Post-Dissertation Blues (Pacifica-Style)

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One of my cohort defended his dissertation the other day. Out of my cohort group, that makes three of us (including me). But my cohort extends farther. I’ve adopted all of my Pacifica friends as “my cohort.” We may not have gone on the journey at the same time, but we nonetheless went on very similar journeys. I could say, we went on the same journey together.

During the process of dissertation formulation, everyone is quick to describe “dissertation monsters,” or little bits of life that get in the way of writing the dissertation. These range from feelings of inadequacy (“Why am I even torturing myself with this. NO ONE is going to care!) to life changes (divorce, death, move, etc.). They also encourage us to build a system for dealing with these dissertation monsters. Talk to your friends, take some time off from the dissertation… blah blah blah. Those of us on the other side of the dissertation can tell stories of how we almost quit because of our Dissertation Monsters, and we can stand with pride next to our diplomas and our pretty copy of our dissertation and say, “We did it.”

But then there’s that unspoken bit that they didn’t prepare us for. The Other Side of the Dissertation. The, “I completed my dissertation, I owe a quarter of a million dollars in student loans, I can’t get a job. Now what?” The Post-Dissertation Blues.

I think I’ve said it before, but Pacifica Graduate Institute isn’t like other graduate programs. It’s not a degree mill. The academic work we do during the program works us as much as we work through it. Something within our shadows is activated, and how we deal with this shadow flavors our approach to the program. For me, it was the money thing, and I hear the same concern echoed among many of my peers. It does make us feel like Atlas or even Sysiphus to come out of this program, stare at the mountain of debt, and try to figure out how to pay it off (or at least down).

It’s because of this level of self-work, however, that we actually have a Post-Dissertation post-partum period. Our dissertations aren’t just about analyzing Jung or Campbell and getting a degree. We pick topics that aren’t only interesting, but near and dear to our hearts, often dealing with as much autobiography as academic research.

Disclaimer: I do know there are people who graduate and hit the ground running into academic work. Power to them. Seriously. My hat is off to you.

My dissertation is about Disneyland, but it really is about so much more than that. It’s about identifying the mythology that has ordered my entire perspective. It’s about defending why I don’t subscribe to traditional approaches to myth and academia, and helping to explain why others share my perspective.

By the time I started writing my dissertation, I was running on fumes. I had a year off between undergraduate and grad school, and maybe a semester between my Master’s program and Pacifica (a semester spent getting into and ready for Pacifica). So from the start of that Master’s program in October 2004 until the end of coursework in August 2010, I had been functioning solely as a graduate student. THAT IS SIX YEARS. Three of those years were spent at Pacifica, being worked on and massaged by a variety of world mythologies, and they were, hands down, three of the most intense years of my life. Much of my cohort can’t share in the timeline of graduate student, but most of them can share in agreement that the three years of Pacifica work are three of the most intense years of our lives. Is it the vibe of Pacifica? The content? The faculty? The contrast between one week of intense class followed by three weeks of intense loneliness? It’s all of that. And I’m not going to say that those of us who made it to the end are any stronger or better than those that don’t. It’s more that what we are seeking is something that only Pacifica can provide. It’s that the myth of Pacifica (and yes, there is a very strong one) is the myth we need. Those who don’t make it all of the way through the program are looking for another myth. My hat goes off to those friends as well, and for those who are still on their search, I wish you well.

It’s because of the Pacifica myth we stay through until the bitter end (of course work, the dissertation is another matter). And it’s because of the Pacifica myth that we can go to an event on campus, such as a friend’s dissertation defense, and feel a brief surge of revitalized energy. But it’s also because of the Pacifica myth that we leave the program SO VERY EXHAUSTED. For those who aren’t Pacifica people, I can only sum it up this way: You know that kind of really intense dream? You know, that kind that keeps you engaged for a period of time, shocks you awake, and affects your mood for the rest of the coming day? Like that episode of Friends where Phoebe was mad at Joey for the entire episode, only to remember that she was mad at him because of something he did in a dream. Pacifica is like that, every day, for THREE FREAKING YEARS. Now, think of how exhausting it is to wake up from those dreams. Perhaps you are mentally refreshed, but your body isn’t. Pacifica is like that, every day, for THREE FREAKING YEARS. And then you have to write your dissertation.

And this is where I laugh loudly to myself. It’s a wonder that any of us do finish.

But then we do, and we’re exhausted, sad, depressed. Now what? We can’t find jobs. Our degrees are too weird and Academia, the path that most of us set out to achieve, isn’t hiring. (This, sadly, isn’t a problem with the larger model of Academia, not just with Pacifica folks.) Our families, who have suffered while we did this work, are on edge, wanting our attention or our active contributions again. Our friends, those few who still speak to us (because they understand the difficulties of going through grad school), are only willing to be so patient while we whine about how there are no jobs, how we need to make money to pay our loans, and so on. They tell us, “buck up and get a job already!” without considering the hit that we all take to our resumes by the life change of going through this work. Our old jobs or professions no longer want us. Without considering how few jobs there are, or that it can take upwards of a year or more to get a phone call. I just received a couple rejection letters from applications I put in before I started working on my dissertation. Our loan creditors send us statements that ask for four digits worth of repayment, and are only willing to negotiate so much.

And in the middle of all this? We’re supposed to publish, but we can’t even write a sentence. Think of how many blog posts I’ve made since finishing my dissertation. The few that I’ve made are difficult enough without having to think about articles and books.

So, to my Pacifi-peeps who are going through these Blues: it’s ok. Most of us go through it. Let’s share our tears together.

To my Pacifi-peeps who are getting near the end: don’t try to fight it. One of the often used images at Pacifica is that of the Underworld. You may think that your coursework is the Underworld. You may think that writing your dissertation is the Underworld. In truth, it’s this period after completion that is the Underworld, and guess what? We have to be here. We have to work through the last little bit of Pacifica to emerge.

To our families and friends: I know it sucks. We already asked for 5+ years of your time, but now we have to ask for more. We need your support now more than ever, otherwise the work we did is for naught.

We are phoenixes. We are burnt up from the work and research. We can only emerge from the ashes when we are meant to emerge from the ashes. I defended in May 2012, and I’m still struggling. I know that I’m not alone, and that does make it a little easier.

Please share your experience Post-Dissertation in the comments, whether you had the Blues or not, or even whether or not you went to Pacifica. I would love to hear your story, and I think more grad students and post-grad scholars need to know that it’s not always possible to walk into the Academic Publish-or-Perish world. I would also like to hear what you did to solve some of the life stressors (such as lack of employment) and what directions that helped move you.

Song of the South

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I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the gone-but-not-forgotten Disney film, The Song of the South. There are a couple reasons for this:

One–I was watching some of the collections in the Walt Disney Treasures series a while back, and some of the special features open with a disclaimer from Leonard Maltin about how the cartoons were made in a different cultural environment. Rather than bury the cartoons, Maltin encourages viewers to use them as gateways to conversation about changes in American culture.

Two–I’ve been reading Jim Korkis’s book, Who’s Afraid of the Song of the South? and Other Forbidden Disney Stories.

I’ll be among the first to admit that I tend to see the world through Disney-colored glasses (if I can coin a phrase), but I struggle to see why this film should be so marred in controversy, and in light of some of the other “questionable” cartoons collected in the Walt Disney Treasures, I don’t see why the film can’t be distributed for educational purposes at the very least.

It’s a beautiful film, and one that is recognized for its technical achievements. It was the Disney studio’s first major foray into live action production, and it was the first film that seemlessly blends together technicolor film and animation, paving the way for Mary Poppins and other films.

Its inherent flaw is that The Song of the South doesn’t make clear what time period it is portraying, which leads people to assume that it’s about happy slaves, which isn’t historically accurate. The film is actually set during the Reconstruction and the African Americans who work on the plantation (perhaps a bit of an anachronism) are all free. It is difficult to faithfully capture the heart of Harris’ stories without taking a few CYA measure to make sure the film will be well-received. Korkis suggests (and I have to agree with him) that this major flaw is the result of Walt not taking into consideration that people will take a live-action film as a real, bonafide, authentic portrayal of the time period and neglected to take appropriate measures.

Iger has said that Disney won’t ever rerelease the film in the US. Perhaps his future replacement will reconsider, given that, again according to Korkis, there’s an online petition that already has “tens of thousands of signatures.” Clearly, there is an interest.

So let me just come out and say it, having seen the film–it’s not a racist film. There is no harm being portrayed about any group of people in the entire film. If we can get over the politics and down to the heart of the film, it’s one of the most integrated films of the era. A lot can be learned about relationships from a close read of the film. Korkis poses the argument that part of the reason for the controversy comes in response to the first draft of the film’s screenplay–one that was actually racist–and not from a single viewing of the final product (the film did receive mixed reviews, probably because the seed of distaste had already been planted–I question the objectivity of these reviews).

The controversy of the film is also indicative of the era of the film’s release. Perhaps it’s time to consider rethinking the controversy in the interest of furthering interest in Disney history? After all, in the Disneyfied versions of stories, kids are going to remember Splash Mountain before they remember The Song of the South or any of Harris’s original stories.

 

Dueling Fandoms?

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There have been two interesting trends on Facebook lately:

One is the posting, sometimes obsessively, of pictures that have captions or other statements. This seems to suggest that we’re trending toward visual communication again.

The other is posting photos that use images from respective fandoms and using the captions to put them at odds with each other (as though they were meeting somewhere in their respective media). For example, one such image crossed my Facebook this morning:

Dueling Fandoms

 

In this particular example, images from Harry Potter are pitted against other groups, such as Dr. Who, etc.

Why I find this noteworthy is that, when the Harry Potter books were coming to an end and the HP Fandom had to reinvent itself–a time before other fandoms such as Dr. Who had really taken off–the community was talking about House Unity. To paraphrase the Sorting Hat, in order for the wizarding world to overcome evil/Voldemort, everyone had to work together toward the common goal, not against each other. There’s the unspoken component of “do this in order to support the Chosen One, who will cast the final spell and destroy You Know Who once and for all.” We see this similar theme echoed in Avatar: The Last Airbender and to an extent in Dr. Who. But in light of the dystopian nature of stories like The Hunger Games or the vampire stories (which Barnes and Nobel collect under the section heading, “Teen Paranormal Romance”), it seems that we are once again reverting to the very human tendency of dueling against ourselves.

Did we lose a sense of the “common goal” when Obama was re-elected? or when Occupy lost steam?

Or is being our own advocate just too overwhelming?

What we do within fandoms reflects how the myth is communicating to us, how it’s working it mojo. If we are designing duals, are we also experiencing conflict between the mythic messages?

What happens if we, in the course of experiencing media burnout, also experience mythic burnout?

Comments welcome.

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It should be noted as a Truth, that there’s just too much doing on these days. I’m not just talking about media overload, but there’s something in the air, a tension. I’m now living in a whole new region of the country, having left my home state of Texas just in time for all the drama about women’s rights to go to a new level:

I’m working in a very depressed city. A city that once shone as an industry leader, then *something* happened in the 1920s (*cough cough*) to destroy the paper and textile industries, and the city never really recovered. But this little city is filled by people that love it and is surrounded by a larger community that has a lot going for it:

The personal difficulty that I’m running to is that this area is a very difficult for one who identifies with Walt Disney values to live, because there is a lot of social awareness and poverty–things counter to Walt’s utopian vision:

So what do I bring to the region? What should I bring to the region? There are a lot of silent voices wanting to speak out:

Meanwhile, the Disney Channel recently turned 30:

Exciting changes

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It’s spring! A time for new beginnings. I’m celebrating this spring by making some changes to this site. Exciting new things are in the works.

One change is that you’ll notice, if you have ever visited my site more than once, that my portfolio is disappearing. I am taking it down to work on a project I have in mind. But I’m also taking it down because it doesn’t fit with the future Mythic Thinking Xx.0.

I wrote in my biography a couple years ago that I’ll contemplate what “About Priscilla” means once my dissertation is complete. In the months after my defense–we can call this the postpartum period–I wasn’t sure what I wanted to be when I grow up.

I do now.

So stay tuned.

We are living with half a religion.

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Last night I had a dream in which a dear friend of mine went on an uncharacteristic rent about the soullessness of Walt Disney World. In this dream, I responded. We were at WDW, a place I long to visit (having never been), and our public debate was making cast members uncomfortable. Here is what I realized in my dream:

I maintain that there are two myths at the core of the American cultural psyche: Utopia and Manifest Destiny. Tucked under Manifest Destiny lies our relationship to consumption. For the American, there are three modes of consumption:

  1. Survival—well, duh.
  2. Power—By consuming the resources, none of the other kids can have them, making us king of the playground.
  3. Unquenhable Hunger—Our consumption is also a need to satiate a hunger, to fill some kind of spiritual hole.

I am an apologist for consumption. I don’t believe that the solution to number three is to reinfuse myth into our culture. If there is any single characteristic inherent in Americans, it’s our resourcefulness. We have been writing our own myths for centuries, albeit in nontraditional forms. I do believe, however, that the solution to number three is to rewrite the consumption myth altogether, but I’m digressing from my original intended topic.

It occurs to me that number three exists because our country was founded by Protestants. Sure, Protestants brought a strong work-ethic to this country. But Protestants also brought half a religion with them. Protestantism is Catholicism without the mystery and mysticism. I’m not sure why anyone would want to take the mystery and mysticism out of Christianity, but there you have it.

My flavor of Protestantism is Episcopalian. “The Thinking Man’s Religion.” The lineage of the Episcopal Church can be traced to Henry VIII and the establishment of the Anglican Church. Henry wasn’t trying to take the mystery out of Christianity; he just wanted power and control over the church. Oh yeah, and a divorce. As such, I grok the mystery of Christianity, but not the mysticism.

Let me also take a moment to point out that today’s Catholicism is not Christopher Columbus’ Catholicism. The Catholic Church has had to change dramatically over the centuries to fight against the allure of the Protestant Churches and, increasingly, other religions altogether. This, and the ease of establishing Protestant denominations/churches, is why Christianity is such a mess.

I’m not suggesting that America would have been “better off” if it had been founded by Catholics. Look at the history of Meso- and South America. At least the Catholic conquistadors were consciously searching for modes of consumption, but they still slaughtered anyone in their path who wasn’t cooperating. There’s that annoying relationship between consumption and power again.

I am suggesting, however, that Americans need to relearn the mystery and mysticism of SOMETHING. Perhaps “traditional” or “organized” religions is not the answer (I’m including Native American traditions here). Perhaps, instead, the secret is to disconnect from the Information Superhighway. I have to give kudos to Henry David Thoreau. While his abandonment of civilization isn’t for everyone (assuming there are still remote parts of America left), his attention to the little things is. How easy it would be to embrace the mystery the Romantic poets saw, and find even a little solace in our Soulless? world.

The Hero’s Journey 2.xxx

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I was having a mental conversation with myself this morning, contemplating how to teach Joseph Campbell’s writing style to my students. The trajectory of my thoughts led me to the almost-cliché Hero’s Journey. In The Hero with a Thousand Faces, Campbell images the Journey thusly:

One key point of the Hero’s Journey is that it is a circle. The Hero leaves, the Hero must return. If the Hero fails to return, then someone needs to go in and bring him/her home. The Hero must return and share the boon. Sure, there are exceptions. But that’s a different conversation.

The Journey is also linked with Jung’s process of Individuation. In the process of becoming a whole in-divid-ual, Jung tells us that we need to descend into the unconscious, return, and repeat the process as often as necessary. Jung’s process is associated by “old school” Jungians as aimed for the second half of life, but I don’t buy that for one second.

Hero’s Journey, circular, continuous… Point made? Good. So, here’s where my thoughts were going.

In our current phase of epic literature [“literature” includes film, television, and any other “text” within myth/popular culture], our epics are episodic. Historic epics, such as The Odyssey and Moby-Dick (a nod to my Epic professor, Dennis Slattery), have episodes built into the larger Hero Journey of the character, but are themselves not episodic. By episodic, let’s consider Harry Potter.

Harry has a single journey that spans all seven volumes—to defeat Voldemort and rid the wizarding world of an evil. This single journey’s latent meaning involves breaking his bond with Voldemort, and individuating, moving beyond the Boy Who Lived and to become Harry.

Each volume of the series is itself a complete Hero Journey. In the first book, his Journey is to rescue the Sorcerer’s Stone, the second is to rescue Ginny from the Chamber of Secrets, etc. Each journey brings him ever closer to the ultimate boon battle with Voldemort.

The limitations of words on this blog make the image I’m trying to convey a little difficult, but work with me here. The Little Hero’s Journeys build upon each other and culminate in the Big Hero’s Journey. Kind of like a spiral, with the first story being at the top moving down:

Though I’d prefer to imagine it the other way around, moving from narrow bottom up, but I couldn’t find a suitable image.

This new kind of Epic Hero’s Journey is nicely situated for integrating Campbell’s Monomyth with Jung’s Individuation. It’s a process. With each level, we gain experience and magical helpers that give us the strength to ultimately face that Bad Guy at the end of the game. (A notable exception is Epic Mickey. Again, something for another day.) We can see this Epic Monomyth at play in many different myth outlets these days, of which Harry Potter is only one voice. Others that immediately come to mind include Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, The Hunger Games, and Star Wars.

And seeing the Hero’s Journey in this way makes it a better roadmap for our lives. Imagine what our world would look like if we imagined progress as a spiral and not as a linear evolution?

For your viewing pleasure, I pilfered this from overthinkingit.com (credit due where credit is due):

I Believe in Santa

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As a new Mommy, the Santa question has crossed my path more then once. You know, “We can’t decide whether to raise our kid with Santa. We don’t want to mess with the whole Naughty or Nice thing.” My response is always an emphatic, “REALLY?!?!” Here’s why:

Disclaimer: I’ve never bothered to explore the history of St. Nicholas. Today is no exception.

In our society, Christmas seems to have been stolen by the consumers. Like Lucy van Pelt, the holiday is about presents–the ones we will receive. I do confess to buying myself gifts and wrapping them to make sure I have something to open on Christmas. But, it shouldn’t come as a surprise to you, Dear Reader, that I am unashamed about being a consumer. I see it as the American Way.

Because the consumers have absconded the holiday, religious groups have responded with calls to put the CHRIST back into CHRISTmas. Apparently, religion and culture can’t coexist? But they can–this is the backbone of America’s identity. That whole separation of church and state thing.

Santa falls into the consumer category. He brings gifts to all the girls and boys, which translates to the parents try to get their kid awesome toys for Christmas as “Santa gifts.” Usually these are big ticket. Santa never brought clothes in my house.

If you’re Nice, maybe you’ll receive the new game system. If you’re Naughty, maybe you’ll get a lump of coal.

Santa, as an American myth (there are different Santas in different cultures. The basic myth remains the same), is not about presents, behavior modification, or consumption. Santa is the embodiment of the light needed during the winter months. He is the Spirit of Love, Kindness, Generosity and Giving. It’s no accident that his holiday follows the Winter Solstice. (Pagan rituals not withstanding.) When we are at our darkest, Santa helps light the way, and fill our hearts to hold us over until Spring.

All religious celebrations at this time of year that I know about are all festivals of light. The same point. But we don’t sit on the lap of Baby Jesus and share our wishes for the year. Santa is both grandfather and confessor. He nurtures and comforts when we need it most. The suicide rate goes up this time of year. If only we all had Santa!

I don’t really think Santa will come into my house to drop off gifts, but I am happy to embrace the Santa Myth because it fills my heart with happiness at this time of year. I may not have the Leave It To Beaver family Christmas I covet, but at least I can have a happy one.

We will have Santa in my house, and Caterpillar will leave not milk with the cookies, but coffee to keep him awake while he delivers gifts. Conveniently, the coffee will be dressed the way Mommy likes it…

A Glee-ful update

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I’ve been on a bit of a hiatus for the last couple months, which I’m sure a few of you have noticed (or not). In October, I entered mommyhood. This has been an interesting period of transition, to say the least. Perhaps one day I’ll write about it. Interestingly, mommyhood has affected my perception of kids/teens in some of my favorite TV shows. Today, I’ll look at Glee.

To be over-30 and a “Gleek” seems silly, the same way that being a Potter-fan was perceived 10(!) years ago. I find the show to be a very guilty pleasure. With the exception of last season, I’ve watched the show faithfully on Hulu since it launched. I’m not sure what attracts me to the show. It’s certainly NOT the glee club remixes of pop songs and show tunes. And it’s certainly NOT the forced union between song and story.

I do appreciate that the characters have realistic storylines. The first season dealt with high school crushes and teen pregnancy. The second season dealt with bullying, homosexuality and being “out.” The third season dealt with graduation, teen fears of moving on, abuse, and winter pregnancy. This current season is dealing with growing up post-graduation, bullying, and eating disorders.

Here are a few of my thoughts about specifics.
**MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS**

Coach Beiste:
I love Coach Beiste. When they first introduced her in season two, it seemed as though it was a cruel joke—a not-so-feminine woman coaching the football team? The kids on the show made fun of her more often than not. It wasn’t until they revealed her soft side that her place on the show changed. She became a sort of Tiresias, the Greek mystic who, in mythology, spent time as both a man and a woman, and is called upon to address life’s mysteries. Beiste offers motivational advice to the students and love advice to anyone who asks. How she accomplishes this is through sports metaphor and simple answers. Her perspectives are spot-on at the time when a character is going through a major turning point. In the third season, she finally finds love, only to find out that the man she loves is abusive. She goes back and forth about whether or not to leave him, finally deciding that she needed to. The strength and advice she needed came from the same students she was constantly motivating.

Marley Rose:

I’m not necessarily a big fan of Marley, but I am a fan of her plot. She’s the daughter of the new, very large school lunchlady. She has been to several other schools and has been run off when people realize who her mom is. They bully both her and her mom on a regular basis. They haven’t, as of yet, explored the mom’s reaction to the bullying (is she really that much of an emotional rock?), but Marley doesn’t take it well and tries to stand up for her. What has developed so far is that she has become the target of the head cheerleader, Kitty, who is the bulliest of them all. Kitty sabotaged Marley’s costume for Grease to give her a complex about her weight—telling her that she has the “fat gene.” In one touching scene, Marley talks to her mom about her weight. We learn that mom gained her weight as a result of comfort eating her way through a very traumatic divorce. Nonetheless, Kitty is getting through to Marley, and the suggestion is made that Kitty has talked Marley into dappling with bulimia. This can’t end well. I hope that Marley comes through OK, and that Kitty gets some sort of awakening about how her words and actions hurt, and can potentially, kill people. This season has gotten too cluttered, so this may be the Big One they are saving for Spring Sweeps.

Rachel Berry:

I’ve never liked Rachel, and I still don’t. I don’t like that she got away with being hyper-pushy and full of herself for three seasons, and I’m not a fan of “belting” pop singers. What I will grant is how her character changed as a result of moving to New York and going to NYADA, a performing arts school that has revealed to her that she’s really a small fish in a big pond. I keep hoping that plots such as the one involving Cassandra July and Rachel’s post-Finn crush Brody will toughen her up. She’s way too naïve.

Sue Sylvester:

How can I write about Glee and not write about Sue? She’s my other favorite supporting character. In fact, I recently watched a couple of Christopher Guest films just because I love her character so much. She’s the bully of all bullies, but what sets her apart is that her soft spot is closer to the surface than the show implies. Her snarky comments inspire the New Directions to be awesome, and when a situation calls for it—such as intervening on Coach Beiste—she is soft and responsive. One of my favorite scenes with her was the funeral for her sister, who had Down’s Syndrome. Because her favorite movie was Willy Wonka, the Glee Club performed “Pure Imagination” in tribute. This season, they have only mentioned Sue’s Down’s Syndrome baby a couple times. They have, however, created a new tension between Sue and the New Directions by having Finn Hudson, McKinley Alum and temporary replacement for Will Sheuster (who is off in Washington for most of this season), call her baby “retarded.” For the first time in the history of the show, Sue is fully enraged and is fighting Finn and the Glee Club all the way, even though Finn did apologize. This will be another plot that I’m sure will come to a head in Spring Sweeps. A very deserved rage, I say. War is on. Sue is Agamemnon, and the Glee Club is Troy. Perhaps this war won’t come to the same tragic end.

Connections and Pacifica

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Two weeks ago, the Pacifica Alumni of Texas descended on Austin for the first ever Texas Alumni event. It was fascinating to connect with a new calibur of Pacifi-peep (as I call them). Some graduated in the Nineties, while some are still working through their dissertation. The weekend began with a Friday night reception, followed by a Saturday strategizing event (i.e., how to make the Alumni Association a viable group in Texas) and a High Tea for prospective students. The weekend left me with a couple observations that easily become reflections on my own experience of Pacfica Graduate Institute.

One is that, regardless of one’s personal experience, Pacifica works you. The school is attractive because it is not a degree mill. The environment, from the faculty to the landscaping, invites and practically requires each of its students to engage in self work. This can be both good and bad, depending on one’s frame of reference, which is why I never lightly recommend that anyone goes to Pacifica if they have any questions or doubts about whether they want to go.

And there is the flip side to this. Pacifica will raise anything that is buried in what Jung calls “the shadow.” Any negative, unconscious beastie that is lurking in the depths of our unconscious will be brought to the surface by Pacifica. As you can imagine, this can cast a … well, a shadow … on any memory of the experience or influence what we do with our degrees after leaving the school.

But here’s the thing that the Alumni Association reveals: we are not alone. During the coursework, we spend a week in California, get energized and jazzed, then we come home and the Pacifica Go-Go Juice is slowly drained away by our everyday lives. Once the end of coursework comes and we return home to start working on our theses, dissertations, and/or internships, something about that connection that got us so excited in the first place feels severed. Some Pacifi-peeps start grasping at anything they can to try to reestablish that connection to the school, the faculty, and the cohort that has become like family.

So when the Alumni Association announced that it was ready to launch, I really wanted to get involved with the planning committee, but was nearing the end of my dissertation. Supporting the regional coordinators was the better choice. Being involved in almost every step of the planning process to last weekend’s event was really fun.

Overall, the weekend went according to plan. It was informative and energizing. I’m fascinated by the amount of baby metaphors that were passed around over the course of the weekend. That we were gathered to “birth the baby” and that we needed to “nurture the newborn.” I haven’t decided yet if everyone was really running with the metaphor or just expressing an unconscious response to my pregnancy…