Administrative work, in my experience, insinuates a contortional gravity into a career. This hypothesis from talking around, asking, noticing local noticings, observational. It’s not that admin wrecks you or explodes you to pieces, but its consequences can be harshly palpable. Sudden stress. Drone of email habits. Repeat questions. Repeat questions. The company you keep becomes less intellectually basket-o’-rangey-musical-instruments on ideas and possibilities; bureaucratic constraints, budgetary entrenchments, efficiencies talk–all of these shunt the counter-myth that administration can be intellectual work, guided by research and shaped by disciplinary experience (if not expertise). You check your pulse sometimes. Is this burnout I am feeling? Is this fatigue after ten consecutive years administering writing programs, first at EMU and then at VT, working under six department chairs, four deans, countless other interims and assistant-associate office holders, nearly all of them so new as to be striving on personal aspirations or so long in the rootrole as to be calcified and dreamless and forgetful. Graceless turnover; sandcastles not kicked but accidentally and clumsily stepped upon. Strikingest among the burnout symptoms in late May after year ten is the high saturation in what is motivating and what is not. Sharp contrasts, the outline of a work-life once forged around reading and writing, teaching and research. Sharp contrasts, yet another meeting with variations on title-holders late to a long-ago-begun conversation, intricate details about enrollment projections, about how labor advocacy is student advocacy, about a program’s becoming requiring (for it to go even middlingly well) horizons of development, mutualism, goodwill, and a reasonable forecast for resources. Reflection on a lull-ish early summer holiday weekend says look back and what have you become, what are you becoming–big you, polyvalent and yet-unfinished and imperfect–and then to ask is another year worth it. It had better be; it won’t be.
This, THIS, is what it feels like to celebrate a 10th blogiversary. And how it feels to read an entry on a ten-year-old–hang on a second…feeling overexcited…now catching my breath…blog. And how it feels to leave a comment on a ten-year-old blog (c’mon, people, when was the last time?). Also a glimpse of how well (or poorly?!) Movable Type has aged.
Seems like I should be able to come up with somethinganything important sounding, some epideictic gloss on all that blogging has been and all that it will be, on how blogging has died and come back and died again and come back so many times since about 2006 that it’s hard to keep track of whether it is alive or dead right now. Let me guess: alive. Proof enough that blogs, until deleted or lost in upgrades and platform roulette or suspended in an ambiguous cryogenic limbo, are their own dead-living monuments.
Exactly ten years ago I was applying to PhD programs. Owned a house on Missouri 9 Highway in Kansas City. Coached Ph.’s 7th grade basketball teams (Stampede Green and Stampede Blue). Taught as a part-time lecturer. Now am going up for tenure. Own a house in Ypsilanti. And I wear an old Stampede Blue winter hat when I jog the neighborhood in sub-50F weather. Turning over from a 9-ending to a big-0 birthday, myself, in a few months, blog.
I know the entries aren’t evenly spread across these ten years (nor are they likely to be for the next 10 years, although I promise a much bigger celebration in 2024), but thank goodness EWM marked off and has therefore helped me remember what happened, and happened, and happened. Just ten years in, I’m thinking, whatever else this is, it’s memory.