e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu


Where's the cafeteria?

In the past seven days I've spoken at new faculty orientation, opportunity scholars orientation, writing center staff orientation, and honors program orientation. I'm oriented! I know where to park and everything. When you're the WPA (writing program administrator), you get invited to "come say a few words about writing on campus" quite a bit, which is fun. Here's a strange late-August phenomenon: waiting for school to start so that life's less hectic.


Growing Up

I'm turning forty in two months and most of me doesn't give a shit. At times, though, I'm surrounded by reminders of how much more quickly the years pass. Two days ago, my fourteenth wedding anniversary. Three days ago, giving a presentation at New Faculty Orientation I realized that September marks the start of my ninth year at UM-Dearborn. That night, dinner with old friends from the seminary who I've known twenty-five years, and we reminisced about people and events I hadn't thought about in at least two decades. The melancholy music of The Smiths has soundtracked the last few weeks, mainly because of the discovery of this, but the sardonic humor and the sentimental snark of their lyrics has been a good fit for the tiny part of me that does give a shit about the imminent onset of forty. Oh, and I reckon I've been listening to The Smiths for about twenty-seven years.



A decade out of graduate school (!) and I'm directing the writing program at my University. My PhD program emphasized program administration and I thought I'd find myself in an administrative role much sooner. Thankfully I didn't, instead having the luxury to focus on teaching and research in the years leading up to tenure, and the enjoyment of lots of time teaching abroad in the years immediately after tenure.

Much to my surprise, I like directing the program. A lot. I find myself spending many more hours on campus and sometimes struggling to spend as many hours writing as I'd like (though the latter, I believe, has more to do with being in my own head recently), but I really appreciate the opportunity to influence and support teaching across the whole program, not to mention spend more time with the lecturers and writing center consultants who make the program run.

I'd consider further administrative work in my future if it didn't mean having to dress up.


Here's What We Know

Here is what we know about young Kevin Cordasco. He and his friends liked to order pizza and watch "Breaking Bad." He connected with the way BB's protagonist, Walter White, tries to maintain some power and control over his life once he finds out he has terminal cancer. He became friends with some of the television show's cast and crew and visited the set. At 16, he died of cancer last year, but not before "Breaking Bad" head hauncho Vince Gilligan offered to reveal to Kevin how the show ends. He decided not to take Gilligan up on his offer and died months before his favorite show's finale.

I get the impression Kevin was a kid who allowed himself to be touched by stories. He let a violent, pulpy, brilliant television program into his own imperfect life, let the story mean something to him. I wonder what music filled his hours. Tupac and Eminem or Weezer or maybe The Beatles. Did he read graphic novels or fantasy series or Stephen King? I don't know why he didn't want to hear any spoilers about how Walter White's saga ends, or whether his choice was "incredibly sad" or "suitably badass." I hope he dug Bryan Cranston visiting him in the hospital. I hope he's in a heaven with pizza and a tv set so he can watch the finale the same time as all of us, just like he wanted.



So I stuck to my two-day (modified) juice cleanse, consuming mostly home-juiced veggies and fruits on Friday and Saturday. Aside from some plain canned tuna, skim milk, and a boiled egg, I stuck to three big glasses of juice per day, and felt energetic throughout both days. I drank a lot of water, too, and exercised on both days. I may try this again in a few weeks and eliminate the tuna, milk, and egg. Nothing but the juice--beet, apple, carrot, grapes, cucumbers, all kinds of citrus, in various combinations. Wouldn't do it often, but, as an experiment, I count this as a success, mainly because I felt more energetic than usual (is it all the sugar?), but to a lesser degree because I dropped about six pounds.

Which might have had something to do with all the biking. I rode about 20 miles on Saturday, through Berkley, Oak Park, Royal Oak Township, and the Northwest side of Detroit down to UDM at 6-Mile and Livernois. I rode around campus a few times, too, taking advantage of a water fountain in the Student Union. Funny thing is I had just watched the episode of "The Sopranos" where Tony makes the comment that "Remember when is the lowest form of conversation." Maybe so, but I hope it's not the lowest form of a bike ride. I rode by Smith Media Center, just off campus and the former home of the school paper, site of many late nights circa 1993 and 1994, and by all the dorms in which I lived, and of course by the Liberal Arts building where I earned nearly every undergraduate credit hour. I go to church across the street but rarely return to campus, maybe because I share Tony Soprano's ambivalence toward nostalgia, which is always at least a little sad and sentimental.  UDM=the past

Sunday's ride was more about the present. University of Michigan Dearborn organized a 15-mile-or-thereabouts ride through downtown Detroit, cycling through Lafayette Park, the Heidelberg Project, historic Elmwood Cemetery, and Eastern Market. There was a nice mix of students and faculty and was surprisingly relaxing. My legs were a bit sore from the previous day's ride, but Sunday's pace was relatively slow, thank God. This was the first time I ever biked in a large group, and it was a lot of fun--and felt very, very safe--to be with others out on the road. Also helped that it felt like an Autumn day, with cool breezes and a slightly overcast sky.  UMD=the present.



New Dunkin' Donuts menu item: glazed donut breakfast sandwich. Here's the requisite Upworthy graphic.


File this under firsts. I'm doing a modified, two-day juice cleanse today and tomorrow. Really curious to see how my body will react. I do feel energetic, but it's just mid-morning on day #1 so that's got to be psychosomatic, right? Or maybe all the sugar? For breakfast, I juiced a combination of swiss chard, cucumber, green grapes, and an apple. Mid-morning snack was a fruity mix of grapefruit, orange, and kiwi.

I'm too scared to go all-juice during the two days, so I'm planning to have some skim milk, a boiled egg, and plain tuna (no mayo or mustard or anything), just to keep up with my protein. But if all goes well, next time I'm doing just home-juiced concoctions for the two days. I've read that drinking lots of water is a must, so I'll follow that rule.

Later today: "The Detox," featuring ginger, beet, carrots, and an apple.

I've been eating healthy (home-made black bean burgers, salads, etc.) all week, and working out every day as well, so I'm five days "clean" and hoping to be even cleaner, and perhaps lighter, two days from now.


Still Re-Entering

A few weeks ago I blogged I was back. Re-entry is, realistically and at best, a work-in-progress. Still trying to figure out the best way to stick to the commitment to lose weight, the commitment to write every single day, the commitment to blog regularly, to escape the muck of Summer, 2013, the thick muck of re-entry. Things seem swampy, though, and I keep coming back to the existential "whattaya gonna do?" that Tony Soprano used so frequently. Indeed.