January 17, 2013

Job-Less: Changes toward Balance?










A friend recently said something to the effect that “we can slow down when we’re in the ground.” I’d really like to slow down before then, but I know it will be hard for me to do. In the coming months I hope to establish some balance among my research, writing, volunteer work, time with friends and family, and life maintenance. I want to get to the gym, go for long walks with friends, hang out with my children and partner, read novels, sleep, cook and eat tasty, healthy food, clean my basement, AND prepare for teaching next fall, AND write an article, edit another, start my next book AND prepare a talk for May in St. Louis, AND visit southern Illinois, Colorado and the UK. AND that’s not all. You get the idea….

In order to re-prioritize my life, I just drastically scaled back my day job at the Graduate School of Library and Information Science (GSLIS). I’ll remain on one grant for another year (probably.) That shift down to four hours a week (!) will free up daytime hours for research and writing. Boldly I go: to write grants to raise funds to do my research; to read challenging books and craft my arguments; to face that blinking cursor and turn my tangled thoughts into what I hope will be reasoned prose; to try new ways of linking ideas for publishing (ie, Zotero, Scalar); to support other writers and thinkers in their efforts; to develop some new courses; and to be grateful every day for my good fortune. GSLIS is letting me use a small office and I will stay involved in the Inclusions and Exclusions Reading Group, the Fab Lab Champions, Action Research Illinois, Imagining America, iFoundry, Technology and Culture’s advisors, the Ethnography of the University Initiative, a few student theses and I-Promise…until it seems like I should move on.

The artists with whom I have been working aren’t getting any younger (nor am I), and I want to be able to collaborate with them while we can all do so.  So, the first priority is to draft several fellowship and grant proposals. In the process, I will sketch the next steps for my research on the art of Stephen Willats and tackle an essay for Routledge on critical spatial practice in US cities since 1960. This spring I also need to better articulate the implications of the University of Local Knowledge in Bristol for progressive education, for an article in the International Journal of Progressive Education. Also, the main branch of the St. Louis Public Library, designed by Cass Gilbert and opened in 1912, is celebrating its centennial and major renovation; I will be on a panel with an architect from Cannon Design who oversaw the renovation and the Library director in St. Louis in May. I have some new thoughts about early 20th century libraries that I would like to develop for that talk. Busy? Yes. Balanced? I hope. Broke? Most certainly.