"101 in '09" | sunday | january 3, 2010 | 11:01 am
T'S THAT TIME OF YEAR AGAIN.
A new year cometh. An old year goeth. It's amazing to me how fast time just goes hustling by. It seems like so much has happened in
the past year. And it seems like I have gotten very little done. Mainly, I think because much of my measure of time is based
on school, on teaching, and on the progress (or lack thereof) of my dissertation, time seems to move by quickly but relatively
homogenously. It all seems the same. Day in, day out. But, as with years past, a little reflection will help me see that
a lot has transpired, a lot has changed, and I have changed. Let there be a list!
101 Things I Did in 2009
1. I opened 2009 with full-blown pneumonia in my left lung.
2. My pneumonia was bad enough that I had to cancel the first week of class Winter Quarter and I had to go to the hospital.
3. I stayed overnight in the
UW Medical Center.
It was the first time ever that I've stayed in a hospital room.
4. I taught ENGL 207: Introduction to Cultural Studies: "Virtual Worlds and Video Games.
5. I made students play World of Warcraft for class.
6. I read and taught Shelley Jackson's My Body for the first time. It's
is a wonderful, sexy, strange, and provocative text -- worthy of a line of its own.
7. I suffered in the wake of the financial crisis, financial meltdown, and budgetary cuts of 2009. In particular, I witnessed
Greg losing his job, I watched my department try to figure out what to do with less money than ever before, and I
waited and waited to see if I would get funding for my 5th year of school.
8. I saw Slumdog Millionaire.
9. I got bronchitis after the pneumonia cleared up.
10. I welcomed the Year of the Ox.
11. I had my prospectus defense shortly after Chinese New Year.
12. I saw Fanboys.
13. I went to several meetings about the Department of English budget crisis and served as the English Graduate Student Organization
14. I saw Dean Spade give a talk on "Transgender Youth" at the
UW School of Social Work.
15. I saw Push.
16. I went (with Greg) to a really good panel of professional graphic designers at the
Cornish College of the Arts. The panel included Robynne Raye
from Modern Dog.
17. I won a prize at the Jump Start panel at Cornish. It was an advertisement pack of air fresheners.
18. I saw Watchmen.
19. My video game class was featured in a story in the UW Daily: "Get Your Game On."
20. I worried about my funding for school. A lot.
21. Greg and I took a short trip down to San Francisco in March. It was a
spring break trip for me and a birthday trip for him. And it was to attend a conference.
22. I attended the Conference on College Composition and Communication (the 4Cs) as part of a panel I organized called
"Save Points: Gaming as Writing, Production, and Play in the Contact Zone." Alenda was part of the panel. And
my friend Jamie was part of the panel.
23. I went to an crazy and awesome party during CCCC thrown by Bedford/St. Martin Press. The party was in San Francisco's City Hall.
24. While in SF and staying at Hotel Triton, we were evacuated
early in the morning due to a fire in the building. A first for me.
25. While visiting my sister, we took a road trip to Pescadero, CA.
26. I went to the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art.
27. I taught ENGL 242: Reading Fiction: "Not Your Average High School Novel Class: Re-Reading as Critical Practice."
28. I taught CHID 496: Focus Group: "Heroes & Monsters: Understanding Live-Action Role-Playign Games."
In other words, I revived Archaea at the University of Washington.
29. I had PhDepression a lot.
30. Because of the PhDepression, I watched a lot of television, particularly Will & Grace on
31. I was awarded the UW Excellence in Teaching Award for 2009.
32. I attended organizational meetings for a new queer studies working group at the UW.
33. I attended organizational meetings for the Critical Gaming Project at UW.
34. I went to a talk by Karen Tongson
called "Sound Migrations: Listening to the Suburbs."
35. I went to the Queer Worlds Crossdisciplinary Research Cluster's symposium "The Will to Institutionality" at UW.
36. I celebrated my 39th birthday. I had a modest EDstravaganza 2009.
The them was "13 going on 39."
37. I saw Star Trek. I really liked the remake and the reimagining of the original
38. I saw X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
39. I was written up in the departmental newsletter English Matters for my teaching award.
40. I went to my friend Matt Wilson's PhD defense presentation.
41. I attended planning meetings for Summer LEAP 2009.
42. I revised and reorganized the Summer LEAP website.
43. I entered an online contest for Top Chef Masters and won a
Top Chef Masters Premier B-Hive Party Pack.
44. I saw Up.
45. I had lunch (with Greg) at one of the handful of taco trucks in the Seattle area. We went to
El Carreton (15001 Aurora Avenue, Shoreline, WA). It was yummy.
46. I attended the UW Best & Brightest 2009 award
47. I was given a medal (my first one ever) and a framed certificate for my
Excellence in Teaching Award. Oh, and a sizable award check, too. It was awesome.
48. I was asked to give a speech at the Department of English's 2009 graduation ceremony. I was the first one to speak. It was a
nerve-wracking five minutes, but I think I pulled it off.
49. I went to see RENT with Greg, Jason, and Karl at the
50. I was awarded a full year of funding for my fifth year. A great relief.
51. I turned in a draft of my first dissertation chapter.
52. I started going to Greg's gym once a week.
53. I went to Seattle Pride. I even got pulled into the pride parade to walk with the UW contingent. It was fun.
54. Greg and I took a day trip down to Olympia, WA.
55. While in Olympia, we visited the Capitol building.
56. While in Olympia, we went to the oldest gay bars in the city called Jake's on 4th.
57. I attended my friend Sydney's production of The Wiz: A Queer Multicultural Cabaret.
58. I taught ENGL 108: Writing Ready for Summer LEAP. The class
used to be called GIS 140 but finally got an ENGL designation.
59. I saw Bruno.
60. I saw Food, Inc.. One of my favorite (yet disturbing) documentaries.
61. I saw Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.
62. I did very little work on my dissertation over the summer. Mainly, it was because I was waiting for feedback from my
dissertation advisor. I did not know how I should proceed or if what I had turned in was on the right track. The
63. Greg and I crossed the year and a half mark. It was an important milestone. My relationship with him is still good. It's
the longest relationship I have had to date. I love him very much.
64. I adopted a cat named Pigeon from my friend Jamie.
65. I changed the color scheme of my website. Welcome the midnight indigo.
66. I was invited to do a podcast for On the Boards, a contemporary performing arts
organization in Seattle. They wanted a podcast about video games and video game studies. It would be paired with a
dance performance that involves video game technology.
67. I saw District 9, a really surprising and smart movie.
68. I helped submit a proposal to the Simpson Center for the Humanities
at UW to fund a queer studies research cluster called
Queer + Public + Performance.
We got accepted but did not get all of the money we hoped for.
69. I started a blog for the Queer + Public + Performance.
70. I saw 9, which was directed by an old high school friend of mine.
71. I went to see the artists of MadArt: The Window Art Project in Madison Park. My friend
Julia Freeman was part of the show.
72. I checked out a lot of books for my dissertation. Most of them sit nicely on my shelf in a neat little pile.
73. I started my fifth year as a grad student (though technically I'm counted as a 6th year since I came in with my MA).
74. I was nominated for and received a
Humanities, Arts, Science, and Technology Advanced Collaboratory (HASTAC) Scholars
75. I taught ENGL 281: Intermediate Expository Writing: "10 Things I Hate About Writing, Or, A Writers Bootcamp.
It was my first time teaching the course, and it was an interesting experiment.
76. Along with my friend Timothy Welsh, we taught CHID 496: Focus Group: "Bioshock: Cyborg Morality and Posthuman Choice."
77. I became thoroughly enamored with Glee.
78. I finally got a hold of, met with, and got some direction from my dissertation advisor. It was nearly four months since I had
turned in my chapter draft. I was nearly out of my mind with stress and worry. I thought that he thought my draft was terrible,
that he didn't want to work with me anymore, that he didn't know how to tell me he was going to quit my committee. But, he was
just busy. I now have some feedback. Now I just have to figure out how to do the work, to sort out my ideas, and to write.
79. I read the first of the Twilight series. I really did not like it. In fact, it took me months to get through it. But I figured
I needed to have some reference since my students are all crazy about it.
80. My roommate Jane got the recent installment of Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series, The Gathering Storm. It was finally
released and is one of three "final" books of the series since Jordan passed away. I read it after she finished with it. It
was entertaining and interesting to see how the ghost writer handled Jordan's world. At least things happen in this novel!
81. Greg and I went to the Seattle March for Equality on National Coming Out Day.
82. I finished Book 30 of my (handwritten) journals, and I began Book 31.
83. Like last year, Greg and I got passes to the
Seattle Lesbian & Gay Film Festival.
We saw eight showings. It was exhausting but a lot of fun.
84. I continued to work on my dissertation, trying to reframe and revise my first chapter. Alas, to little avail.
85. Greg and I went to the Seattle Art Museum REMIX.
It was a lot of fun.
86. I kept playing World of Warcraft. Greg had started the year
playing with me but has since given up.
87. I revived the English Graduate Student Organization
becoming one of the executive officers and helping to redesign the GSO website.
88. I spent entirely too much time on Facebook.
89. Greg and I went to a Halloween party thrown by friends of friends. It was fully of mostly bears and radical fairies. It was fun.
91. I spent entirely too much time playing Farmville on Facebook.
92. I cooked Thanksgiving dinner for Jane, myself, and Jane's boyfriend, Chris.
93. I started a Tellings group in Seattle. Finally. The group consists of
three friends from school: Mike, Curtis, and Rebecca. Two friends from Seattle: Josh and Andrea (though I knew them
from my SF days). And Greg. It's been a really awesome time so far.
94. I started planning the next revision of the Tellings book, which will hopefully be done sometime in the summer of 2010.
It will be the 20th Anniversary edition of Tellings. To help me, I finally got the
Tellings blog going.
95. I organized a GSO Autumn Social at the College Inn Pub.
It went really well, and we even got some funding from the department.
96. Speaking of which, I drank a little too much in 2009. Probably.
97. Greg and I took a short trip down to SF for the Christmas holiday.
98. While in the Bay Area, I went to the top of Mount Tamalpais and visited Muir Beach.
99. I made Christmas Eve dinner at my sister's place in Berkeley, CA.
100. I saw Avatar in 3D.
101. Greg and I celebrated our two year anniversary on New Year's Eve night. We just stayed in. I made dinner. We drank a little
champagned. And we watched a movie. It was a lovely way to end the year.
It's too bad that the PhDepression never really got resolved or went away. I think even though I had a lot going on
last year, the whole of the year was colored by the fact that I have this huge project looming over my head. Intellectually,
emotionally, and physically, I have not been totally one hundred percent. But I am taking care of that. I am taking care of myself.
I have to, obviously. So, I think things like getting my gaming group going and going to the gym and trying to just
enjoy my time (even if it's keeping me from my diss) are giving me energy back, giving me hope, and giving me a reason
to keep going.
Here's to a better year. Here's to a great, productive, happy, awesome, exciting, interesting, successful, sexy, fun, and
fascinating 2010. Happy new year!
read footnotes |
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"a whole world of stalled" | friday | january 29, 2010 | 10:43 am
ANUARY IS ALMOST DONE.
Where has the time gone? I cannot believe that we're already a month into the new year. My awareness of the the passage of
time seems heightened these days. It's because of the dissertation. Or more accurately because of the fact that I have not
done enough work on the dissertation. Every day that goes by, every week that goes by, and every month that goes by is a
reminder of how much time I have wasted, how much time I have let slip through my hands, and how much time I have been stuck
in my process. It has been over a quarter since my meeting with my dissertation advisor. I have done some reading hear and
there. I have done some free writing here and there. But when it comes to any kind of substantive, structured, even-near-well-articulated
writing, I have little to show for the last three or four months. It's disheartening, even as I understand that this is
all part of the process.
I know that everything that I have been doing, even the down time, is all part of the preparation for the next chapter, the next steps,
and finishing. It's all up in my head. And it's swishing around. And there are moments, mere glimpses, usually when I'm doing nothing
in particular -- like washing the dishes or riding the bus home -- where I see an idea coming together. But it's nascent. And
I really have nothing to put down on paper, although I might try. So, I sense that work is being done one some subconscious, unconscious
level. I hope from simplicity comes complexity. The writing will emerge like Athena from my brow. That is not to say, of course, that
I am just going to wait around for it to happen. I keep fiddling, I keep scribbling, I keep reading, and I keep agonizing.
(Alas, it's much more of the latter than the former these days.)
It doesn't help that the past few weeks have been unusually full and volatile. A lot has been happening -- fortunately not to me
directly -- but to people around me, people close to me. Jane, my roomie and fellow dissertating grad, suffered two tragedies in a row
(her best friend's mother passed away and her beloved dog Thor died, both quite suddenly). It's been an tough few weeks for Jane
and for me. Then my friend Rebecca's favorite riding horse, the one she learned to ride on as a child, died. Then my friend Jason's
father passed away. It's been an incredible confluence of extremely high emotions for all involved.
Life has just been busy, full of the odds and ends that seem small and manageable on their own but when grossed together make
troubling logjams in the flow if things. For example, I usually have Monday, Wednesday, and Friday off this quarter. I only have
to be on campus on Tuesday and Thursday during the week. But I have had to go in on my off days to help cover Jane or Jason's
classes. Or I have a meeting for one group or another. Or I have to take care of some detail like returning a recalled library book
or dropping off a letter of recommendation to a student. In of themselves, they don't take up a lot of time. But combined with
my daily duties of teaching and life, the hours just get whittled and whiled away.
To be honest, I have whittled and whiled time away doing nothing but procrastinating, too. Procrastination is the number one
coping mechanism for PhDepression. Some of that procrastination takes the form of other kinds of work -- like working on teaching
stuff or cleaning up the apartment or trying to have a life -- but some of that procrastination is simply time to turn the
brain off (or try to anyway) and just be. I have watched a lot of television. It doesn't help that Jane is also going through
the same kinds of PhDepression pains. We simply park ourselves in front of the TV and just let the day go. Lately, the
LOGO channel has been showing random episodes of
Buffy the Vampire Slayer. It's a decidely happy distraction.
I am tempted to buy the
whole series on DVD
so we can watch it from beginning to end.
Some of the "fun" time has been really helpful and even therapeutic. I have managed to put together a
Tellings gaming group. I have six players gathered from
school and friends, a mixture of new and old, and it seems to be going well. My friend Josh, who played with me when I lived in
San Francisco, and his friend Andrea are playing. My friend Curtis and new friend Michael from grad school are playing. My
former student Rebecca, who has taken four classes with me including my
tabletop RPG and
LARP classes, is playing. And, lastly,
Greg, my partner, is playing. We have been playing for a couple of months now, and I am happy. In fact, Curtis has
mentioned to me that I seem happier and more outgoing. I knew that gaming was an important outlet for me for my creativity,
imagination, and extroversion. It's sad that it's taken me nearly five years to get a group going here. But better
late than never.
Overall, the same formula has been holding true: life = pretty good / dissertation = death. Hopefully, the next month will be
better in both regards. More soon.
read footnotes |
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