Summer Break

I realize that this is the first time in ten years of teaching that I’ve had a summer break. I think most folks assume that teachers have a summer “break” since some of us don’t teach (at least those who don’t have mid-year classes to teach) but really, there’s a lot to do during summer. Summer is when you start reading and preparing for the upcoming semester (especially if you have a new class to prepare for) or you have the time to pursue your own research by either attending conferences or writing/revising/planning a million and one papers/presentations/applications for funding. Most universities will assess you on three main aspects of your work: your teaching, your research/creative work, and what’s called “public service” – that is, if you serve on any committees in the university or outside the university, or your work as a public intellectual. Most of the year, your focus is on teaching. During summer, you have to find a way to squeeze in the other two.

I have to say, though, summer in Pittsburgh is really confusing. Up until late April, we were literally still seeing snow regularly, and I still had to wear a puffy jacket whenever I went outside. And then suddenly, once May arrived, we had maybe two weeks of incredibly lovely weather: chilly but not uncomfortably so, sunny but not really boiling hot, and with a light breeze that seemed to tell you that yes, summer is coming.

Today was the hottest day in Pittsburgh (a respectable 41 degrees C). There was a heat wave alert on the weather app, and at least three transformers burst into flames (Lawrenceville, Bloomfield, and I think somewhere in East Liberty?) because of course everyone had their a/c running the entire day. I am just incredibly thankful that I had the opportunity to retreat to the office, where there was a/c and cold water the entire day.

Also, I just realized that I just finished my first full year as a PhD student! I will probably look back on this time as both very strange but also very rewarding. In terms of the academic journey, I was able to submit my project proposal and have it approved by my project committee, which is the first step toward writing my project papers, which is a component of what will end up being my comprehensive exams. Very frightening but also a bit of relief that I’ve been able to take the first step toward the work that I wanted to do while I’m here. I am definitely indebted to my adviser, Tyler, who has been nothing but supportive and encouraging with all of my scatterbrained ideas and messy thoughts.

Aside from the project proposal milestone, here are more things that I was able to do:

Conference presentations!

I recently had the opportunity to attend the 49th Children’s Literature Association conference in Atlanta, Georgia, and it was my first time to attend the conference, funded by Pitt! I was very lucky to have been invited to a roundtable on alternative assessment systems as well as a chance to present some unhatched ideas about certain Filipino fantasy books that I have loads of thoughts on. I was also very lucky to have reconnected with my former professor and friend (I hope?) Lara, who took me under her wing and made me feel welcome in an environment where I felt remarkably awkward since I had no idea how to network in the first place. It definitely gave me a lot of feelings in terms of working within a larger group of children’s lit scholars, and I’m grateful for everyone’s kindness.

I also have an upcoming presentation at the Science Fiction Research Association’s Co-FUTURES conference at the end of the month. For this one, I’m part of a panel with some colleagues from Pitt, and we’re talking about cli-fi sf from the margins. Very excited about this one, and I’m going to try and get my presentation workshopped with a writing group at school.

Links to some stuff I did recently!

I also did a bunch of things, like be part of a talk on hope and sf at Brown University, and give a recorded lecture on YA and sf for the Molecular and Microbiology (MBB) student organization back at home. I was also interviewed for a children’s TV show, Wikaharian!, hosted by The Knowledge Channel. I was also interviewed by the Horror Writers’ Association last month as part of their Asian Heritage series, and (oddly enough) I’ve been mentioned in a Bookriot article and a LitHub article recently.

Second short story collection!

Cover design by Jordan Santos

BEST NEWS EVER! My second short story collection, A Playlist for the End of the World, has been recently released by the University of the Philippines Press. There’s no official word for a book launch or any such thing, but it’s available to purchase online at the moment. Hopefully, I can update this space when I have more news.

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