The Curious Professor Z Finds Her Groove … or the Ups and Downs of Academia

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Yesterday, I spent my afternoon bouncing around Manhattan with a coworker from Texas A&M who was in NYC for a conference. We headed up the Metropolitan Museum for the Museum Mile Festival and then down to Lili’s 57 for dinner. It was a gorgeous evening so we walked from the MMA on 83rd to West 57th … and then down to East 48th to her hotel.

This is the first time that my Texas A&M world and my NYC world merged … and it was glorious. My colleague is a great listener and she seemed genuinely interested in all of my NYC tales, especially those about my family and my love of art. I found myself gushing about my hometown and career choice in ways that I’ve never said aloud before … and in ways that ultimately surprised me. She asked me how much time I spent at the MMA before moving to Texas. I was astonished when I struggled to count the many times a month I went to the museum just to walk around, or have lunch in the American Wing, or to meet a friend. The museum is one of my “safe places” where I decompress or think. It’s also a place I go to get inspired when I’m doubting my research or career choice. I recounted how wonderful it was to bring students to the museum. I remembered how inspired, overwhelmed, and gracious my students were, and how utterly blown away they were to experience a Monet or van Goth for the first time. It was bittersweet to realize how much I miss taking a gaggle of kids to the museum, more so now that I fully teach online.

As I spoke I started to remember my first time seeing many of my “old friends” — art works and objects that deeply and profoundly affected me. I remember finally figuring out Cézanne, something that completely changed the way I painted and thought about space. I remember seeing Dalí’s Persistence of Memory at the Museum of Modern Art for the first time and noting just how small it is — a gorgeous, Freudian jewel. And Rosa! My Rosa Bonheur’s The Horse Fair … no, she’s not “disagreeably hidden” Dr. Saslow … I respectfully disagree! She’s mirrored in that gorgeous, rearing female Percheron that firmly and confidently takes the center of the painting. She is that untamable Percheron, a spotty grey and white French draft horse with a mind of its own. I feel a counter argument coming on! jots down a reminder to start the research and writing

As we strolled the streets I pointed out landmarks — civic and personal — and told stories of growing up in NYC. At various points she looked at me and smiled, eventually telling me that I sound so happy to be home. Home. What a glorious word! I’m home ….

In so many ways, I’m home.

I won’t lie, I’m horribly sore today. I’m overweight and out-of-shape. I wore the wrong shoes because I didn’t think we would do that much walking, so my feet hurt today. My inner thighs are chaffed. And my muscles! oh! my muscles are on fire. Despite all of this, I am profoundly happy today. The “walk about” around Manhattan and in my memories did me some good. I have an incredible desire to re-read my Masters thesis and my Doctoral dissertation — projects I want to continue, parts of my cerebral life left unfinished. I want to look at more art. I want to think deep, beautiful thoughts.

This may be somewhat premature, but perhaps … just maybe … I’m finding my groove right here where I left it: in NYC.

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Comments

  1. Good for you. Seriously, get good walking shoes, or if you have them, just accept that you need them now with this lifestyle. Do you have old ones that will make you feel like you used to when you lived there…?

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