e-mail me at billdeg@umich.edu



Settling back into any kind of routine after international travel is tough. Yesterday I cleaned my office which is a sure sign I didn't want to grade those papers. I mean it was the first time I cleaned my office since I became director of the writing program two years ago. Went through a good portion of a bottle of Fantastic. Recycled a lot of paper. Washed some coffee mugs that had gotten gross. The place is looking good if I do say so. Also got various projects organized, submitted a bunch of paperwork, started getting organized for 4Cs coming up in a few weeks, caught up on emails and facebook, and generally pulled my head out of Paris mode into Writing Program mode. Today: get those papers graded. Thank God it's Spring Break. Knock wood, my migraine meds have been doing their thing very, very effectively. I can imagine sanity and a routine in my near future. Let's see.


I look around my office on this frigid Michigan morning and see visual reminders of lovely Lebanon--the maps, paintings, and posters that cover my walls, the little tea set, the handbill from a lecture I gave at AUB. And two days back from France it's Lebanon at the heart of my memories of Paris too. At the Writing Research Across Borders (WRAB) Conference, our Beirut-Dearborn research team gave a symposium on the collaborative work our students have done--interviewing each other via skype and writing one another's literacy narratives--and we had a good time reconnecting in person: making plans for an article and our next teaching link-up next Fall, but also going out for paella in Paris and just spending time laughing. There's nothing like forgetting everything else for just a moment (or for just a week) and being thankful that people on the other side of the world came into my life.

It took forty years to get to Paris. I'm jealous of the easy and cheap metro and the comfortable "Winter" weather there. Sunday Mass at St. Sulpice with its enormous pipe organ, followed by a quiet espresso outside of church at a little cafe, was a highlight. So were the catacombs (Nicole wasn't a fan...so I guess thanks to my family for letting me watch inappropriate horror films as a little kid, thereby numbing me to how creepy a vast underground necropolis is!), the coffee, and the macaroons. French food? The baked goods are amazing but the "plates"...pretty good, but not as good as Thai, Indian, Middle-Eastern, and the like. I tried snails, that was a first, and a really frothy French omelette was also interesting. Paella (Spanish food in Paris--why not?) with the Beirut crew was the tastiest non-sweet food. Nicole and I walked and metroed like crazy and saw much of the city but we saved the Louvre for next time so that we have a good reason for there to be a next time.


Gina Patterson visited our Writing Center consultants on Friday to give a great workshop on LGBTQ issues and concerns and there's so much to say about the insights she shared. Let me, for now, just share two useful pics that have been on my mind. Thanks for sharing these Gina.

And another:


Catching up on Honors 220

A few weeks back I mentioned I had a section of honors rhetoric and writing 2, my first time teaching in our honors sequence. Technically proficient and accustomed to high performance at school, the students produce largely error-free prose (though a few need attention when it comes to the conventions of working with print sources). Semester-long student projects focus on the rhetorical analysis of any current debate happening in the public sphere and what students are struggling with is the difference between writing about what rhetors argue and writing about how rhetors argue. Our course text--the funny and engaging Words Like Loaded Pistols--is helping quite a bit and we're in the process of walking through various schemas and heuristics for critiquing an argument. It's fun, and we've managed to use the Richard Sherman "thug" conversation and an exchange in feminist zines about the ethos of selfies as examples we keep returning to as new tropes and terms become part of our collective repertoire. But we're also in that phase of the term where I've complicated things significantly but the complication hasn't yet benefitted student thinking and writing. I've found that there's a period where students adjust to new ways of thinking and writing, when concepts are still clicking, when they're still figuring out how to make this process their own...when the writing looks clunky. Luckily, I think I'm at the point where the students more or less trust me. And I just know that in a few weeks, as they become even more conversant about their respective areas of inquiry, as they become even more comfortable with course concepts (what is a commonplace and how does it circulate?), their writing will be at a higher level. Which is to say: I trust them too.


Kickin' the bucket

Last week the Metro Times published a fun list of 100 Things All Detroiters Should Do Before They Die. Some items were a bit predictable, like watching the Tigers at Comerica Park, but a few reminded me of places I've somehow never gone: Baker's Lounge (the famous, old lounge right down Livernois from my church), the Motown Museum, and a pizza place called Loui's in Hazel Park. What? A pizza place I've never visisted despite having lived here from 1992-1996 and 2005-2014?! Shock and shame.

Loui's, I quickly learned, was started by a French guy who worked at Buddy's for many years before going solo. It shows. The Buddy's part, not the French part. Like Buddy's, Loui's boasts deep-dish, square pies with a unique blend of tangy cheeses. Upon hearing about Loui's, Nicole agreed to pick up a large mushroom and green pepper on her way home from her office--she works on the east side so it was sorta kinda on her way--and I'd meet her at home after work. Predictably, I didn't get home from campus as early as I'd hoped and the pie was already cooling by the time I got home. That's on me.

It was very good anyway, almost indistinguishable from Buddy's (and I'm a big Buddy's fan). If anything, the sauce was sweeter, a better compliment to that unique mix of cheese that up until now I thought only Buddy's used. Nicole had sampled a slice while the pie was still hot--I would have been disappointed if she didn't--and she insists it's definitely got a leg up on Buddy's. She also reports that the 70s decor in the place is pretty terrific. So we're totally dining in next time (soon). Thanks, Metro Times. Next up: Baker's and the Motown Museum.