This time of year always takes me back to my first professional job after grad school. I worked in a city near Boston known for its intellectual, cultural, and ethnic diversity. The city library system was enlightened enough to have an anthropologist on staff, me.
Although I was an anthropologist, few of the people I met knew what I did once I left the university. If I mentioned that I studied culture, I'd get a knowing wink and this reply, "Yes. But with a big C or a little c?"
In the field, an anthropologists notebook is a friend. Yes, you may have a recorder and a camera. But there is still something about notes written in a quiet corner that cements your observations.
Suave, elegant, cultured; that's never been me, but thanks for implying it.
One of my anthropology professors was a sociolinguist who seemed unaware that hour-long debates on terms like indegenous vs. indigenous could be boring.
I lost track of how many public programs I designed, developed, and implemented. Throughout it all, it wasn't the book learning or the lectures that influenced me. It was the pervasive influence of four professors.
Pay attention, Lou!
My recurrent dream that week was sitting down to write my essays in the traditional little blue books, but my writing disappeared as soon as I finished.
When I lived on or traveled to coastal Maine in the seventies, I was tied closely to my wife's home town by bonds created by that marriage. Back at the university, I was for studying for a career in anthropology. In Maine, I was understudying for the Cap'n on board his 34 foot ketch, being introduced as his son, and learning how to fit in.
That's right, the booze-filled evenings with crazy dance tapes. Dancing till four AM, even if it was sometimes with enemies, was normal. Tomorrow in the colloquium was tomorrow. Tonight we danced our unity as a tribe.