Archives for posts with tag: academy

On this crisp and spitting Wednesday morning in Queens I find myself immobilized by the snail’s pace at which my writing progresses. You see, I can see the progress. I can feel it. In fact, I am apt to embrace the slowness. To cherish it. When are we afforded such opportunities to move slowly? No, it is not my own impatience with immobility that frustrates me. In my artistic work I relish slowness, and even stillness for that matter. I love choreographing still bodies on stage to illustrate how even still bodies are still moving. It is in stillness that we heighten our senses to notice the minute; the twinge of a toe or the flaring of the nostrils on a breath in become perceptible when everything around them is left still. These details heighten our perception of the world around us, and give us access into a part of our experience that we might not otherwise notice. I think the same is true with writing slowly, and therefore I would like to embrace the fact that I am slowly writing my dissertation. Not quickly. Not in a rush. But with patience and practice, so that that the details of my arguments can reveal themselves amidst the relative stillness of the words on the page. The twinges of toes and the flaring of nostrils can be included in my argument, rather than left out in the face of flying fingers and careless argumentation. But it is the temporalities that surround me that make me anxious about slowness, or even stillness. What happens to my own minutia when those around me grand jete through the dissertation? I think I will find out, because the writing is slow whether I like it or not.

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I am a graduate student who is writing a dissertation and aspiring to obtain “gainful” employment in the academy one day… If I am a smart and strategic feminist, if I am egregiously lucky, and if several starts align at the right moment. But I digress. As I approach completion of my degree I have begun to consider even more carefully my own career development and professionalization. Upon reflection, I find it interesting how I’ve acquired more career advice and wisdom from following blogs written by young female Internet entrepreneurs than I have mentors in my own field.

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Last year we celebrated New Year’s Eve with friends in my home town. At dinner, I decided that my New Year’s resolution was to apologize less in 2013.

Somewhere along the way, despite my apparently feminist upbringing and various levels of higher education to be an empowered woman, I missed the memo that women are made to apologize for their actions even when things aren’t their fault. I fell pray to this pesky habit – big time. I found myself apologizing multiple times in a conversation even for things that weren’t my fault.

The “I’m sorry” wasn’t even doing the work I needed it to. When I was in the hospital earlier this year, for example, I found myself apologizing for my illness and my need to rely on others. Instead, wouldn’t I more accurately express myself if I could just explain the meaning behind my overused place holder? Instead of I’m sorry, what about thank you? In a completely different context, I’ve come to fear making wrong choices that don’t make sense to others when writing in the academy. You could say I’ve learned to apologize before even putting pen to paper. Instead, I could feel empowered to share my ideas and open dialogue.

This brings me to the beginning of 2014. I’m not sure I apologize less, though I like to think that my apologies now accompany more thoughtful reflection and are sometimes replaced by mindful explanation. After a year with a wedding, cancer, moves, and many many thoughts on my place in this world, I hope for 2014 that I can strive to be true to myself and respectful of others. In doing so, I hope I can remain critical of my cultural tendencies while still respecting my comfort zones.

And I hope that this blog space is one without apology. I’ve wanted to keep a blog for some time, but haven’t known the right way, or topic. Scholarly, or personal? Feminist, or domestic? Mocktails, or design ideas? I’ve been paralyzed by the choices and afraid to make the wrong move; I’ve remained on the side of the apology. So, I hereby grant this blog a place for me to practice my goals without inhibition and without apology – even when it doesn’t quite coalesce or have a well rounded theme or make full sense to others. Whatever comes to fruition will be as honest as possible – within the bubble of my own performed self, of course, and also while striving to respect and account for those reading and writing with me.

Happy New Year. Here’s to a healthy 2014.

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I spent the past year planning a wedding.

It wasn’t a huge wedding. In fact, many people would consider my wedding small. We had 75 guests in a small estate in upstate NY. Nonetheless, wedding planning was something that consumed my life for a year. Surrounded by a career where I felt like I wasn’t allowed to be excited about my wedding I found myself geeking out on domestic details and spending hours – yes, hours and hours – perusing blogs about weddings, design, food, and the like. Wedding planning was like the forbidden fruit, or the world’s most terrifying procrastination tool for a graduate student artist who has to manage her own time. What was once a passion for wedding blogs – the colors, the textures, the designs, the photography, the social aspects, and also the narcissistic, unabashed, and socially/politically less engaged excitement over my own event – has now turned into a passion for life as a domesticated newlywed. I follow food blogs and blogs about kitchen gadgets. How did these domestic and materialist interests come about in someone who has considered herself a politically active and critical artist interested in things called “radical dance” and social practice? My avant-garde artistic tendencies clashed miserably with my newfound desire to “nest” and my all too normative comfort in making a home, buying pots and pans, and learning to cook new recipes. How could I justify or rectify the two increasingly distinct sides of myself: the professional side and the personal side?

Wedding planning led me to the blogosphere. I was particularly interested in Meg’s thoughts at apracticalwedding.com where she and other comrades explored many of the same feminist and social questions that I find myself asking on a daily basis. I have read several posts on or related to the topic of contradictory feminist tendencies and an interest in domesticity at A Practical Wedding. Most recently, I identified with Sharon’s post on Reclaiming Wife: Day Zero in which she discusses how while we don’t need to feel like we can have it all (a good marriage and a good career), when we want both of those things we don’t have to have them all at the same time. We can go through phases of feeling passionate about pursuing a career and then moments where feeling settled and satisfied with our home life is propelling our professional appetites. And I should confess that this wedding and newly married state is not the only moments that I’ve found comfort in cooking good foods and making a nice house. This is definitely something to which I am naturally predisposed, so when society told me that I better start thinking about cooking food in new pots and pans once the wedding was over… Well, twist my toes why don’t you.  

I am interested in this work/life dilemma, but my main interest is making the two simultaneously compatible. Because my career happens to be about the ways people exist in the world [how does technology affect everyday movement, how does movement facilitate social understanding, how does art making facilitate human relationships…] I think that I can make this topic central to my artistic quest. The thing that has gotten me a little bit off track has been my intellectual pursuit of my artistic interests. In this realm I must be ever vigilant to cross all T’s and dot all I’s in terms of research and writing. There isn’t always space to explore, pontificate, and dream. From here out I am giving myself the space to do just that. I hope that in this new space I will find the way to work/life balance and I hope that I can translate this into my movement practice and vice versa.  

So, why start this post off with the confessions of a 26-year-old bride? Well, my wedding ended up being a place for me to combine artistic interest with personal romance and domestic desires. I could think about the staging of an event, the pace of it, how people would move through spaces, what the costume and staging would look like. But this event, this performance, it was the most honest and true production I’ve ever staged or performed. It was in this event that I realized how unrealistic my artworks can be. So, exactly four weeks after my wedding, it is with my experience as a bride that I re-enter a creative space in pursuit of something that is real.

 I do run the risk of this reality being contrived, materialist, and privileged. I hope that I can maintain criticality while allowing myself to be honest. I guess this is the real divide that interests me. Forget work/life because I truly believe that these are compatible. Ultimately, I think I am interested in the relationship between criticality and privilege. I hope that this pursuit is less problematic than honest. I see people in my field every day who pretend to be critical and politically active when at home I can see that they relax in the comforts of a normative and/or privileged house. Rather than ignore this tension, I want to explore it and exploit it for the sake of figuring out what is wrong here and also what is right. 

**Photo credit goes to the fabulous Megan Dailor