Conference flashbacks

I’ve given a fair number of conference presentations during my time in graduate school. I have mixed feelings about conferences – if it’s a good location and your friends are going, why not go on a department-funded mini-vacation? – but the attendance at panels is often lacking (probably because everyone treats it as a department-funded mini-vacation) and therefore, the feedback can be pretty bad, or nonexistent. I hate networking at conferences, because I hate talking to people, but my advisors think it’s a good idea for me to be introducing myself to strangers. So, I go. Sometimes it’s pretty okay.

I’m pretty good at presenting. I may not be a people person, but I don’t have much anxiety when it comes to presenting in front of an audience. I know what I’m talking about, and I can talk about it with confidence. They (most likely) won’t know if you’re lying.

But I had a horrible experience at a small conference in May 2016, and it haunts me to this day. And by haunts, I mean, whenever I’m scrolling through Twitter and come across the people who tore my paper to shreds, I want to give up on academia, because I’m clearly not good enough. Continue reading

How do you teach a neo-Nazi?

Circulating around my corner of academic Twitter yesterday was a Southern Poverty Law Center guide for students on how to deal with the alt-right. It’s well done (shout out to SPLC – they are awesome and if they are hiring I’d drop everything to work for them!) and I’m glad it’s out there. But as someone who will be teaching full-time for the first time this fall, questions I never thought I would have to answer has been spinning around in my head for the past couple days:

What do you do with alt-right students in your classroom? How do you teach a neo-Nazi?

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Charlottesville

On Saturday, while I was busy collecting my diploma, shit was going down in Charlottesville. When I met up with my partner after the ceremony, he asked me if I had seen any of the news alerts. Umm… no. I was graduating. Also, my phone died.

He told me someone had died.

WHAT?! EXCUSE ME?!

I watched CNN that morning and they were talking about what might happen, but someone dying never crossed my mind. I guess violence never really crossed my mind. I’ll be completely honest, I didn’t expect violence because it was white people marching. I think violence around protest and I think of violence against black and brown bodies.

It wasn’t until Sunday that I really started to process what had happened. And while my thoughts on what happened are, I’m sure, not unique, I need to write them out.

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No, really, it’s fine.

Saturday is graduation day. The ceremonial end to the 5-year graduate school adventure. I didn’t attend my MA graduation because getting a Master’s was never the point. At most, the MA was a consolation prize if I didn’t finish the PhD.

But I decided I should walk for the PhD graduation. If for nothing else, I’d do it for my parents. They put invested a lot of time, energy, and money into me – they might as well enjoy the pomp and circumstance.

And then I defended my PhD, and I felt nothing. I didn’t feel happy. I didn’t feel like I had accomplished anything. And so I wanted to walk at graduation for myself – maybe by then I would appreciate the work I had done.

So when I told my family a couple months ago that I was definitely going to walk, everyone was very excited.┬áMy dad sent me a check to get the ridiculously expensive regalia because I “deserve the best.” My mom and aunt started looking into hotel rooms. My sister and I talked about getting take out from our favorite restaurant.

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Expect nothing.

I finally revised my teaching and research statements for the job market this year. For all the complaining I did about it, it wasn’t that bad. Mainly because I kept 90% of what I had last year.

On Tuesday I reviewed them with one of my advisors. I have learned to expect nothing from these meetings. Do not expect praise or recognition for your hard work. Do not expect useful advice. Expect nothing, and then, if for some strange reason, I get something, I am pleasantly surprised.

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Trying to write in the age of Trump

I’m pretty bad at procrastinating. Well, I’m good at procrastinating, and bad at getting things done. There’s always a desk drawer to be organized or an email to read and respond to. But lately, my productivity has taken a dive, because I am constantly on high alert, ready for the next Trump tweet, or the next leak from the White House.

It’s nuts. It’s a huge waste of my time when I should be applying for jobs, or conducting research, or worrying about jobs and research.

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