It’s a rainy day here in Charlotte, and I’m sequestered at a coffee shop revising the paper I’m presenting at Florida State next month. I’ve been putting this off pretty much all month and last, but I just couldn’t bring myself to bury myself in yet more work over the break. I though I’d, you know, actually take a break. Maybe that wasn’t the best idea, academically speaking, but I’m certainly a lot happier for it.
I feel weird about this paper, which I’ve titled “Middle-Class Vodou: Spirit Possession and Marginality in the United States.” Weird because I’m analyzing the work of authors that I’ve met personally and respect (Kenaz Filan and Raven Kaldera, namely), and because I’m both a believer and a practitioner of spirit possession. It’s a lot easier to conduct research if you don’t actually have any emotional investment in your subject. I’m writing in defense of I.M. Lewis, who basically argues that spirit possession is related to disenfranchisement and marginality, which makes me uncomfortable because I’m not really convinced that he’s right. The paper is an exploration, in which I attempt to examine his theories in light of contemporary works on spirit possession by practitioners.
It’s pretty sweet that my paper was accepted at this symposium and that my department is helping to pay my way, but frankly I’m way too ignorant to be getting up there and being all, “LET ME TELL YOU PEOPLE ABOUT SPIRITS.” I console my nerves by reminding myself that at least I’m sympathetic to my subject, which is more than most academics. I just want to stay away from evaluating Neo-Pagan and contemporary magical communities in the future, because I don’t think there’s a good way to fairly represent both of my communities–the scholarly and the magical–at the same time. At least, I haven’t found it. And I haven’t read any other pagan scholars who have either, at least not yet. You either come off sounding like a turncoat or like an idiot.
Mostly, I just need this to go well so that my future in the Academy is a little more solid. My advisor told me to think of this as a job interview with FSU, University of Florida, and any of the Tennessee schools that may be represented. As terrible as it would be to have to move to Florida, it would be great to be on good terms with potential program advisors and directors.
I’m trying to be better about being more balanced this semester. Usually, I’m all about school all the time, which leads to things like forgetting to eat, not having friends, and never leaving the house. With roller derby and my commitments to my coven and my health (I’m trying this new thing where I work out outside of derby practices and eat periodically), I’m forcing myself to be more well-rounded. I’m one of those people that likes tightly-ordered schedules and organized plans, so getting myself into a routine is a helpful thing. I’ve also joined a new dance studio, so that should be a nice compliment to derby. I’m also on the my league’s marketing committee, so I’ve for plenty to do aside from school. I’ve even scheduled time for journaling and reading non-school books. It probably sounds restrictive to some of you, but my psyche breaks down if I don’t have a lot going on in an ordered way. Think Hermione Granger, only not as smart and on lots of drugs.
Ugh. Back to this paper. For real now.