Something about growing up in the windy, open plains of the Texas Panhandle teaches one about the sometimes clashing distinction between geographical space and conceptual space. The sky and the land spread as far as the eye can see. Every view is a panorama and every sunset a dramatic painting of blues, oranges, and purples, except when obscured by thick storms of dust. The area boasts “the world’s tallest cross” at 300 feet and considers itself “a great place to raise a family.” Panhandle folks are people of a strong and simple faith, a pragmatic, down-to-earth way of life, and a sort of no-nonsense attitude toward the new and the strange.
And then there’s me.
Brainy, bookish, awkward, and weird, the Texas Panhandle and I never fully got along. Beset with the lifelong condition of having a tenuous relationship to my own body, I was never any good for sports or manual labor. While the folks of Amarillo prized the quality of being down-to-earth, I embodied more a sense of…free-falling to earth. The Panhandle did its best to fashion me into a decent, upstanding Amarilloan, but it didn’t take. I moved to Austin after graduating high school and, eventually, to the Dallas/Fort Worth metroplex, where I currently reside.
In the interim, I’ve managed to graduate from college, earn a master’s degree, and try on the hats of Catholic seminarian, Dominican novice, hospital chaplaincy, and LGBT advocate, university instructor, and overall academic humanist. I believe in the humanities – the human sciences – and focus on the way that they build and interpret culture and experience. My graduate degree is in theology (MTS), concentrating on hermeneutics, ethics, and practical theological methods. Upon completion of an advanced masters (a Th.M.), I hope to enter a Ph.D. program in preparation for work in clinical and practical theological settings.
The Bookish Bear is a blog dedicated to culture and the humanities taking in-depth looks at related topics. My lenses include queer, feminist, poststructuralist, and cultural Marxist perspectives, along with old-fashioned common sense. Philosophically, I’m solidly in the phenomenological-existential strand, with influences from the Frankfurt school and Heideggerian hermeneutics. Theologically I’m a mess with no real definable belief in any dogmatic or creedal sense. Topically, I’ve spent a lot of time researching theoretical approaches to sex and sexuality, violence, and religion.
When off-duty, I’m the proud parent of the world’s best chihuahua Tatianna, and I put on some leather and navigate the often amusing terrain of the DFW bear scene. I have shelves full of 90’s era cult comedies, musicals, and renowned classic films (the definition of which is highly subjective). The small house I live in often smells of Indian curries, Italian spices, and various other home-cooked dishes I’ve made, and books related to my latest research projects scatter through the whole house.
I try not to fight too hard against my Texas Panhandle upbringing. On occasion an occasional drawl will slip through my accent, along with the stubborn-headed resolve to take shit off of nobody, and I can’t imagine life without green chiles, barbecue, and Tex-Mex. As I strive to explore and create new areas of conceptual space, the windy, dusty plains of the Texas Panhandle remain an important part of myself.