Things you shouldn’t understand.

Yesterday I spent a tremendous amount of time finishing some half-baked ideas that I started six months ago. I did a bunch of writing and research as related to the employer, and I also spent a lot of time reading. The kitchen is tidy but the fridge is empty and the laundry is piling up. Thankfully, the weather was pretty terrible, so I didn’t feel the pressure to get out on the bike. Compared to the tough bike folks in Bellingham, I’m kind of a wimp. Plus, I like writing and reading when the weather stinks. If I lived in some sunny place like Santa Barbara, I’d struggle more than I already do as a writer.

Today it’s looking clear and I have the joyous elation of not having to work on anything I don’t want to do. Hooray for the holiday break! Mind you, I love what I do and the people with whom I share my Mondays-Fridays. I’ve also raced almost every weekend since September, and that’s social as well. Although, I did spent a fair amount of time writing in the van when some of my besties weren’t there.  Believe or not, I’m really a loner at heart.

Here’s the process that I’m digging with the Smallest Federated Wiki Happening. (I made a slip yesterday and called it the “FederRicki.” Sounds like IPA may have been involved, right? It was just fatigue, I promise.

1. I’m reading first thing in the morning. A whole chapter, article, or whatever. No chunks, scanning, or any of the BS I’ve been calling reading lately. I usually start my days with texts, emails, IMs, voicemails, and what have you–it’s all part of the gig. Since the college is closed this week, I’m going back to my “hippie professor schedule” (what my friend called my old career). I’m taking notes by hand. Going through some old files. Cleaning up the digital disaster also known as 2014 on my personal computer. It’s quite nice.

2. Then I’m checking “Twitterific” as my friend Annie calls it. I’m just looking at the good things. After the Oso mud slide, the shooting at Seattle U. (I was with somebody whose mother works there so I witnessed that terror of not knowing), the shooting at Marysville-Pilchuck (a high school–and its teachers and students–I know well), the police horrors, and the general terrible news of the world; I’m exhausted by it.

Maybe that makes me a coward. I found the Seattle Times Pictures of the Year a reminder of why I feel this way. If you don’t live in this area, this is visual history of some of these horrors along side with beauty of the Pacific Northwest. Those trumpeter swans litter the farms I drive by on my way to work (focus on the good, Indrunas).

3. Then I’m checking my personal email to find Mike Caulfield’s Fedwiki Daily. And then I’m not reading any other emails except from my mother.

4. Then I’m bloggy bloggedy blog blogging, ol’ chap. Like now. Despite the overshare-mode of my previous posts, I actually suffer from “a shyness that is criminally vulgar.” I didn’t truly understand that about myself until I read Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking.

When I’m asked, “When are you going to work on that revolutionary internets stuff today?”

I want to say, “How Soon is Now?”

But I need to find a new writing process. I’ve lost something in the way that I think and write. Four years of grad school while teaching 5-6 comp classes killed large parts of my soul. (Sounds overly dramatic, I know, it’s not like I was chipping away in a salt mine). I’ve got to find a new process in this experience, and so far I think it’s working. Having this holiday time to focus on what I’ve lost it is my main objective for The Happening.

Truth be told: All of my “great” dance moves, I stole from Morrissey of The Smiths. Observe that swing in the first 20 seconds. Perfection!

If I’ve listened to this song more than I’d like to admit lately.

5. Then I’m posting to the SFWH. And friends, I have no why I was asked to be a part of this, and I haven’t wanted to ask. It is an experiment after all for those guys, and every good researcher chooses participants carefully. It’s not like I feel like a lab rat; it seems like a sincere invitation. Collectively they have a huge community of people they could have asked–and how the hell I ended up in it has made me feel a range of emotions. Everything from freaked out to effusively grateful. What a gift.

I have a hunch that I’m a jill-come-lately to this field, so that may help. I also do not know squat–I mean nada–about programming, coding, and any of the “How Software Works.” I’m not sure the organizers know that, but if they are watching my clicks, I’m sure I look like the arse that I am. I’m more interested in the What and the Why of software–especially with regards to teachers and students. Honestly, you’d think I’d have more IT-like expertise with my job title. But I don’t. I’m pretty handicapped in my current gig. Thankfully, I’ve made friends who help me. I think I owe the buddah-like Paul Kreemer at the SBCTC 10 kegs of beer.

6. And I’m drafting in real-time as I go. Unlike some of my blog posts that I’ll kill with edits, I’m trying to write in the present with some edits. Some of what I wrote yesterday is total crap, but I have one article that I like quite a bit. I’ve got a couple of drafts, false starts, and notes. I’m not sure if that’s cool, but I like doing it–not sure if it’s wiki-writing. I’m thinking of those half-posts as reminders to myself that are at once an invitation to others and a reminder to myself to write. We even tried some fiction! Holycats, that was fun. I wish I had found that page earlier.

7. Then I’ve got to watch either TV or a movie. Last night we watched Heat, and it’s been a long time since I’ve seen that movie. I needed a break from the bad films, really. And wow, the questions! What the heck ever happened to Tone Loc? Why did Val Kilmer think it was a good idea to have a ponytail in the mid-90s? Who is more dazzling DeNiro or Pacino? Didn’t hair conditioner work for women then or was everyone just growing out the frizz from the endless perms of the 80s? Did shoulder pads really stick around that long?

You know. Important scholarly analysis.

8. Then I’m staying up late reading novels (another gift). My boss gave me Tolstoy and The Purple Chair as a holiday present. She said, “You’re the only person I know who would read this. Let me know what you think.” I accept your challenge, Librarian! She’s a dean, but really, I think it’s healthier for administrators to hold onto their roots. I’ll write about that book later, but here’s a quote that applies to the SFWH.

Nina Sankovitch explains the book-a-day-project she has made for herself. On page 31, she writes:

“I was ready for the discipline. The plan could work around school hours and the driving, cleaning, cooking, and grocery shopping, and still meets its goals of escape, learning, pleasure of sitting down in my purple chair with a book and calling it work. By giving it the name of work, I sanctified it.”

Sigh. Yes. What she said.

Only my chair is red

and the book is the writing

and the Fed Wiki is the work.

Four things I’m struggling with, as a Fed Wiki user:

1. I think it’s easier to manipulate the text if you use a mouse. I’m working on a MacBook Pro (a present to myself when I won an award from the college) and I’m using the tracking pad. It’s hard to grab and drag without making mistakes. Maybe it’s just me and my lame dexterity. I can connect a mouse but then I have to sit at a desk, and I like hanging out by the fire with my dog.

2. When you fork, where does it go? I have a hard time telling if I’m doing what I think I’m doing. I don’t want an alert like “Are you sure you want to fork this?” But I’m also not sure exactly what I’ve done other than say, “Alyson wuz here” in that graffiti-style I mentioned in another post. Maybe it’s a part of things I shouldn’t understand (say it like Pee Wee, c’mon, you know you wanna).

3. I hit enter to create a new paragraph or space and I had a page disappear on me last night. I had three pages on my screen, and I hit enter. The next thing I know I only had two. Poof! The squares also changed at the top of the second page. Was somebody there at the same time? So I clicked on the title of the post (or the flag as I’ve been calling it)–I think it was Blue Collar Defeat. The flag–or first post–came back, but it was unsettling at first and I lost my train of thought.

4. I don’t need the avatar, and I liked the squares. I tried to express that on Twitter, but the conversation got confusing. I tried to say that I accept the avatar if others wanted them. I’m be cool with it, and I think it all got started because somebody changed his. I do hover over the squares before I post, but that’s my own insecurities not a flaw in the FederRicki. People requested it, so FWIW, I liked the squares.

Side note: Threads on Twitter remind me a bit of dropping a stitch when you’re knitting. If you don’t knit, here’s a quick description. You’re following a pattern rocking along and you *think* you’re making progress and you stop to admire your work. After holding up your work (read your notifications), you realized you have dropped a stitch or missed one stitch or two in pattern. There’s a giant hole that’s going to mess up everything from then on. You can’t go back. You can’t correct a dropped unless you are super gifted fiber artist like my Twitterific Annie. If you’re like me, you have to start over and rip up what you’ve done. It’s sucks, and I usually scare the dog when I yell F bombs. That’s why Twitter doesn’t quite foster clear communication, but I still think it’s a cool forum for sharing idea.

5. I still don’t know what Twins are, but it’s not holding me back. 

Today, I’m going to reread Mike’s Tiny Letter, all of the blog posts listed on it, then I’ll email him my bloggy links, and then I’m going to write an article that I need to think about first. Then I’ll stop using “then” so much.

My article is going to my attempt to ask for help from a community who may have a lot to say about this topic. It makes me giggly and I want the “How Soon is NOW” in me to Shut Up.

My SWFH article should help with my collaboration with Tom Gibbons. We are working on an on Instructional Design workshop for the Assessment, Teaching, and Learning Conference, and he’s onto something SO brilliant. He’s so unassuming, sweet, and humble that I don’t want to overwhelm with my excitement for his ideas. That roaring extrovert in me needs to chill out.

I need to walk the dog, buy some food, cook, ride my bike or hike, and tidy up the garden beds in the front yard. Daylight’s a wastin’…

Then SFWH until movie-knitting time. What a gift.




About Alyson Indrunas

Always learning about instructional design, educational technology, professional development, adult education, and writing.
This entry was posted in All The Things and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Things you shouldn’t understand.

  1. jennymackness says:

    Hi Alyson – I always use a mouse with my MacBook Pro. I have one that will work on any surface – in an armchair, on the carpet, on my lap etc. etc. It’s just an ordinary Logitech mouse with a cable – nothing fancy.

    I am having very similar experiences in Fedwiki to you – but now I am wondering – are you an introvert (as mentioned in your last post) or an extrovert (as mentioned in this post)? I’m interested, because I am definitely an introvert, which is why I think I like Fedwiki so much, even though I am finding the technology difficult.


    • Thanks for the comments, Jenny! I just forced myself out of the SFWH after about an hour after joining Ward and Mike during their office hours. I had the similar experience during the first office hours–it was there and then not there. I found it today in Recent Changes and then on Mike’s Twitter. I’ll share what I learned tomorrow in a blog post. I hope they had as much fun as me:)
      Yes, the mouse. You’re right. It’s more the chair that I’m using to sit by the fire. It’s low, but it doesn’t reach the floor. And it doesn’t have an armrest. I’m sharing the table with my husband–he prefers the right hand side because he takes notes by hand and types them up later–so I can’t move the table and I don’t dare ask. I’m pretty sure I’m already driving him nuts with the “SFWH this” and the “OMG” and the “SFWH that.” Thanks for the tip.
      And yes, I see the contradiction, but that’s what Susan Cain points out in her book. You can be both depending on the situation, and I never thought about it until I read that book. I would berate myself for wanting time alone or I’d feel judged by people who thought I was being too much of a loner. I can give my all with a presentation or teaching–and I love that work. Most people who meet me would never guess my introvert-preference. There are times when I prefer me, my dog, my books, and over the past few days–the SFWH.

      Nice to connect with you, Jenny. I can’t wait to check out your neighborhood:)


  2. awritersalchemy says:

    1) loved this potpourri of bloggedy-blogging bits and insights; 2) it IS slaving away in the salt mines to teach that many classes (enjoy your break); and 3) I loved, loved, loved Tolstoy and the Purple Chair, and am so glad to hear that you and Dean Jeanne love it too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Bethany. I have no idea what I’m doing as a blogger, but I’m looking for ways to collect my thoughts for when I’m away from my work and home office. Google Docs isn’t working because I don’t always want to see my work email (you can relate, I’m sure). And yes, yes, yes! I loved Tolstoy and the Purple Chair. I haven’t looked at the author’s website yet, but I plan to take on books from her list. Ann Patchett’s This is a Story of a Happy Marriage is my favorite book from my reading last year., Tolstoy and the Purple Chair #2, and The Orchardist #3. I would love to know your top three from 2014.


  3. Maha Bali says:

    Hey Alyson, what’s the title of the post you refer to that migt help with your workshop?


    • It’s Instructional Designer as Dramaturg–my co-presenter has a theatre background, and I wanted to use his expertise as a framework for the audience. He’s got an interesting perspective on being an ID that I really enjoy. That post in the SFW is just a smattering of notes since we’re just working on the title and the blurb. Anything goes at this point!


    • Alyson Indrunas says:

      And I want to connect your The “why” of Faculty Development from Sept. 8. It’s brilliant.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s