Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Ginger Does Life

After a crippling intellectual breakdown, life got on with itself. I have way too little time for these existential angst moments. I went hiking. I cared for the littlest beastie. I did something vaguely resembling school with the older beasties (we made clay brains!). I taught my classes. I cooked food. I went to Virgina to see my brother. And I came to the realization that really I'm not much suited for anything but the bloody academy. I hit a fence, folks, and I decided to tear it down.

I meet with some friends to discuss grad. school thinking it would help me to make a decision. It did not do this. Instead we seemed to talk ourselves in circles. H and I talked on the way home but I was still just not sure where to go. I had done a tarot reading (yes I do that) earlier that day and the cards, feeding off of me, captured the situation perfectly, including my indecision. It was apparent that no one or nothing was going to just make a decision for me.

When I got home, I needed to do some fast reading for a class (I am sitting in on a class with the best post-advisor ever. He lets me bring R (who sleeps the whole time). This guy seriously needs to be at a place that does Ph. D so I can have him for an advisor again). I'm reading this article. Typical, rather dry, sociological stuff. It's all about working class kids who go to college. And how they have to let go of their past to move on...and the next thing I know I'M CRYING. H and I talked this stuff out for about two hours. I realized I was tired of fighting. Of not fitting in. I can't play the game as well as those who were raised in this class. My speech betrays me. My past comes knocking when I don't want it to...I am always in the middle in this world. Not quite of the academy and no longer part of the poor. I am in between. Betwixt. I am scared. I am afraid that not knowing the game plan will lead to failure.

Upon waking the next morning, I'm pissed. Filled with a righteous anger. I am going to rip that fence out of the ground. The academy needs people like me. It needs those who come from the poor. It needs woman. Mothers. Baby bearers. Students need to see me wearing my baby to class before her daddy picks her up. It's that simple. Plus I am good at this (ignore the poor writing of my blog, I really can write). And with that fighting thought, I realize I can combine my passion for birth and mothering with my passion for the academy. There is lots of room in religion for the topic of mothering, birthing and children. I'm now piecing together a new project that has me really excited.

And all the while, I'm doing life.


Jennifer Welborn said...

I really understand where you're coming from here. We've discussed it on numerous occasions. You're absolutely right. The academy does need people like you--if for no other reason than to nurture other people like you, students who don't "fit" anywhere and don't know the game, students like both of us.

I decided to take a different leap. I learned that I could play the game (not be comfortable with it--but I could play it) and I could make it in academia. But I wasn't happy there. So I decided to do something equally scary--I guess we'll see where it takes me.

I know this was a hard decision for you. I am glad you finally got the answer you needed, and that you now know what to do. I can't wait to read your new project!

Lonna said...

When I was growing up, my mom used to type dissertations for PhD candidates in Psychology. They all had one thing in common: they had no other life outside of the dissertation because it was something they could not allow themselves.

I can only imagine how powerful you must seem to your peers and advisors.

You can do this, and you will be wonderful at it. And I am so happy that I've met you so I can watch it all happen!

John B-R said...

I've been thinking about this post ... Today I came across this blog which has a post that may resonate with you:

The God Of Normal and the university

One of the bits that made me think of you: "So who is queer these days? For starters, women with children. In researching this piece, I received a few e-mails from people who had to hide their gay BDSM lifestyles from their colleagues. However, it was pointed out to me that the real sexual nonconformists in academia are those considered some of the most normal in the real world: reproductive females. I was pointed to one study of art historians that revealed that, even with a field that is overwhelmingly (70%) female, men—especially married men with children—were granted tenure faster and more consistently, and at more prestigious institutions. For a woman to achieve on the level of a man, she needs to be, effectively, a female eunuch. ..."

I'm not writing this to discourage you, but rather to note that you're not the only one who notices the hypocrisy of the academy and the need to fight against it. If intellectual life is to be taken seriously, we need seriously real people in it.