Wasting some time the other day, my daughter was browsing through an old copy of Eating Well magazine. The back page had a “Trends 2012” list – which I had skipped reading at the time for lack of interest in such lists. Until my daughter read it to me …. I don’t know who they assigned that back page to, but it is hilarious and well worth the (long-ish) read!! Enjoy the absurdity!
Looking back at my New Year’s post of goals I had set for 2014, I can’t believe that it is only July and so much has changed. It has been six months since my youngest daughter left for Australia (she will be home in just under 5 months yay!), and my oldest just signed up for her last year of undergraduate classes in Communications … crazy to think of how fast they grow up!
But probably the biggest change so far is – and as almost anyone who would listen knows, I have recently been offered, and accepted a Lecturer position in Game Studies Theory at Brunel University, West London. I am ecstatic that all my hardwork (and the hard work of my colleagues and support network of friends and family) has finally paid off. But with this great news is a big bag of life-altering – mostly awesome changes! The first of which is moving to the UK! It is crazy to think of leaving Montreal, it has been my home for 19 years! But it is even crazier to have such an amazing opportunity to move across the ocean and experience life in a new place, creating new networks and building new communities.
So looking at the goals I set, this is where I am at halfway through the year:
- not cry too much when my baby leaves for Australia: Ya, I cried – A LOT – still do when something reminds me that she is not here, but I am told this is normal, so I am ok with it…
- organize a 40th bday party for my partner (even though he’s not a big party guy): Didn’t end up having a big bash, but celebrations were had nonetheless
- write two kick-ass chapters with my co-authors: One is sent to the editors, the second one is due in a few weeks…. !
- complete my Spartan trifecta come hell or high water and maybe get a Mud Hero and Prison Break race under my belt this year: YA – this isn’t happening…. postponed my Season Pass to 2015 – BUT planning on getting my Trifecta in the UK (a whole other goal)
- keep applying for and hope to get an academic job in my field: Ding! Ding! Ding! Ding! We have a winner!
- attend at least 3 conferences: Happy I didn’t qualify this with “presenting” – 1, down, 2 to go!
Perhaps it is time to set a few more goals for this year and see how far I can get! =)
In six days …. my first post was January 19th, 2004…. so very strange! Some years I blogged more than others and as time went on, the content and tone changed (evolved?), but ten years have passed nonetheless! I created this blog using Blogspot (really liked the ability to change the back-end easily) but eventually got swayed by the shiny coat that was/is WordPress. Blogging – and mine specifically – has changed a lot in the last 10 years (a quick google search will give you tons of ‘histories of blogging’, some more thoughtful than others).
I started this blog as a way to think through and ramble on about almost everything ranging from grappling with course content as an undergrad, negotiating the generation gap between myself and my fellow classmates (often a good 10 years) to complaining about getting carded at the liquor store despite my age and sharing cocktail recipes. It feels surreal to go through my archives and read things that I’ve written, no matter how frivolous, and realize that those are my words on the screen, preserved like a picture in an old photo album, are mine. So. very, strange.
That liminal, ‘in-between’ stage can sometimes be a very fantastic place to be. I love taking the train when I travel because I’ve always loved that feeling of being in between where I left and where I was going. I loved that “liminal” feeling when I was a student. There was a freedom in that in-between stage of what/who I was before I went back to university, and becoming what I was working towards. Finishing the PhD was one of the most exhilarating and scary things I have ever done (short of raising two human beings!). After the defense, there was such a sense of accomplishment; of reaching the end of something big. But what that end really meant was the beginning of something new all over again.
For some, the transition between PhD and professional life is an smooth one. Perhaps they have a teaching position lined up or have successfully applied for a post-doc. But for others, that post-phd phase is a scary, bottomless vat of unknown. A full time job of sifting through grant and job applications, searching beyond ones area of expertise and desired geographical locations as well as contemplating employment opportunities outside of academia proper that are at least related to the focus of the last 10 years… Suddenly, liminality is no longer a space of freedom and unbridled opportunity. Added to trying to find one’s place in the academic world, the post-phd/pre-employment liminal period of academic life gets filled up with self-directed (and often unpaid) projects and events aimed at staying in-the game, maintaining connections with colleagues, keeping up that intellectual momentum until something comes through.
And I believe it will. During a recent lunch chat with my phd advisor, he reminded me that it is all about timing. Keep at it, and when the timing is right, someone, somewhere will be looking for exactly what I have to offer. But even though I believe that good things will happen, I am a bit more uncomfortable with liminality without a specific destination in sight.
I have been blogging more or less for almost ten years. Some years more than others of course. Every time I hear or read something interesting, I think to myself ‘oh, I should blog about that’ – and the draft posts in my dashboard is full of half-written blog posts about thoughts, ideas and opinions about almost everything. So why have I not published anything (especially anything of any substance) in a while? Well, after a conversation with a colleague yesterday, I think I’ve figured out the “why”. You see, I started this blog as an undergraduate. It was a place that I could ramble on about things that I didn’t understand, or work through understanding some theory or other, I shared reading notes and opinions on different aspects of my gaming experience, and even divulged curious thoughts about my personal life. I had no problem sharing what was in my head.
But the further along in my academic career I had gotten, the more and more I have become aware of what goes online stays online; colleagues and prospective employers search online to find out more about each other. Opinions are formed. With PhD in hand, I realize that I have increasingly become afraid of misinterpreting a book or theory and sharing that misinformed knowledge with the world. I have become nervous about ‘oversharing’ aspects of my personal life that I once found funny or curious because ‘you never know who is reading’ and how it will be perceived.
For me, blogging used to be an informal outlet for my random thoughts and jibberish, but as I get older and work the job market, I am more and more apprehensive about blogging about almost anything beyond newsworthy links and practical information. In the end, I’ve realized that the further along in my ‘career’ I’ve become, the less apt I am to share openly what is on my mind. I am realizing that there was freedom in being a ‘young’, green academic. I could say what came to the top of my head; ramble on about what X author made me think about, play with making connections – putting it out there to see what others thought and helped me think through things. But now, I am afraid of getting it wrong; of writing a rambling post on my thoughts on actor-network-theory and avatars and have someone tell me that I got it wrong. That thats now how it works, or worse yet, a prospective employer googling my as they review my application and stumbling upon a post that makes them think “hm, this lady doesn’t have a clue about X or Y” … And so, I realize that I have been blogging ‘safely’ – which most often ends up not at all.
Which brings me back to a question that Bart Simon asked me way back when I first started blogging -what is blogging to me? why am I blogging? Who am I blogging for? and What do I want to get out of blogging on a public platform? – I think it’s time I review my answers on these questions and see where it takes me as I try to move forward in (re)establishing my “digital presence” (this wasn’t even a thing when I started blogging!! – gah! Having to think about my image and ‘digital presence’ ugh!! lol)
On Thursday night, Thorsten Busch, Lina Eklund and Jennifer Whitson and I participated in an informal panel on “Coping with Academic Drama“. There was a great turn out, and I was really pleased with both the advice and discussion that ensued. One of the last things we touched on was online/digital presence, and it got me thinking. While my blog has been around for many years, I’ve come to realize that it is time for a complete overhaul of both aesthetics and content. I miss blogging, even though it has changed a lot over the years, but I realize that so have I. This blog started out as a space for myself as an undergrad to ramble on about being a full time student, parenting and grappling with the new world of academic thinking and social theory. But now that I am finished my PhD, while I still grapple with theory (who doesn’t?!), and on the job market, I have been rethinking my blog, the links it points to and how it does (or does not) reflect who I am both personally and professionally. So with that, I think it is time for a complete overhaul. So please, bear with me through the changes – and with any luck, I will get back to using this space to share my (often gibberish) thoughts, interesting links and notable goings-on both locally and online.
Sometimes, they are gems (left on a post of definitions from a Hannah Arendt reading from years ago no less):
Can I just say what a relief to search out someone who really knows what theyre talking about on the internet. You undoubtedly know find
out how to carry a problem to light and make it important. More individuals must learn this and understand this facet of the story. I cant
imagine youre no more fashionable since you positively have the gift.