Reflections from the JMM, part 2

19 Jan

So I went to the Joint Math Meetings this week as a blogger, and I spent two hours this morning putting together a personal essay about my experiences.

It’s in line with the last personal essay I put together for the AMS, available on the Notices website here and one of the things I’m most proud of writing, though not reporting.

Anyway, if you’re a “loyal” blog reader I suppose you’ve noticed that this blog has gotten more and more defunct as time has gone by.  You can follow me at for a monthly newsletter instead.

An old friend once told me with no uncertainty that I would always be a mathematician, and I love that. Being at the JMM made me feel that there are many ways to be a mathematician and that I in fact have many more things to say than I think.  So we’ll see what I end up saying in the next few years.

In other news, I’m trying to make a side hustle of giving talks, so if you are a person who would like me to come talk to your group/department/school about science communication/making a path/equity and diversity/anything in anything I’ve written, give me a call.  By which I mean send me an email because we aren’t in the 90s.

I had a truly lovely time in Baltimore (even if I’m trapped in the airport right now for five hours thank you Southwest) and I really enjoyed seeing old and new friends and having surprising conversations.  It’s like Mary Oliver’s death caused a ripple through my life and made us all skip the light banter along the surface of the water and dive deep into the murk of mortality and legacy and why we do what we do and what makes a life worth living.  I wish I had a better audio – memory so I could recall all the beautiful things that were said, but I only have my lingering affection for all these people instead.

If you aren’t familiar, here’s one of her most famous poems, Wild Geese:

You do not have to be good.
You do not have to walk on your knees
for a hundred miles through the desert repenting.
You only have to let the soft animal of your body
love what it loves.
Tell me about despair, yours, and I will tell you mine.
Meanwhile the world goes on.
Meanwhile the sun and the clear pebbles of the rain
are moving across the landscapes,
over the prairies and the deep trees,
the mountains and the rivers.
Meanwhile the wild geese, high in the clean blue air,
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.

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