I have been sadly neglecting my little blog of late, and I miss it. But I have reasons. I’ve been busy with, among other things that are only out in daylight because some beast drew them out like wriggling worms from the earth, my writing. Some small amount of that writing has been for fun, creative pursuits. But the vast majority of the past 8 or so months of my life have been fully absorbed with research and writing for Operation: Save My Own Ass, AKA the Gitmo Chapter.
My big boss, a couple levels above me, used to work at the State Department in counterterrorism. She’s really nice and quite funny, but I don’t really know what to make of a person who used to do what she did for a living. I mean, I’m a book nerd, for chrissake! I don’t rub elbows with people from the State Department, you know?
At any rate, a few months ago, she sent a call for proposals to myself and my colleagues. She is editing a new book, you see, on the gaps in current counterterrorism, and she and er writing partner wanted to get perspectives from people, academics, who are not normally a part of that discourse.
“Neat!” said Brain. “We could do that. Maybe we still remember how to write like we’re smart. We used to do it all the time in grad school. How hard can it be?”
So we did some research, Brain and I, and wrote a proposal for a chapter, and sent it to Boss o’ Me. Neither one of us thought it would be accepted at all, partly because it had been YEARS since we’d written a proposal OR an actual scholarly paper of any kind, and partly because our proposal was really an academic topic dealing nothing with politics or terrorism or counterterrorism. Besides, we don’t know what the fuck we’re doing.
So imagine our surprise when Boss o’ Me accepted the chapter proposal. Brain immediately started leaking cerebral fluid and misfiring neurons, inciting extreme panic and insecurity in me. Seriously, what the hell? She accepted it?
“I think we tricked her!” I said. “Tricked her into thinking we are smart enough to write about this.”
“We ARE decent writers,” Brain agreed.
“Yeah, but for, like, Star Trek fan fic and fantasy stories! I mean, holy shit! What are we going to doooooooooo??”
We thought and thought. We ran through a few options. Ultimately, we came to a solution.
“Welp. We’ll just suck it up and write the very best chapter we can. If she hates it, what is the worst that can happen? I mean, they still feed the prisoners at Gitmo, right?”
Thus was born Operation: Save My Own Ass, because I really don’t want to go to Gitmo. I’m fairly certain Boss o’ Me still has the connections to make a cage there an unhappy reality.
Since that moment, basically our every waking, non-working and non-parenting moment (and still even a goodly number of those moments anyway) has been devoted to research and writing about asceticism, performative devotion, and their role in Islamic extremism. I had to keep reminding myself that I was NOT there to write about medieval holy women, which is totally in my wheelhouse. I do love my medieval girls.
And now, today, finally, I finished my Gitmo chapter and submitted it to Boss o’ Me! Of course, Brain started leaking out of my ears and I immediately started sweating. But what the fuck? If she sends me to Gitmo, it’s not going to be because that chapter isn’t well written and well researched like a boss. It ROCKS.
And now I can get back to my regularly scheduled life, like reading books for fun! And writing creative things! And do things with my friends – I think I still have a few who live in the area! And making posts for Book Riot! I can’t wait. I’mma go start right now!
Have a great night, y’all!