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October 20, 2006


Welcome to my blog. I hope to keep everyone up to date here on the various projects I’m working on, what’s going on with the family, and other events and items of note from the frozen plains of Bismarck. I hope this will be a way to stay close with those of you who are far away and scattered across the nation and globe. I’m glad to be here; thanks for stopping by!

We’ve been in Bismarck for 14 months, and on the whole it’s been a good thing. It has certainly been a very busy time of growth for the whole family. I’ll try to sum up the big events in this first post, and then keep everyone updated from here on out as things move on.

Gwyn has been busy starting a homegrown art business. She does children’s art–paintings, prints, cards, magnets, and murals. She’s done several big art shows in surrounding towns, and has several more coming up in November and December. Most exciting is the media coverage she’s drawn; local news KFYR did a feature story on her that will run Monday, October 23rd, and she’s going to go national in March when HGTV’s show That’s Clever features her. That was a fun day of filming back in June–a camera crew from LA came out and spent eight hours getting the six minutes of footage they needed. You can check out Gwyn’s art at her web site: www.gwynandbearit.com.

Gwyn is also really enjoying her new job at the public library, working in the children’s room. And she’s most likely going to be on staff as a part-time grant writer for a transitional house for abused women here in Bismarck.

Eva has started pre-school at the local Montessori school, and loves it. She’s also taking dance classes and has a performance in early December. Pretty much Eva is interested in princesses, and fairies, and princesses, and dancing, and princesses, in that order. She’s gotten funnier and more headstrong as she’s gotten older, and she keeps us hopping and laughing.

She’s also been getting interested in doing art like her mom, and makes beautiful abstract color collages.


Ian has been the most successful of us as far as making a splash in Bismack. His drumming has
really taken off, thanks to his own talent and to his great new drum teacher, Brad Stockert. Ian won the Urban Idol kid’s talent show this summer, and on the way has been featured in the Bismarck Tribune and twice on KXMB news, once as a featured interview and story. He’s done two gigs downtown with me, and is quickly learning how to work a crowd. He loves his school and has made several close friends. If that’s not enough, he played a pirate named Weird Willie in a summer theatre production called “Kokonut Island,” and won the Tilted Screw award for his work there. We’re fairly certain that Ian’s on his way to some sort of performing career.

I’ve been working on learning to balance scholarship, teaching, university service, and family, while at the same time becoming part of the North Dakota arts community. I’ve been working with the North Dakota Humanities Council as a facillitator for North Dakota Reads, which means that I get to go to little towns around the state and lead reading group discussions. And I did a lecture on vampires in popular culture at Minot State University a couple of weeks ago. That was a blast–great turnout and a nice little reception afterwards. NDHC has also asked me to judge the Letters About Literature competition for kids in grades 4-12 next spring.

And all that’s outside my job. I’m really enjoying teaching at UMary, though as I say I’m finding it somewhat difficult to balance teaching with scholarship. I’ve contract with McFarland Press to publish a book version of my dissertation, which theoretically I’ll deliver to them in August of next year. Squeezing the time to work on the book out of my class and committee schedule is quite a challenge. We’ll see what happens. I have at least presented truncated versions of book chapters at two conferences in the last year: the Northeastern Modern Language Association in Philadelphia last March, and the Urban Underground conference in Cambridge, England about three weeks ago. Both trips were great, especially the three days in London last month. I’m taking a group of students to London for ten days next May, and am really looking forward to that as well.

Teaching is good–I’m doing a Vampires in Literature course this semester and next semester get to teach the inaugural semester of our new Introduction to the Profession of English course, which I get to help design. The students seem a notch or two above those I taught at USC, and my colleagues in the English department are smart and supportive. All in all it’s a great first job.

SO–that’s the long catch-up portion of the show. From here on out I’ll keep you updated on what’s happening with us and with my work, and I’ll also probably ruminate and expostulate from time to time. Please feel free to comment here or write to me at jridenhour@umary.edu. I’d love to hear from you. We’re a long way from everywhere…

Jamie

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