Flowering Mountain Earth

Flowering skulls, jal k’ex, Jaloj-K’exoj, read all about them. I would change my name in this direction if the language were not so foreign. But Jaloj-K’exoj is my mode.

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I am fascinated with this blog because it seems like a foreign land in its own way, for reasons I will think about and perhaps explain to myself one day. For now I will just promote it, since it does offer a consulting and coaching service I think sounds like a good idea for some.

Meanwhile, I want to post a comment I’d post on it, over here, because I don’t want to flood it with issues outside its scope and because really, the notes I would put there are for me.

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So, here I would say:

♦ On goals, I think it’s great to have a broad one in the background that is more than a survivalist one (e.g. finishing a degree, getting tenure). In the same way, I think enjoying the workday is a much better goal than getting through it (which was what I was taught was moral).

♦ There were people in graduate school who had trouble working because it made them feel bad, or because they did not like to write, or because they did not like the atmosphere in their departments. I understood them later, when I learned to berate myself for working. Now, my main motivational trick is to make sure I do not do that, that I am not doing that.

♦ You have to organize your time, but you have to do this with authority, with your true self in charge. Again, I was good at this when I still believed in my own authority.

♦ When I learned to berate myself for and about working, I also learned to dissociate to protect myself. I perceived that as loss of concentration and it took years to figure out what it really was and how to combat it.

The loss of concentration does not mean I need yet more discipline or just to “work through it” — it means I need to look at what background messages I have going on, and speak back to them.

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Other perceptions for this week are:

♦ Some of the “academic” and other advice I have received over the years, much of it unsolicited but that I listened to, was actually advice on how to collude in one’s own oppression.

♦ The reason I am too kind and as someone said, “sincere to a fault” has to do with the decision I made as a child, not to be cold or dismissive or manipulative or self serving or dishonest or false as so many adults were.

♦ But it also has to do with defending against the supposition that since I am intellectually oriented, I must be unfeeling and cold, a high crime.

Axé.


5 thoughts on “Flowering Mountain Earth

  1. And I don’t have time to think about it now, but the other thing to contest specifically would be the ways I’ve been described and that make me afraid to act naturally:

    – cold
    – unfeeling
    – too passionate
    – too challenging
    – cruel / “vicious”
    – too intellectual / too “scientific”
    – “selfish” / not suffering enough
    – capable of turning things to my own advantage and willing to do so / immoral

    …and so on. Look at that portrait, given by those I was supposed to trust, and you can see why I am depressed, and why it isn’t just a “chemical imbalance” to be drugged away.

    And really, every one of these accusations just means I was trying to keep my balance in the face of people who would pull me with them down into the grave or into deep, chaotic despair… or who are just trying to unnerve me.

    I’ve also been called “intimidating” and I may be sometimes, for good reason — defense against bullying — and I may bring that out sometimes a little sooner than needed, just as other times I am too kind for too long.

    But I really think this is hair splitting and I don’t understand why I go through these John of the Cross-like self examinations (well, I do understand why, but my point is, it isn’t normal and if I really am intimidating, it’s probably because I’m in so much pain from all the self criticism I am trained to do).

  2. And: the burden I carry about academia doesn’t really come from my own life in it but someone else’s, some other peoples’ perhaps. What they projected into me about it. That in addition to how things really are.

  3. I’m also really happy I discovered that blog. It’s a breath of fresh air in an environment where everybody talks about research as an unwelcome burden that has to be taken care of in some way and just get rid of as an annoying requirement.

    I have been described in the same words as you have, every single one of them. Often, by my closest friends in academia. I now think that this is the fate of every woman who dares to have opinions.

  4. To your last question: NO! I became an academic because I love research. And I too feel guilty about not doing enough of it, and also about not spending enough energy on my students. But I keep trying to actively refuse all that guilt and do what works for me, and your blog reminds me of how important it is to do that. And that list of words? I’ve had them too. The worst offenders (that is, the people who most insistently applied them) were my mother and a particularly obnoxious boyfriend who was a terrible mistake. Except that in a way he wasn’t, because his unreasonableness was so very plain and obvious that it was easy to reject, and then it was easier to reject other such comments as belonging to the same sort of stupid outlook.

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