Monday, August 21
In recent whispers about which of us might embark on a passionate affair for the readerly edification of all, Kodachrome suggested that I might " release "Wild Blue" to seek her own passions." The relevant background here, dear readers, is that while my nom-de-keyboard is "Twilight Blue," the Crayola color to which this hue corresponds is "Wild Blue Yonder." Thus, simply by virtue of not first looking at the Crayola Crayons colors, I seem to have established a bit of a spilt personality for myself here on Academic Secret.

What intrigues me about this (even beyond the delightful myriad of words that describe shades of blue) is my choice of Academic Secret identities, I'd already begun to unfurl the fingers of the hand in which I hold one of my academic secrets. This is, of course, that I do have a bit of a split personality. By "split personality" I refer to nothing clinically significant, nothing remotely worthy of an afterschool special, horror film, or psychotropic medication. Rather, I'm thinking of all of the aspects of oneself that are never expressed or acknowledged in the academy, included in a NIH biosketch, or announced in a departmental newsletter.

To be sure, these "other selves" need not be Wild. For example, recent posts about all the unacknowledged-in-academia work we do as partners, parents, washers of dishes, doers of laundry, mowers of lawns, payers of bills, buyers of groceries, etc. also allude to these other, often invisible selves. Moreover, many folks who come to academia from backgrounds which are different than many of our peers feel "split," say, when we go home to visit our parents in places that seem worlds away from the locations we now inhabit (one imagines the voice over, "sorry son, your cultural capital is no good here").

However, I think that the other selves that are wild may pose particular challenges. I recall a Monday morning walk to campus, when I was in graduate school, after a weekend that had been filled with dancing 'til dawn, sleeping outside, and having an amazing time just being a human being, alive, in this world, in this body. I was so sad, then, as I walked towards a place where the body is seen mostly as transport system for the brain, a place where I would do well to put that other self away for the week. I have also had moments of intense dissonance when the memory of some embodied experience or another (lack of specificity deliberate - use your imaginations, it's fun!) flits across my consciousness even as I am being my most serious and scholarly self.

I do seek out and enjoy small acts of Wild Blue expression. Whenever I have to wear a suit (and especially whenever I will be giving a talk about which I am nervous while wearing that suit), I wear also the slinkiest lingerie I own. In my very respectable office are beautiful photographs of places I've gone backpacking (and skinny dipping).
I could go on... in the coming months, I probably will.

However, more interesting would be to hear from you all, my colorful friends -
Who are your other selves?
And how do they get expressed while you walk the halls of the ivory tower?

12 comments:

fraud, in denim said...

I used to have a host of other selves. Those were the days.

Now there's little more than the disconnect between the projected me (who has it all and has it all together) and the real me (who, by the way, does little to perpetuate such a myth).

Maybe one day I'll have an elegant office, pictures of me backpacking, or will fit into my sexiest lingerie, but today my office is bare, my free time is spent playing legos or at Chuck E. Cheese, and I'm proof-positive that the freshman fifteen has nothing on the dissertation double.

Orange Ina said...

Hey Wild Blue Twilight.. I was actually trying to go in this direction with my post on kissing a while back. I wasn't as explicit as I could've been perhaps, but part of what I wanted to convey in that post was that academia gives us the ability to lead another life in the middle of a random workday. Obviously this isn't as easy as it sounds in the middle of the semester, but it is a possibility on occasion. You disappear for a few hours, you reappear a bit later, and no one knows what you did. They don't know the difference between a meeting you may have just had with some colleagues in another building, or the great afternoon playdate you just extended for a few additional hours. (And I don't mean at Chuck E. Cheese in this case.) I think so far that's my biggest and most interesting secret, the number of morning or afternoon intimate exercises I have managed to work into my schedule. I certainly don't mean to exaggerate how often this happens, but over the years I think it's been a very productively relaxing part of my on-the-job time.

Is it a different self per se? I'm not sure. But I am highly doubtful people around me have had any idea about these extracurriculars so it seems to be at least a secret self.

Poppy Red said...

I haven't done much skinny-dipping, unfortunately, but I like to post pictures of the indie (esp feminist) bands I like on the walls of my office. I go pretty crazy at a show of a band I really like, dancing around and screaming when others just bob their heads (I live in one of those places where it's supposedly not "cool" to dance at shows.) I also still like to dance around in my bedroom. I love music so much that I've occasionally thought I should have worked it into my dissertation somehow, but now I'm really glad I've kept myself from writing about certain things. I've also come to take a secret pride in believing it a little impossible for me to be a "real" academic, in part because I prefer indie rock to jazz, work out to Le Tigre, and own concert Ts from bands many of my colleagues have never heard of, much less heard. The only bad thing is that you can probably only act this way for so long; eventually I'll be some old geezer fondling my Sleater-Kinney CDs and moaning about the good old days of music (actually since S-K just broke up, this might happen sooner than I thought).

Clear said...

I wear superhero-related stuff under my presentation clothes sometimes, but this is because I lack confidence, not because I have some secret wild side.

Turquoise Stuff said...

Poppy Red, are you ever concerned that students (or coworkers) may see you at these concerts? I'm not saying you should be or that it would be in any way a problem (and that, regardless of whether they were the dancing types or not), I'm just wondering if that's ever a concern with off-campus activities.

Clear, so are you saying you actually believe in the superpower of those undies?

Poppy Red said...

Oh, Clear made me realize, no one so far has said how easy it would be to become a spy as an academic, like Sydney Bristow, who was supposedly in grad school in her first few years of being a spy -- a double agent, no less. (Once, while traipsing through a jungle looking for a bad guy, she was asked how school was going, and she said she was supposed to be writing her dissertation. Best procrastination ever.) ALIAS, anyone? Anyone? Perhaps the most obvious indication that she wasn't really writing her thesis is that she was way too buff. Still, I can pretend.

ALIAS? Anyone? Ever watch it? If not, it's a fun Netflix choice, at least the first two seasons, anyway.

Hope Homeland Security isn't watching our blog to look for evidence of spies posing as academics, even on TV...

Poppy Red said...

Turquoise, I *have* worried about seeing my students at concerts. I used to teach at a somewhat conservative school, so I would have been really surprised to see any of my students, but now I'm going to be adjuncting at a place where it would be a much more likely possibility to see a student. It never occurs to me until I'm actually there (which is part of the separate lives thing, I think). I'm sure seeing a student would change my behavior at the show, though I wouldn't mind simply seeing them. It's a lot better than running into them at the gym, which is the worst! (But I refuse to pay for a gym membership!)

(Have you ever seen the commercial, sadly I think it's for McDonald's, where the kids realize because of the color of their teacher's sneakers that he was crowd surfing at the show they'd just been at? I love that commercial.)

I think I would be pleasantly surprised to see a colleague. Once I brought a grad school friend to a show where I knew I was going to go crazy (this friend shares a lot of music interests with me but had only recently been exposed to the band in question), and right before the music started I suddenly worried that we would be, I don't know, at a conference or something and she would get a sudden mental image of me screaming and jumping around. But since we're more than just grad school friends, I decided to go for it anyway, and it seems to have worked out ok so far (and I have some stuff on her, anyway).

Turquoise Stuff said...

Poppy, I've heard this about gym fear before, but don't really get it. (Then again, that may be because I personally don't go to the gym much.) So why is it so horrific to see students there? I figure everyone is mostly just preoccupied with themselves. (But then again, that may be my very naive outsider comment.)

I decided to go for it anyway, and it seems to have worked out ok so far (and I have some stuff on her, anyway).

You mean you have some dirt on her? But is that something you'd need to use in response to her having seen you at a concert? I feel like I am missing something here.

Poppy Red said...

I figure everyone is mostly just preoccupied with themselves.

Most likely true. But part of being preoccupied with yourself is assuming everyone is preoccupied with you, too, isn't it? Maybe not. Anyway, my fear is not so great as to make me pay for a gym membership, so it's ok. I just deal. I would prefer my students didn't see me at the gym because I just kinda would prefer they didn't see me in shorts and a tank, with my hair all messy and sweaty, etc -- or worse, while I'm changing in the locker room. I'm not athletic and I would just rather my students see me at my best rather than my worst.

You mean you have some dirt on her?

Oops, yeah, that's what I meant. And you're not missing anything; I was just joking around. As friends we've now both seen each other in our "other" lives and know each other well, that's all.

kodachrome said...

Wild Blue! I was *sooo* happy to see this entry from you! (Not that I don't also appreciate Twilight's contributions.) Now... if only I could repay you with a dancing-in-the-moonlight story. Unfortunately, (maybe this confession will suffice), my shtick is to regular-ize the things in my life that other people would keep secret. I slip them into everyday conversation and try to make people accept them as normal. I do hide things, but I hide the things I'm supposed to be shouting from the rooftops. I have a cool new finding, a book proposal, whatever. Both these behaviors are unconscious for me, but I'm pretty sure that I do this backward as a way of challenging the way people evaluate each other. I'm essentially feeding an unexpected set of information into the friend-filter to ensure that I don't end up with crappy superficial friends. Not very exciting, I know, but the point is that I have reasonably exciting things in my life story. I just can't tell you here because, my identity would be instantly revealed since I don't keep those things secret like I'm supposed to. Sorry!

p.s. I haven't heard from Pumpkin, so we have no secret plot to hatch for you either. Sorry. I guess I forgot that I've been stripped of my not-a-crazy-internet-junkie credentials.

Mahogany said...

Twilight, you already know we have kindred spirits among our secret personalities. I'll elevate one of my more unexpected secrets to a real entry, but here I wanted to whisper a little about your mind-body split. It occurred to me, as soon as I read your lament that disciplines vary in the extent to which they expect such a split. Some disciplines even fault their members for having one.

And, of course, in disciplines that want a split, it's never really possible, so there must always be some discomfort associated with lugging the unwanted body around. Stupid body! Always getting into trouble. That's funny. I don't really believe that stuff, Twilight. I can't write at a desk, I pace when I'm onto something. My heart races when I read something good. I get mad that the ideas on the page won’t feed through the physical input mechanisms fast enough to suit me. Other days I’ll get mad at the ideas and slam a physical object onto my desk. I had a friend in grad school who had a different set of mind-body connections--things like needing to eat while reading. The whole idea of separating the mind from the body just seems wrong to me, even for science. But maybe that's just because of my history in one of those more physical disciplines--and my stubbornness.

So the next time something really inspirational happens in my intellectual work, I will think of you (Wild Blue) and dance!

twilight blue said...

You all are the best! I am delighted by your sneaking out of the office for make out sessions (I am so taking that on as a Fall semester goal), dancing wildly at shows, putting feminist indie band posters on the walls of your office, wearing super hero underoos (I will now spend conferences wondering who's sporting which super hero under their suits). I also very much appreciate your efforts to subvert that which is valued in specific domains, your empathy and support. Though I'm glad we're a secret society, this exchange made me wish I knew who y'all are, so that we could go out and play! Though, it helps tremendously just knowing you're out there...

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