toward no, but it’s up for debate. At any rate, this summer work is fulfilling, too, because it’s forcing me to have to reconsider all those things I think about language. And, I am learning new things every day. Very good.


I am at a point where I just want to lose weight, which makes me a very bad fat studies scholar. I love food too much. I love good healthy vegan cooking way too much. I could seriously eat all day long, but then I’d have to run all day long. And my foot’s been really funky, so I haven’t run at all, only walked. And not much.


I want to write a list poem about freedom, or imprisonment as outlined in Sarah’s post. I just need time.