Friday, June 30
I am contemplating faking my own death. Does confessing that cross some academicsecret line? The invitation was un-Clear. I have already told some people that if they hear that I have died but that "they haven't found the body," it means I am not dead and they should not be sad. I guess I would worry that might out my secret academicsecret identity, except that I cannot imagine that I am the only academic out there who is contemplating faking her own death.

Okay, I am not actually contemplating faking my own death. I just fantasize about it. The reason I fantasize about it is that faking my own death seems like the most efficient, and possibly the only, way of getting myself out of some of the ridiculous and stultifying set of obligations I have gotten myself ensnared in here. You would think I could solve the problem with some heart-to-heart talks and apologies. But I am much too conflict averse for that. So, instead, I imagine disappearing and showing up elsewhere, perhaps in Las Vegas, working as a croupier. I suspect in today's world it is very hard to fake your own death because of all the documentation, etc., involved in starting up a new identity. It's not like those Agatha Christie novels set after WWII where it seemed like everyone had taken the opportunity of near-invasion to start over as someone different. Sometimes I wonder if a secret motive of many of the more ardent privacy advocates in academia is they want to be able to continue to entertain the idea of being able to fake their own death if the burden of ungratifying and unextricatable obligations becomes too great.

A main problem for me is that the rate at which I dispatch with obligations is nothing compared to either the rate at which I take on new projects or the rate at which interests develop/atrophy. So I am confronted with a long to-do list of things most of which I am no longer especially interested in. I am trying to be better about using past progress as an indicator of what I should adopt as future committments, rather than delusions about suddenly becoming a new and much more productive incarnation of myself, but this so far has met with limited success. This leads to the conclusion that I need to declare some kind of obligations-bankruptcy, but academia is not very forgiving of that unless you stage some kind of intellectual epiphany, for which I do not have the energy or acting ability. And from here, to the idea that faking my own death is really the only sensible route.
I think I say "fuck" too much. I blame my parents.

When I started kindergarten, they gave me a talk about places where it was not appropriate to say "fuck" (e.g. kindergarten). Given that I was five years old and had not been watching cable, it seems pretty clear that this was the kind of problem that people bring on themselves. I won't even get into what they named a toy belonging to my sister, but I will say that it was pretty embarrassing when she repeated it in front of an elderly relative.

Some time later, I went off to college. I came back from my freshman year swearing even more than I had before--I think it was some kind of rite of passage deal where you swear a lot to demonstrate that you're Your Own Woman. All my friends were doing it. (Some of my friends also started talking like South Park characters. Peer pressure is a terrible thing.) Unfortunately, in order for me to say "fuck" appreciably more than I'd been saying it before, I basically had to make it every third word of every utterance. I was a liberal arts badass.

Eventually, I toned it back down, but as noted, I wasn't really starting from a normative point on the swearing scale. I still tend to bring it out to express the mildest of affect.

I think the real problem is that my default setting is to say "fuck" a lot. Some people are categorized as People in Front of Whom I Should Not Say "Fuck"--some by general role (priests, kindergarten teachers--I am not so great about remembering this in front of actual kindergarten students) and others by relationship (my grandmother, potential employers). But until I have placed someone in the no-fuck category, I tend to keep saying it. This leads to a lot of after-the-fact reflection along the lines of Fuck! I shouldn't have said 'fuck' that many times in a row to him! He probably thinks I'm a fucking savage!

To make matters worse, I don't think there are reliable linguistic norms on the subject in my field. Okay, so probably you can't go wrong NOT saying "fuck." But it's a lot of stress trying to remember not to, and I have other matters stressing me out plenty.

But I am past the age where anyone is likely to sit me down to have a talk about it, so the lingering fear is: is it worse than I think? Are people talking about me? Do they huddle in the hallways when I'm not around and remark on my lack of breeding? Would it be okay if I was an ecologist? Fuck.
Thursday, June 29
So, if once the invitations go out, people do show up to our party and start posting, you may notice that all of their pseudonyms are colors. Why? Plaid and I thought it would be good for the secret-team-blog aesthetic if the pseudonyms were all connected somehow. Plaid pleaded for us to use causes of death, but, as both the more sensitive and sensible member of this duo, I vetoed that, and eventually we agreed upon colors.

You might object that Clear and Plaid are not colors. Yes, we know this, we are not chromorons. The idea is that the administrator pseudonyms would be names that were associated with colors but not actually colors.

Incidentally, display names in Blogger are easily changed, so if a contributor doesn't like their name/color they can switch any time, although I think doing so will also switch all of their old posts to the new color. To my knowledge, there isn't anything in Blogger that prevents two people on a team blog from having the same display name, although I would assign that to the category of problems whose solution we will wait to ponder until it actually arises.
Tuesday, June 27
We have not yet sent the invitations for a.secret, although if you are reading this, we finally must have. When I was in college I knew some guys who decided to throw a party with the theme that you could only wear two items of clothing. They invited a bunch of people and then spent the week fretting about whether anybody would actually come. I suspect Plaid & I will be like this when the first round of a.secret invitations go out. I will be sad if no one comes to our party.

The Two Items Of Clothing Party, meanwhile, was a smashing success. Not that I was there. (And I would tell you if I was, since this is a.secret.)
Sunday, June 25
Hello academic friend, welcome to our secrets.