7 Reflecting Back

Janei had gathered together many conversations on her computer that she now had to analyze, describe and document in a way that it made sense to everyone who participated. She hoped to be able to finish her degree with these data, but she knew it would depend on how she went about from this moment onwards. Would her academic adviser like what she wrote? She had no clue what to write to make him happy, honestly. But she didn’t want to be preoccupied with that either.

In her eyes, science had to make a more beyond working one’s ass off for three people on a committee, who then approve of it in a formal but informal oral defence. She refused to work for three people, for merely the degree, a piece of paper one demands oneself to be proud of. Rather, it had to be publicly accessible, especially if it concerned controversial work such as hers. She had embarked on an adventure to find herself in media using autoethnography (the idea for which came from her adviser) for anyone. It’s not like the participants in her study, whom she would approach as soon as the narrative had been written had to read it, but it would be available to them if they would have the interest to read (some of) it.

And she would make a case for this availability so that the participants learned a little bit about the obscure system that science built within any society. Science was messy, chaotic, she believed, and had nothing to do with the neat-looking scholarly journals and books.

Henry and Willie had planned a trip right before Janei would fly back so they couldn’t bring her to the airport, something that had seemingly become a hobby for them whenever one of their children flew out. Instead, she met Karilia at the airport before take-off. They had coffee and apple pie and they discussed some privacy-issues of Facebook. Soon she would see Amelio again.

Even though she hadn’t missed him all that much due to the stress, she knew she would edit this retrospectively: as soon as she saw him she would know she had missed him. Funny, she thought, would that perhaps be a sign of our media times, that we redact ourselves continuously, but only in the past and never in the uncontrollable future? Doesn’t that automatically mean that everyone was unconsciously lying about who they were, all the time? And get away with it precisely because it had become the new norm? She hoped to find out, but knew she wouldn’t.

Two months later, she had succeeded in writing her experiences in a narrative. She was unsure whether she would have enough time to finish it before she was going to take the next few steps in her life, and quite frankly there comes a point when you just want to get it over with – to look back upon in a later stage.

All of the intricate work she had performed seemed to her more than a plain-old trick that graduate students normally perform to convince three professors that the work was ‘well done’. She believed that in any work, one had to go as far as to own it, and to see the importance of believing in it. For this reason, she decided she wasn’t much like many other students. Yet she was satisfied. She had finished writing and analyzing. It had become important to her on a far more personal level than she had imagined.

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Reflecting Back Copyright © 2011 by Peter Blank. All Rights Reserved.

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