09 September, 2013

Draft for Item #6: Photograph Important to Me. . .

When most of you are 60 years of age, you will have far more pictures to review than I have simply because your all are constantly taking pics: if your doubt this assertion, simply look at this ad for an iPhone:

Think of the thousands and thousands of digital pictures you will have to survey for a task such as this one.

However, I am from the non-digital generation. For many, many years, I depended on 35 mm film which took time to develop and house in cardboard boxes or photo albums or scrapbooks. So it took me some time to find a photo that was important to me. Here is the one I selected from the far fewer I have to go through than you ever will:

This is the picture I selected. It is important to me in ways that may be difficult to articulate, but I will try. 

Let me explain the context first: this photo was taken of my wife and myself at Disney World in Orlando in December 2005. My wife had been saying for years we needed to take the girls to Disney and circumstances came together in early fall for this pre-Christmas trip for five of us.  

This particular picture was taken on our second night at Disney. The picture was taken in the area where there were old store-fronts and Christmas lights--millions and millions of them--were strung everywhere. As we came into this area, mock snow was falling and the loudspeakers were playing a mock radio show of Christmas tunes. At the very point  we were asking one of our daughters to snap this picture of us, Johnny Mathis' song, "The Christmas Song," started playing over the loudspeakers. I hugged my wife, kissed her deeply, told her I loved her, and this picture was made.

Keep in mind that this picture is really important to me: I have used this picture in this blog, and I have used it as my desktop picture every winter from 2005. So I hope this convinces you of its importance to me. But now I need to explain why this importance is a fact for me.

I believe one reason this picture is important is that song I posted for you above. Johnny Mathis--both in general--and specifically with this song--reminds me of Christmas, home, love, and all those others values we associate with that "special time of year." I believe I make this association with Mathis because my mom was a huge Mathis fan. She would play his Merry Christmas (1958) album continuously from Thanksgiving until New Year's. I vividly recall those time when the four of us: mom, dad, my younger brother and I would gather in the living room, play canasta, and listen to Johnny Mathis. 

My mom died of cancer in 1980 when she was only 53 years old. This song and the memories of her live on in me and this picture of my wife and myself bring these memories of my mom rushing back.

Another reason this picture of my wife and I speaks to me is that I believe it was the end of my youngest two daughters' childhood. Marissa and Natalie are 14 months apart ("Irish Twins" the fortune teller at the Renaissance Fair told my wife). And this trip to Disney was really the last time they were "with us." We have had family vacations since 2005, but nothing was as memorable for them or for their mother and me as this trip. I attempted to replicate this time in 2006: I got a great deal online for us to go back to Disney the very next year and about the same time. However, my youngest two daughters were now a year older and they were distraught about missing a band concert in middle school. This picture brings to bear that bittersweet time of their youth giving way to their maturity. That fact explains the significance of this picture.

A last reason that comes to mind about this picture's importance is the flip-side of the previous one about my daughters: tho' I love my daughters and wish them joy and happiness in their lives, I am married to the woman beside me in this photo. We had a life before our daughters and I am eager for us to return to that life together. This picture--with all of its bitter sweetness of memory--offers something else: a promise of the future for just my wife and me. I long for time when we don't have to worry about band, when we have Friday nights just for us, when we can go on vacation and just sit on the beach together and watch the tide rushing in and pulling out. For the last 18 years, my wife and I have had the girls as a significant priority in our lives, but this picture promises a day for just the two of us and I cannot wait!

So: here is my picture and the reasons it is so important to me. There may be more reasons and I may edit this piece somewhere down the road as this reasons come into my consciousness. But at this point, I believe I have made my case and challenge those of you with children: don't you yearn for a day when you are truly free, too?

01 February, 2013

My Class Responds: Today's College Students

I am teaching a course called "Transfer Readiness" this spring.  A standard task I have asked students to consider is to look at things such as
After looking at this three things, I put my class in teams, and tell them: create you own video that has the faculty at the university to which you plan to transfer as your audience. I give them a week and they bring the videos to class and share them.  Here are the videos from this Spring 2013 class: