[So I hit the PUBLISH button yesterday when I thought I hit SAVE. I didn't mean for this post to go out yet; it's only half done, and it is certainly half baked. Nonetheless since Rob has already commented upon it ... here is the year in review part one]
So John tagged me quite some time ago for a year in review meme.
On the theory of "better fashionably late rather than a no-show," I offer the following. I've attempted to stay true to the spirit in which John's own post was composed, combining the personal with the professional. A few of these topics have not yet been mentioned here, so what you'll read is not entirely yesterday's news.
- January: An offer arrived from a department chair to take me out to dinner when she was in DC, and so began a long conversation about my leaving GW for an endowed chair elsewhere. For a variety of reasons (<--bland, evasive formulation that cannot quite hide my discomfort at talking about academia's taboo subject, jobs) I eventually removed myself from candidacy. Still, even though I realized this was not the right move at the right time, it was a useful invitation for my family to ponder what in our lives we value, and what we desire to change. We agreed that a great attraction of potentially moving to a distant city would be the chance to jump from the ever-running treadmill of commitments that make our lives such a complicated ballet (and ballet is never executed well on a treadmill -- have you tried a grand jeté while that conveyor belt thing is on?). We would have had the chance to catch our breath. We're now determined to find other ways to do that ... and that is one reason why I will not be serving a second term as chair of the GW English department.
- February: I got to hang out this month with Nadeem Aslam, whose novel Maps for Lost Lovers has long been among my favorites. His writing process gave me pause: on the one hand he seems so gregarious, on the other so solitary (Because I spend my life surrounded by people, and because a part of me just wants to read, I often fantasize about being a hermit. In fact that seclusion appeals to me only until I gain a small measure of it; then I'm lonely). My son still treasures a voodoo baseball player we have in our car, which Nadeem insisted was a voodoo cricket player.
- March: I spent much of 2008 thinking about hybridity and Jewish identity. This year and next I'll be giving plenaries on the topic ... but I realize how personal the theme remains. The Cohens also took a family trip to NYC via bus that was so much fun we'll do it again this year, in April.
- April: I composed yet another manifesto for medieval studies. My next manifesto will be a manifesto about how we need to stop manifesting manifestos. Honestly, it isn't a genre I'm very good at: I'm not as comfortable talking meta as, say, Eileen is (no one does meta as well as she does). The partial wrongness of every general statement I make renders it difficult for me to make general statements.
- May: Post-Kzoo (and what a Kzoo it was -- Celery World!), I realized that my fourth monograph is coming together. Though the book is very much in process, though I won't have a good idea of its actual contours until I have some time to think, still I know that it will likely bear the title Art from a Stone: Dreaming the Prehistoric in the Middle Ages. As you may have noticed from recent blog posts at ITM, I've been rather interested in megaliths, deep history, and vast temporal gaps.
- June: I learned once again what an admirable person my son is. Unfortunately of late he has begun to roll his eyes at most everything I say. Often he seems embarrassed that I could, you know, even be alive within proximity to him. He still cannot decide if he most enjoys cuddling with or torturing his younger sister. Still, I am proud of the transition he has made to middle school. In fact he's in his room studying the division of negative exponentials for his midterm exam right now. Boxing Bob, by the way, is still in search of a publisher.