Sunday, March 15, 2015

The Year in Review: Fifth Anniversary

It's hard to believe, but it's true: this blog is five years old!

Each anniversary for the past four years I have written a "Year in Review" post. So, of course, I am doing so again. I hope this will be the last such "Year in Review" post, because I have left New York City and I am graduating from my doctoral program, and therefore I see no need to keep this blog going. But we'll see! The future is uncertain. (Is this why I am so drawn to history?)

You can see recaps of Year One, Year Two, Year Three, and Year Four here.

Here's Year Five.

Last year's anniversary post was published on March 19, 2014. At that time I had just returned from an awesome trip to the Bay Area where I attended the American Society for Environmental History conference and then went backpacking for three nights at Point Reyes National Seashore all by myself. It was a magical camping trip.

Moonrise. Point Reyes National Seashore, California. March 2014

 When I returned from camping, and logged into my email, I discovered some incredible news: I had received the 2014-15 Mellon Dissertation Completion Fellowship from the American Council of Learned Societies. This meant that the next year would most certainly be my last year of graduate school—I would finish my dissertation—and I would be privileged to spend my time writing and researching rather than teaching (although I love teaching, and I have truly missed it this year).

Meanwhile, back in New York, I had recently moved into a new apartment in Brooklyn and I was still figuring out so many aspects of my life.

In April I had the joy of visiting Lewiston, Maine, where I attended college in 2002-2005. This was my first visit there in nine years!

The chapel at Bates College, Lewiston, Maine. April 2014

 I also got to visit Atlanta, Georgia for the first time, where I attended the Organization of American Historians conference, taped an interview with C-SPAN 3's "American History TV," and went on two great walking tours: a guided tour of the 1906 Atlanta race riot, and my own self-guided tour of sites associated with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

African-American history tour, Atlanta, Georgia. April 2014

  Another highlight of April was that I bought a bicycle! This allowed me to get from my apartment to Coney Island in about thirty minutes each way. Much ocean-exploring ensued!

Me and my bicycle at Coney Island, Brooklyn. April 2014

 As usual, I got very involved—perhaps too involved—in planning actions and activities for May Day on campus. We held, for the second year in a row, a Free University in which anyone could teach a class, anyone could take a class, and many professors brought their classes out of doors to join in our action. The day included a rally in the center of campus with speakers ranging from undergraduate students to graduate student workers to representatives of various labor unions on campus.
 
At the Stony Brook Free University, May Day. May 1, 2014
 
The Stony Brook May Day Coalition. May 1, 2014

I even helped make a short film about May Day 2014:



Soon it was June, and I was off to Middlebury College in Vermont where I would be teaching in a new interdisciplinary immersive environmental studies summer school!

A good re-cap of the School of the Environment is featured in this short film:



I blogged a bit about my experiences at Middlebury. I had my students write about class, privilege, and their own relationships with the natural world. So I wrote my own personal reflection essay on the same topic, "My Mohawk." I mused about how I would use my Mellon/ACLS fellowship to finish my dissertation. And, inspired by my students' organizing of an open-mic night in town, I wrote a long poem about a place that means a lot to me, "Brooklyn."

Students gleaning as part of a service-learning project that they designed! Rutland County, Vermont. July 2014

 My experiences at Middlebury have continued to shape my thinking, which I most recently reflected on in an essay, "Marx in the Mountains," which appeared in the February 2015 issue of Perspectives on History.

 And then it was August. I went on an epic cross-country train trip, from New York to Portland, Oregon, then by bus to Missoula, Montana, then by bus to Spokane, Washington, and from there on the train back to New York. It was awesome! (My first cross-country trip in six years. And the first time all by myself in exactly ten years.)

Portland, Oregon. August 2014
 
Missoula, Montana. August 2014
 
I made a friend on the train, which often happens! And this allowed me to then send fun postcards from Brooklyn to my new penpal!
 
Greetings from Coney Island, postcard to an Amtrak penpal. August 2014
 
I started September with a week in Savannah, Georgia, and in Hilton Head, South Carolina, with my parents. It was also the start of the job market season, so I spent half of each day at the beach and the other half furiously writing job applications!
 
Savannah, Georgia. September 2014
 
In October I traveled to Orange County, California, to attend a meeting of the Western History Association. I stayed in a crummy motel right by the ocean. It was a lovely reprieve from my writing cave in Brooklyn.
 
Surf's up at Huntington Beach, Orange County, California. October 2014
 
And of course I paid a visit to the International Surfing Museum.
 
International Surfing Museum, Huntington Beach, California. October 2014
 
Late October I celebrated a good friend's birthday, which included a big camping trip on the Atlantic coast of Delaware. I got to see a different part of the ocean that I was unfamiliar with, and of course late October camping is chill and soothing!
 
At the beach in Delaware. October 2014
 
 November was spent entirely at home in Brooklyn, writing and applying to academic jobs. Also lots of biking!

Historic Flatbush, Brooklyn. November 2014
 
December involved more writing, more job applications, more bicycling (and battling the cold), and more explorations in Brooklyn.
 
Historic Brooklyn Heights. December 2014
 
And then it was January! I had a big huge awesome birthday/going-away party, and then I moved out—out of Brooklyn and out of New York. It was a big tearful goodbye to a big beautiful part of my life.
 
My street in Brooklyn. January 2015

 One last look. Moving out, Brooklyn. January 2015
 
On February 9, I flew to Honolulu, Hawaiʻi, and began this current Hawaiʻi Research Adventure, which will continue until late April.

So far I have spent a day exploring the edges of Oʻahu and spent five days camping on Maui.

I might as well update y'all on what I've done since returning from Maui:

Hawaiʻi Research Adventure: Days 52-70

 Well... on March 1, I moved into an apartment two blocks from campus in Mānoa. Having lived in dormitories and hostels and even in a tent for the first 51 days of my Hawaiʻi Research Adventure, it is nice to have a real apartment... and a kitchen, too.
 
My new habitation. Mānoa, Honolulu, Hawaiʻi. March 2015

Some cooking experiments. March 2015

 View from my domicile. March 2015

Every "Year in Review" post includes some prognostications about the future. 

Last year I imagined that at this time (March 2015) I would still be living in New York because I could not possibly graduate until May 2015. But, little did I know that I would change my mind and leave New York City in January to be a springtime sojourner. I ended last year's post suggesting that "By March I may know where I am living and working in 2016..."

 Indeed, I was correct. By mid-February I had received and accepted a job offer! I, of course, feel so lucky, and I know what a privilege it is in this day and age to get a job, much less an amazing job. I am excited to be moving to a small liberal arts college in Virginia.

 So this means: after more sojourns in April, May, June, and July—to Sāmoa, back to New York to defend and graduate, then, to Boston and Mystic, Connecticut to conduct more research—by August I should find myself in Virginia where I will making myself a new home. That is the storyline, I think, for 2015.

Until then, let the adventure continue! I wish everyone a Happy New Year!

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