I write this letter retrospectively to the digital publication of this issue on the theme of Dis/Order. It’s been nearly eight months since we finalized the content of this third edition of Anastamos and launched it from our website. I may give away too much with that admission – after all, I could just write a letter from the point of view of that time, upload it to the site, pretend it had always been there, and publish it in the upcoming print version with nary a word said. However, much has occurred in these past months, and it’s only relevant and fair – this being a graduate student journal – to throw myself at the reader’s feet with a cry for transparency (and not a little contribution of my own disorder).
At the time of Dis/Order’s digital publication, I was approaching the end of my three-year graduate career. I had applied for a PhD program in Santa Barbara, a Fulbright grant in France, and a teaching fellowship in Ojai. I was teaching my second writing class as a GTA at Chapman, and working on a research study on the rhetoric and ethos of the first female medical physicians in the United States in collaboration with two feminist scholars. There was a lot on my plate, to be sure, but what it reflects most for me is how I didn’t know which way the wind was going to blow after graduation. I wasn’t sure what was in store for me.
As graduate students, we live constantly with this disorderly sensation. What will happen after graduation? Will I publish? Should I continue with school? Will I be able to get a job? Will I be able to get a job in academics? Will I be able to get a job I like? Where will my degree take me? At the heart of it is the question, what will my hard and heartfelt work of these past few years add up to?
In the end, I didn’t get accepted to the PhD program, I didn’t get the Fulbright grant, and the fellowship didn’t pan out. That might feel like a lot of didn’ts, and it’s easy to focus on those. But what did happen is far more interesting. I did unexpectedly get a job as a Lecturer in the Writing Department at University of California Santa Barbara, in a community of brilliant, kind, and earnest scholars and students. I did move from Los Angeles to Ojai with my daughters, and I did start working on my creative writing with a focus on publication. My co-researchers and I will be submitting our article for review within the next month or so. And Chapman has been so supportive of the journal that they made it into a graduate level class, and as the instructor of that class, I’ve been able to help keep it going and growing with the fantastic new editorial board.
We say that Anastamos, as an interdisciplinary graduate student journal, is intended to be a situation of learning. This implies that out of experimentation, the willingness to explore and try, something new and unexpected forms. You can see this happening in this issue of the journal, in the consideration of what constitutes a “good” or a “bad” war in the peer-reviewed paper “Straying From Popular Memory: Examining the War Experiences of Barry Robison in Vietnam” by Cameron Carlomagno; in Emily Woodworth’s depiction of a strangely vegetative bus ride in her short piece “Carrot Man”; with poet TJ Jarrett’s reflection on the connections between poetry and code in her essay “On Machines.” This edition is full of unexpected twists and turns, meant to delight, confound, and challenge, ultimately resulting in an intriguing and provocative issue.
As graduate students, we exist in a similar paradigm. We work with intention and focus, in a microcosm that all too soon we have to burst out of into a larger world. But our work doesn’t dissolve into nothingness. Out of that seeming chaos, that disorder, our work begins building and forming, establishing a foundation that will support us in whatever direction we venture.
There’s no way to create order without some disorderliness.
Here’s to yours.