Day One

Day One:

Bear with me. This will be (although I may be lying) the longest post I’ll write. If you’re close by in the Bay, you know I’ll get you a beer or help you out at the tiki bar for reading all this jibber jabber that I don’t often share. If you’re not close, then you’re probably reading this solely as a good friend or family member or both, and I’ll either read something of yours, call you infrequently but lovingly, help you plan a party or crisis intervention, be nostalgic together, entertain you with pugs, or end up in a retirement village with you in my old age. I figure either way we’ll have a longer history together than this really long post or potentially unstable blog.

If I’m new to you, then this is the beginning.

It’s day one of this blog about finishing a dissertation (I’m finishing a PhD in Literature), starting a business in education, building curriculums, building good schools, and writing. I just want to say that the idea—Day One—is also the name of a sci-fi/common-place book I have wanted to write about a group of strangers who opt in for a one-way trip to Mars. But, I have not had the time or patience or imagination to devote to take that trip with them. Everything begins to look like the passageways under the MIT laboratories or Reno, Nevada on the way to Virginia City, everything winding away. Maybe one day I’ll get to the book and get my imagination to Mars, or to the novel, or to wherever there is. I often feel like I am on Mars in terms of headspace, whatever that may look like (follow the curiousity rover’s twitter feed here: https://twitter.com/MarsCuriosity)

So, for the moment, I’ll start with starting this terrible confessional about where I am with my dissertation right now:

Dissertation Photo

If there was a page length called “all over the place,” that is exactly what page I am at.  I’m writing about contemporary women poets and alternative archival methods.  I love the concept of rearranging history, and I love the fact that these women were ready (are ready) to think about different ways of configuring historical evidence.  It makes me think that we can free up some space for other “accountable” truths. Here’s the check-in:

Chapter Introduction Muriel Rukeyser Susan Howe NourbeSe Philips Kara Walker Conclusion on open access archives
Status A load of Pieces + 20 pages 50 pages of something A lot of conference papers Conference papers + 50 pages Chapter of love, dumped for sake of time Lots of notes and dreams of finishing.

I also want to use this blog to talk about the university and a career in the humanities.  I mean, it’s hard for me (right now) to believe in a career in academic work. A professor of mine told me once that 900 people applied for a job for American Studies/Literature. Let’s even take off a 0 for hyperbole, and it’s still a competition that I don’t know if I want to line up for. I believe in my scholarship and I believe in scholarly work, but I also have always been a little hesitant about what constitutes or qualifies as career trajectory in the Academy.  Seeing the many people who have written “letters to the Academy” or some revision there of (Langston Hughes, Muriel Rukeyser, Adrienne Rich, etc.), I figure I’m in good company.  The current state of academic work—a post-doc and another post-doc and a fellowship and a possible tenure track but probably another contracted lectureship–is formidable.  While I wholly admire the work scholars produce, I think I (and others, too) sometimes have a different conception of what scholarly work could look like. Not better, not worse, just other than…another option, let’s say. Plus, I’ve never been one to wait in a long line and believe that the long line actually delivers everyone a reward at the end of it (nor do I think the time spent waiting is always worth it).

One thing I know and that I’ve realized over and over again is that I’ve always wanted to have my own business. Maybe it was selling books I found, loving a good garage sale, selling things on Ebay, wanting to charge for dinners I cook, wanting to charge for tours around SF apartment real-estate scenes, professional English tutoring…I feel like I’ve always figured out how to make a buck on the side.   I love the idea of steering and running a ship on whatever course is ready for navigation.  I love school, but I also want to explore, I want to wander off campus, I want to know institutions, I want to know innovators, I want a lab, and I want a product…So, I am working on business ideas that pick up on what I think I am good at: 1) teaching and working with struggling students 2) creating curriculum 3) planning conferences and events 4) believing in  creative ideas 5) promoting good ideas…and, most importantly, 6) taking risks and ready to change.

This blog will hopefully be a place to talk about these adventures.

More than anything, this is a place to share my writing and a bit of my life.  I have a couple of pugs, and you’ll probably learn more about them (& me) in my intersecting project called Life After Dogs. This is a sketchbook of what it’s like to get on in the world with dogs in tow.

And, last, in terms of writing and Day One, if you’re curious (maybe you’re not 🙂 ) about the characters I want to send to Mars for the novel Day One—one is a renegade Reno cowboy sheep rancher, another is a Spanish woman who lives in her own nostalgia from the Dominican Republic, a trauma surgeon, an Indian cinematographer, and a group of scientists and sociologists.  Everyone wants to leave behind their legacy there, on Mars.  But everything in Mars is kind of about the everyday of here, and kind of about the inevitability of technological and human malfunctions, and sometimes about the totally inadequate way of describing how beautiful space probably is…Anyway, this is where my head is for now.

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