Cut Off At The Salad Bar: Dave Copeland’s Blog

I’ve been blogging since May 2002 — not one of the first, but well before all the cool kids tried it, made it a craze, then gave up on it. The best way to describe this portion of my writing life is part personal notebook where I test ideas and pieces of drafts I’m working on, part self-promotion, and part random ranting.


Frequently addressed topics include journalism, teaching and higher educations, writing, cooking, drinking (or, more specifically, not drinking, running, reading and life in general. Comments are appreciated but monitored before they appear on this site. All views expressed on “Cut Off At The Salad Bar” are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of any of his past, present or future employers.

When Students Teach Teachers

Posted April 15th, 2014 in Life

Teaching first: a favorite former student died in a car crash yesterday. Stephanie Picher was the type of student who makes teaching at Bridgewater State University so worthwhile: she had failed out in her first go around as a traditional student and then came back when she actually had her life figured out and knew what she wanted to do. There’s a type of student I see here more than most other places I have been that values being given a second chances and comes away from here with the valuable life skill of knowing it’s okay to fuck up once, twice or several times, as long as you learn how to fix it and move on.

She was “nontraditional” in the sense she was a 28-year-old in a classroom full of people as much as a decade younger, but also nontraditional in that she challenged me and other students to think harder, work harder and do better. She also proudly referred to herself a dyke on a campus where such admissions can still elicit awkward, sophomoric chuckles and had a passion for Lady Gaga (which I never did quite get).

One of my proudest moments in that intro to journalism class — and in seven years of teaching, for that matter — was after teaching students to be fearless of strangers in reporting stories, she tracked down and interviewed my then girlfriend and now wife  for a final assignment that required students to write a profile about me. She did this when she could have easily resorted to a Google search or half-assed interviews of other students who had taken my class and still gotten a decent grade.

By the time I met her four years ago she was sober and determined and a talented writer. She entered my life at a point where I had recently stopped drinking but still wasn’t 100% sure why. While we didn’t really talk about sobriety, we talked around life after drinking and it was reassuring you could still be your own person (and even be more of your own person) without drinking.

As I have frequently said, the best part about this job is that you routinely learn way more from your students than you could ever possibly hope to teach them.

On Grief

Posted March 11th, 2014 in Life, Uncategorized

Since Cosmo’s passing I have had a lot of time to think about grief. And I have been reminded that grief is pretty much the brain trying to solve an unsolvable equation. It knows it is unsolvable but it won’t give up, won’t rest until it has been processed in every possible angle and seen for itself that it cannot be processed, that loss is not always meant to be understood in the way we understand so much of everything else in life.

It’s the kind of thought process that dominates both conscious and subconscious thought (the dreams I have had this past week are, in a word, fucked up and sad).

Eventually, the brain will give up and move on. Or move on as much as possible.

But I’m also reminded that it’s a necessary human function, it’s part of the process of moving on and it’s part of the process of living, feeling, loving. Which is why, of all the notes I received, I loved this note from my father-in-law the best:

I just wanted to tell you how much I am going to miss Cosmo. He was a great dog who no doubt reflected the care, training and love you gave him. I enjoyed my brief opportunities to walk him and have him sleep at my feet. I felt very soon after I met him that he was part of our lives. I have had a couple of dogs in my life that were friends I treasured. I still think of them and smile when I do something I did with them. My sheepdog liked a good cigar as much as I did. I know it will take a while for you to get over the loss of Cosmo, but fortunately you will have many wonderful memories.

In other words, as hard as the past week has been — seeing his bowl with food still in it, sweeping up hair that has been shed over the years, writing thank you notes to his vet and walkers, and trying to motivate myself to store all of his stuff — it will get better.

And that someday I may very well allow another dog to take (and eventually break) my heart again.

Thanks to all who have reached out to us this past week. It has meant so much to know that how I’m feeling is normal and appropriate when you lose a pet.

Good night, sweet boy

Posted March 6th, 2014 in Cosmo

chicken 009


Last night my wife and I had to say goodbye to Cosmo, who had been diagnosed with malignant tumors in March. We’re devastated and feeling a huge hole but relieved that he is no longer suffering.

It’s not an exaggeration to say Kate and I would not be married if it weren’t for Cosmo, and there were some dark periods in the 11 years I had him where I can say the only thing that got me home was knowing he was relying on me. I never knew how much I would learn from a dog, and as awful as I feel right now I would not trade a minute of the time I had with him to make this pain go away.

COMM 229-W02, Week Two: Visual and Aural Signs

Posted February 1st, 2014 in Bridgewater State University

This week’s lecture is going to test the limits of our online format, in that this class works best when we can all look at the images in real-time and discuss what symbols we see and what emotions the media in question is trying to elicit.

But we’ll do our best. Like last week, the lecture is broken into several segments. Watch the videos in order and take notes. When you have completed the reading and the lecture, go ahead and take your second quiz. Continue Reading »

Self Portrait #4

Posted January 28th, 2014 in Photos

52 weeks in a year and I plan to take 52 self-portraits. Here’s #4:

Baldies, January 22, 2014


Previous posts in this series.

What They’ll Say At My Funeral

Posted January 28th, 2014 in Technology

Photo Jan 28, 4 51 00 AM

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