Ambling in the new year

In recent months I have been contemplating the various meanings that are attached to the concept of motion. In particular, I have been considering how representations of motion might aid me in furthering my understanding of self. I spent just about every summer of my adolescence in the back of a brown Ford van as my father drove my family to assorted vacation destinations. There was always considerable anticipation of what lay ahead. Indeed, there was anticipation at either end of the zeniths of these familial motions—perhaps the thrill of a rollercoaster at one end or the comfort of one’s own pillow at the other. For me the rolling landscape out the side window of the van was an indispensable component of these family adventures. As I recall those vacations it is the unfurling panorama that I miss the most. It occurred to me long ago that there was a similarity between the alternating fence posts of the undulating landscape—a sort of visible thump…thump…thump—and the dates on a calendar. It is this rhythmic character of motion which occupies me as I prepare to usher in a new year. Continue reading

Finding my own way home

Liloo on the lake

Nothing accentuates isolation like an old, dank, yellow motel room. The nicotine ghosts in the curtains. The DNA on the walls. The musty bouquet of the PTAC. All of them invisible footprints left by the transient inhabitants who came before. Here but gone. One thousand six hundred and fifty miles? Are you insane? Why on earth would you drive all that way when you could fly? Because I need the road like a shovel needs the work. I need to find my own way home.

It seems like my family has been under siege for years now. Like a storm that never leaves but only ebbs and flows. Death, illness, and emotional trauma have been uninvited guests at our Christmas gatherings. Some years I have had a good mind to just stay away. I spent last Christmas morning digging a grave on a hill in the family cemetery during a cold rain. No joke. Continue reading

Free labor and unpaid internships

I am more than a little late with this excellent piece by Enda Brophy, Nicole Cohen, and Greig de Peuter on the exploitation of student labor. I’ve been busy with end-of-semester activities but I wanted to highlight this article before I head out the door for the holidays. It’s an important and sometimes invisible topic. As a professor I am very uneasy about unpaid internships. I want to do all I can to help my students as they prepare to enter the job market but I am leery of internship “opportunities.” There is a perfect storm of high levels of student debt, dwindling employment opportunities, and a surplus of graduates being dumped on the labor market by universities. Yet while jobs may be drying up there seems to be an unending wellspring of unpaid internships. Many of these internships entail crass exploitation of student labor and the concomitant elimination of low wage jobs. Despite the hackneyed adage that internships are a great way for employers to give much needed experience to future job seekers it cannot be denied that this is a particularly vulnerable subset of workers. As the authors assert, “Once an intern, it is difficult to take a stand against one’s exploitation. Internships effectively have gag orders built into them. No matter how distasteful their quasi-job, few interns would jeopardize the bait (graduating to full-time, a glowing reference) or annihilate their reputation for being “agreeable” by speaking out.” So hats off to Nicole, Greig, and Enda. Read the full article at:

Interns unite! (You have nothing to lose – literally)