fluent in academese

as i inch ever closer to my new life as Ph.D. student, i find more and more things about my life turning to the academic. and i don’t just mean in the sense of institutional learning but the recreational aspects of my life as well. it makes me wonder, who am i exactly and just what am i becoming?

when i was in high school, maybe sophomore year or so, i called my mother into my room and asked, “am i going to end up looking like one of those professors on the history channel with coke-bottle glasses and bad teeth?” (i will admit, the people solicited by the history channel look much better now) and my mother replied, “yes, imani. yes you will.” and walked out. i was stunned! was my academic nature so visible, so pervasive that it bled through my daily life…all the way into my future? i know many young professors and i admire and respect them greatly. but when it comes to the personal, as wonderful as they are, i have no desire to be like them. sometimes i think i’m an anomaly. while building, establishing and, somehow, living up to this academic guise, i get fake nails painted hot pink, fly home in a zebra print trench coat, retro sunglasses and gray Lucky jeans (that’s happening right now, by the way), listen to Finnish death metal, house and electro-pop on the same playlist as Bach and Brahms, drive fast, watch [adult swim], play Call of Duty, buy Christian Louboutin and Rick Owens and party in the East Village. what kind of musicologist does that? maybe i’m part of a new generation of musicologists that lives in the world that i inhabit while still going to Columbia, Harvard, Cornell and Princeton. does that mean we can’t be as adept at discussing Dufay and Palestrina as our forebears?

or maybe i really am alone.

with all that being said, the part of me that’s always longed to be in the situation in which i find myself currently is hungry for all of the things that i don’t know and haven’t done. i want to subscribe to the New York Review of Books, i want to do research at the Library of Congress, i want to help work on the upcoming Britten thematic catalogue (dreams, dreams, i know), i want to build my own racket (apparently, it’s easy?) and when i think about all of these things, they seem to signal, to me at least, the beginning of not only my adulthood but my academic-hood. i see the things that the young professors i know have in common and it appeals to me.

it is no surprise that this post is coming on the eve (okay the eve’s eve) of my birthday. as i get older, i wonder what things in my life i should leave behind and what i should embrace. it seems like, in many ways, that i have just now discovered myself. in the past year, i’ve reached a spiritual, sexual and mental awakening where i am happy with myself and my life for the first time in my life. of course i don’t want that to end. can that run concurrently with this new phase of my life? i think it’s gonna have to because the combination of those things make me a complete and successful person.

so when this train i’m on arrives in baltimore, i’ll head to Barnes and Noble and pick up (hopefully) Tony Judt’s Ill Fares the Land and read it on my way to rehearsal in Silver Spring. and tomorrow, i will head to the birthday party that’s being thrown for me, eat with friends and then go to Fells Point and get wrecked wearing a shirt dress from the Gap and suede heels i bought when i was in Milan.


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