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“Just One More Minute”: Exuberantly Doing Too Much

I’ve been thinking a lot about the video above. It’s not Owen Pallett’s best performance – a little rushed and rough around the edges (perhaps for obvious reasons as you watch it). However, the joy in performing and exploring and sharing his work – in recklessly racing past a threshold of safety in doing so – feels infectious.

Lately, I’ve been doing more work than I expected or probably should. I’m in the midst of writing, reviewing proofs of, collecting writing of others for several different books. I’m diving into the beginning of a three-year grant project with some awesome colleagues here in Colorado. I’m moving forward with a multi-year ethnographic study of tabletop gameplay. All of these are exciting announcements that will merit their own posts as they slowly manifest online real estate in the next few months. I suspect, if pressed, mentors will tell me to scale back on some of this work. Focus.

And yet. I love that I can chase down so many avenues of what learning, engagement, and literacy look like today. Career-wise it’s not a race, but I also think about the urgency of the students in our schools, everyday, that deserve better. I didn’t leave the K-12 classroom to coast comfortably through academia (and such notions are quickly laid to waste when looking at tenure requirements and the expected hustle of labor in higher education). And at the same time, all of the work I’m doing feels fun. Sure, the moment-to-moment drudgery of editing or writing is work, but it’s rewarding work that feels like prodding in unfamiliar spaces of our understanding of how people learn and how to make our educational processes better. I’m often racing from one online conversation to meeting with an advisee to chasing down a writing deadline. “Just one more minute.”

This summer has already been a busy one. The CSU Writing Project’s kicked off a summer youth program for the Youth Scientific Civic Inquiry work I helped conceptualize with other scholars in Fort Collins. I’ve collaborated on several presentations and teacher workshops at comic conventions (both in Denver and next month in San Diego). I helped organize a local panel with Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in Denver. There were several workshops with school districts. Some game design work for teacher PD that is being funneled into public existence very soon. All this to say I write this from LAX, having spent a week in LA for three different events: a handful of presentations at the DML 2015 conference (easiest link-fodder: this ignite talk with the wonderful Anna Smith), the first (of many) C:\DAGS game jams (full write up coming), and a day-long Games+Learning Summit held in conjunction with the E3 convention currently happening. “Just let me finish this song.” Foolhardy, rewarding, energizing.

I’ll end here by noting that this isn’t just about being busy (something I’ve reflected on here). Whether watching “bad” reality TV (I am seriously pondering a post on Married at First Sight at some point), occasionally hiking, or playing board games with friends (Sushi Go is our latest favorite), being deliberate with when I’m “on” has been rejuvenating. I recently bough a digital alarm clock so that my iPhone doesn’t come into my bedroom, something that’s helped me be deliberate with reading at night, not checking my email as soon as I wake up, and not worrying about what’s happening in the digital realm for a few hours each night.

Earlier this month, Ally and I trekked to Red Rocks to see a couple of openers for the band The Decemberists – Spoon and Courtney Barnett. Their performances were loud and playful in the occasionally raining weather that CO is so good at surprising me with on a near-daily basis. Spoon finished their set backed by the panache of lightning across the Front Range. Afterwards, the venue went into a weather delay. I remembered seeing the Decemberists playing in UCLA’s Kerckhoff Hall coffee shop more than a decade ago and we decided to make the long walk to our car, toward shelter, back home. I was sure that the Decemberists might be giving their own “One more minute” performance in one of the most amazing, natural amphitheaters in the world. But we pick our battles and this was a time when it felt wonderful to splash in the parking lot toward our car and to find respite, even if we were missing someone else’s opus.

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