Yesterday I made a trip to my local Goodwill, which I do semi-regularly. I worked through the racks, examining the degree of wear, looking for stains and holes, checking the brand names. It got me thinking about going to Village Thrift at Broad and Olney in Philadelphia after school – I went to Girls’ High right across the street. I didn’t really like to go. The store always smelled. I was never very good at finding good pieces. My older sister on the other hand was a thrift store force. She was patient. And she was very discerning. I’d run out of energy about a half hour in and want to leave and she’d say ok, and then start looking through another rack that she hadn’t worked through yet. She’d pull out everything that could possibly be worth wearing and then we’d have a cart purge at the back of the store when we were done. Even though I could only stand about a half hour to her hour and a half, there was always such joy in the good find. Read more
Posts from the ‘Personal’ Category
People seem generally agreed that 2016 was a crap year. The best people died and the worst people won. In the face of this crappiness, I sat down to think about the happy things of this past year. I made this list before Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds died and before a colleague was harassed by white supremacists for mocking their racist concepts and now I don’t have much enthusiasm for sharing it. I’m concerned about focusing on my individual successes in the face of collective adversity. I know that the political losses of this year and the emboldening of the agents of injustice will require vigilance and thoughtfulness for the sake of creating a new and better world. I recall the good things of the year then in the spirit of possibility for doing that work.
- It was my first year as a tenured professor.
- I’m on my first sabbatical.
- We bought a house!
- We moved to a big(gish) city.
- I turned 40.
- Some really great people came to visit.
- I had a gloriously sunny Cape May vacation with the nieces and nephews and sisters.
- I gave some good talks and got some good feedback on the book project I’m working on.
- I went to the Eastern APA, philoSophia, Ancient Philosophy Society, Wonder and the Natural World, Feminist Ethics, Methodologies, Metaphysics and Science Studies, SPEP, Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy, IPA conferences this year.
- I reconnected with old friends in Philadelphia and New York City.
- I attended a dear friend’s wedding.
- I found a running group in Indianapolis.
- I’ve been doing a reading group on some stuff I’ve been thinking about in the background for awhile and am glad to get into deeper.
- I made some new friends in Indianapolis.
I’ve been in close contact with alum from the last three institutions I’ve taught at (Wabash, UTPA, and Bryn Mawr).The celebrity deaths, the lack of indictments for police shootings of Black people, emboldened racism, anti-Semitism and misogyny, Brexit, the political situation in Turkey, the surprising election all made it a year of possibilities foreclosed. At the same time, it was for me a year that established new possibilities- a new house, a new city, the tenured life, sabbatical. I’m not entirely sure how to hold these things together. I’m working to make my own new possibilities a place from which to address and resist the foreclosed ones.
The featured image is of the lighthouse at Cape May, NJ, lit by the sun. I leave it here as a metaphorical demand for lighthouses.
Last January, inspired by Jill Stauffer and looking to blog more regularly, I decided to blog every day of January. It was hard, but it was good for me. It was an opportunity to think through some things that had been rattling around in my head, to write up some reviews of books, and to better articulate my thoughts on what was happening in the world. No doubt there were days that were hard, but it broke through some of my blogging anxieties making it easier for me to drop a post without too much concern over whether my contribution really was a contribution.
Now a year later, those anxieties have not remained at bay. This is partly due to my efforts to address multiple audiences at once and partly due to my conflicted feelings about the philosophy blogosphere. Instead of getting into that here, I am going to start with my positive account of how I would like to think about blogging, my community of bloggers and my audience.
- I would like to be writing for a community of philosophers and non philosophers alike. This means a whole bunch of things that I think should lower the stakes of regular blogging. For one, it means writing plainly without trying to prove philosophy credentials. That means writing from a place of my expertise, but without the formal structures that demand that expertise be proven at every turn.
- For another, it means writing things because I think about them and am interested in sharing them. I know some things, I know the world in which these things are discussed. I have specific investments and concerns about how we think about political life, about nature, about gender, about reading certain texts that I am interested in writing about. I’m going to actively strive to overcome my resistance to posting when I am unsure whether what I write has been said before. A, I don’t think it has and B, this is not a formal academic project that depends on the principles of academic research. Unfortunately, this sense that it is is often enforced on women bloggers while many allowances are made for men bloggers.
- I would like to have a community around blogging that responds graciously and thoughtfully, reading with a hermeneutics of sympathy, giving the author the benefit of the doubt, respecting her authority on those things in which she is an authority. This is a principle that often leads to false equivalences, something I hope to write about in the days to come. I’ll just say that recognizing social and disciplinary positioning and responding thoughtfully in light of those positions would make this a better blog world.
One reason I have an uneasy relationship to blogging is that I want to treat it as a kind of public note-taking of my thinking about the world, much as Chris Long writes about using Twitter. By being public I am compelled to work things out that might otherwise be left inchoate. But also by being public I find myself internalizing possible criticisms and concerns from comers on all sides. This Big O Other, law of the father, this gaze, whatever you want to call it is a view I’d like to better ignore. So this month I’d like to blog more consciously for myself. If that’s something you’re interested in following, I hope you do. I’ll let you know at month’s end how we fare.
I turn 40 today. Forget the cult of youth, I’m glad to be this old, to have the experience and the confidence of this age. I find it insulting when people tell me I look young and then, when I object, tell me I should feel complimented–something which happens to me on the regular. Thank you for assuming I want the things associated with youth rather than with age and for telling me how to feel that. The youth are feminine and the adults are men. Men are the adults, and women are the adolescents. Until you reach a certain age when perceived fragility leads you to be treated as a woman. I’m less and less concerned with being good at being feminine, at being polite and accommodating and comforting and properly attractive. Now is the hour of our gender nonconformity? We shall see.
I have figured some things out that make my life stable. I take this to be a great privilege and not a matter of course. I have tenure. I am married. I am about to buy a house. I have published respectable scholarship. I have former and current students who keep coming back. I have visited Greece. I have deep and satisfying friendships. I have learned something about how and when to speak my mind, to choose my fights, to critically analyze and understand the world without being bowled over by it. I continue to learn what my body can do: go faster and stronger. I’m not sad about getting old. I’m coming into my own. Really, I feel like I am more and more myself. This is 40.
Last year, I was thinking about what other people had accomplished by my age and thinking that I had a lot to do. With this milestone birthday, I’m thinking about all the people who didn’t do the things we know them for until my age or later. At 40:
- Julia Child was still working in advertising;
- Samuel L. Jackson had yet to be in a movie;
- Jane Lynch had yet to be recognized as the talent she is;
- Kathy Bates was just gearing up to star in Misery;
- Lucille Ball had yet to make an episode of “I Love Lucy;”
- Stan Lee had just published his first comic book;
- Charles Darwin published his first book;
- Vera Wang was not yet a designer;
- Henry Ford had not yet designed a car;
- Rodney Dangerfield didn’t not get respect for five more years;
- Bram Stoker wouldn’t publish Dracula for ten more years;
- Hans-Georg Gadamer had yet to publish Truth and Method;
- George Eliot had yet to publish a novel.
I don’t make this list to say, give me time! But to say I’m finding that age itself might bring more possibility than loss of potential.