Category: personal.log |

2019 Retrospective

The title of this post is both an indication of its content and a personal challenge. I’m not entirely sure how to provide a retrospective on 2019. I’m not even sure where to begin.

I might also note that this entire retrospective is probably the height of a “first-world consideration.” There are very real issues and real disasters going right now that make my reflections here seem trivial. I suppose, in fact, that they are. I don’t pretend to think that these matter one iota to the world at large.

They are important to me, though, so I am sharing them. If you’re reading this, I assume you have a reason for being interested. If not, well, there is always a lot of content out there.

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PhD Complete - Stage Next

Graduation Cap

Three months ago, on April 24th, I defended my dissertation and earned my doctorate. I was, at long last, Doctor Geoffrey Gimse. There was an almost jarring sense of the surreal when I realized that I had come to the culmination of of an 11 year sojourn. A sojourn that began when I decided to return to school at the University of Iowa and major, of all things, in English. At that moment, I told myself that if I was going to to do this, I was going all the way to the PhD.

It certainly hadn’t been an easy run, but there I was. I was done and that nagging question kept sitting there in the back of my head. It was a question that I had studiously avoided thinking about during the final push of dissertation writing, but it was always there waiting for me.

What next?

Here is the reality: I like teaching and research. I am fascinated by rhetoric and technology. I love writing with a passion I can’t ever fully express, and I find particular delight in creating new avenues of thinking in the world of technology and communications. I could have …

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Welcome to 2019

Welcome to 2019, my occasional reader. I would do a review of 2018, but—except for a few minor highlights—2018 was not the most auspicious of years for me. I am quite content to leave it in the dustbin of my personal history.

I am far more interested in looking forward. There is a lot coming up this year. Most importantly, I am working to finish a dissertation and with it my doctorate. This is my final semester. When I finish, I will have completed the last step of a path I began almost a decade ago. Truth is, I had no clue where it would take me, and it has been an incredible journey. Scarier still, I have no clue where it will take me next. Where I will be in the fall of 2019 is still a complete mystery. I am looking forward to that next step, though. There is something exciting about the unknown, and the possibilities that lay beyond it.

I wanted to say that the close of this journey will be an easy one. I originally planned it to be. I was going to have a full draft by the end of the year …

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A Benefit to the Dissertation

So, I’ve been writing a dissertation, and I am finally starting to enjoy the experience. I have read through the theorists that ground my work1. The research is (mostly) coming together, and I am absolutely savoring the experience of just sitting down and writing. The chapters are starting to really flow, and I am looking at having a full first draft completed by the end of the year. In fact, I am behind on other important work2 because I have been enjoying the process of writing so much.

I think a good portion of my enjoyment comes from the fact that I have made a conscious effort not to allow feelings of guilt or lack to limit me. For a while, I did. I was trying to fit everything in and working very hard to please everyone. I was miserable, but I really didn’t want to face the alternative. It is amazing how difficult it can be to acknowledge and affirm our priorities to other people. This is especially true when those priorities mean that people will be disappointed or upset.

For me, that has been the real benefit of the dissertation. It is a consuming …

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Working in Dystopia

I’ve been working on meeting several intense deadlines over this past week which means I tend to drop everything else to focus. I can be a bit of a workaholic when I let myself, and it’s never been a healthy thing for me. This shouldn’t be a surprise, of course. Working ourselves to death is an American tradition.

We glamorize work so much so that it becomes a compulsion. We compete for the title of the hardest worker and look down on those who take time for health, family, or just to experience the world around them. We deem them lazy, unfocused, or unambitious. We buy into the myth that hard work leads to success when all around us, in the highest positions of power, we see the exact opposite.

I often feel like the academic push to work is more subtle than it was in industry and that makes it more dangerous. In the tech industry, even far outside of Silicon Valley, we were explicitly told that we were expected to work 45-50 hours a week, minimum. That was the low-bar, and our management team expected to see many of us working more. We did, but …

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