Sunday, July 26, 2020

Toxicity and boundaries

Two themes I've been thinking a lot about these past few months are toxicity and boundaries. They've come up for me as notable ideas this year, mostly because I think the world has shown that a lot of toxic things, ways of being, and entire systems can't be left unchecked without establishing specific boundaries. Covid-19 is spreading as it is in many places around the US, and continuing to infect people across the world (no, the numbers aren't going down in "civilized" places, either). The virus itself is literally toxic in that it's killing tens of thousands and causing potentially life-long damage for those who recover. And remember, a large percentage of these deaths are completely avoidable.
I also see toxicity in how the world is trying to expunge this poison. The world is vomiting everything out, good and bad. Countries are trying to expel foreigners (part of the reason why I’m still in Canada and not sure about going back to the US/Switzerland). The racial uprisings across the US and elsewhere are another example of healing, angry energy that simply had to erupt. I think this could be cleansing, evacuating all of the sickness, but then is the Western world okay with being empty? Probably not. A driving force in our toxic behavior is, of course, the need to consume.
One of the ways boundaries have emerged as important is masks and social distancing regulations. I see these as boundaries and distance influenced by toxicity, but I’m also thinking about the gap between how people are treated versus how they should be treated. People seem to be so ready to transgress the physical boundaries, yet that gap remains difficult to cross.
 It's sad that this is a polemic statement, but you should care enough about other people to change your behavior in meaningful ways. This means wearing a mask. This means social distancing. This means donating money to Black people, also and especially Black Disabled people, Black Trans people and other marginalized folks within the Black community. This also means making space for them in ways that might make your life more difficult.
Bob the drag Queen, in a poignant discussion with Lucy Stoole about the wave of Black Queer town hall meetings that have been happening across the country, pointed out that in order for Black folks to gain people it means that White people have to lose power. Point blank periodt. That makes a lot of folks uncomfortable, but this is truly what restorative justice looks like. A lot of privileged people are going to have to give up privilege, which, to them might feel like oppression. It is not a coincidence that Karen and her friends are claiming oppression, when asked to engage in the slight inconvenience of wearing a mask in public.
I’m not really sure where these thoughts are going. If I were a better academic, I’d try to write an actual paper about this. For now, I suppose I’m just satisfied with having written this much.

Tuesday, July 7, 2020

A new life

I've been playing with the idea of starting up the ole blog again. Now, when I should probably be focusing on writing other things (dissertation, projects, applications, etc.). Still, I've always found this version of screaming into the void a tad bit more appealing. At least the stakes are lower. Since my last post, I have:

  • gone through numerous cycles of executive (dys)function
  • seriously considered quitting my PhD 
  • Published an article 
  • Submitted the first article from my PhD to a journal
  • Submitted an co-authored article to a journal...only to have it rejected
  • Resubmitted said article
  • witnessed the world going through the early phases of what will most likely be (at least) a year-long pandemic
  • Seen the people of the country where I happened to be born collectively mobilize because people that look like me can and continue to be murdered by the police with impunity
  • started dealing with the mental health repercussions of those last two things
  • extended my stay in Vancouver until December
  • not worked as much as I should have
  • Eaten a lot
  • tried to work out because I have the time
  • experienced yet another debilitating back problem
  • stopped working out
  • bought a number of video games to try and escape

So now, I guess I'm using this blog to process. Not entirely sold on the format, but I think it might be good for me to get back into the regular habit of a kind of writing that doesn't make me feel incapable. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2018

December Update

I've been slacking! Here is a video update...probably the last one of 2018 :)

Sunday, April 15, 2018


I've been pretty lax with posting lately, but that doesnt mean I haven't been doing stuff! I recently went to Bristol for a conference to present a paper my boss, a colleague, and I are working on together. It was my first time in the UK and I flew into London and stayed a few days there as well.

Beautiful building in Bristol

Taken from a double-decker bus in London

Not entirely sure where this was taken...but England!

Here's me presenting the paper. The venue was super old and cool. 

The trip to England was right before Spring Break (which I'll make a separate post for). The conference was worth it, and I got to see another country

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Uppsala, Sweden

I've been doing a fair amount of travelling lately. This weekend I'm glad to just stay in Lugano and catch up on some things.

Last weekend, I went to Uppsala, Sweden to attend a seminar on discourse theory and methods. It was a pretty interesting collection of students, and the professor was really nice and knowledgeable. 
Here's a picture of me presenting
(photo credit: Yiming)

Here is a picture of the group all together 

And here are some shots of the (super cold but apparently not as bad as usual) Uppsala

(photo credit: Monika)

I did end up getting a little bit of time to see Uppsala and Stockholm, but I have to be honest: it was way too cold for me to be walking around. Still, I'm glad that I got to see some old friends in Stockholm, visit a new country, and broaden my horizons when it comes to discourse theory. 

And, of course, what would a trip be without stuffing my face with (admittedly non-vegan) pastries?

Monday, January 29, 2018

Coimbra, Portugal

Last weekend I attended the annual preparatory meeting of the Master's semester abroad program that my boss and I coordinate. This year it took place in Coimbra, Portugal. At first Coimbra was cloudy (although still quite nice, to be honest)

But the weather improved notably.

The city is about 2 hours away from Lisbon, and had a quaint sort of University town charm.

I didn't get a lot of time to walk around, but the free time I did have was nice. I really like the small alleys of the ancient city center

University of Coimbra is the 7th oldest university in Europe and has some pretty impressive architecture

I also managed to accidentally order this giant puff pastry thing with my broken portuguese. It was still pretty fun to eat. 

My last day I only had a few hours, so I woke up early and walked to this familiar looking bridge...

It was a pretty nice weekend that also included a colloquium of sorts where all of the participants of the organizational meeting also presented their research, myself included. Now, I'm back in Lugano and there's a LOT to do, but I feel fairly energized by the positive experience and feedback. I head to Uppsala in 5 days so I thought I'd post this before I get too much of a backlog. Thanks for reading :)

Monday, January 22, 2018

New Year, New...Year.

My last post was last year! Crazy.

Some things have happened. I went to NYC (again) and then visited the fam-bam for 3 weeks. I got another tattoo, ate a whole lot of food, tried to relax, had a TERRIBLE trip back to Lugano (seriously over 24 hours of travelling) and then tried to get my circadian rhythm back on track. It's still a work in progress.

I really hoped that my trip back to the U.S. would give me some energy and clarity, allowing me to get back to the grind and attack my dissertation with renewed vigor. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case this first week back...

I have two trips coming up; the first is to Coimbra, Portugal and the second is to Uppsala, Sweden. I'll be taking care of administrative stuff for the master's program my boss and I coordinate in Coimbra, and attending a week-long seminar on discourse theory in Uppsala. Those are things to look forward to. I'm also going to be giving a presentation on my research (?) in Coimbra after the administrative meeting, so hopefully my next update will have nice pictures and a more positive vibe.