Writing this blog for the last month has been life-saving. Writing provides the accountability and structure I lacked during the three months before when I begrudgingly attempted early retirement by playing Xbox, Wii, and original Nintendo video games. Besides watching and playing via a screen, I didn’t do much. I didn’t imagine a future without feeling the overwhelming loss of students and status, especially given the impact of COVID-19 on the tenure-track academic job market. While I don’t know of other tenured associate professors who have lost their jobs aside from the three in my defunct department, I estimate that it will be as late as 2022 or 2023 before I will feel comfortable tossing my lot in with academia again. Queer Mestiza Sci-Fi Dreams: A Chicana Cyborg in CyberAztlan
I imagined that I would finally enjoy playing the online video games I bought nine years ago on GOG.com and Steam. I imagined replaying games like MYST and other Apple games I have on physical disks so I could finally justify keeping my old Mac SE and Mac clamshell laptop. However, I only got as far as a few sad, short attempts at Mario Brothers, dying as quickly as I did back in 1985.
Instead, I drove to southern California to help my aunts and uncle care for my 92 year old grandmother recuperate after suffering a stroke. Side story: Grandma is recovering at home. When she collapsed, she received immediate medical attention because she was at the grocery store where she had driven herself in defiance of the families’ request that she let others shop for her during COVID. Her stubborn and independent nature make her current need for full-time family assistance unwelcome. I have her tenacity and resilience, and like her, I am learning a new way of being in the world. I am angry like my grandma. I feel I have no right to be angry.
Once back in central Texas, I spent August feeling and considering options. I settled on writing a blog, reasoning that another academic job would require publications far beyond what were required in my former academic position.
This week I didn’t want to write. I didn’t want to feel. After receiving the interest of two tech recruiters, I didn’t see why I should write. Trying to escape my grief over losing my associate professor job, I applied for computer jobs. I couldn’t write because the idea of taking a full-time computer administration job created an emotional rollercoaster. My writing difficulties this week reflect my internal struggle to integrate my tech and Chicana literature worlds. I was able to write after spending time revisiting my 90s graduate work to connect Chicana literature to the emerging digital humanities.
While my writing hasn’t yet expanded past short blog posts, it will. I have time to develop my scholarly writing about the 1990s Chicana literature digital projects I developed using HyperCard stacks, Macromind Director projectors, and scripting languages HyperTalk and Lingo. I have time to develop a web-graveyard museum with copies of the no-longer-online Chicana and Chicanx websites and Chicanx listserv posts I saved on Zip Drive disks and 3.5 diskettes. Whether or not other people are interested in adding to a Chicana digital archive, writing about the idea has helped me imagine the power of my queer mestiza sci-fi dreams.