Warning: Email Sabbatical is Imminent .. and other random thoughts

On Monday, I will fly to Berkeley to begin the dissertation filing process. (Don’t you dare congratulate me until I get this puppy signed and accepted.) On Wednesday, I ship my beloved feline to her kitty spa. On Thursday, the movers arrive. (And good god is this place a wreck from my festering; plus, not one box is packed.) On Friday, we drive out. This translates to:

No email will be received by danah’s ornery INBOX between December 11 and January 19!

For those who are unaware of my approach to vacation… I believe that email eradicates any benefits gained from taking a vacation by collecting mold and spitting it back out at you the moment you return. As such, I’ve trained my beloved INBOX to reject all email during vacation. I give it a little help in the form of a .procmail file that sends everything directly to /dev/null. The effect is very simple. You cannot put anything in my queue while I’m away (however lovingly you intend it) and I come home to a clean INBOX. Don’t worry… if you forget, you’ll get a nice note from my INBOX telling you to shove off, respect danah’s deeply needed vacation time, and try again after January 19.

It’s sick, twisted, and counter to the always-on culture that we live in. But gosh darnit, it feels mighty fine to come home fret-free. And this will be especially important for this trip because, starting January 19, I will begin my new job at MSR – w00t!

For those curious to where I’m going… the first 10 days will be spent driving cross-country so that G can see “real America.” I will spend the holiday with my fam before heading to Costa Rica for 2.5 weeks of adventuring. If you happen to have good knowledge of kitsch Americana along the 10, please do share! I love big balls of twine, 100′ grasshoppers, and stores dedicated to the unique, obscure, and downright weird.

There’s good news in all of this… in a very short period of time, years of weight will be lifted from my shoulders and that pesky “Dissertation in Progress: Do Not Disturb” sign will be lifted from my blog. I will be less bitchy, more interested in leaving my house, and much more likely to blog. Plus, I’ll actually start attending events again. (SXSW, anyone?!?!)

I’ve learned something very interesting in this process though… You know how when you were in college you kept wondering how your professors got so WEIRD? They all seemed to have their own unique brand of quirk, a penchant for collecting something random, and a twitch that made it clear that interacting with humans was not quite their speed. They don’t tell you this when you start your PhD, but this is a product of academification. It is caused by long years of jumping through hoops, complete isolation/alienation, and the pressure to be brilliant. It’s post-traumatic academic disorder.

So please be kind when you see me… I haven’t grown spots, but sunlight is scary and my collection of YA ARCs is growing out of control. And I cannot remember what it’s like to leave my PJs. And somehow I grew hair. Like lots of it. I look like a girl! EEK!

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18 thoughts on “Warning: Email Sabbatical is Imminent .. and other random thoughts

  1. Kamal Jain

    danah, i am looking forward to your joining msr. good luck with your disseration. have a fun vacation.

  2. tiffany

    congra-i mean YAY! that you’re close to being done. i hope all goes well and that you have safe travels. i also hope to see you in march at SXSW!

  3. Fred

    Hardcore! I’m very impressed. Procmail is key to a happy life. I don’t know what I’d do without it. Happy travels!

  4. Thibaut Thomas

    Still getting closer to the end, you know you are actually a big motivation for me to apply for a PHD next year : you seem to keep sanity and curiosity despite the dissertation process !
    Speaking of : will you publish this dissertation of make it public ? Is it possible to get an advance copy ? I’m currently building my bibliography for my own (french) grad dissertation on identity performance and semiotic analysis of SNS profile features (it is my subject… so far).
    We will be waiting for you, have good holidays !

  5. Brooks Jordan


    I love reading your posts. You are one bright human being, and not just in the academic sense.

    And . . . I’ve never sent you an email, and you’ll be getting none from me during this vacation. 🙂

  6. Don Schaffner


    I found you via Merlin Mann.

    Welcome to the post-traumatic academic disorder club 🙂

    – Don (Ph.D.)

  7. Danah

    Just came across this from LifeHacker and, having just made the cross country trip on I-10 three times this year (don’t ask, its a long story), would be happy to share all sorts of out of the way hole in the walls.

  8. dubek

    Just wondered: No emails (they will be rejected). But what about:

    * comments on your blog?
    * RSS feeds? (will you read everything that was published during your vacation)
    * twitter msgs?

    I’m curious.

  9. zephoria

    dubek – Comments will be here but I may or may not read them. I don’t use RSS feeds at this point and will probably not look at back entries of blogs. I never read all Twitter messages. I only read recent ones anyhow.

  10. Maryanne

    You go girl! I’ve been following your adventures in academia for over a year now and wish you the very best from one twitchy academic to another!

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