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I've been trying to figure out the next step to take, since I've earned all the degrees I can (I jokingly told my partner that I could switch to another area, like the sciences, and I got something like an eye roll).

This year, I decided not to teach piano so I could focus on figuring out if academia could be a good place for me. What pressing questions do I want to ask next? How can I make what happens in institutional walls work for the complexities of the world outside them? How do I do research that gives back to those who help me answer questions along the way?

At the same time, I walk other paths that parallel, but don't quite meet, this scholarly one. One is working for climate justice. I don't know how it happened, but these paths are very separate right now. Something has happened, maybe for many of us, so that on-the-ground social justice work can only happen if: you are forced to (like, it's in your face and you can't actually live) or you have the time and financial resources to volunteer. Yet so many of us also have to work within socially unjust systems, and it can feel suffocating and hopeless sometimes.

I can't help but think of the colonial strategy to divide communities, to turn us against each other in oppressive competition so that we're too busy to see what's happening. That divide is in me and I have to convince myself that it is just an imposed imagining.

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