2018 Reflections, and 2019 Anticipations

I don’t know about everyone else, but 2018 was a pretty eventful year for me, full of endings, beginnings, and overall change. Today, I’d like to reflect on the past year, and more importantly, look ahead to the future.

Magical and Real as it appeared in Doylestown, PA.
Magical and Real in its Roswell incarnation.

2018 started off with the opening of Magical and Real, the Peter Hurd and Henriette retrospective that I’d been working on for the last four years. It opened at the Michener Museum in Doylestown, PA, then traveled to Roswell in May. Having a project that I’d been working on for so long was both overwhelming and immensely satisfying. After years of hard work, researching, writing, and negotiation, it was wonderful to see all those efforts pay off.

So long, Roswell

In July, I officially left my position as curator, shortly after my fifth anniversary at the museum. It was my longest job up to this point, and it was a big decision to leave that all behind. Yet I definitely felt ready to leave, and they’ve got a great new curator who will do a better job than I did.

I drove from New Mexico to Virginia, spending as much as 16 hours on the road at one point. My Prius has never been happier.

In August, I moved to Virginia with my partner, Brandon. He drove the U-Haul with our stuff and his truck in tow, while I drove the Prius with our two cats as co-pilots. Driving cross-country is something of a rite of passage in my family. My parents have done it several times, as has my sister. While I helped my parents drive when I moved to New Mexico, this was the first time I drove cross-country entirely on my own. It was tiring, and I have no interest in doing it again, but I’m glad I was able to prove to myself that I can do it.

Then in the fall, I completed my first semester at William and Mary, which went a lot more smoothly than I expected. I knew that going back to school after working for several years was going to be quite a transition, but giving myself permission to acknowledge and experience the changes happening in my life made it much easier.

I also found that being older has proven advantageous. Initially, I thought I would feel out of place, but having years of work experience and a previous graduate degree helped me put the program into perspective. I’m also in a different life chapter than I was at Williams. I was fresh out of college and single when I went to Williams, but nowadays I’m in a committed relationship and provide a home to two kitties. So while I work hard at William and Mary, I have other commitments, and I’m much more comfortable with giving myself permission to relax and not work at 110% all the time.

Really it’s all about the kitties.

Most importantly, I’ve become comfortable with who I am and my own abilities. When I was at Williams, I thought I had to know everything, and felt insecure when I didn’t. At this point, I know that anyone who thinks they know everything is a damn fool, and the best thing you can do is learn from everyone around you. I’ve got wonderful classmates who all work on different things, so the best thing I can do at this point is┬áto learn from them as I continue working on my own projects.

So what’s ahead moving forward? Aside from the regular classes, I’ve signed up for a DH workshop to continue building my digital humanities skills. I’ve been reflecting on my working habits from this past semester and thinking of ways to be more efficient next term. I’ve been submitting abstracts to various conferences so that I can start getting back on that circuit. I’ve also been looking ahead to the summer and figuring out how best to use that time on my research.

One nonacademic goal I have for next semester is to do more sketching.

Not everything is about school though. I noticed I didn’t do a lot of sketching last semester, in part because most of my sketchbooks at this point are large, attractive volumes that I prefer reserving for fairly detailed, lengthy studies. In response to this hesitation, I picked up a small, informal sketchbook so that I can make quick drawings wherever I go. Even if it’s just a couple of minutes per day, that’s better than nothing, right?

So that’s where I’m at. these days. Reflecting on the past is fine, but it’s more important to keep moving forward. Here’s to a happy, productive 2019 for everyone.

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