living out loud on a Saturday

I felt like today’s afternoon of office work needed a good, grounding soundtrack, so I reached for Ani DiFranco. Ani has been the soundtrack to my life since I discovered her as a college junior in 1995.  And my standard Ani Mix on shuffle served me up My IQ first thing.

Well then. That spoken word piece ends with,

if more people were screaming then i could relax
but a good brain ain't diddley
if you don't have the facts
we live in a breakable takeable world
an ever available possible world
and we can make music
like we can make do
genius is in a back beat
backseat to nothing if you're dancing
especially something stupid
like i.q.
for every lie i unlearn
i learn something new
i sing sometimes for the war that i fight
'cause every tool is a weapon -
if you hold it right.

 

And so that pretty much told me what I’d do first today. I have a list of things to work on — some calendar management (defensive and offensive), data analysis from our various surveys, prepping the paperwork and agenda for a meeting on Tuesday, a writing project — but okay. Every tool is a weapon if you hold it right.

This blog is my tool.

~~~

I think of this blog as a small tool. Like, a pocket leatherman. It does lots of stuff, but it’s not very big and I can carry it anywhere, and it can’t do lots of other stuff because it’s not big enough. It’s not as good as the really nice multitool my boyfriend carries, and I can’t wield it as effectively as he does.

I am not a rock star. I am not One Of The Voices that people automatically listen to. No one calls me to sub in on speaker panels when they have an opening. I don’t get paid for this. I do it really sporadically and only when I feel like it.  I am just a woman who writes because I like it. This blog is not that big.

And yet it is.  I am reminded.

~~~

At CiL last month, a handful of people came up to talk to me at the Speaker’s Reception. I would note that I was crashing the reception — I wasn’t even registered for the conference. I was wearing jeans and a cardigan shawl, and had no nametag on. And the fact that I was recognized by passing acquaintances and a few complete strangers… it made me uncomfortable. I was just a ‘civilian’, looking for my dinner companions who were at the reception. When I commented on it to someone that evening, the response I got was, “Well, what’s on the front page of your website?” *sigh* A photo of my face. Okay.  Time to take my own lessons about living in public, I guess.

So when a woman stopped me at the Constitution Center at ACRL and said, “You’re Jenica Rogers, right?” and told me she appreciated my writing, I kicked my discomfort and surprise to the curb. I reminded myself that people do read what I write. And I simply smiled and said thank you.

~~~

I’ve chosen this place. I’ve chosen this voice. I’ve chosen to write and to speak and to be heard and to do it with my face and name attached. This is my tool. I don’t want to hold it like a weapon. But I will if I have to, and if I find a cause that seems to warrant it. It’s not so hard to flip your grip on that wrench and turn it into a club, and even easier to flip your grip on your voice and aim your words.

When I do, I worry about the potential for backlash. Speaking loudly and boldly and with passion isn’t always well-received in our profession. In academia.  In general. How many people and ideas can I call out and piss off before it becomes Too Many?  Or is this simply the right thing to do, and I do it regardless of cost, of recognition, of notoriety because I want to be the kind of person who speaks rather than remaining silent? Is it simply the right thing to do and I do it because someone has to? I wonder.  And in the end, today, as I’m serenaded by my feminist folk hero, I can only conclude that this is who I am. For now, I keep talking, using tools and weapons where I can.

But it’d be nice to have more voices in the game.  To continue to quote Ani, face up and sing.

some chick says
thank you for saying all the things i never do
i say
the thanks i get is to take all the shit for you
it's nice that you listen
it'd be nicer if you joined in
as long as you play their game girl
you're never going to win

~~~

4 thoughts on “living out loud on a Saturday

  1. Dorothea

    The thought also arises that libraries have shot themselves in the foot by silencing some of their best-known social-media participants.

    Who is left to argue for us? (Besides you, of course!)

  2. Lisa Sloniowski

    It’s the right thing to do. I reckon if you have a pulpit – even if for just a short time – you use it, consequences be damned. But thank you for having the courage to keep at it. And for everyone you piss off here, you also find new supporters. Like me for instance, I just discovered your blog this week. And to give it some context, there’s a time for diplomacy and there’s a time for forthrightness. Right now it’s the latter, I think.

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