#DEEPTHOTS: You smell that Spongebob?
You smell that Spongebob?
It ain’t anchovies neither. Bitch…I’m graduating.
We have finally made it y’all. We have fucking reached YEAR 5!! (Cue fireworks, gunshots, asses clapping, and blunts sparked!) And while I am scared out of my ever living mind, I am moreso…mad. Like extra mad. Bullshit friends, failed career switches, and broke white saviors aside I am directing the anger where it belongs: The English Department.
I should’ve known it was going to be a crock a shit. I was coached into choosing my program over a more astute institution because of a lying loser who couldn’t write a book or mentor a student if they tried on their BEST day. I wasted the first two years of my program being bossed around by somebody who didn’t have a clue what they were doing. The department assured me that I was in the most qualified hands. Another lie. Most of my classes were interesting at best..and all of the really good classes don’t exist anymore. Ya know on account of most of the department leaving for better, higher paying jobs in a city that has more than 2 weeks of sun. I spent the last two years racing to departmental deadlines, avoiding every DEI group like the plague, and convincing myself doing more work for the department will get me nowhere. And guess what bitch - a bitch is HAPPY she listened to herself. As I type our department is working to appease all of our unfunded sixth years who are facing homelessness as their disposition of being unfunded wasn’t relayed to them until June. The same month the money ran out. Our professors who are ok with how things go are tenured and have no plans of giving up their checks. All the ones worth a damn (and mainly the ones who are of color) end up getting jobs in other departments or at other schools altogether. You are left with two or three overworked and very exhausted white people really trying their best to understand you and being left alone every single time.
In the same span of time that most folks use to solely work on their project I’ve run a charity, filmed a short film, published (almost) a textbook, created my own publishing house and production company. As the strike shows us now: it’s time to nut up or shut up. Having had my own work stolen and used without compensation too many times to count in the academy I can’t fathom doing the same fucking thing with my artwork. Instead of going conference to conference pitching my book idea imma just make, blind, and print my book my fucking self. Not only has this continued process of staking my independence and freedom within my career opened me up to notable opportunities I would’ve missed sucking everyone’s ass. I don’t have to follow the guidelines of a funder and I for damn sure don’t have to wear a dress shirt either. I can work with the people that want to cultivate compelling stories (say that 3x fast) and who actually have everyone’s safety and well being in mind. I can pay ABOVE the going rate for miscellaneous talent and pay them early without dealing with frustrating paperwork. I can just be a damn artist making my art. No strings attached.
This year is often known as the most stressful year in the PhD. Everyone is patiently waiting for you to tell them you had a book launch or a cool appointment in Norway or that you’ll be at a Tier 1 university teaching the next generations of thought leaders. I won’t think about that part. Until it matters. What matters is whether or not artists and creatives have the freedom to create, share their creations, be kept safe during the production, and are compensated fairly for their work. Until that’s done there is no point in hoping and wishing and wanting. I know what’s next. Working until we die. Sacrificing my life to some corporate entity so I can take 2 or 3 vacays a year and get a pool. What I am excited for is all the actual unknowns: the state of the entertainment industry; whether or not teachers will start to revolt and get paid well; if politicians will be voted out and who will be voted in; whether or not Sammi Sweetheart returning to Jersey Shore is going to bring drama to the house.
This time next year I’ll be a whollllee different bitch. Don’t act differently…just act accordingly.