Archive for December, 2012


Dear 16th-century Poet Who Wrote the “12 Days of Christmas”*:

I’d like to adapt your song to reference my life as a professor. I hope you don’t mind.

For space’s sake, we’ll skip to the last verse. Please sing to the tune of the standard arrangement by Frederic Austin.

On the 12th day of Christmas, my students gave to me:

12 “strongly agree”s
11 alumni notes
10 brilliant comments
9 rec. requests
8 mangled clauses
7 late-night emails
6 Twitter retweets
5 bacon links
4 lame excuses
3 “utilize”s
2 ampersands
And pride in a job well done!

(They drive me crazy, but I love them just the same.)

Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!


*No one knows for sure who wrote it.

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Dear Dr. G:

Hello, and I hope you are doing well since I last saw you at AEJMC. I’ve been thinking about you lately for a strange reason.

You once called me a dilettante, which made me mad at the time. It wasn’t really accurate for the situation (as I recall, you were upset with me because you wanted me to focus solely on my doctoral work, but I wanted to keep my full-time job, you know, so I could eat and have shelter).

La dilettante

I know your heart was in the right place, and that you were, in your own way, showing confidence in my ability to do scholarly research full time.

Though it may seem like I am a dabbler, it’s not that at all. It’s the opposite, actually. I throw myself into something fully, learn as much as I can, then I move on to something else. More short attention span than dilettante.


That’s why I have five degrees (yes, five). It is also why my résumé looks like the life of eight different people.

If I could, I’d have more jobs (in addition to the one I have now, which I love). Some of these jobs include:

  • Flight attendant (A waitress in the sky? Yes!)
  • Travel writer
  • Tour guide for some exotic location
  • Cruise ship social director or bartender  (like Julie or Isaac from The Love Boat)
  • Personal chef (Wait … I think I already am.)
  • Character actress (like Rebel Wilson)
  • Personal assistant to someone nearly crazy (Think of the stories I could tell!)
  • NBC page (that’s one of those unfulfilled college ideas)
  • Beta tester for games
  • Game show host
  • Full-time employee at my university’s study-abroad campus in France (!)
  • Owner of a craft brewery
  • PR executive for Disney
  • Train conductor
  • State senator

Maybe Santa can bring me new names for my contact list to help me accomplish my goals.

So yes, I am interested in many things. Dilettante? No. Focused? Yes, for periods of time. Game show host? I can only hope. Thanks for helping me in one of my pursuits.

Anyway, happy holidays, and I look forward to seeing you in Washington, D.C.

Beth, Aspirational Polymath

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Dear Universe:

Thanks for all the twists and turns that led Eddie and me to meet each other and get together. He is the only person I truly ever could have been with for the long haul.

Why? He just gets me.

For example, he knows when to do a good deed. I came home from work and he had put up the Christmas tree and decorated the house. Score!

When you’ve been married a while (17 years for us), gestures like that sustain the relationship and keep it from getting boring. You have to look for treasures among the familiar. The excitement among the mundane. The embers in the ashes.

Sometimes it is not the big things that have the most impact. Just think about all the little things there are to be thankful for on a daily basis:

  • The cool side of the pillow
  • A for-no-reason kiss and hug from your child
  • The first sip of coffee in the morning
  • A spectacularly groomed beard (Nicholas David, I’m talking about you!)
  • Simple white Christmas lights
  • A super-sharp chef’s knife
  • Justin Bateman’s ad libs in “Horrible Bosses
  • Using a triple word space in Words With Friends
  • A light that turns green as you approach
  • Really good cotton sheets
  • Chumlee
  • The SNL “Single Ladies” video parody (especially Justin Timberlake)

The holiday season is filled with big moments. I’m going to take the time to appreciate the little ones too.

I’ll take a cue from my moment-planning husband.

Thanks again, Universe!

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