Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Slowing Down

Well, after today, I will be slowing down on the posting front. School's a comin' and I've got to get ready. Once school starts things will really be slow. I will continue to see this blog as a space to articulate and digest any thoughts and happenings that occur throughout my journey. Until then, I continue to look forward to any connections, insights and general feedback or conversation about anything posted or un-posted.

Take it easy and be well...

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Areas of Study

As a graduate student, I feel the mounting pressures of trying to pigeon-hole myself in a way only academics can; by claiming areas of 'expertise'. What do I want to become somewhat fluent in? I've been thinking about this lately and have yet to come up with definitive answers. Instead I've come up with more worries, chief among them being claiming expertise in an area that is rather obscure from an academic's perspective.

What I would like to be able to do is use my education and 'expertise' to serve as a bridge for those--be they in higher education or some other professional realm--in need of assistance with overcoming obstacles seen and unseen. I want to help individuals, especially underrepresented ones, navigate these realms successfully. I want to also challenge and disrupt the status quo of the institutions and underlying structures that make it difficult for certain populations to succeed. Making change to these things would make it easier for others to thrive where they otherwise wouldn't (or at least that's what the idealist in me would like to think).

How does this translate when it comes 'claiming' an area of expertise? What does this mean I want to do? All I know is that I would like to work towards the betterment of humanity in general, but I don't know where that fits me academically. In addition I would love to infuse these desires with art, be it through photography, film, painting, drawing, graphic novels...I enjoy telling the stories of others as well as the stories dwelling within myself. I think it helps us understand who we are and reminds us of what we are capable of--for better or for worse. In fact I was hoping for part of my dissertation to be a documentary.

Today I met a gentleman who got a interdisciplinary Ph.D. in political science, criminal justice and fine art. How cool is that? Part of his dissertation was doing a series of paintings. His defense involved his committee and others exploring the integration of the three areas in his project. I want to be able to do something like this. Something that calls to me, yet is beneficial to others as well. I only hope to be so lucky as to find a space like this. Still, I don't know where to fit myself in...

Oh well. Until next time...

Monday, August 8, 2011


I'll be brief. Today was a good day. My Little One was happy for most of the day.

 I didn't get much work done today, but the exciting thing was that the books I've been jonesin' for came into the library today. Finally! Now, if I only had the discipline to read them and the other stack of library books I've got before school starts. Only in an awesomely awesome world where I am the most disciplined reader ever. Still, gotta love those books! Every time a book request comes in it's like Christmas!

Until next time...

Sunday, August 7, 2011

Growing Up Is Overrated

So today, I was the only one of a group of adults--parents to be specific--that took part in an obsticle course  designed primarily for our children. Boy was it fun, but I am certain I looked like an idiot in front of the others, even if they said nothing of it. Only my Mate gave words of encouragement veiled by his own shame of being guilty (of being a dork) by association. Oh well.

After doing the obstacle course, I realized--once again--that I am out of shape! The 'child's play'   that comes with such activities as obstacle courses and jungle gyms are great tools of fitness! Why they cut us off by middle school is a mystery to me. Perhaps it is the symbolic beginning of the end of childhood. Still, I have fun running through one with my Little One! Some day I will get the best of those Monkey Bars once more.

Which got me to thinking, why couldn't there just be giant playgrounds for fun-loving adults like me? I miss playing like this. Working out for me has to be fun or else I'm not nearly as dedicated or willing. Running? Not unless I'm running from something or chasing it, i.e. in competitive sports like football, ultimate Frisbee, soccer or racing. I love having fun with my physical activity, something that seems to have been taken away with growing up (which along with the sedentary lifestyle that comes with graduate school is likely why I'm so flabby--boo!).

Why should growing up have to mean massive limitations on what was fun for us as children? I think along with 'education' killing off creativity likely to be considered 'child-like', loss of the opportunities to play contributes with the unhappiness adults may have as they continue 'growing up'. I know I'd be a whole lot happier if I had an adult-sized obstacle course or jungle gym (complete with giant slide) to play on daily. Being 'in shape' wouldn't even be a thought, just like when we were kids, because we were already 'in shape' enough to run after each other and play on such cool toys. This leads me to believe that the emphasis on growing up is alarmingly overrated and perhaps harmful in a way.

After hearing a story made up by my Little One, a woman commented that from the age of two to [I can't remember when] that children are on another planet. I imagine the only reason they return is because we adults and our realities slowly erode their rocket ships and eventually send them crashing back to 'earth'. I feel bad for my Little One in this sense because I would never want the joy that usually consumes his face and being to be extinguished. If only the meaning of growing up were altered to be welcoming of children or at least 'child-like' mentalities.

Well, I guess in my own way, I refuse to grow up completely. Lately this just means that I'm a goofy kid who is still willing to try anything, be it physical, spiritual, or edible--within reason of course. In safe spaces, I'll even bust out my ridiculously goofy smile at moments of silliness, or when a funny thought crosses my mind. Heck I still try and tell my "jokes" and laugh at them too! Maybe my Little One has hope after all!

Until next time...  

Saturday, August 6, 2011

Ways of thinking about Love

I've been pondering this for a while, but never tried to articulate it until yesterday. How love could be thought about outside of taken for granted notions is not an easy feat. In fact this pondering is a contradiction to how I currently act on love. But here is some of what I've been thinking...

Love is like the sun. It is something that is enjoyed by everyone to a certain degree. Many have different relationships with the sun but seem to appreciate it no less.  The sun is not something that can be possessed by a single person or a group of people, it is for all to share and live with as they see fit. In fact, it would be quite wrong for someone to withhold the sun if they could, because that person would be denying the rest of humanity the benefits of having the sun, thus doing humanity a great disservice. Perhaps love can be thought of in this way.

Each of us can be thought of as a multifaceted fragment of sun. Each one of us can benefit from one another in various ways. It would be wrong to solely possess this benefit, denying others the chance to do the same (benefit from this individual's presence). Yet with the kind of possessive love that is so much a part of our culture, this is what we are expected to do when we find that special person. Does doing this in the long run, deny others of benefiting from this individual in similar or other varied ways, and thus deny a possible bettering of humanity by doing so?  Should love, then, be thought of more on the level of deep companionship rather than as a romantic venture? A form of relationship where everyone can potentially benefit from each other because there is no sense of possession involved?

While I can see this kind of love being the case for companionship, I wonder if it couldn't also be the case romantically as well? All relationships are multifaceted and how we benefit from one another is no different. So, were this notion to apply to romantic as well as non-romantic settings, would it still be possible for love to be thought of in a manner where all can benefit? Where there is no sense of ownership?

I think love should be regarded as the sun, and that we should be free to benefit from one another without the sense of entitlement and ownership that is so infused in our culture. I'm not saying to be careless with one another (like in the 'free love' era when disease began to run rampant), but to be respectful, like we are with the sun. We know of and appreciate its qualities, harmful and beneficial. We know how to live with it responsibly and (I would like to think) we don't take it for granted. If we treat one another in similar ways, caring for and about our multifaceted selves when acting in the name of love, humanity might be a more beautiful place. We might become more beautiful people whom do not feel limited by the sense of possession that is a part of modern notions of love.

What would it mean to let go, and allow for this kind of love to come to fruition? I have no idea. I would like to think it would mean greater opportunities to learn, grow and understand myself by having a deeper sense of communion with others. I would like to think that it means taking actions towards being beneficial to and benefited by others and working towards the betterment of humanity.

Romantically, I also have no idea. There would be no sense of ownership perhaps, should the sun analogy be followed. This could mean ideas surrounding what it means to be in a romantic relationship are restructured with the removal of jealousy if we truly have respect for the others right to flourish and have their own speck of sun shine to its potential. Perhaps there would be no need for this type of relationship structure or at least a in a permanent sense.

Who knows? I haven't done any reading on the subject, these are just my thoughts on the matter. Others who might have mulled this over in other ways might have more to contribute. I would appreciate any added insight on the matter myself. I doubt I'm on to anything special, but it's a conversation I would like to have none the less.

Until next time...

Friday, August 5, 2011

How DJing is like Research

After being inspired by this post on DJing, I began revisiting ideas of the similarities between being a DJ and being a researcher/scholar. Being a DJ myself (when I have the chance) I love it when I have a set that flows together and wish my research came out similarly, which is how I began thinking about the subject. Here are a few of the ideas I had about the topic.

For one thing, like a researcher/scholar, DJs have to know their music. This usually means they've heard the stuff they play hundreds of times. Not only that, but they get a feel for the themes in their music enough to fit things comfortably together in ways others might not have noticed otherwise. Researchers and scholars do this, only with books instead of music. With both repetition is key to becoming familiar with both sets of knowledge.

There is also a air of expertise required in each realm. DJs have flexibility and freedom of choice as to what their area of 'expertise' is. For some, this can be rather fluid and expansive. Research is kind of the same, except for there are other forces that dictate what one can and cannot do. Often what is and isn't considered research dictates what a researcher/scholar does. When treated in such an orthodox manner, research/scholarship becomes rather restrictive and thus lacking in soul. With DJing on the other hand, a DJ is free to infuse their craft with their personality. Depending on the setting, I like to communicate messages of love thematically. In other words, I think it is easier for DJs to have a voice through their craft that is not nearly as transparent in research/scholarship.

Well, that's all I can think of for now. Maybe thinking of research like DJing might change the way I pursue it. But it's not nearly as simple. For one thing, DJs have a choice of what their model is and can make their own rules when it comes to constructing it. Researchers/scholars have to read stuff they do and don't want to, and most of it wouldn't be read otherwise. Quite frankly some of the stuff I have to read makes my eyeballs want to bleed--probably because I also want to stab them out.  Not the case with DJing where I do not have to suffer and most of the stuff I like is more like crack to me than a royal pain--especially when finding a musical gem. Not very many books do that for me. Oh well, I'll do my best to try integrating the thoughts I have about DJing into doing research since, regardless of my experiences in reading some of this stuff, I really do want to become a scholar with my voice and soul in tact.

If there are any additional thoughts on this topic along with maybe making scholarship more like DJing in spirit, or just other things that should be considered, feel free to contribute your ideas. As usual, I'm open to them.

Until next time...

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Sex (or my adventure in pushing topic boundaries)

So, maybe this post is more about sexuality--i.e. sexual identity.

Is it important to have one? To be affirmed as having one? Is this an important aspect of who we are as individuals? Sure Cosmo would like us to think so along with shows like Sex in the City (which I have yet to see but know people who have), but what's the big deal?

When it comes to discovering myself I seem to be placing less and less emphasis on this. In my late teens/early twenties this was a different story since sex was new to me and thus very exciting. However, because of my awkwardness, and growing lack of interest in following magazine advice, I slowly began to wonder, who am I kidding? None of this is who I am. Sure I'm a sucker for romance but not when its rather transparent as to its purpose. I wish there were a such thing as sexuality being natural, but alas, like love and other forms/means of relation/expression, this too is learned to a large extent.

Yes, there's just knowing whom one is attracted to but beyond that lies "forbidden" and thus unexamined territory. No one in this efficiently shaming culture of ours dares properly teach us about this stuff (I can't even begin to imagine how it might be done). No labels are available for how one likes their experience to feel; such vocabulary seems nonexistent. The stuff that is out there I, once again, do not seem to find interest with.

Which again begs the question, is it really that important that this side of ourselves be well developed in order to be considered whole? My Mate is very sure of himself as a sexual being and knows his desires well. He is certain that this side of himself is not to be neglected. For myself, I am the exact opposite. Maybe it's because I have so much I need to learn but I wonder what the point of it is.  Like my venture with statistics, sexuality for me has been a bumbling venture I am just no good at, making the idea of confident self-assertion rather humorous if not humiliating.

At the moment  I am certain developing this side of myself will not make me a better person, which is why I wonder about the significance of sexuality (the same goes for pursuing statistics simply because it will make me a better researcher).  It is also why I am willing to pass it off as a rather pointless venture that is only self-serving in the long run. But in doing this am I in some way denying myself the potential to become more whole (whatever that may mean)? No I have not stopped having sex, I just don't take it as seriously as others and especially our misguided culture seems to.

Those with differing experiences that might be informative about the subject are welcome to express their thoughts. I haven't completely closed my mind off to the possibility of exploring sexuality as an identity marker, just heavily questioning it is all.

By the way, I am normally not this candid about anything but I figured this is a fairly unexamined issue that might be in need of examination. For me, this might mean understanding myself a little better. Oh well, what will be of this post will be I guess. Thanks for venturing!

Until next time...

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

What I think of My Blog Lately

Maybe I'm feeling lazy about writing today. Can't think of much except this musical reflection of my blog:

Haw haw! As of yet, I am unsure of the persona I want this blog to have. I just hope it doesn't seem too preachy and self-absorbed despite its intentions. Suppose I have been taking myself a bit too seriously; oh well. Beyond introspection I am hoping to begin conversation which means I hope to do more reaching out with future posts. But until then...

Catch ya later...

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Clouds and Over-coming

There was a moment I remember so vividly I wrote a poem about it. It was late fall, and I was embroiled in issues--most of them stemming from graduate school. This moment likely dictated the way I viewed the following scene.

Evening clouds from an earlier storm were like gray cotton in a darkening sky. The sun finally made an appearance, though it was mostly from under the clouds. It's light gave the clouds dark smoky coral highlights. It made the clouds look scary-beautiful. At the top of a hill I was walking, I saw the sun's rays beaming behind a set of clouds, lining its edges with a burning bright light. I finally understood the phrase "every cloud has a silver lining" upon seeing it.

I was so struck by this imagery that I could not help but eventually construct the following poem yet to be titled:

Every cloud is lined with a bright burning light
Showing us that the sun is there shining, waiting
The contours of the clouds show us their complexity
Shaping and being shaped by the elements—even the sun

Clouds serve as barriers to the sun and sky
Barriers like those that are socially constructed 
Giving off the appearance of stone
When they are nothing more than clouds
Shaping and being shaped

We know they cannot, do not block the sun forever
So too with barriers
Which is why we must
Keep reaching
I hope it's as inspirational to others as it has been for me.  

Until next time...

Monday, August 1, 2011

What Does It Mean to "Level Up"?

So, I just got done reading Level Up by Gene Luen Yang. Good stuff. I'll try not to give too much away. Got me to thinking however, about what I'm going to do when I finally 'grow up'. For those of us still searching for that answer, we hear and believe in the idea that we should do what makes us happy. Unfortunately for me, I haven't found that thing that I'm addicted to in a sense that is seemingly purposeful. For instance, I do not think eternally dancing to James Pants' sets could possibly translate into something meaningful--that and JP doesn't come to my neck of the woods nearly enough for dancing to be even thought of as a constant. I do enjoy competitive athletics, but the same applies in this situation too--and there also have been painfully few opportunities to be involved in any sort of athleticism since I began graduate school. 

For the most part, I've just been doing what I'm supposed to be doing. I am searching for what I love in the process (I might be on the right track with engaging in art and storytelling alongside my scholarship) but how to navigate these waters and still have promising career prospects is rather dubious. I wish for the connection between doing what I love and doing what is beneficial for humanity to become clear at some point. For now, I am not sure how to begin searching for this balance in trying to 'grow up' yet doing well for myself, my family and humanity. Or maybe I should be thinking about this differently. I'm not sure but it's something I'll be meditating on from time to time as I try to find my way. 

Any thoughts or guidance on this topic would be nice. Especially for those of you pondering similar things. 

Well, until next time...