02 May 2014

Research and Writing as Ceremony: Concluding Thoughts on My Acknowledgements Page and Submitting for Publication Today

Today truly marks the end of “an era” for me if you will.  I put Chopin on my record player, I offered a ritual to la Virgen; and, now, I am now letting go of my dissertation, accepting where it is just now, acknowledging that the work never really stops, and submitting it for publication.

Well, in a few hours, that is.  I first need to revamp the “Acknowledgements” Page.  Thus far I have three sentences thanking my mothers and teachers for, I write, inspiring in me a “love of literature, of women, and of darkness.”

However, I really want to say so much more (maybe not thanking individuals as I did with my MA thesis though). 

In an earlier blog, I began writing about my whole journey of education.  Still, I wasn’t sure just then that I would be graduating (and, to tell  the truth, I really still have my doubts even now! Right? That whole “imposter syndrome” perhaps).  I wrote that blog because I woke up in the middle of the night thinking, “Holy Moly! This is the end of the road for me. That is, the road ends here.  Phd means final final, the ultimate destination for formal education.  I mean, there’s always “post-doctoral” work, and, of course, the perpetual student I am (my identity so wrapped up in this!), more research and writing sounds great (AFTER A LONG SUMMER BREAK!!).  Nevertheless, I’ve been in school (off and on, but mostly on) for 30 years of my life.

Brief history of my formal education:
-          Preschool at Shepherd of the Hills and Hillcrest in Whittier (don’t remember much, but I do have a friend still—we went to JH, HS, Biola, and CSULB together)
-           K-5 at Murphy Ranch (my memories of this time are pretty negative, but I do have a friend still –need to send her a grad announcement)
-          6th grade at Granada Middle School. Ditto about hating it.
-          7-8 Whittier Christian Junior High. Loved it. Turning point. Writing my spiritual memoir, I return to this transition.  Friends – these are also friends from church –  still from here.
-          9-12 Whittier Christian High School. Again. Loved it. On cheer and on homecoming court.  Glorious time of life.
-          Undergrad at Biola in La Mirada. Also. Loved it. I studied English Writing and Literature. Mentors: Doland, Reynolds, and Callis.  Travels to Oxford, Bahia de los Angeles, Washington, D.C., Greece, Italy, the UK, India, Prince Edward Island, and around the U.S., especially New Mexico
-          MA at CSULB.  Studied English Literature again. Loved it and the whole LB experience.  Mentors: Lau, Sinclair, Coenen, and Wakelee-Lynch.  Travels to France, Belgium, Switzerland, Italy again,  Guanajuato, New Mexico
-          PhD at CIIS in San Fran.  Studied Women’s Spirituality. Loved it. Mentors: Arora, Pacheco, and Strobel.  Travels to Malta, the Greek Islands, Spain, the Philippines, New Mexico.

I started preschool (I just asked my mom) when I was 4, and now, at 34, I’ll graduate with a PhD.  As I write that last sentence, and let it sink in, I start to cry actually.  That’s how much value I’ve placed (albeit hecka encouraged by my family and teachers) on this degree.  Did I know I always wanted it? No.  Did I doubt that it was possible? Yes. Even now.  However, perhaps like some people – myself included sometimes – want a kid but never let themselves imagine it is for them; I have wanted this profoundly and not let myself hope it could be something I would attain. 

I mean, although my family values education, an MA let alone a PhD has been concretely unattainable (and undesirable) for many of family members.  Both sexism (you need to read Virginia Woolf’s A Room of One’s Own) and racism (I recommend DecolonizingEpistemologies) have created insurmountable obstacles in the educational lives of my grandmothers, mothers, aunts, primas, and sisters.  And, I am a lucky one (mujer, m’jita, nina, kaka, ate) graduating with a Phd in her thirties!   Miraculous!

So, how do I say thank you for all this????

Here goes:

“I must acknowledge that without my family’s imagination and strength in the face of overwhelming obstacles due to sexism and racism, I would not have the opportunity to research, write, and submit this dissertation.  I am grateful for my family’s support, in particular, their encouragement of my formal education. 

Specifically, I want to thank the nurturing women in my family as well as the women in my chosen family.  You are my role models in your creation of liberative visions and languages for our future.  Together, we have come so far!  What we have accomplished is miraculous!   

Additionally, I want to acknowledge the men who have supported me during my journey.  Grandfathers, fathers, brothers – my allies – gratitude for all the ways you advocate for me – your daughter, your sister, your love – and my freedom to write my story.

Altogether, thank you
to each of you
 who has inspired in me a love
of literature,
of women,

and of darkness.”

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