Writing Practices

While pulling together some job materials this weekend, I got out ye old Sage Handbook of Qualitative Methods (5th ed)–see below–and stumbled upon this scribbled delight, this marginalia wormhole (could we say wordhole?–that seems weird) to the Summer of Dissertation…

Continue reading

Dissed: What’s Necessary

Dissed are excerpts from the dissertation that have been cut, killed, excised, burned on the altar of common sense and distance before being left here to not die…

This one hurt to cut. 
I remember thinking how clever I was and how it
"Explained Everything. Duh." 
And, certainly, in looking back I can see the early versions of 
what I was just really starting to grasp. I did bring 
a good chunk of this up in the epilogue, but it took some reshaping. 
I like having an original (albeit excerpted) version of it here 
as part of this archive.  

After all, Sally and this comic were integral parts of the dissertation,
 critical actants that sat in my eye-line (tacked above the computer) 
the entire time I wrote and reminded me

--without a word, with just a glance, without even really realizing it, 
in fact I'm only really realizing it right now as I type these very words--

why I was still sitting in my office chair, still looking for answers. 
Touchstone is too mild a word for that level of presence and pull in the
 overall phenomenon.  

But my true love didn't make it into the final draft:
 the incomplete tracing of the other actants at the end. 
I read that list and that timespace snaps into place around me. 
Fig. 1.1: In this Peanuts comic strip by Charles M. Schulz, Sally Brown (Charlie Brown’s little sister), attends her elementary school. Originally published March 29, 1971 by United Feature Syndicate, Inc.  Reprinted on page 84 in Peanuts: A Golden Celebration (Larkin 1999).
Continue reading



We go dancing at the Pyramid Club. 80s Dance Party night. We aren’t the oldest there; we aren’t the youngest. Laid by James is the first song I really let go to—arms wide, head back, eyes closed, hair swinging, full-body singing, singing, singing…. “This is my favorite”—or something along those lines—shouts the one in our group who says she never dances (she’s the one we have to drag off the dance floor and into a cab at some early morning hour, and still, today, she insists “she doesn’t dance”). There are oceans of clear space between the huddled pods of dancers. A line of youngish (younger than me at least, and at 35 they all look young to me now, babies playing at loving the 80s. Sweethearts, these songs are my childhood…) white dudes holding up one wall, all of them staring at their phones. A mix of genders on the other wall, crowding ‘round the projected 80s logo for a selfie to prove their kitschy hip. And for a second I wonder why they came—why bother?

But then another memory dressed in the lyrics of another familiar voice hits the air and one or more of us shout “This is my favorite!” before we’re lost to our own moves and time passes one song at a time until those oceans tide over to people, jumping-singing-dancing-laughing bodies all up and down every identity spectrum you could name.

We dance. All in different ways. All for different reasons. I don’t have to name mine—couldn’t put my fingers on them to type out the words perfectly anyway. But I’m my sequined top and leather jacket and boots. Glitter, grit, and mirror ball, light pulsing in the fog-machined dark. All the different permutations, stages of me that have danced, free on the floor like always in the water but rarely on land, all rolled into one. Bass-beating-blood and hard-won-sweat. Full-body singing, singing, singing. Gorgeous as the bouncer said.

Prince shows around midnight—some cos-playing womanizer dressed in the iconic white suit, no shirt, smooth-shaved chest. Sexing up all the youngest ladies while his lumberjack wingman—dude’s well over six-feet, beard, honest-to-god flannel, as un-princely as you can get—watches the hunt like a hyena in the wings (there might be slobber; there’s certainly awe). But everybody loses it, loves it, when cos-play Prince gets up on stage when the DJ plays his song, pulls a purple guitar from the shadows and proceeds to gyrate, drop-split, strip-tease for the crowd. He cheeses me out. Prince-lite, strutting like the man himself, but I’m outvoted—the crowd, my group loves him.

Still, it strikes me, remember-writing-living this again now, that then, with my arms wide, head back, eyes closed, hair swinging, full-body singing, singing, singing…that could have been the real Prince—if I dance-dreamed just right. But now, death’s closed the door on possibility and the remembered flash of sex-and-song through the strobe-and-fog is wrong even in this light.


Sitting here, outside the stage door, is like sampling the whole world at once—all the languages, all the potentials.

And in the distance the flashing of billboards and electric lit signs—the trash is out for the night, huge piles of black and white and blue bags stuffed and piled waist high down the curb on both sides.

And the song of car breaks and horns; the delivery truck idling across the street; suitcases rolling along the pavement.

And the car radios tune in an out of a million different stations that touch me—all—before flitting off again.

I could have been anyone who’s passed me by but I wasn’t. I’m not.