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It’s almost like I don’t exist… August 22, 2010

Posted by Sarah in personal.
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I know, because I blog here oh-so-often. But that’s not what this post is actually about.

Every semester, the UMass sociology department sends out a list of graduate students and their contact information. And for my first six years of grad school, there were always names on at list that you looked at and wondered, “Who the heck is that?” They were the students who’d been around a long time, whose funding had run out, who were off somewhere else, who may or may not have actually still been working on their degrees.

They were the ghosts.

And while I was at the ASA meetings last week, it occurred to me: I am a ghost. I have been a ghost for five years now, and half a ghost for a year before that. This first hit me when I got to my hotel room late at night after a moderate flight delay and then waiting nearly an hour for my luggage to come up from the belly of the plane. I was sharing with two other grad students, compliments of putting out a request for roommates on the grad student mailing list. They were names I had seen on e-mails that I deleted almost immediately. I had never met either one of them. They mentioned things like “the revolution” and other departmental events and I had no idea what they were talking about.

Throughout the conference I met several other current “young” UMass graduate students, all of whom were introduced to me by friends who were on campus at the same time that I was. Some of those friends are ghosts now, too, feeling more or less the same disconnection from Amherst that I do.

I guess I really am the itinerant sociologist.