It’s Been a Hot Minute, Hasn’t It?

Hello, Blogosphere!

So, I just logged in to this space for the first time in . . . a while. Reading through my last post, written in July of last year, I find it truly resonates with me, and I know many of you reached out to me to thank me for writing it because it was what you needed to hear. Well, I needed to hear it, myself, so I wrote it. I think that’s how so much writing gets started, no? We write the things we want and need to read. We’re always lucky when someone else wants or needs to read it, too. I’m glad you’re here reading. #ThanksForReading.

And I’m glad to be here, writing. I do enjoy blogging. I don’t have the same amount of time and energy to devote to it as I once did, and I’m not sure that’s going to change for the better going forward, but I hope to be able to settle into something of a regular routine of posting again.

I always do an annual recap, and this year it’s late but here you go. In 2020 I . . .

. . .Survived–so far and with luck and the grace of all the universal forces and spirits we collectively believe in–this global pandemic.

Honestly, I’d like to just stop there, because that in itself is an enormous achievement for we mere mortals, that we live, that we survive. And I want to honor that for all of us, that if we are here writing and reading this blog post it’s because we survived, and that is enough. Let’s not trivialize the significance of that achievement in itself. But it would also be a lie and disingenuous, and y’all know how I feel about lies and inauthenticity. For me, individually, barring the stress, the anxiety, and the massive increase in work that came with taking all of my classes suddenly online in Spring and then teaching a strange form of hyflex this past Fall, 2020 was actually personally and professionally a pretty great year. Here’s a run-down of things I managed to accomplish:

Publications

Fiction

My short story, “Dr. Watson and the Werewolf,” appeared in the Full Moon and Howlin‘ werewolf anthology: https://www.amazon.com/Full-Moon-Howlin-Werewolf-Anthology/dp/B08P3H135V/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=full+moon+and+howlin&qid=1611068409&s=books&sr=1-1 . This is the first in a series of stories I am writing featuring the great-grandson of Dr. Watson of Sherlock Holmes fame, who finds himself taking on the mantle of his predecessor, whose extracurricular activity featured serving as the medical attendant of nocturnal and underworld creatures.

My short story “Truth and Toe Shoes” appeared in HeartWood  Literary Magazine: http://www.heartwoodlitmag.com/truth-and-toe-shoes

Poetry

I published my first poetry collection, Arthurian Things, with Dark Myth Publishing. In addition to my book, I published three poems in 2020: “Akasha” in the North Carolina Bards Anthology of Poetry, and “Shadow-Dwellers” and “Lines” at Spillwords.  

Scholarly Article

“Failed Ritualized Feasts and the Limitations of Community in Branwen ferch Lŷr.” Proceedings of the Harvard Celtic Studies Colloquium 38 (2018; pub. 2020). 201—215.

Scholarly Reviews

Fantasy in Greek and Roman Literature, by Graham Anderson. Bryn  Mawr Classical Review, 13 November 2020.Available online: https://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2020/2020.11.23/

Classic Readings on Monster Theory: Demonstrare, Volume One and Primary Sources on Monsters: Demonstrare, Volume Two, by Asa Simon Mittmann and Marcus Hensel. Medieval Speaking, 25 June 2020. Available online: https://medievallyspeaking.blogspot.com/2020/06/mittman-and-hensel-demonstrare-classic.html?fbclid=IwAR2V6nyoNc4R_dOaQRV0WA34rba_WxwPFlLzARTO8QoFzqAHBA-SwRFBOJY

Teaching

I taught my usual nine classes across Spring, Summer, and Fall terms in 2020: 2 sections of comp, 2 sections of World Literature to 1500, 1 section of British Literature to 1800, Celtic Literature, Chaucer, History of the English Language, and Senior Capstone in English Studies. And my students continue to be on my “best things in life” list. They have been extraordinary in handling these uncertain times, resilient, resourceful, vulnerable, creative–and as always, I learn so much from them.

Recognitions

I was deeply honored to be awarded two prizes for my teaching this year: the TEAMS Medieval Teaching Prize and the Southeastern Medieval Association‘s Teaching Excellence Award.

Beyond these, I continued to serve as the President for the Society for Medieval Feminist Scholarship, chaired the Modern Language Association’s Celtic Studies form and the Medieval Academy of America’s K-12 Committee, and continued to serve on the boards for SEMA, ASIMS, and MEARCSTAPA; continued as Associate Editor of The Heroic Age and book reviews editor for Medieval Feminist Forum, stepped down as book reviews editor for College Literature, and joined Medieval Institute Publications, Monsters, Prodigies and Demons series as a series editor.

And, last but not least, personally and, again, through the grace of whatever unseen forces govern our existence on this planet, our family was able to remain healthy, happy, safe, and together this year. And I do not take that lightly, with so many people suffering unspeakable tragedies around us. I really feel my privilege, the weight and responsibility of it, the obligation to use it to support others through all of this. There’s a strange, schizoid reality involved, when you have so much to be thankful and grateful for and to celebrate, while also living with the enormity of loss and pain surrounding you. I’m trying to find the center, where I’m able to feel and celebrate my own successes, while also being desperately worried and afraid for others. I haven’t really managed it, or at least not well. If anyone’s got answers to how to do that, I’m all ears.

And still, the good. I learned, much to my delight, that I love my husband EVEN MORE when we are cooped up together for months on end in social distancing (I mean, I’ve known for a long time he’s the love of my life, but living confirmation of that day-in and day-out never hurts, does it?) And watching many relationships fizzle out this past year because people realized they were NOT especially compatible when confined only to the company of one another, I do take great joy and comfort in the stability and even deepening that ours has enjoyed.

And . . . we added a new member to our family. Those who follow me on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter already know this, but for those who do not, here’s Korra Ruth (the) Corgi Elmes, the Notorious KRC:

Don’t worry, the cats are (mostly) fine with this new development:

Korra, Raven, and Ariel, sharing the prime real estate that is the couch

Yes, she is named for a combination of the Avatar character, Diana’s familiar in A Discovery of Witches, and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, because she is a big dog in a little package. Our Korra is beautiful, stubborn, headstrong, courageous, tenacious, hilarious, obstinate, willful, adorable, playful, fun, energetic, cuddly, and insanely intelligent.

It’s really nice to have a dog again; we haven’t owned one since our shelties and golden retriever passed away ten years ago.

And I didn’t know that I was a corgi person, but it turns out that I am.

So, what’s next?

I’d like for 2021 to be a little . . . simpler than 2020, but I’d be lying if I didn’t acknowledge that this is a virtually impossible ask. First and foremost, I’ll be continuing along with the rest of the world to weather the pandemic and our uncertain political climate, and I’m teaching several new courses, again in our adopted hyflex fashion, that require a lot of preparation. We’ll be spending this year helping Korra learn to be a well-behaved dog, in itself an enormous undertaking, as anyone who’s raised a willful puppy knows. I have several scholarly collaborations in the works that I need to make progress on (because other people are involved, and it is always easier for me to work on behalf of others than for myself) and several scholarly projects in the works that I want to make progress on, time and energy willing. And while creativity has not come easily to me in 2020 and I continue to struggle with it here at the beginning of 2021, nonetheless I am working away on the Dr. Watson story series, a collection of poems, and several smaller stand-alone projects. It would be nice to complete a draft of my novel-in-progress. I’ve taken this month to trying something new: listening to a poetry or writing podcast, and just letting my mind wander on the page as I’m listening. This has been helpful to me in terms of jump-starting some sparks. We’ll see where those go. I have a writer’s goal of submitting 5 works a month. I definitely want to read more, for fun and not simply for work, which is something I’ve found I struggle with. And to watch more television and film, which my family has been urging me to do but, again, which I struggle with (all those “you should be spending your time . . . instead of . . .” thoughts are loud, y’all.) Obviously, my main goal is to stay healthy, and to take care of my family and get my students successfully through this Spring term. And beyond that–we’ll just see what happens. It’s sure to be unexpected and interesting, whatever else it is.

About Melissa Ridley Elmes

Professor and writer; Unrepentant nerd; chaotic good. Author of Arthurian Things: A Collection of Poems. PhD, MFA. She/hers. Views my own.
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2 Responses to It’s Been a Hot Minute, Hasn’t It?

  1. sballtxteacher says:

    Oh my goodness, your baby Corgi is precious! I had to follow you immediately, even before I noticed you were a teacher. LOL

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