Monday, May 28, 2018

You wouldn't remember, but you did.

It's been more than 5 years since Jason Molina died.  In five years, with everything else I've had going on, I never really took the time to grieve--I mean, grieve as much as would be appropriate for the death of an artist who's been influential in your life in some way.  When he died, I was working on a paper, or something of the sort, for some class, and, with respect to my dejection, had to just completely put it out of my head in the most unfortunate way until I could get the paper done.

Jason was pretty much radio-silent (so to speak) for a good 4-6 years prior to his death, with only random notes of recovery being sent out from his label, so I suppose it didn't come as a shock.  We knew he was ill, we knew he was having health issues that were as much mental health as physical, and that he was working on things "even the music can't get to."  For a man with such profoundly sad songs, that's a dark place.  If you understand one of his last songs, "No Hand Was at the Wheel" as one of the most depressing songs ever written, you're on track.

I came across this performance the other day, and it just brought up those old, sad feelings.  Scout sang this song on the last official Songs: Ohia album.  Although written by Molina, her performance on the album is breathtakingly still in this sort of way.  Scout Niblett has a certain childhood exploration-type innocence to her music, particularly within her albums, imaginative with a small set of tools.  When she chooses to capture the stillness, the darkness, she owns all the air in the room and drives at the very heart of existence. 

I was taken by the sadness - clearly still reeling from the loss of a friend.  The way she plays the guitar here, toned to Molina's early 2000s style, makes me wonder if it's not one of his own.

No really end to this, was just startled when I heard this, realizing that I've been pretty numb to these kinds of experiences for many years.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Postdoc phews

I've been avoiding talking about it on social media, since apparently one of the indicators of becoming a scientist is being extremely superstitious during the waning months of your dissertation.  Nevertheless, this song came up and I wanted to post it but didn't want to go through the whole "you're finally graduating??" hullabaloo on Facebook prior to actually finishing my dissertation.  That won't be until August (although I'll be walking at graduation in June), so it seems weird re: carts and horses.

Anyway, I DID get a job.  I won't mention details, as there's still a lot of planning to do, but I have signed the paperwork and all this is now moving forward.  It's a postdoctoral scholar (e.g. researcher) position at a research institute in my field at a R1 (aka "very high research activity") university.  I'm excited - it's a great opportunity to do good work with very good people.

I'm also terrified, because I'll no longer be a student - now it's time to know things!  I mean, I do indeed know things, but getting a PhD, crazy as it may seem, is actually the start of development as a scholar.  The PhD indicates that I have learned the requisite skills to create science, but being an "expert" will take a much longer time.  Need to create many, many more sciences before I feel like I have the mental wherewithal to enter into grand debates.

This is an exciting time - I've gotten to do interesting things and meet interesting people, and now I get to do more!  It's certainly a place of privilege to get to learn, and get to share that learning, with others.  For money, no less.

So, I share this song - because of my love of Samson and also because - hey - how many songs about postdocs are there?  Really?  But mostly because of this last bit, which sums up the need for positivity and centering in the face of crushing academic fear:

So take that laminate out of your wallet and read it
And recommit yourself to the healing of the world
And to the welfare of all creatures upon it
Pursue of practice that will strengthen your heart