Monday, December 20, 2004

PHinisheD


call me dr. dub


No cultural criticism this time - just some self-reflection.

I filed my dissertation today and was promptly rewarded with a form letter certifying this (complete with an embossed gold seal, nice!) as well as...a See's Caffe Latte Lollipop.

Yes, a lollipop.

I can't tell if they're trying to be funny or ironic but suffice to say, I never thought ending my 8.5 years in graduate school would be quite so anti-climactic. I'm not complaining, mind you, I am very happy and relieved to finally be done with my diss and done with this phase of my life. It's just that, after so much time invested, I feel not-very-different at all.

8.5 years - as my friends and especially family have noted - is a long time. Pardon my French, but actually, it's a long fucking time. Not as long as say, waiting for the Sox to win another World Series, but I've spent a little more than a quarter of my life in grad school and if I add up the total time I've spent at Berkeley in terms of undergrad and grad, that equals just under 40% of my life. That's real.

In that time, I've moved four times, presented papers at 10+ different conferences, taught over a dozen classes to over 500 students, acquired around 6,000 records (give or take a 1,000), written over 150 articles or reviews (give or take 30), traveled to Asia four times, Kauai twice, England and Puerto Rico once, interviewed over 60 people, edited/co-wrote one book, published one academic article, made a dozen or so mixtapes, done college radio for every year except for 2004, lost my two remaining grandparents, lost two girlfriends, gained a few new pounds, lost part of my hairline, been ripped off by Eastern European swindlers, bought five cameras, three laptops, two video game systems, and a hybrid car. And so forth.

The thing is: as much as I can follow all these changes intellectually, 1996 doesn't feel that long ago. More to the point, I'm not sure how much I've actually changed in that time. It's strange to realize that in the time I've been in grad school, I completed both junior high and high school...or high school and college or 1st grade through 8th grade, etc. etc. The amount of personal transformation I've underwent in those other eras was immense and sure, when you're younger, changes happen more frequently but even accepting that, it's unsettling to look back to 8.5 years ago and be unsure about what's actually changed within me in that time.

This is all some philosophical mumbling better left to café chatter or therapy, I'm sure, but appreciate that after such a long journey to get to where I am today - with a piece of paper and a lollipop to prove it - I'm not sure where the destination is. Or if it's even that far from where I started.

So what's next?

In the immediate future, I'll be teaching at UC Berkeley in the spring - see, even when you leave, you don't leave. It's a course on Asian American Film/Video that I've taught many times before and hands-down, my favorite class to lead. I'm also planning on putting together at least one or two book proposals - long overdue really - so I'll have some long-term projects to focus on. (Actually, I have one long-term project starting in about six weeks but more on that later). I have at least 3-4 mixtapes that I've put off for the last year or so because of my diss.

Professionally, I'm applying for a post-doc and I'll be testing the job waters soon. Seriously, if folks know of teaching/academic gigs for a wayward sociologist who studies popular culture, in the Bay Area, drop me a line.

And oh yes - blogging, lots of catch-up blogging. You can see I have my priorities straight. To be really candid, I don't think I would have blogged as much as I have this past year if it was not for my dissertation. Sometimes, working on such a huge, long-term project turns you into a junkie for distraction and blogging has been one of the ways I've gotten my fix. That and Tivo.

What else? Lots of DVDs to catch-up on, music to listen to, video games to play (hint: Burnout 3 = awesome). And I have another long term project to get under way in late January, but more on that another time.

*sigh* It's a "brave new world" time (just minus all the creepy, one-world totalitarianism that Huxley meant). As the year winds down, I hope everyone out there has good things to look forward to in the new year.

Hope you get your lolly too.