Passions and Pursuits

Before we go any further, it’s important to point out a significant distinction. When Carl Jung coined the terms “extrovert” and “introvert” in the early twentieth century, he emphasized that introverts aren’t necessarily shy or insecure—nor are extroverts necessarily empathic or loving. The distinction between the two, Jung wrote, lies mainly in the fact that introverts get exhausted by social interaction, while extroverts get anxious when left alone. Introverts need solitudein order to recharge, while extroverts draw energy from socializing. Continue Reading . . .

I'm not a huge fan of classifying people, since most of us are far too complicated to fit neatly into any box, but classification schemes often do make good heuristics for deepening our understanding of self and others, so I'll risk saying that I'm probably what has come to be known as an extroverted introvert.  Seems like a contradiction in terms, perhaps, but introversion-extroversion does tend to be a spectrum along which our positions shift according to age and circumstances, so though we may tend to lead with one trait or the other at any given time, most of us probably draw traits from across the continuum. 

In my case, the extroversion shines through mostly in teaching and general academic life.  I'm perfectly comfortable at the front of the classroom with all eyes and ears on me, and I enjoy giving presentations and schmoozing at conferences, but after awhile my inner introvert asserts herself once more.  Then, I require a decent amount of time for solitary pursuits--hiking, gardening, photography, reading, writing--in order to recharge myself and process social interactions.

On the flip side, even though I can easily handle for more alone time Once in awhile a selfie. than a person who tends toward extroversion, I do crave social interaction and companionship eventually, so if I don't have anyone to hang out with at the moment, you'll often find me headed to the movies, art shows, carnivals, or anyplace where I can be part of crowd, and will have the chance to meet new people or run into old friends. (The chance of running into people I know, by the way, is inversely proportional to my level of personal grooming at any given moment.  If I'm spiffed up and feeling fine, I likely won't see a soul, but if I'm dressed for gardening, free of makeup, and sporting a lopsided ponytail, a quick trip to the local gardening center will most assuredly lead to at least two or three encounters.  So it goes!)

Being an introvert with a handful of extroverted qualities means that there are some things you won't often find my doing.  For instance, although I love photography, my preference is always to point the camera outward.  My kids might get the very occasional Snapchat selfie from me, but for the most part, the allure of the selfie genre, fascinating as it is to witness in others, utterly eludes me. 

Perhaps that comes from being at the tail-end of the Baby Boomer Generation, and a whole generation removed from the Millenials who are my children and my students.  They'll probably never quite convince me to spend much time on selfies, but observing how they interact with and through technology delights and educates me.

All Things Vintage

Since I'm a writer, a poet in perpetual training, an English teacher, and heavy on the introverted qualities, it's probably no shock that I love all things vintage:  books, dishes, clothes, gadgets, costumes, holiday decorations, adverting, and radio, to name a few.  For me, vintage things always seem to thrum with the energy of the time in which they originated.  I can imagine the people who read that book, placed that casserole on the kitchen table, wore that wrap or that string of beads, or gathered around the family radio to listen to the latest episode of Suspense or Johnny Dollar, and I can while away many happy hours poking through thrift stores, junk stores, and antique emporiums. 

All Things TechRhet

On the flip side, I'm exceedingly comfortable in the land of technology.  Yes, I do own a turntable and a nice collection of old records, but I also enjoy both listening to and occasionally making podcasts.  For me, composition is inherently multimodal, now.  Far from seeing texting and tweeting, Snapchatting and Facebooking as the downfall of literacy, I'm attracted to technology and online spaces precisely because they have breathed new and interesting life into the idea of being an author or a composer.  Every day, people spend plenty of time carefully composing their online identities.  I think it's important to tend closely to how and why we do that, to examine how we can do it ethically and well, and to explore how we can best harness that energy and excitement to improve teaching and learning.


A Handful of Current Favorites

Vintage Cookbooks

I'm no expert cook, so the appeal of vintage cookbooks has less to do with the recipes proper (though their names are often wonderful, as in the case of the "Planetary Frankfurters" to the right) than with the illustrations, which reveal the values, the ideals, the activities, and the artistic sensibilities of earlier times. Old Betty Crocker spiral-bound cookbooks are my favorite, though they are much harder to find, now, than when I first began collecting them.

OTR Archive

Old-time radio has seen me through many hours of grading, many rounds of housecleaning, many loads of laundry, and more than a few sleepless nights.  Though a variety of smart-phone apps are available for streaming given genres or programs, the OTR Collection at the Internet Archive is a treasure, and one created via the generous efforts of enthusiasts.  Here, you'll find not only detective shows, mysteries, and paranormal thrillers, but also news broadcasts, children's programming, and historically relevant broadcasts such as Winston Churchill's address to Congress.

Illinois Wildflowers

This may be, at first glance, the most unprepossessing website ever, but the merest bit of digging quickly reveals its myriad treasures.  Here, I have learned not only to identify and correctly name the parts of given plants, but also to consider their place in the ecosystem, whether or not they are native or invasive species, and their overall geographical distribution and conservation status.  The site also motivates me to build up my life-list of plants spotted. Alas, I have yet to stumble across ripe Doll's Eyes, but it could still happen. 

Things Change Fast

If all goes well, the text here will change from time to time, so don't be surprised to find different aspects of what fascinates at the moment highlighted here next time you visit.