Seattle, home of AWP ’14 and better weather than Chicago
1. Know What to Wear
I arrived at the conference about 90 minutes after getting off my flight. I’m a nervous traveler, so the t-shirt and jeans I was wearing were a bit sweaty and anxiety ridden. My jeans and shoes looked fairly presentable, but my bright blue Hound of the Baskervilles t-shirt visually alerted every one of my newbie status the moment I stepped inside the convention center. There were other people in jeans and t-shirts (and sports jerseys?), but I didn’t want to be lumped with that crowd, if you catch my drift. I wanted to be lumped with the buttoned-down men and business-casually dressed women. The other students from my program were all dressed within these categories, and I’m not at all sure how I missed the memo. When I left the conference to get lunch at Jimmy John’s (all of their sandwiches are .74¢ cheaper in Seattle!) I raided the clearance rack at a nearby Old Navy to buy a $10 button down. I even tucked it in, which is far cry from my typical untucked, half-buttoned flannel getup. I usually avoid tucking in shirts of any kind for fear of looking like a young dad about to play golf, but as I held the shirt over my body in a mirror at Old Navy I thought I looked like a young writer who was not quite professional. Yet.
If anyone is already in town and looking for something fun and interesting to do this weekend, check out this event! Harrison Sherrod, a recent MAPH alum, is hosting it with South Side Projections and Media Burn Archive.
As I’m sure many of our current Hyde Park denizens are aware, 53rd Street has been undergoing drastic and exciting renovations! Here are some highlights from the changes that will happen, and in some cases have already happened, on 53rd Street.
There’s nothing like a preschool classroom at Circle Time. You’re lucky if you can maintain your bright smile and upbeat tone while still being heard above the din. I look around at the children who, expected to sit cross-legged, are all in strange and impossible contortions that allow them to poke their friends, check out the kids playing outside, or grab for the blocks all while still, technically, keeping their feet on their designated dot. I raise my voice and hope to get their attention, starting in on the first verse of “Itsy Bitsy Spider,” animatedly working my fingers to the motions in an attempt to encourage them all to join me. A few small voices pipe in, then a few more, louder this time. “Out came the sun and dried up all the rain…”
And then, from the corner…Deshon. “So you fancy huh, so you fancy huh, so you fancy, huh?!?!” he sings, bobbing his little 3-year-old shoulders to his own beat. All I can do is sigh, and smile.
Let me begin by saying that I am terribly grateful and horribly under-qualified to be bequeathed the honor of a post on the MAPHtastic blog. So often Maren and the mentors serve to inspire me, entertain me and, on rare occasions, dry my tears of despondency through the words they offer here, and its quite the intimidating task to follow their pens (or keystrokes?). That said, I’ll do my best to inspire, encourage… most likely just entertain… in the words that follow.
The MAPH program’s focus, obviously, is on offering a stellar intensive Masters education to a group of students with vastly broad interests. This is a massive undertaking in itself, especially considering the bureaucracy institutions such as universities can often be. Assisting students in navigating this minefield, and encouraging and supporting them in their passions and interests all the while, is a huge job. This year, however, the MAPH program has renewed their efforts to include another aspect of student life into the fold of MAPH-supported initiatives…that of service.
The mentors and administrators have included service opportunities and community projects alongside the social and academic events on the MAPH calendar, offering students the chance to mobilize outside of the classroom. The benefits to participating in such activities are too numerous to all be addressed here, but I believe there’s one benefit that’s overlooked and very much underappreciated by those of us who are often overwhelmed with the enormity of work enrollment in the MAPH program tends to bring, and that is the beauty of connecting the often abstract and speculative work you do in a graduate school environment with the concrete, unadorned reality of the world.
Type one of Hyde Park’s zip codes (60637 works well) into the New York Times‘s “Mapping America” feature on the Census data, and get a clear picture about how our neighborhood’s architecture, park boundaries, and the presence of the University itself starkly alter racial geographies. It’s not exactly earth-shattering news–that is, not at all un-obvious–but once in awhile a clear graphic representation of realities on the ground can make even the obvious seem visceral in a different way. Thoughts are always welcome…
Mayor Richard M. Daley has announced that he will not be running for re-election. For those of you who don’t immediately see the significance of this fact, let me give you a very brief history lesson. Daley’s father, Mayor Richard J. Daley, was elected on April 20th, 1955, and maintained his knuckle-whitening grip on power until it was pried from his cold dead hands on the day he died, December 20th, 1976. After a succession of five mayors over the course of thirteen years, including the great and much embattled reformer, Harold Washington, the reins of power were taken by the current Mayor Daley on April 24th, 1989. The Daley “machine” has either run or greatly impeded the running of Chi Town for about fifty years now, and it finally seems as if history is about to turn some kind of corner. The government that has shaped American politics perhaps more than any other city government ever has, from the election of John F. Kennedy to Barack Obama, is about alter in a fairly dramatic way.