letter fifteen: hello again

"I move through the world gathering inspiration for my thinking. Everything [shapes my thinking]." - Dr. Sherice Clarke

Ohai.

I started this newsletter as a way to track what I was reading and writing about. Doctoral work can be lonely, and it can also be hard to measure non-linear process; this newsletter has been a way to externalize some of my thinking about the things that interest me, even when the topics are wide-ranging and seemingly unconnected.

Then came the pandemic, and I paused this newsletter. Instead, over the last year, I wrote a different weekly newsletter, which gave me a small amount of space to link to media I was consuming, as well as to document my teaching schedule. It was a lot of fun, and I'm grateful for the micro-community that formed in that temporary space. (Scroll down to the bottom for a link to this week's yoga teaching schedule.)

With the advent of change, I decided to return to this space, foregrounding my academic interests. We're in a moment of change (perhaps because of the eclipse, but mostly as reopening proceeds in the U.S. and the pandemic rages on in other places), and also, when I think back to this year, it's a bit of a blur. So, here are some things that have happened in my life recently:

  • We finished pilot data collection for my primary research project, Getting Unstuck.

  • I wrapped up my tenure as an Editor and Co-Chair for the Harvard Educational Review.

  • Julia and I submitted our lit review on civic identity to a journal.

  • I turned 30.

  • We got a pandemic puppy.

  • Colin and I now live "alone" (with our menagerie of animals and greenhouse of plants) and decided to move downstairs.

Some of these changes (like the puppy) mean that I have less time, but others, like wrapping up data collection, mean that I have more time. For those of you who've been asking "when are you graduating?" (Or, if you're my family, "Why haven't you graduated yet?"), I'm currently planning to work on the dissertation over the next year and a half, but, like all plans, everything is TBD.

In future weeks, you can expect a short list of links, quotes, and half-baked thoughts. Thanks for sticking around! In the meantime, here are some ideas I've been exploring:

  • I'm here for Austin Kleon's Gemini4Gemini playlist and NPR's roséwave puns, because "whether you're ready for Hot Vax Summer or preparing for a more cautious reentry to everyday life, roséwave understands."

  • I'm always curious about infrastructure, and I loved some of these thoughts about how and for whom roads are designed, and also the cancellation of the Keystone XL pipeline. Also appreciated these additional thoughts about how to be allies to indigenous peoples.

  • My dissertation work revolves around Getting Unstuck, a set of emails that KB and I sent out every day, and in 2018, we asked participants to make 21 Scratch projects for 21 days. Yes, even on weekends. I was thinking about this because I've been striving for #1000wordsofsummer, and there's a lot of similarity in the format—like our 2018 participants, I felt stymied by the need to be attempting to write on the weekends, but this writing sprint is only 2 weeks long. So far, I'm deeply appreciative of the Slack community, where people are doing lots of different things and trying lots of different strategies, and I'm also deeply appreciative of Jami Attenberg's daily missives; day 6 included this pep talk, which I loved and needed to hear: "Today you will write 1000 words. You will write these words because you take yourself seriously as a person with ideas and talents and dreams. You are not to be dismissed by anyone, and most of all not by yourself. You will write these 1000 words because you woke up today and told yourself you could, and you are running the show here. No one else but you."

  • I appreciated these reflections on writing, dinner parties, and community, as well as errand friends and also collective possibility.

Yoga this week: You can find me Sunday morning, Monday afternoon, and Tuesday afternoon this week at the Corner Studio—find me outdoors and/or online.

Much love,

P.