As I've mentioned, fieldwork has been a wee bit sluggish (again with the abstraction of responsibility, by using the passive voice, for which my father (and HL?) would kill me, but I do it so well). I've been planning my LA departure for a while, but have contemplated the possibility lazily. Suddenly a slew of things are lining up, some of which I've actively set up (but more or less assumed would not come to pass) and some of which have been marvellously coincidental (right time right place, fingers crossed). I was debating the decision process with my dad, and he pointed out that if it doesn't work out, or I start it and then find it isn't working for my project, then I can always back out. I thought that was sound, and I rarely regret things I've done. I'm pretty good at re-figuring or re-purposing them to have some value. (Actually, I'm not sure I really regret things I haven't done...maybe a few things.)
I applied for a summer institute in San Francisco, at the time seeing it as a brief pre-cursor foray into living there. It's 2 weeks long and will give me (hopefully) a fair amount of academic guidance and support. Those are things I've felt quite lacking over the many, endless years of school. On top of which, I received a scholarship, which makes it slightly less foolhardy. And then, the room, which I hope to be offered, suddenly came open earlier...and now San Francisco may be the next phase of fieldwork. Itemizing the logic and justifications, some of which are more credible and substantive than others, would be tiresome. But there is a good possibility that my (full) time in LA is drawing to a close. And...though it's been hard and frustrating, in ways that might seem silly because it is the U.S. after all, I don't regret it at all.
Fieldwork tonight was pretty good. I always feel enthused and rejuvenated after this monthly meeting of moms. But the truth is, as I've learned many months over, the momentum seems to crash. I find that hard, building up and preparing for fieldwork, only to find a lot of dead ends. I'm curious to see if my work in SF will be more successful. It'll be informative if I'm able to make more substantive and continuous connections with parents there. If I can, it may confirm my suspicions about the structure of LA. Though if I fail there, too, I guess I'll just feel like it's me. Not a terribly good outcome.
Some of my best conversations happen in this setting. I find interviews can be so contrived, and in an ideal fieldwork setting, there would be daily ebb and flow of life that I would observe. I haven't managed to develop this really, though, with anyone. Is it because I'm a bit loathe to be anywhere with any regularity? I've gotten spoiled by the student lifestyle and the self-determination it allows. (As I've mentioned before, I tend to resist on principle rather than for a real good reason.) The minority women's health work has just evaporated. It's partly my fault, for not pushing harder, but it was a situation where no matter what efforts I made, they were met with resistance. I developed my fieldwork better, I think, in Morocco, when I was situated in a community -- and perhaps this was my mistake, refusing to distinguish a particular group of parents. I tried, by linking it to the schools, but the failure to make progress in that sphere took a long time to sort out and move past. And now I'm fully past the 6-month mark. I am worried about uprooting myself, but I do intend to return to LA monthly, and maybe I can keep the connections I've made (that are sporadic, anyway) while developing ones up north.