My apologies for the radio silence – this summer has been full of firsts for me and I’ve been treading water.
First in importance: I am the proud father of a mentally prodigious, aesthetically stunning, physically robust, and perfectly proportioned baby boy named Kellan Tyr. Yes, Tyr is the Norse god of war – hence Tuesday and, the Romanized equivalent in French, mardi. For those who think such a choice morbid (or just unimaginative) for a conflict economist’s son, I think that there are alternative interpretations of a god of war than simply a harbinger of death. For one, death and destruction are profoundly integral parts to the circle of life – think of Kali the Destroyer, for instance, in Hindu mythology. For another, Tyr was the quintessential warrior, and being a warrior can be a spiritual path. In the works of Carlos Castaneda, don Juan talks of the Impeccable Warrior – a being who struggles perennially against preconception, habit, accepted wisdom… indeed, anything that keeps him from experiencing the wonder of the world and his within it. Besides, my wife and I just call him Kellan.
Second: I am taking up my first academic post as a Lecturer/ Assistant Professor in Economic Development and Peacebuilding at the Joan B. Kroc School of Peace Studies at the University of San Diego. I will be the head of the Development concentration for the MA program in Peace Studies. The slash in title is important because, while I am indeed on the tenure track, I will not officially be given the title of Assistant Professor until my dissertation is completed.
Lastly, and related to the foregoing, I have just moved to San Diego with my family. It’s a strange experience for a number of reasons. Most fundamentally, I grew up until the age of 9 in Southern California, and while I still consider myself to be “from” – insofar as my peripatetic generation is “from” anywhere – New Mexico, the smells are strangely evocative of a very primordial time from even before I consider myself to have developed the personality that would stick with me. Now this isn’t at all a scientific or psychological statement. It’s just personal observation, possibly married in some dark recess of my mind to the notion that character comes of hardship, and that I had very little of the latter as a spoiled young person in Southern California; therefore, my character was forged in New Mexico. This, of course, is somewhat preposterous. In any case, the jacarandas and eucalyptus trees give off such pungent smells that I’m recalled to that primordiality on a regular basis.
This “recall” phenomenon takes on, in turn, even greater importance because I have chosen to move to Southern California with my infant son, and possibly to raise him for a portion of his young life in the same place I was raised. In some ways, this makes parenting easier, since many my preexisting ideas for fun things to do with a small child derive from my own childhood here: trips to Mt. Wilson Observatory or LaBrea Tar Pits, hiking in the Sierras, going to the beach, scuba diving on Catalina… Luckily, with a different city, I am kept from falling into the complacency that is bred of familiarity. And with a little of the warrior’s combative spirit, I will forge my own path into fatherhood, professorship, and this rediscovered country.