Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Moving to Ohio, Pre-Quarter TA Training, and More (Not Really)...

By Tory Adkisson

Hello friends. How I have missed you (except for those of you who mutually stalk me on facebook)! It has been ages since I last posted, but for the last two and a half weeks I’ve been locked in Denney Hall from 9-3 every day preparing for the first-year English composition class I will be teaching. Wait a minute…back up! Let me tell you about Columbus and me.

I landed in Ohio on August 22 and spent the first days in a deep depression. This was the biggest move of my life—my first time away from home, and I mean away (like 2000 miles away) and I was stranded in the Midwest: a foreign environment if ever there was one. My gas was not turned on, neither was my cable or internet. I felt like I had entombed myself in a Gulag. I began questioning whether or not this was a good idea, whether going to an MFA was worth transplanting myself this way. All hope seemed lost…

Then I got up, walked to the closest internet cafĂ© I could find and ran into Rachel, one of the now-second year poets in my program. It was the best possible thing that could have happened to me. Rachel and I talked for hours about the upcoming GTA training, what to expect in my first workshop, where a guy can get another guy, how sad it is to leave home. In four hours she reminded me that I was here, at Ohio State, to be a writer (and an adult) and that meant shaking up my perspective and resisting complacency. And so…here I am!
Anyway, while my program isn’t officially beginning until next Wednesday, I have to say…I love Ohio State and I am extremely pleased by my choice to come here. I definitely made the right one. The community at this program is incredible…within a week of being in Columbus, I attended a Mad Men viewing party, a pizza dinner, and multiple happy hours that were as happy as advertized. Columbus is a kooky town, but so far I love it. For me, cicadas have been the most notable feature of this place because we don’t have them in California. I have written several poems about the crazy little bugs that I hope will find their way into my first workshop. But that’s still about a week away.

For the past two and a half weeks I have been training for my job as a GTA, and I have to say that everyone who has called this period of time “information overload” is not joking. This fall I am teaching my own section of First-Year English Composition, which is a general education writing course, but one that I have a lot of control over, particularly in terms of theme. It’s a lot of pressure to manage, but the past couple of weeks have more than prepared me to handle the stress. I know time management is going to be an issue once the quarter kicks off, but for now I am finishing up my syllabus, managing my burgeoning social life, and writing as much as possible.

Once I have my first workshop, I will post about that, I promise. Ironically, my class will have a blogging component this quarter, so I will try to keep up with blogging myself!


  1. It's a big transition and it's been rough on a lot of people. You sound like you're having a great time now though. Yay for that!

    Just an fyi...about the cicadas the most recent issue of Poets & Writers magazine, in that section where they discuss submitting to different mags, Tin House editors made the comment that they see tons of cicada poems and that it's kind of a turn off now! The quote: "This is not particular to our submitters, but here’s the thing: For such a small insect, cicadas sure show up a lot in poetry and fiction. It sounds silly to take issues with it, but the point is that it smacks of device, which in turn interrupts the dream. Watch out for stuff like that." Just an fyi...I totally get why they come up. When it's quiet that's all you can hear!

  2. Wow, I hadn't read that about the cicadas. I have a poem that isn't about Cicadas but it has cicadas in it. We've have them in Tennessee, too and there's just something that's so compelling about them. (Red eyes, transparent wings, heavy mass). The whole burial and circadian unearthing thing is pretty sexy, too.

    Maybe cicadas seem like an exotic parlor trick if they're unfamiliar, and I'm not sure if the editors of Tin House do... If you experience them then they are less a device and more a part of your psychological landscape - that meshing of inner an outer worlds that occurs in poetry.

    Like now, Tory will likely forever associate cicadas with moving to Ohio. The two are now tied.

    Tory, I agree that those few weeks of getting oriented and teacher prep can be exhausting. So much of teaching is in planning, though, so once that's done you're halfway there. It's like a machine you wind up and let go... I also had that same initial feeling of isolation, but now I'm settling in. Check out this post on Mark Doty's blogspot:

    He says, " I'm thinking about how I love the new, and seek it out, to keep things moving, and yet the new -- especially this much new -- is a source of stress too. Even when it's good. The body isn't really pleased with the process of finding its way in a new space, not knowing where the stairways lead. The spirit's excited..." and that really resonated with me, how I was feeling a week or so ago in my new environment. Jaytee, do you concur? :)

  3. Haha. Lots of typos. Sorry folks. I've been at the computer too long today.

  4. I totally concur. Thanks for sharing the Doty quote. Yes, my spirit is body is worn out lol.

  5. Congrats on the big move, Tory! Sounds like you survived the trek, and I wish you the best of luck with your teaching and classes. I can't wait to hear about your workshop experience. It's so exciting to get a glimpse into all different programs.

  6. Hmmm. I have cicadas in a story of mine, too.

  7. Glad you found someone to connect with! I'm still tempted by Ohio Stat's PhD program :)

  8. I am glad you're enjoying OSU and Columbus. I think I only have the word cicada in one poem of mine and that is just in passing, but that's funny that they're like some sort of "thing" right now.

  9. Glad to know I'm not the only one who fell into a deep funk the first few days after moving. Thank goodness it gets easier. What theme did you choose for your composition course? Do we get a peek at some of your curriculum at some point?


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