I Hope To Stay For Good

I get asked often if I would move to Montreal, or consider continuing research (after the next….hopefully six years of my degree) in London or the UK where disability studies and performance studies are easily converging, where interesting art and performances are being developed with innovative tactics and my answer will probably be no. I want to go, and experience them, take notes, learn, ask questions, contribute, but they are asking because there is little traction in a large way here in Toronto, and that is why I need to stay.

It is also why I need to make more art. I am working on a conference paper and looking up a website of a considerably further along artist-academic in Montreal who ahas an entire page of art pieces that combine her art and research, and I want that now. I do not have time for much more right now, but as I move forward I need something that gives me the opportunity to create art that is engaged and charged with my research.

Where do I find this? Do I find it in a Working Group that I am on the verge of creating? Do I find this in an already existing group? Do I find it within myself? My friends? My colleagues? Peers? Theatres? At this point I am lost, maybe because my time is taken up by the multitude of things that a first year PhD student is drowning in: coursework, comprehensive exam preparations, finalizing (ish) a thesis proposal (ish), finding a supervisor (check!), committee (in process…ish), and for me a lot more out of degree commitments that are wonderful but little give me much presence in art.

I want to be creative and charged. I want to be illuminated and have something to create for, to do, something to do it for. Its there, its at the brim of my visual horizon (which isn’t farther than a metre really), but just out of reach. For now I will be patient, but whatever I do I know it will be here, in Toronto, developing grounding roots in a community that needs it.

xx Jess

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MY Virtual March

I’ve recently been told that I’m “such an academic,” but at the same time pursuing a PhD is old news and doesn’t make me different, both comments came from men, both comments came in the last twenty-four hours, and I truly have to believe that both comments were not maliciously made, but nevertheless I’ve taken both to heart. I’m “such” an academic? Because I think critically about the world around me? Is that a bad thing? I don’t let it disrupt my life to an extent that bars me from having social relationships, but I let it work into my world in a way that activates those around m. I hope to provoke thought from my friends and family, so no, I actually don’t think that because Harry Potter becomes more dark throughout the series it is a bad thing, because I do think that the series follows the cognitive level of its characters and after the hope is really gone then yes the darkness gets let in in their lives and for us as well, it reflects growth, it reflects CRITICAL THOUGHT.

Friends of mine, over pints of beer, bitch about spending thousands of dollars and thousands of hours worrying and pursuing degrees that will “probably not” get us jobs, but then I sit down today and read about marching, about critical thought, and reflect on the differences in my thoughts and those around me who haven’t had the critical experience of theory and literature, or theory and culture, and I consider myself worthy and lucky to have spent thousands of hours pondering and worshipping and seeking more answers from the world around me. How lucky am I that I could have that? It means that I have the toolkit to look at the world and see bigger meaning, and that is a privilege.

As for pursuing my PhD, it is a big deal. No one in my family has stepped a single foot in graduate school let alone thought about doctoral work. No one. No one has had the opportunity, and that is a privilege. No one in my family also has a disability that prevents them from easily accessing school in the same way that I do and so yes, this is a big deal to me. It is a big deal to my family, but because of that it is a big thing for me. I am the one who brings the critical thought, the ideas, the support, the innovation, the big city vibes, the activism, and no I am not the only one in my family with these thoughts but because it is a priority for me it allows them to have those priorities too. This allows me to have meaningful conversations and make good change in lives that otherwise don’t have the opportunities I have had.

So yes, to both thoughts, I am SUCH an academic and it means SO much to me to be able to think critically, because its giving me the platform to live a full life. To support people that I care about, to hold them up when they need to, and to be an activist every single day in every breath that I have.

Today we MARCH because WOMAN are PEOPLE. WOMEN can DECIDE what to do with their LIVES because THEY ARE STRONG, BEAUTIFUL HUMANS. WE STAND TOGETHER.

We love. We care. And we do what we can to make the world a better place.

xx Jess

Emerging Scholar Syndrome

A short burst today as I am in the midst of writing a conference paper, but I had to just write this down and throw it into the universe. As a baby academic I still feel (and wonder if it will ever go away) mildly anxious while preparing to share my own research with others. I hate the thought of writing it, I postponed for two hours this morning claiming I was too tired to focus (when really I wanted to listen to the Q on CBC instead), and then got up begrudgingly to make coffee and sit down to write a paper about something I love. The moment I finished the first paragraph (thirty seconds ago) I realized that the build-up to writing the thing is what scares me, not the thing itself. I love the thing, I love my research, I love the conferences I present at and I love the idea that people are going to listen to me and ask questions. It’s the thoughts that are scary, not the thing itself. I forget this prior to writing everything I will share, and just wish there were some constructive ways to combat that? Any thoughts from the peanut gallery? Because there comes a time in one’s academic life when they realize this is what they are going to be doing forever, and so there has to be a way to stop the anxiety of writing because this is what I love to do.

This is it, I’ve made it, but why is it so hard to start?
xx Jess

Kindness

I’ve decided that hearts are human filters
they suck in the tension
and worry
and grief, loneliness, pain,
stress,
and they eminate love
like trees, that filter our air,
like humidifers
that also filter our air,
although the heart doesn’t breathe for us
it breathes in
takes in the dust
and offers nothing but warmth and love back.

When I’m surrounded by others’ tension, others’ stress,
I breathe in, and allow my own heart to try
to purify their dust,
and offer
give
warmth, compassion, and love
back.

xx Jess