Thursday, September 27, 2012

Remember, this is about Freedom.

I know it's a little late in the week for updates, but I made a promise and I'm holding myself accountable (weekly updates). So I'm on a plane to Madison, Wisconsin for a Print Cultures Conference. As I mentioned last week, I may have been a bit over zealous with the scheduling, but I will do my best to be extra attentive to my body now because I have a tendency to live in my head its easy for me to forget self care. I've been known to forget basic things like eating and drinking water. I can go a whole day on a cup of coffee and I only realize I haven't eaten because I begin to feel light headed or headachy. We must take care of our bodies. We must take care of our hearts. We must take care of each other.

If you are feeling overly anxious, depressed, or anything that indicates something is wrong--take a moment to check in with self. Why are you so worried? What are you afraid of? And for a second go there. If the worst thing did occur how would you respond? I'm a big fan of alternative plan making just so that I remember that no matter what there's always a way, even if it wasn't the original plan I mapped out for myself.

And what does this have to do with writing? Everything. Writing is my job, but writing is also my spiritual practice, the first craft I ever fell in love with and I must honor that. Writing in the Academy under pressure can make you forget your love of words and communication. We must keep in mind that at the end of the day many of us will write amazing dissertations and finally walk across stages with our much deserved Harry Potter uniforms; yet, we may not get jobs. So what will you do when all is said and done and you're an unemployed doctor who just spent the last 5-10years working towards  this goal? How will you remain committed to and affirmed in your own brilliance even if you never receive any institutional recognition? Will you be okay? I want you to be okay.

I remind myself that I'm a writer. I'm a writer right now. I was a writer when I was 5. I will continue to be a writer after I get my PhD. Sometimes we have to be reminded of the reasons why we do the things we do because it can get confusing. Am I writing this to impress my committee? Am I writing this because I feel passionate about it? If someone told you your work was unimportant, would you have a breakdown or would you continue to write? There will be haters. Sometimes you might not say the perfect word or write the perfect sentence, but keep writing because it really isn't about the final destination(this might change), it's about the journey. Each time you write you get better. 

For me, sharing my work at conferences or with new friends is when I find myself most present to my pleasure in this work. It's about connection, building and creating together. In the academy we are taught to get it done. No matter the cost. No matter how insane you might feel, get it done! And usually you are alone in some dark place trying to write your way to freedom. Alone.  We are taught to strive to create new fashionable language that displaces the old, but I'm still stuck on freedom. I believe we need new language to "tranifest" our new world, but know it's not the new word, rather it's how the new word enables new possibilities for living in this world (not just our institutions) with joy. If we take just two steps outside our academic silos we will see our names don't mean much-and our new fancy words haven't quite hit the streets yet;) And this is not to say that changing academic discourse within the academy isn't important because it is, but we need to be aware of the bigger project of liberation. 

We must recognize our privilege as scholars (in training). Our work is thinking, dreaming, visioning story-telling, teaching, learning, questioning...Yes, it is a challenge, but we are privileged and we must honor that and keep our minds set on changing the world. That is what we want (and if you don't know what I'm talking about read this again at a later date;) The kind of world that I want to live in will not sustain our ego trippin' or the reproduction of trauma (passed down from one scarred professor, to grad student(future professor), to student). A shift in the structures of power doesn't simply effect cis gender white men--we all have to change and become anew. 

On that note...I'll end this update by saying that writing is going slowly but going. I'm experiencing a lot of interruptions with publication deadlines, conferences, and fellowship applications, but I know that it is all going to come together. I have a community that supports and challenges me. We have the power to make it happen and we have a responsibility to change the conditions so that our future scholars know that this work is not about one great wo/man's genius--it's about collectively building  a new university where race, gender, class, and sexuality aren't simply the courses you take to fulfill your diversity requirement. I envison a new university accessible to all, a univesity that won't require indebted souls (student loan debt) in exchange for the right to produce knowledge (that don't even sound right...wait, it's not;). 

Let's go people! Get your write on!

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