letter twelve: striking, baking, and climbing

"Our human condition is such that we are forever in the situation of deciding how much attention to give to self-generated thought and how much to information from the external social or physical environment." - Jerome L. Singer on creativity and daydreaming

Dear friends,

Today is the first day of the HGSU (Harvard graduate student union) strike. If you're local, I would love to see you there on the picket line! If you're not, please take 10 seconds and email the administration here (regardless of your involvement with Harvard): tinyurl.com/emailharvardadmin.

In thinking about striking, I've been thinking a lot about what constitutes "academic work + responsibilities" and non-academic work. What work is "essential" to my progress towards the dissertation? This has also meant thinking about work/things that keep me busy that aren't related to graduate student (paid) work at all, like teaching yoga.

And then of course, there's all the things I do to keep myself sane, like practicing yoga. This past semester, I've also been playing with focaccia recipes every weekend, which are both easy + vegan! It's been a joy to just put flour, olive oil, salt and yeast together into a tub and and then watch it bubble and grow. The winner recipes? Alison Roman + Samin Nosrat. Also, look at others' "depression bread" (credit: LP).

And like many millennials, Colin and I have also taken up climbing (current favorite hashtag is #shortpersonbeta). I'm definitely still a beginner, but I appreciate trying something new that's also incredibly challenging; it's a good reminder of all the different things bodies can do, and I am immensely grateful for what my body can do.

Strike or no strike, December means that meetings slow down, and I'm looking forward to having more uninterrupted time to let my mind wander + and also get some things done, such as starting that dissertation proposal and preparing my course syllabus. I'm also taking winter break recommendations: tell me what you're reading/listening to/watching.

I endorse: My's fall feels playlist. This poem. Two-mile wear (or the idea that you have clothing for venturing into a radius around the house). Get an em dash. Work your paste magic.

Finally, some wise advice from Zan Romanoff:
"It is so hard to know where ambition and drive end, and useless self-sabotage begins. I wanted one thing; I got it; I set a new goal. That's reasonable, right? The problem is when I allow the new goal to make the old ones seem smaller than they were, and are. I've done so many things that, five or ten years ago, would have seemed like wildest-dream material. It's stupid that I let myself forget that as often as I do.

(But and also this is the best argument for figuring out how to like your work-- the making of it, of course, but also the thing when it's done. Because I've found that the only thing that reliably works when I'm mad that someone got something I didn't, or down on myself for not having done more already, or for not being someone else doing something else that everyone universally loves and praises, is to take pride and pleasure in my own writing. I can't control or even do all that much to influence whether or how people will read it; if I'm seeking satisfaction, it had better be in the work, and not in anything outside of it or myself.)"


[Ostensibly this is a newsletter about my academic writing + reading. In other updates, KB and I submitted a short methods paper to ICLS about dyadic interviews, reciprocity, and participant experiences, and I'm currently reading up on critical collaborative ethnography and how to write fieldnotes. Basically, ask me about methods books.]

Much love,
Paulina