Why Rome (Part 2)

Posted: June 9, 2019 in Uncategorized

Think about where you are right now, reading this.

Think about where you are in relation to everything: are you at work? At home? In your office? Driving (don’t read blog posts while you’re driving) to or from something? All of these are places, intersecting. Think about where you are in your life — did you just start a relationship, leave a job, get good news? Are you sleepy? These are places. We could argue (and i’m inclined to) that each of these locations are places where we intersect. They’re rhetorical spaces.

A year ago, I sat on the Cog Railway and climbed Mount Washington (in the train, I didn’t hike. No way). The year before, I was with my cousin exploring the final resting places of some of my ancestors. Before that, I was on the Isle of Skye. Before that I was in the Endless Mountains of Pennsylvania (and also exploring final resting places). Before that was, I think, the depressed failure of my aborted trip to New Orleans. Why do I know what I was doing on this day over the years? Because it’s my birthday today. Which is a place that I remember, a time that I remember. This post will go live at 1:23pm, the time I was born.

A year ago April, I went to the University of Washington’s Whiteley Center in Friday Harbor, Washington. I spent a week with an office overlooking the water, writing. I wrote a series of essays about my life: my parents, my job, the people I worked with. They’re pieces of writing i’d started over the years, but never finished. Could never seem to finish. It wasn’t until I changed the place I was in, that the words came. It took space and perspective to understand the shape of the story I wanted to tell.

This theme of space and place and writing is the goal of my time in Italy. I want to explore how they intersect. Some of this will feed into a section of Composition i’ll be teaching in the Fall. More will be, I hope the subject of my dissertation, as I apply for Plymouth State’s EdD program beginning next summer.

But like all research, and all writing, it feels like a set of notes that will become a melody, will become verses, will become something larger.

I’ve begun a reading list (some of which I’ve begun, some of which is To Be Read) that I’m hoping starts stringing things together. I would be delighted if folks had additional thoughts or things to read.

  • Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
  • Underground: A Human History of the Worlds Beneath our Feet by Will Hunt
  • A Field Guide to Getting Lost by Rebecca Solnit
  • The Old Ways: A Journey on Foot by Robert MacFarlane
  • Rome: A Cultural, Visual, and Personal History by Robert Hughes
  • Why They Can’t Write by John Warner
  • Hollowing out the Middle by Patrick J. Carr

It’s hard to know what soup will be built out of these ingredients and the ingredients that will be added later. But it’s interesting to think about.

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