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January: I celebrated a wonderful New Year’s Eve with dinner with my best friends in Denver. That was one of the warmest and most magical nights of 2013, although I guess technically it was 2012. I submitted a manuscript for publication, I started teaching at Community College of Aurora, and I started babysitting for the cutest little peanut on the planet, my friend DM’s baby, Charley. My best friend and her fiancee came to visit me in Denver before moving to Malawi, and I got to drive senior scholar, D. Soyini Madison to the airport after visiting DU. She gave me some fabulous advice and wished me well.
February: I turned in Chapter three of my dissertation and kept plugging away. I taught at CCA M/W, and babysat in Castle Rock T/R. Babysitting gave me a chance to write and spend simple time with children I love most: babies. I finally secured an awesome cleaning position with Vital Yoga in the Highlands; trading cleaning for free yoga. I began practicing yoga at least 2-3 times per week, and even though I felt this to be contentious because of the potential appropriation, it helped ease my anxiety and meditate on all that was happening around me. My friend Thaddaeus came for a visit, which included a fancy brunch and day of shopping in downtown Denver.
March: I went to Salt Lake City with Moe for her work, and for the first time I became nervous about meeting my April final dissertation draft deadline. I ended up writing an entire dissertation chapter that never actually made it into my dissertation. Luckily, I still have it as a back burner project. I bought my first piece of leopard print clothing in a SLC H&M. I also began teaching for Metro State’s south campus, which was one of my favorite teaching experiences ever. Eight students, plus two auditing students, seven hours on Saturdays for eight weeks. It was truly a blessing in disguise, and it made me realize how important creating community in the classroom is.
April: I turned in all the chapters of my dissertation to my advisor, minus the one ill-conceived one. I had been revising throughout, and I got my edits, and turned the dissertation around to my committee by the end of the month. I learned that one of my manuscripts was accepted for publication. I had a bead-like cyst removed from my breast. It was hard and painful, but benign, luckily. I had really nice doctors/nurses taking care of me. At some point during this time, Moe lost her job with TEVA due to budget cuts and layoffs. It was a challenging time, and my job search got really serious. Moe became a Certified Nursing Assistant, and I applied to become a Frederick Douglass Teaching Scholar at Bloomsburg University of PA. I had been applying for jobs all along, but I was hoping that BU would come through.
May: May 10, 2013 was the day of my dissertation defense, and my phone interview with Bloom. I passed my defense and apparently did well enough on my phone interview that BU offered me a position (towards the end of May.) I repeat: I passed my dissertation defense. While it felt sort of anti-climatic, I also experienced a huge wave of relief for about ten seconds… until I had to reformat the dang thing. I finished teaching for the year; semesters are awesome in that way. I met the family I was going to nanny with for the summer, and tried to soak in my last month at DU being the president of GSFF and trying to be a role model to other students. It was a hard time in my department because I realized that after six years, I would not be returning to the place I felt to be home for a long time.
June: I graduated from school. WHAT?!? After being in college for what felt like forever, I was finally done! I was able to graduate with my great friend and long-time program partner, Sassidy. I had a graduation party which was sort of a fiasco, but generally we all had a good time, and all I remember was that I had on a dress that Quinn Fabray wore in one of her last episodes of Glee, and the mimosas were flowing like water. Moe and I won a professional photo shoot from our friend, Kate. We chose Sweet Action Ice Cream because it was where we were domestically partnered the August before. Moe and I also began looking for places to live in PA and ways to get us to PA. We also began contemplating whether or not we were REALLY going to move to PA. We decided that we go places together, so we began saying goodbyes to our Denver/Colorado friends. I felt really lucky to have to best partner in the entire world willing to move across country with me.
July: Amazing camping trips: first with friends then with family. I got diagnosed with Lyme disease, but it was cleared up right away. Ticks are gross, y’all; wear your bug spray. We went to the Brandi Carlile concert at Red Rocks and it was a-gay-zing! I almost thought it might get rained out, and I almost threw in the towel and went home, but decided to brave it with several layers (of clothing and mascara)! I collaborated on an amazing piece on mixed-class identity with my colleague, Elisabeth and spent a few wonderful afternoons in Cheeseman venting femme rage with her. My friends threw Moe and me the most wonderful going-away party, and because Moe and I are nerds we dressed up in table-tennis costumes because hey, why not?
August: The move from hell happened. it culminated with us getting to our bug-infested tiny house in Danville, PA. Along the way we stopped to see my bestie, Greta, and my good friend from college, Niki. It was wonderful to see those familiar faces on such an awful trip. We also stopped in Ohio so my mom could meet Moe’s parents. Eventually Moe and I were able to spruce up the coop (yeah, my house is a renovated chicken coop), and make it liveable, Now it actually feels like home to me. I went to new faculty orientation and began to meet my new TTT colleagues at BU, and found out that there are really great people outside of Colorado. Classes started and soon my life became a whirlwind of emotion, challenge, and exhaustion.
September: Moe and I went to the Jersey Shore; Cape May, specifically. It was one of the other best days of 2013. Beach, sand, Danimal Strassmonster, ocean, sun, the dog learning to swim in the ocean, seafood on a beachside restaurant that allowed dogs. Awesome. I began to involve myself in the LGBT Commission on Campus, the White Privilege Discussion Group, and the Women’s Consortium. I began to realize that interest/identity groups are a very real thing and that I wasn’t sure where I belonged as a white, queer, cis femme woman who experiences all of those identities simultaneously. Intersectional analysis is very real and necessary, and often missing from practical things like the University setting. I wanted to do all the things, but have mostly settled on attending some events, and doing most of my work around racial justice at BU through the Frederick Douglass program because there is still not enough work happening by white people (anywhere) but particularly in this area where students of color need white allies hard.
October: This month brought forth teaching challenges, job applications, and more desires to become involved on my campus. I attended the summit on Rural Homelessness because homelessness does not just affect those in urbanized and cosmopolitan areas. The exhaustion of teaching a full load caught up to me at this point and I began to realize how much sleep is required to be an effective teacher. I also learned that I had to get to know my students for them to have positive interactions with me. Now people may question my methods, and I am always trying to develop them and work on them, but I work from a framework of de-colonial, anti-oppressive, critical and performance pedagogy, and this method has no specific end goal, or even a well-carved out map. There are objectives and experiences I want my students to have, but I have no idea how or what that looks like for them on an individual level. My TTT colleagues were a main source of support, and I relied on venting to them constantly. I was desperate for the holiday break,
November: I still felt the struggles of teaching, time management, and scholarly development creep up on me. But luckily, I had two publications come out with some due diligence. One is a co-authored piece, the other is a solo piece that is published in a graduate student journal. I am particularly proud of both because they come out of my MA/Doctoral program. I also attended NCA in DC, caught up with some good friends, especially friends from college and OSU that just really lit up my soul. Being with them made me realize how much I have changed, and yet how i am still fundamentally similar to who I have always been. I just feel less-awkward, more happy, and I embrace all of the multiple and conflicting parts of myself (my femininity and feminist consciousness). I spent the holiday with my “in-laws” and I had a great time eating, playing games, and shopping. I feel very lucky to have my partner’s family so close to us.
December. I turned 30. While it doesn’t feel too different, I think I feel the slowing of my metabolism, the graying of my hair, and the dehydration of my skin gradually setting in. Most of all, now that I am 30 and not a student, I am trying to be an adult with hobbies. Hobbies that include being an academic, but also involve Bar Trivia, cooking and baking, listening to books on tape, hiking with my boo and my dog, let’s be honest, my dog is a hobby in and of herself, yoga, walking, and still trying to figure out who I am and who I want to be, and hoping to find a place where I can do all of this and be on the tenure-track. My friends threw me a wonderful birthday party, and I feel lucky to have a community in this small place. For the holiday, we stayed in PA. Moe and I went shopping/drinking/eating/ and skating in Philly as a treat t ourselves, and for New Years, we spent it with friends and lovely food and games.
Ruminations: Somedays I miss Colorado a lot. Mostly the people, but also the amount of things to do. Honestly, I feel like I do the same things here that I would do there, but with different people. Somedays I really enjoy living in a smaller, rural town. My pharmacist knows me, when my grocery store messes up on a price tag and I bring it to someone’s attention they reimburse me in full, and I can get my nails done for $20. No one has commented on my queerness in my town; however, campus has been a bit of a different story. Moe and my neighbors have made us food, and tell their kids to come to us if they have a problem, which feels awesome. My dog has a huge backyard to run in, and it backs up to baseball fields. She’s only run away once, and has not ever since. There is also a really nice path by a river that Moe runs on and I walk on daily. We have trails to hike, and the leaves are some of the most beautiful. I have never had better produce and farm fresh eggs.
If I could dedicate this to anyone (and I can because it is my blog post), it would have to be my love, my boo, my Moe Moe. This year has been full of ups and downs, new jobs, and transitions and through it all we support each other and care for each other and attempt to make the best out of tough situations. We spend a lot of time together so sometimes we get a little wacky, but it is to be expected. Now if the last half of season five of Breaking Bad would come out on Netflix all would be right with the world, bitch! J/K, I hate it when anyone other than Jesse Pinkman says that.
Here’s wishing everyone a Happy New Year. May 2014 bring on new and delightful things to all.
“If you were the editor of Utah Valley Magazine, and you needed a headline to accompany your editor’s note for the “Women’s Issue,” and you had selected this photograph of your female staffers to illustrate it, what would you pick for a headline? How about the one thing the photo most certainly does not depict?”