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2015: A General Report

Blogging was not high on the priority list in 2015, but it was a productive and transformative year otherwise.

I was sitting on the side of a mountain one day in August, reading a textbook near my campfire, when I decided that the life of a linguistics PhD is not for me. This was a tough call, because linguistics makes me happy; nothing is more fascinating than words. But I can’t imagine that Future Sarah c. 2020 will find happiness in the uncertainty of trying to lock down a tenure-track job, or the gnawing self-doubt of wondering whether anybody will notice my research (statistically: they won’t).

I wonder if I can reasonably sneak into the Linguistic Society of America conference next month without anyone asking what subfield I’m in. “…Civilian?”

The other factor in my decision was a six-week-long conversation I had with myself while traveling, camping, and hiking. I sat around on various mountains, asking: what is the best use of my life? (…she asked, while staring at the clouds for a not-insignificant stretch of said life.) The answer is probably “something with words” and while I thought linguistics fit the bill, I could probably do more to serve humanity in a more thoughtful capacity.

On that note, in 2015 I continued ignoring the call to ministry, which really, you can ignore forever, as long as you don’t mind ministry creeping into your secular life at unexpected moments, and the next thing you know you’re reassuring someone on the Market-Frankford El that they’re a good and worthy person. Really, one can minister at any time. “Have you considered the ministry?” asked everyone, upon hearing that I was no longer pursuing a PhD. INTERESTING QUESTION! WHY DO YOU ASK.

Meanwhile, my MA in English continues apace, and the favorite things I’ve learned about are poetic form, translation theory, and stylistics. (Not to be confused with The Stylistics.) I wrote some research papers; I read some books; I pestered a series of professors with questions. When I consider how much my intellectual life has deepened in the past year and a half – profoundly altering my daily, lived experience – I’m struck with gratitude. This was the year the List of Books I Want To Read got long enough to exceed my anticipated lifetime. Which is something every academic probably faces.

2015 was, above all, the year I wrote what feels like a staggering amount of poetry. But that should be a post of its own.

Now it’s winter break, which is, of course, the time to do the MOST work. I’ve built myself a fort out of books and am enjoying myself.

By sarahskochko

I am a Unitarian Universalist minister from South Jersey / Philadelphia, currently serving in Eugene, Oregon.

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