I Love Berkeley, But This is Rough

I Love Berkeley, But This is Rough February 17, 2017

Teaching your dead mentor’s research is both rewarding and challenging. It’s a wonder I don’t cry in class daily.

Selfie in my office, which overlooks the Bay.
Selfie in my office, which overlooks the Bay.

In my post about my first week at Berkeley, I was super excited and happy about everything. I’m still excited about most things, but I’m less happy. I hate admitting it, but there it is.

A major piece of it is grief, and that’s coming in waves on two fronts.

First, I think I’m still mourning Alan Dundes, my folklore mentor, who died over a decade ago. I’ve taught his material before, in pretty much every folklore class I teach, but I also think it’s especially tough to be teaching his class at his university. Somehow it didn’t occur to me that in filling his shoes I’d have to deal with some of the grief I’d pent up and hadn’t addressed. I guess I didn’t really think this through before accepting the job… I know what a huge honor it is, of course, but I wasn’t prepared for the emotional toll this job would take on me.

Second, I’m still dealing with divorce feels. I suspect those’ll take a while to process. Which is okay, it’s just new territory for me.

I also think some of my funk is related to the unique position I occupy, which as I’ve observed, can make life planning difficult. Not a lot of folklorist/sex educator/belly dancer/writers out there, ya know? So strategizing my next step is…challenging.

On the plus side, I’m making new friends, and I love getting to hang out with other folklorists on a regular basis. That’s something I’d really missed, while occupying the sadly-typical position of “only folklorist in the department/at the institution.” I’m getting to dance a lot, which is fantastic. Walking and taking public transportation most places really agrees with me. So does the food here – I’ve had so much good sushi, Thai food, and more.

I’m trying to spend a lot of time on self-care, and unfortunately between that and my teaching schedule, that means less time for blogging. So it goes. I hope that I’ll find a better balance between managing my course load and my other obligations and, naturally, enjoying the Bay Area while I can!

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