Tuesday, September 9, 2014

One Giant Grateful Post On a Tuesday. Let It Suffice That I Am Grateful Everyday. So, I Tag the Universe. #Appreciate

First, and foremost, I can be a complete bastard and a total prick. I have what my high school students used to say was BMS - Bryan Mood Swings. One second I am happy-go-lucky and optimistic, and the next am a grumpy over-thinker who is miserable with the world. It comes with the territory of choosing the intellectual life. After all, Jonas receives information from the Giver, but sometimes that information is painful and harsh to handle.

Second, I need to throw a HUGE shout out to Jessica Earley who was first to nominate me for the gratefulness challenge. Her call was to post two things for five days, nominating three people every day. I know, however, that I would not be able to achieve this. I can, though, scribble my thinking here. 

I am enormously grateful to Jessica. Always have been. Returning to Syracuse in 2007-2008 wasn't easy, but lucky for me, Jessica returned there, too. I came to her office sweating as I do - a swampy mess - and interviewed for a summer job (a replacement for a maternity leave). 

THAT SUMMER WAS CHAOS, yet it was HYSTERICAL chaos, and the two of use endured it together.
There's volumes of politics behind the chaos (a post I will unlikely ever write), but I am extremely thankful to know her. In fact, on my refrigerator is a card she gave me at the end of my summer employment. I cherish that card and those weeks together.

I am grateful for the memory of working with Jessica because we also worked with Tracey and Kelsey Hogarth. I think of them as a trio of muses that arrived to my path at exactly the right time (okay, this is a public forum and I'm safe now - I totally crushed on Jessica. All summer I was like, "Is this girl for real?" She got to know my wackiness, but didn't kill me. We simply became VIPs for one another).

Alright, I could write a book of what I'm grateful for (I spent a year, in fact, writing on such a topic during my Lily Pad Chronicle Days). Here, however, I will condense my randomness to the 10 things currently on my mind.

Crandall's Additional 10 Things

10. The reality of Frog, born in 1997 when several freshmen began calling me that because of my backpack. I've been Frog ever since and that alter ego is central to the pond life that continues to be created. No, I don't need all the frog figures purchased for me, but I do love the daemon that will be with me for life.

9. I'm 42. Family. The older I get, the more important they become to me. I would never have guessed that my sisters, and later their husbands, would become my best friends. The humor from the years I spent doing my doctorate at Syracuse will be with me for life. It's a good thing, too, that FaceTime came out when it did. Although I'm away again, I can still call my mom, dad, nieces, and nephews. I am totally grateful for all of them, especially my mom and dad who made the specimen who writes this post today.

8. The National Writing Project. Need I say more? They remain the strongest advocates for solid literacy instruction that I know of - they invest in teachers so that teachers can invest in their students. Any and all who don't value the work of the project have no business addressing educational issues. Teaching is a profession and the National Writing Project has always recognized this.

7. My cousin Mark. I'm not sure if I would have landed into the world I have now if it wasn't for him. From a distance, I learned how he created an international non-profit, Hoops4Hope, and began offering what I could from afar. His work in Africa would eventually guide me to my literacy work with refugees in Louisville and Syracuse.

6. Abu, Lossine, Bior, AJ, Werdi, Sabit, Abdi, Omar, Lugendo, Akech, Victor, Chitunga, Remy,
Abonga, Peter, William, James - the list is long. They are the true meaning of Ubuntu. They are extension of my family and with me for life.

5. I'm still running. Yes, I'm a man of girth and sweat, but I've been clocking 30+ miles a week since I was 18. I have worn out enough Sauconys to fill a garage, and I still see it as the most meditative part of my day, although I've always been slow.

4. I have a job. I am doing the work I'm passionate about. The challenges far outweigh the fact that they rarely give me a chance to unwind and be free. I am willing to push the boulder up the hill as long as it is labor I believe in.

3. Good friends. Wherever I've lived, I've always managed to find wonderful people to spend quality time with. I love to laugh, be foolish, and make fun of myself. Over the years, I've flocked to all those that do the same.

2. Kelly Chandler Olcott. She chaired my dissertation and I think very highly of her. I don't know a more efficient, intelligent, capable scholar - I met my match when I was introduced to her and she kicked my arse....but I am so thankful for all that she invested in me. I am a different sort, but I gained more than enough tools from her to utilize throughout my life.

1. College Basketball and Big Brother. Those are my vices. They make me feel American. They get me to use my remote control. They offer noise to my house - one that is usually invested with books and obsessive digital composing. 

And with that, everyone else in the universe is nominated. What are you grateful for?

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