Baby Steps

It took my first child 10 months to figure out how to get up on two feet and propel himself forward. From newly minted professional engineer in training (EIT!) fresh out of undergrad, it has taken me almost ten years to get my own two feet under me in this crazy academic profession.

A month later and the kiddo is toddling determinedly around the house poking his nose in any new place he can find — the dog food, under the sink, up the stairs. The water bowl seems to hold particular interest as we return again and again the the conundrum of an untouched bowl of water waiting, wanting to be touched, splashed, held in all its unholdable liquidyness.

Meanwhile, I have papers and books going out the door, data getting crunched, new chapters forming, job applications written and submitted…. if I stop to think about all these small things that are adding up to big change, I am overwhelmed. A new job, a new place to live, a new life for me and my family. Best to install those child locks on the cabinets and return to the daily practice of checking the proverbial water bowl, dipping my hand in the practice of writing, and data crunching, and meetings, and questions, and presentations, and applications.

We are walking, even if we don’t yet know it. Practically running. And the baby, he’s not so much a baby anymore.


I submitted my first paper to an actual journal today. Feels a little like a celebration is in order. Feels a little like I should wait to celebrate until I hear back from the journal. I might hedge my bets because regardless of the outcome of the editorial process that is about to unfold, this point in time deserves a little moment of pause. I submitted an academic paper to an academic journal today.

The paper in question has been in progress for almost three years and is nothing resembling the paper I started writing. It represents a process of learning, collaboration and debate that I could not have predicted when I started. It says something different than I set out to say, something much smaller, but perhaps also larger than I have any experience to appreciate. It was hard to write. I had to step away from it many times to be renewed and reinvigorated to continue the work of creating it. It is not perfect.

But it was time to let it go. Let it go. And see if it has legs.

Today, I submitted my first paper to an academic journal.