Morning Time Part 1 (Or a Tangent on Blogging)

Most days I wake up at 6 am. “Most days” excludes weekends and days I don’t have to be on campus. I wake up early and leave the house early too, around 8, partly to get parking. I can be ready within an hour. That leaves an extra hour between the time I crawl out of bed and crawl out the door. That hour is my morning time.

A Tangent on Blogging

Subtitle: Because I’m Always Thinking about Blogging and What It Means to Blog as an Academic and while Attached to an Academic Institution

Last year, I thought I’d write a series of blog posts titled something like “Lessons from Grad School.” I started this post about morning time with that framing in mind. But the draft felt annoying. Preachy. Here’s one of the lines I wrote:

“One of the most important things for my success is morning time. This is important not just for grad school but for life.”

Ugh. I’m cringing. But I must have felt the same way when I drafted this in January, because the sentence immediately after was:

“(Stop judging your language and just write dammit.)”

I bring up this silly exchange with myself not to say everyone should wake up earlier. I’m not offering a single “right” way to do grad school. But talking about my experiences, even my funny little morning time habit, is a record. It’s me sharing a good thing I have going on. And I’m learning that we could always use a little more sharing of good things here in the academy. Though I suppose this is true for any field.

People have told me that blogs are like public diaries (if they’re particularly disdainful of them) or journals (if their disdain is mild). I think these people discredit the helpfulness of diaries or journals. In their book Linguistic Disobedience, Michelle Moyd and her coauthors Yuliya Komska and David Gramling write about the importance of collecting. While their focus is the collecting of language – words, new words, and ways words’ meanings become new, to name a few possibilities – I see parallels to my belief in the importance of documenting and collecting experiences.

On Naming Your Experiences

Putting words to experiences, especially the experiences of underrepresented and/or actively suppressed groups, has power. The most visible narratives about graduate school out there reflect the experiences of white, affluent, straight, cisgender, and able-bodied students. Graduate school is hard enough for these students. But for students outside of these privileged categories, the experience is challenging in different ways. In practice, people – faculty, staff, administrators, even fellow students – don’t like to admit this. They assume they are being called racist, sexist, homophobic or some other label they couldn’t possibly see as being attached to themselves or their institution.

But drawing on simple logic, it’s only natural that people who have different identities experience the world differently. It seemed easy to accept at Fulbright Korea, where we – grantees and program staff – acknowledged, for example, that Black American English teachers had very different experiences in teaching Korea than their white counterparts. Or Asian counterparts. Or Korean adoptees. See, this was easy to admit because we could place the blame on the whole of South Korean society, rather than the blame feeling personally attached to the Fulbright Korea program.

I share experiences because my hope is that people believe experiences. It’s harder to deny racism when someone is telling you they just experienced it. It’s just little bit harder to deny when multiple people have spoken out and – oh would you look at that? – their experiences line up. Adding my voice to the range of visible experiences out there is one reason to blog.

On Being Transparent about Experiences

The act of recording has power. I wrote a little on this theme in my first blog post, but documenting experiences leaves a record for those coming up after you. I also find it to be more transparent, more honest.

The dominant form of writing in academia is journal articles. We’re so focused on producing publications. But if these articles are the only form of writing students see, there are at least two consequences: a) they have unrealistic expectations about writing and the writing process (this is an entirely different topic which many books cover), and b) they have unrealistic, skewed, or simply no idea of how their intended career path will look. Articles don’t illuminate anything about the convoluted process it took to write them, the evolution of the research captured in their words, or the day to day process of writing said article while balancing the multiple demands of an academic career. You might sum up this behind-the-scenes knowledge as the “hidden curriculum.”

But there are other aspects of academia that go beyond concrete skills, jargon, and know-how. There’s the conflict between what it seems you’re expected to do versus what is humanly possible. There are the pressures disproportionately placed on scholars and students with specific identities. There are countless little experiences that are jarring for those not accustomed to the system, yet forgotten by those who have been successfully socialized (read: forgotten how bizarre and unhealthy these practices are and have been in the system too long to expect anything different).

I expect that by the end of graduate school, I’ll have forgotten many things too. And so I’m here, writing my public diary entry on morning time.

Additional Reading

I’ll leave you with some articles on blogging that I’m surprised I didn’t know about sooner:

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