No excuses left not to try something new...

One philosophy prof at a liberal arts college, sixteen months, no teaching. Her only job: to finish ALL THE THINGS! The question is not "Can she do it?" but "How funny will it be to watch her try?"

That's the description for this blog. And that's the attitude I'm trying to take towards the rest of 2014 and all of 2015. I've been given the great gift of a year's research leave as a fellow at another university, followed by a semester's sabbatical at my own college. But, as every Calvinist -- and anyone who's ever seen Spiderman -- knows, with great gifts/powers comes great responsibility. My feeling of elation at the prospect of this much time to write (picture me happily frolicking in sunlit fields of flowers) is matched by my terror at the prospect of letting down the people who've given me this opportunity (please don't picture me curled in the fetal position with a pillow over my head).

For years, people have been telling me I should start a blog. And I've rolled my Facebooking eyes at them and said, "I don't have that kind of time." But now I've got sixteen months just for writing. And I've decided that I will go stark, raving mad if the only sort of writing I do is academic prose.

Because as much as I love Thomas Aquinas and his views on perfect happiness and the afterlife (and I really do!) ...and as much as I love medieval views on mysticism and immortality ...and even as much as I love thinking and writing about gender, food, and feminism ...when I try to spend all my time doing philosophy, I end up in a dark place full of self-loathing, doubt, and ego. And, if you've ever met me, you know I'd much rather spend my time in places full of light and warmth and whimsy.

So, this is for all those Facebook statuses over the years that really should have been blog posts. And for all those posts I never wrote in the first place because they would have been too long, or too lumpy, or too MUCH.

I'm not going to wax political on here, or even very philosophical. (I hope.) I'm going to share my experiences of trying to do full-time research. I'm going to tell funny stories about stuff around me. And I'm probably going to spend a fair bit of time writing about what it's like to be the single parent of a teen-aged son who's getting ready to leave the house. Because you want to talk great gifts and great responsibility? Holy smokes! I can't get over the fact that I have this absolutely amazing human being in my house that I've been parenting for the last 17 years, and that I'm supposed to let GO of in another 1.5 years when it's time for him to head to college.

Ok! That's all for now. The only major revelation I've had in the past 24 hours is that I am really, really bad at frosting cakes, and that compensating for this fact by cutting off the disaster bits and eating them leads to falling asleep at 10pm from the subsequent sugar-crash.

Love and light to you all!

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Christina Van Dyke

scholar, mother, and proud owner of the largest couch in creation
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