Tuesday, November 29, 2011

An Open Christmas Newsletter to the World

It's funny to me that there are people who hate the genre of the Christmas newsletter. They seem to hate it for two reasons: (a) it's superficial, trying to capture the entire year in MAX, one page, front-and-back, and (b) it's overly optimistic, phrasing even sad events as if they were fantastic ("Frank lost his job this year, which means more time to play with Kitty!"). I think that these are actually interesting genre conventions to work with. Think about it: how often do you write a summary of the entire year in your journal? How often are blogs just grumblefests? I say, bring on the newsletter. So without further ado, and apologies to those of you who will get this twice:

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, all! This has been a great year for me, personally, and I hope it's been good to you, too.

I'm now in my second year of my PhD program down here in Austin, Texas. I'm getting far more comfortable down here and am getting used to the rhythms of the seasons (August=leave town or stay inside, November=go kayaking) as well as the unique culture of the hipster southwest. I went to my first music concert series in early November, and, earlier, I went to a taping of Austin City Limits. I bring my own bags to the grocery store in anticipation of the bag ban and I bought my first pair of skinny jeans this spring. I haven't bought Toms, though; the line must be drawn somewhere, usually around $70 canvas shoes.

School-wise, everything is going great. I read over 70 books this summer in anticipation of my field exam, where, naturally, my committee only asked me about one of them. Still, if you ever want to feel as though you really belong in a discipline, have someone make a canonical list and get cracking. I now finally know exactly what people are talking about when they mention Vygotsky and Feire and Murphy. Of course, this is all in addition to the standard school things I've been doing like taking great classes and teaching undergraduates writing, both of which I adore.

It hasn't all been work, though! I got into running this spring and in July I ran a half marathon with my sister, Emily. Granted, it was downhill and overcast, but it was still a wonderful experience. Five years ago, I wouldn't have thought I could do it. Now I'm gradually working on writing a novel. My friends and I meet each month for "Book Club"--where we write a book, not read one--and by the end of the next year we should have a full manuscript! There are plenty of things "I've always wanted to do" and it's great to actually do some of them.

(I considered a section here about my lack of relationship and encouraging other people to set me up with their brothers, cousins, classmates, etc. but decided that asking for favors in a newsletter was totally desperate)

I hope you have a wonderful holiday season! I enjoy and value our relationship, and the role that you have had in my life. Please keep me updated on how you're doing.

Best wishes,



Margaret said...

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to you too, Mary! You make me happy - and your idea of a book club is so brilliant! Are you allowed to tell us what your novel is about?

Whistler said...

Sounds like a good year!