Celebrating six months!

On May 20, 2020, six months ago, I successfully defended my doctoral dissertation. This was a huge moment for me. I am still elated. Not long after, my efforts in public scholarship were recognized with a special prize from an anonymous donor.

The six months since have been busy. In September, I joined Art+Feminism to co-lead an important research project on Wikipedia’s reliable source guidelines and marginalized communities, funded by WikiCred. Last week I led the Town Hall Community Conversation in English (French and Spanish are held separately). Our conversation was powerful, and indexed a palpable sense of outrage among newcomers and outsiders to the Wikipedia editing community about the limits of the reliable source guidelines on English Wikipedia. “It shocks me what a hold certain people have on what is considered ‘real’ knowledge about our communities,” said one participant. The reliable source guidelines on English Wikipedia might be revised to recognize this. Together we envisioned differently and inclusively. Next steps are to collaborate with my co-leads with analysis and write a white paper. It’s truly an honor to be co-leading this project.

I’ve also applied for two post-docs. I was short-listed for both, which is affirming given the dearth of opportunities in academia and the extraordinary people I know who are (or might be) on the academic job market in my field. I made it to the final round for one. The committee offered the post to the other candidate. However, the rejection letter was so affirming that I printed it out. The second post doc I am still in the early stages of the interview process. It’s exciting to be in conversation with these scholars. They are doing important work and I am pleased to consider the opportunity to join them.

I’ve also been working on a novel. I joined a course with Elise Hooper at Hugo House. I have drafted 20,000 words so far. The course is a lot of fun. We get together once a week to talk narrative arc, dialogue, setting, pace, and language. Mine is ~20,000 words right now. Ambitiously, I hope to finish a messy first draft (~60,000) by the end of the year, if only because writing fiction and trusting the messy-first-draft process has been extraordinary and a big release for me. I love novel writing. Keywords: Longing, mothers, expertise & contingency, quirky strong female protagonist, scientific crisis, folktales, falling in and out of love, Budapest, Hungary, overcoming odds, losing a promise. Coming soon!

I’ve also been working on other writing, and pitching publications. I cold pitched a publication and was commissioned to write a long-form piece that I’m wrangling right now. It is looking to be very good when it’s finished, but is currently in that ugly stage of being birthed.

All these hopeful things I’m writing here. It’s at the same time difficult to wrap my head around this year, 2020. The pandemic, the U.S. political climate, the meanness, the injustices, the violence, the fear of police, the lack of safety or security for so many. Climate crises. The fires. The homelessness and food insecurity. The COVID-19 deaths. People close to me have lost their parents and relatives. Others have gotten sick and recovered, but the long term effects are unknown. Then there’s the toll on healthcare workers, and the frustration when people don’t wear masks, which is a kind of abuse to health care workers who are taking risks to care for patients. The precarity! The circulation of suspicion, conspiracy, anger, hate, and fear, co-sponsored by companies that earn money, big money, for sharing such stories. Many humans have stared all this down with terrible strength and terrible grief and emerged living. I can’t adequately address this. I write this as a way to acknowledge. In my Zoom background, you can see my sewing machine. I’ve been making masks. It’s a gift that I can give, that’s prosocial, made with my hands.

It’s Thanksgiving in the U.S. next week, followed by Native American Heritage Day. Like many, I’ll not be traveling and not be eating around a table with family outside of my immediate household. I’ve come to believe that gratitude can be a kind of gift back, so that gifts can continue to circulate. I’m writing as one way to give out. Writing here is another effort at giving — and the blog is a particular genre which gives to readers with raw realness. So, I’ll end my six-month anniversary post with a series of thank yous to those who have crossed my professional world since I defended six months ago. First, again to my committee, for that day. Thank you. And the committee that chose to honor my work with a prize from an anonymous donor. Thank you. And to the donor, who decided to give back and lift up young scholars so that they can continue to give, even in uncertain times. Thank you. To a founder of Art+Feminism, who recommended I join the Reading Together project. Thank you. To my co-leads, for your energy, ideas and commitment at our weekly meetings and writings. Thank you. For the people who took time to attend the English Reading Together Town Hall last week, and shared stories about editing. Thank you. To WikiCred, for funding our work on marginalized communities and reliable source guidelines. Thank you. The editor at the European Journalism Centre who replied to my cold pitch and commissioned me to write for you. Thank you. To the people I’ve interviewed for articles and reports that have yet to be published. Thank you. To my small but growing network of writing & pitching friends. Thank you. To the hiring committees that have read my motivation letters, research statements, and writing samples and asked to interview me, asked about my work. Thank you. To the scholar who gave me a very kind rejection. Thank you. To my mentors and colleagues, who have shared job calls, ideas, and cheered me along, all while you do your great work. Thank you. To the affirming teachers and staff who are educating our children, daily, under difficult circumstances. Thank you. To my yoga friends and running friends. Thank you. To my friends, neighbors, family, partner and children, who share coffee, groceries, calls, texts, videos, novels, essays, jam, dish duties, sticker books, crayons, and face masks. Thank you. ❤

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