In which I explain “In which”

I can’t say I was raised on Winnie-the-Pooh, but once I discovered the brilliance of A.A. Milne, Pooh and his friends became my friends too. I was a first-year student in college, and I remember that after the initial luster of college parties wore off and the hard work of being a student set in, I found myself in my basement dorm room one night with a new friend. Robin and I discovered that we dated the same guys in roughly the same order, one year apart. Although the relationships with the fraternity boys didn’t last, our friendship blossomed.

Later, on a Saturday night, on a cold, gray December weekend between Thanksgiving and Christmas, Robin suggested we read some Pooh. And as one does, when one adores a particular text, Robin produced a well-worn copy of Winnie the Pooh by A.A. Milne.  She turned to the beginning “In Which We are Introduced to Winnie-the-Pooh and Some Bees, and the Stories Begin” and continued to “In Which Piglet meets a Heffalump.” I remember laughing till I cried and howling out loud when Pooh explained to Christopher Robin that he was “practicing a deception upon the bees.”  Thus, I began my proper education.

As a child, I earned the nickname Tigger from my enthusiasm for games and adventures and was delighted to learn of the real Tigger and how he came to the Hundred-Acre Wood. Like Tigger, my spirit still unknowingly steps on some toes when I get a big idea or a notion for some fun.

All this to say, when I had my daughters, they learned about Winnie-the-Pooh from the start and continued with The House at Pooh Corner and both collections of poems, When We Were Very Young and Now We Are Six. If I have accomplished anything as a parent, I am perhaps, singularly proud that both of my girls can recite “Lines and Squares” by heart.

As a “second-career” graduate student, my biggest challenge is writing clearly and precisely, as academics do. I battle against the dreaded Passive Voice at every turn, rewriting sentences to claim their urgency and clarity. And in writing this post, it dawned on me that my affinity for the passive voice comes honestly from reading so much Winnie-the-Pooh at a formative age. All this to say, I continue to work on my writing, but I particularly enjoy “In which” because it gives me a chuckle every time I type it. I think to myself, “What are we up to now?” Or “what actually happened in that paper?” While “In which” may seem silly or unnecessary to some, it is, in fact, essential.

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