Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Full circle, with improvements

In 2007, I started this blog to find a community.  I was at the time a middle-Assistant Professor working on a critical book project and feeling keenly the absence of the kind of camaraderie and sympathy that many of us experience in graduate school--you know, that sense that we're all in this together, that we share many of the same challenges, benchmarks, and concerns.  I hadn't yet found that kind of community at my institution, and the isolation was amplified by my general sense of my professional disconnectedness.  I mean, when we leave grad school for the profession, we know a few people that we see at conferences from time to time, and we usually have a sense of who our critical peeps are, though we may know them primarily through their writings rather than personally, but there's certainly not a sense of real integration into the field's conversation yet, or at least I didn't have that sense.  Moreover, in 2007 I was recently separated from my kids' dad, living in my parents' basement, and maintaining a very limited social circulation as I contemplated the wreckage that had been my family.

It was not my best time.  I spent a lot of hours in my head, which reinforced my sense of separation from all the, well, human pleasures that attracted me to the humanities in the first place.

This blog was a crucial mooring line for me for those years.  Through this blog, I connected not only with folks who were facing some of the same challenges and changes that I was, but also with scholars who would become my friends, scholars whose work would influence me, scholars who would give me direction as I made my way into the profession.  We ain't in in alone, and perhaps counterintuitively, I have found a lovely and inspiring community in this semi-anonymous context, for which I'm deeply grateful.

My life now looks different:  I'm an Associate Prof who has been "honored" as of this year with a significant administrative appointment.  I have colleagues in my department and in the profession at large who have grown into a community much like that nostalgic one from grad school--trusted readers, sympathetic cheerleaders, sharp interlocutors.  I've remarried, a lovely partner whom I can trust with all my insecurities, and my kids are happy and well-adjusted.

And as of this morning, it appears that the book that served both as center of gravity and as emblem for all my anxieties and self-doubts, the very project that launched this blog into existence, will be published.

I've found of late that I don't have much to say on this blog.  This is in part because, you know, I'm doing pretty well after all.  And there's no narrative drama in that position.  Besides, the few things that continue to exercise me are largely unbloggable.  I considered for a while uncloaking, and making this blog into a kind of professional instrument.  But that's sounding unappealing in its sheer self-promotion.

A couple of years back, I posted this about how we plan out our time and energy.  In a New Yorker essay David Sedaris suggested that our lives are like stoves with four burners, representing family, friends, health, and work.  And you have to choose which burners to turn off for the other burners to function at full capacity.  For a long time the energy I put into this blog was an essential expenditure, because it was sustaining the general well-being of the stove.  But now that my stove has found a controlled balance, I'm less inclined to devote some of my time and energy to writing something here than stoking the other gratifying fires.

This is all to say what is already obvious:  Green Thoughts is probably fading into obsolescence.  Becoming autumnal.  And if I don't post another word here, I do want to take a moment to thank all the folks who visited and commented, who offered support and virtual hugs, who shared the wisdom of particular experience.  I'll keep reading y'all, and continue to bask in your adroit and useful words.

Circling back to silence, then, and ending where I begunne:  calls for a dance, don't you think?