The biggest thing that has kept me from blogging is fear.
What if I write something and later I disagree with it. What if I write something controversial and it keeps me from getting hired, or furthering my academic career.
Then I think what are my controversial ideas? That education should be accessible, that women should control their own bodies, that Black Lives Matter, that the Ivory Tower was made to keep education in the hands of elites and to empower white supremacy. But are those really that controversial?
If I am to go into academia, shouldn’t I be the person loudly starting those conversations?
I think about people like Jonathan Rosa and Nelson Flores both of whom have a strong online presence. They call out white supremacy ALL THE TIME. And if it weren’t for their online presence, I am not sure I would no about them, which means they wouldn’t have been as fundamental in my dissertation work as they are.
They give me hope, I an win at academia and crush white supremacy without having to water myself down.
So yeah, almost all my classes, classmates and professors have perpetuated white supremacy. My elevator introduction, is “I study the languages and cultures of mi gente, as taught by white people in the midwest”. And that’s why I have to speak up I guess, because I am the only US Latina in my cohort. Of those with PhDs in the US less than 2% are Chicanas. I need to be less fearful so that I can make room for voices like mine, just as Dr. Rosa and Dr. Nelson have made a path for people like me.
in grad school, in class, i’m discussing visual theory, the same as it is always discussed: what is visual, what is reality, what is memory, is photography a science or an art? it is a circle jerk of supposed intellectual stimulation with no moment of climax.
For years now I’ve wanted to bike from Pittsburgh to Washington DC. I asked David if he’d like to do it for Thanksgiving break and he was down. David’s a great biking partner, has lots of experience and has biked from Canada to Florida, and the West Coast of the US, multiple times. He knows how to self-support tour, and bike maintenance– two things I don’t have. I have ridden tours before but never carried my own gear. It felt good to know I had a strong and experienced rider with me, as well as the best company.
We set out to do the GAP (Great Allegheny Passage) and C&O but only did the GAP–and thank goodness for that.
If it hadn’t been for David encouraging that we (me) take our time, and enjoy the ride without worrying about the destination it would have been a less pleasurable ride. We did
the hardest part of the ride (the GAP is uphill, the C&O is downhill) and still got to enjoy it.
We started in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and biked out with our final ostentation being Cumberland, Maryland.
We had our first hiccup before we’d even made it out of the parking lot when David’s chain broke. We got a new chain in the strip mall near the path and off we went again. A few miles in, David’s derailer cracked and fell off. Within the first 15 miles of our ride we got to stop for two mechanicals. After that we didn’t have any mechanical issues until about mile 140 of the GAP when I got a flat. In total we did about 160 miles. I am looking forward to doing it again but when the weather is warm.
Munhall, PA to Connellsville, PA (approximately 52 miles)
-uphill, in freshly laid wet sand—slowed us down more than we’d anticipated. Camped in Connellsville at a free site with an adirondack. Fires weren’t permitted and the weather hovered in the low thirties. Had pizza for dinner in Connellsville.
Connellsville, PA to Rockwood, PA (approximately 46 miles)
-uphill no more wet sand–thank goodness! Weather was warm in the mid 50s, we even stopped at around 20 miles to take a walk down a foot path with a directional arrow that said “Gorge”.
Slept in a campground in Rockwood that charged $10 per person, provided firewood and newspaper as an igniter…but man it was freezing, in the twenties. This was the night we realized that my sleeping bag was not for cold weather.
Rockwood, PA to Cumberland, MD (approximately 45 miles)
Mostly uphill. Got a flat tire and had to walk 5 miles before I got to a bike pump.
Got lost in Frostburg but also had the best meal of the trip at a little place David found, called SHiFT. You can now see a pic of the two of us on their wall of cyclists.
From Frostburg to the Cumberland Amtrak was a super speedy downhill ride.
Amtrak Station in Pittsburgh to Munhall, PA (approximately 10 miles)
I am not sure about calling this a full day, as we arrived at the station a little before midnight at the end of day 3 and only rode 10 miles to the car/where we started on the GAP. It was an easy ride from station to car, although difficult to get on to the path from the station and we got a bit lost, the darkness and exhaustion also added to the adventure.
“If one looks at the bilingual speaker holistically…Phenomena such as interference, mixing and switching become the subject of analysis, helping us to discover patterns and relationships with other features of speech. A non-native accent and the choice of a wrong word (perhaps a loan translation from the other language) are more likely to be detected in bilinguals…” (Hoffman 1991)
I disagree with the above quote. It isn’t an interference, or a lack of transfer (both pejorative and prescriptivist terms), it is that we bilinguals have more tools in our tool box. We have more language to pull from and as such our language is more dynamic. I sometimes purposefully and sometimes unconsciously move syntax, use vocabulary that “doesn’t belong” for a monolingual speaker—but to me does. I express myself as best I can, and feel my language, the ethos of my language, which cannot be taught. Who gets to decide what is native and that it is my ideal is to be a “native”—what does that even mean? My language isn’t a set standard nor do I desire it to be.
I have been very frustrated and impatient the last few months as the man I am dating learns Spanish. I use Spanish as my language of love and affection, while I use English as a bureaucratic tool to maneuver a white society (not that Spanish isn’t also imperialistic–it just manifests differently in my daily life). As such when my gentleman speaks to me in Spanish, a language he is learning as an adult I swoon, but I know he doesn’t feel what he is saying. As in he is in such an early stage of language development that he doesn’t feel the spirit of the language yet. He says things in Spanish, I am almost certain he would never say in English, they are sweet things but he doesn’t understand the impact his words have on me. The translation is not one-to-one because the literal definition does not include emotional interpretation.
I imagine him reaching a high level of fluency before he gains the ideology, the mentality of the language. I imagine it happening in the marketplace somewhere in Spanish speaking Mesoamerica, him realizing that he has been speaking without understanding the emotion and realizing that his language abilities are not what he believes. That he will come home and tell me the story of how he realized he hadn’t felt a word, felt the emotion of the word, until the context thrusted itself on him. It is at this moment of language insecurity where his capabilities will actually be at their highest. The bilingual speaker is always in that flux of wondering “how can I use all my tools to fully express myself with all the accurate emotion that is available at my disposal”.
The moment he realizes, that he hasn’t mastered the ethos yet and wonders if he is ever capable of it (as I wonder it myself daily and try to manipulate language to communicate and connect) is when I will trust what he says even more fully.
Waves of motivation.
I miss blogging. I miss spilling out the truth until it no longer burned inside of me and the sting had been released.
I miss connecting with amazing people doing amazing things.
I have been scared before about writing publicly and the academic impact it might have. I realize though that blogging helped me get into graduate school. It was blogtitlan that encouraged me to apply, it was members of blogtitlan who looked over my applications and essays. They have given me much guidance and I am now shocked to look around and see how many of us from early blogtitlan went into academia. I wonder how we ended up here.
David always talked about us as being the flowers in the cracks of sidewalks, we found ways to flourish were there weren’t others. We also however, found each other.
I am feeling more motivated to write for multiple reasons. The burning inside is getting to be too much. As I assimilate more and more with academia I find myself unhappier and disconnected from reality. And while fear kept me from writing before, I now recognize the support team I have that understands I am more than someone creating a space in academia. There is more too me than what academia acknowledges. That more is what makes me a different academic and different human.
It is not just the fact that I am Chicana and there are are so few of us, but also because I am unapologetic in my boisterous presence, in my womaness, in my political being, in my engaging in many fashions including blogging.
Here is my gentle wave back into the ocean of blogging, that I deserve and hope to grow from.