I realize it has been many moons since I last wrote here.
Some bloggers might feel apologetic for that. But I have spent a lot of time over the last few months thinking about habits, how our habits intercept our work, lives and relationships, and how to try and look at these habits without judgement. That said, I have tried to observe patterns and habits around my own writing without laying too much judgement. What I can say is this: I spent the winter and spring months writing like crazy as I completed my masters thesis. I was incredibly disciplined in this endeavor, setting aside 4-5 hour chunks 3 days a a week, venturing down to the same coffee shop on my bicycle, ordering a delicious made-to-order cup of coffee and plugging in my headphones. I wrote each chapter on schedule, and felt very little stress throughout the entire process. That is, until I realized that my system for organizing my citations had failed me at the very end, and I had to enter 10 pages of bibliographic citations by hand. Yeesh.
So now, months later, having submitted the 120 page document proudly to my committee and my family and friends, I have written very little. Scratch that. I have written zilch. Zero. Nothing. At. All.
This does bring me, if not shame, then mild embarrassment. I had grand visions for spending the summer drafting a journal article from my master’s thesis; writing a policy memo for the organization I volunteered with for my fieldwork; reading lots for my prelims this winter and writing copious notes. Alas, my pen was dry. The only writing I did, at all, was to jot down notes of my favorite recipes that I cooked. I also wrote some nice wedding cards. Ok? Ok.
Now I return to the blogosphere to whet me palette again for writing. I have an intensive 2 years of writing ahead of me: back to seminars, prelims statements, prelim exams, grant proposals, generals statements, general exams, dissertation proposal, etc. I also have many conferences on my docket, which I hope will galvanize my interest, intention, and attention towards nuanced pieces of my research and interests. Transitioning into the PhD from the Master’s in my program is historically very challenging for many students. The expectations are vague (ha! what else is new), the direction is unclear, and the projects are not as concrete as in the MA portion of the program.
However, the two conferences ahead of me should be very helpful in focusing my attention. The first, Imagining America, takes places in New York City. It will be an excellent opportunity for me to immerse myself in a conference about public scholarship: the role for graduate students, the potential for collaboration with local organizations, and envisioning the future of scholarship and partnership between universities and publics. I will be presenting a poster reflecting on my own work as a budding scholar-activist who works between and within the university and Seattle based non-profit sector. I will also forecast and provide some recommendations for future collaborations and ways that young people can more directly affect the direction of organizations.
The second conference is the 6th Race, Ethnicity and Place Conference, in San Juan, Puerto Rico. I will be presenting on a session titled, (En)countering Space, Place, and Agency: Everyday Youth Geographies, which will, “explore how children and youth live, navigate, and (re)define the linkages of race and ethnicity, space and place.” Here, I will reflect on how the young people at Youth Grow, where I did my fieldwork, are positioned and racialized as “good workers”. Through attention to middle class aspirations and work ethic, the youth are delineated between deserving- and undeserving-ness. This paper session will explore the nuances around how the youth assert their own agency and identity amidst very subtle, though powerful, disciplining.
Ah-ha. There. I’ve written. A bit. There is more to come. I also still plan to achieve all of the things I hoped to do this summer, just in the next 2 weeks. It is entirely possible to consolidate 2 months’ worth of work into 2 weeks, right? I believe it is. With less time we are more productive.
I approach this fall hoping to stay excited and open about new directions . I don’t yet know how I will articulate the three main contributions of my committee to my PhD direction, but I’m sure I will get there… [urban inequalities + new poverty studies + ideology/power]? [critical race theory + youth / technology + subjectivities]? [critical youth geographies + urban inequalities + discourse/ideology]? Oy. Too many options.
I’m excited to read and write on all of these things and start to pinpoint my identity as a scholar! Also, on the public scholarship front, I continue to operate under the belief that scholarship is experienced through everyday lived experience. I am learning and sharing and teaching and researching through all of my activities and activism: through community building, my mentorship with Seattle Youth Garden Works, my co-organizing for Eat for Equity Seattle, my involvement with the Public Scholarship program, my contributions to the Women Who Rock project, my travels to conferences… it all connects. I think this recognition is what enables me to have the energy, zest, and excitement to live a balanced graduate student life. So, here goes another year, with new transitions and expectations. And a lot of writing.