The start of the semester is upon me. A swarm of locusts. Buzzing alarm clocks. Emails, Lord, the emails.

The respite of Winter Break is a thing of the past. The cacophony of Spring of 2023 looms before me.

I could use another month of video games. I’ve almost figured out how to make Elden Ring a playable game. I’m ranked in the top 8,000 players of Madden ’23 in the country. Such feats speak more to a peaceful suspension of disbelief than to any sort of reasonable accomplishment. Embarrassing more than anything else. And yet I share them all the same.

And now classes are starting. And now my outlook calendar looks like a dumpster fire. And now I proceed with the adult work of year number eight as a college professor.


“Dad,” my nine-year-old self would say, “I don’t feel so good.”

And then I’d show him a thermometer that I’d been warming with friction for fifteen minutes. Remember when thermometers weren’t electronic? The 80’s seem like a different universe.

“I think I have a fever. Can I stay home?”

“Sure,” Dad would say. He usually said sure. And then I’d collapse in my bedroom, forget about the stress of school, and play Nintendo or read books. Glory days. They’ll pass you by.

Please don’t think I’m lazy. I assure you I’m not. I’ve left an obsessive string of blogs in my wake that should prove my industrious nature. And it’s not like I haven’t put in my hours. I was working 40 hours a week at McDonalds as a junior in high school for goodness’ sake. I’m not afraid to roll my sleeves up, it’s just that I’d prefer to collapse on a couch, clad in my underwear, and waste away the hours doing my damnedest to figure out how not to die in Elden Ring. For those of you who haven’t played Elden Ring, it’s the hardest video game ever created by the human race. In my humble opinion.

Anyway, Dad’s older now. And now I’m Dad. And I don’t have anybody to beg to stay home. So it’s off to work I go. I’m sure I’ll be as industrious as ever as I speed forward into my second semester at The University of Iowa. Go Hawks.


I read lots of campus satire over break. Julie Schumacher has two delightful books: Dear Committee Members and The Shakespeare Requirement. Pure satirical madness. Skewering the life of college professors. Check them out.

The books reminded me of my new favorite novel Straight Man by Richard Russo. My advisor from Minnesota suggested it to me over the summer. Funniest book I’ve ever read. And it was even set in a fictional version of Penn State Altoona, my former place of work. I recently saw they plan to make a Netflix series out of the book. Bob Odenkirk and everything.

Campus satire helps me keep a little perspective and it’s good to laugh. In fact, that might be my next creative project. Some form of campus satire. Something to help me laugh at the work I find myself doing in my 40’s. Something to keep a little perspective on the swarms of locusts, the buzzing alarm clocks, and the emails. Lord, the emails. I do all sorts of strange writing. Maybe I should put more energy into academic writing, but I’ve done all sorts of that. It’s good to have other outlets. Other genres. Keep a little bit of my soul as I keep at it. That’s important, I think.

Anyway, time to go back to work.

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