The Fading Sun

Just flicked on the overhead light above my old spot at the dining room table on Willow Street.  Long morning with colleagues and now full and sleepy and trying to decide how to get some exercise – biking around Audobon Park is probably the likely winner.  I always feel compelled in winter months to be outside as much as possible, never knowing when I’ll wake up and it will be 5 deg, or, in the Gulf’s equivalent, a torrential hurricane.

Feeling like I’m sort of checked out on being here.  I had a sense of this already, that to be engaged down here is a full-time commitment.  It’s not merely for my own emotional sanity; the politics are such that one should be present to follow up, follow through, and stand down the conversations and perceptions that follow them around this place.  I’m not fully present here, physically or emotionally, and my professional work suffers for it.  Sure, it’s cool to be singled out by activists, but I haven’t been back since all that went down, and who knows through what my name has been dragged this fall.  (Everybody’s name, no matter how big or small they maybe, is in play at one point or another in all this rebuilding activity.  The larger-than-life “MIT” moniker also trails after me.)  I feel like I need to make a commitment to this place, or not.  For the moment, it looks like not. 

Emotionally, I’m not sure I want to take on post-Katrina New Orleans.  It’s incredibly draining, this post-disaster work, it infuses your everyday.  Any role that I take on would not be one that ended at 5 or 6 or 9pm each day.  In this sense, there’s something to be said for hiding out in cerebral isolation in the academy.   (Though as you can tell, I’m energetically trying to bust out of that shell with my posting all over the blogosphere!) 

Ultimately, I feel like I’m trying to throw my hat in the ring of another city’s private pain and struggle.  They’re not dismissing individuals or groups who wish to take up the fight to rebuild, but they’re rightly demanding a certain level of commitment, and I’m not in a position to donate or give up that kind of time yet.  I like my life in Boston, it’s vibrant and overdue and going somewhere.  I’m happy there.  If I move here in the coming year, it will be because I want to take on a role that I am comfortable in (research and analysis, most likely), one that the city and I accept on mutual terms, and one that includes an agreed-upon place for the M.A.S. (we are jointly figuring out not only our own futures, but New Orleans’s role in both). 

So we’ll see where 2007 takes us all.  I’ll keep you posted on the adventures of the rest of the week.  My father will be pleased to know I’m not moving out of Boston in a month.  Perhaps I should let him know this rather than him having to find out via MIT’s Press office, which is how he learned of my original intentions to relocate here. 

In related news, I got a call today from ABC about one of my TPM Cafe posts.  I passed them on to others, but it’s official, I’m pulling down all the romance and cocktails stuff from this site and will be posting it elsewhere.  I’ll keep you posted, pun intended.


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