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"The image, in its simplicity, has no need of scholarship. It is the property of a naive consciousness; in its expression, it is youthful language."

--Gaston Bachelard,
The Poetics of Space (xix).

 
 


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Short Autobiography

Who I am is not necessarily a reflection of where or what else I've been, though that seems to be the common assumption. We remake our biographies, just like any other story we tell, every time we retell them. It is a terrific exercise in editing and revising: embellishing, dodging, highlighting, excluding, connoting, etc. So each time I might decide to try and retell my life, I would assume brevity necessitates inaccuracy.

But the fiction of accuracy pervades modern civilization, so I'll get on with it.

Though I was born in L.A., California, I only lived there for 3 or so years. My folks moved back to their home town, Grand Junction, CO, and I grew up there, along with my younger sister and brother (1.5 and 6 yrs younger, respectively).

I graduated from Grand Junction HS in 1986 and promptly reported for duty at the Air Force Academy near Colorado Springs, CO. The years that followed were some of the worst and mostly even worst years of my life. The education was great and I got to experience some great things, but I still have nightmares from that place.

It seems fitting to say more about my education at USAFA. I was convinced for 5 unhappy semesters that I wanted to be a mechanical engineer. I took most of the hardest courses required before I realized, one day, while looking at a syllabus for a course on "connectors" (which had, for the first 3 weeks, lessons on rivets, then the next 3 weeks lessons on bolts, and then the next 3 weeks on yet another connector), that I no longer wanted to pursue that particular discipline. So, during the first semester of my junior year, I decided to switch my major to English (this at an institution that requires you graduate in 4 years—no exceptions). I simply could not see myself working so hard on what I considered trivial minutia. I needed big ideas. I needed to read about and engage with larger themes.

So I switched. It was not easy cramming the entire English major into 3 semesters. But I was finally studying something that I valued—love, death, loss, yearning, war, peace, tragedy, comedy. These subjects spoke to me. I had been writing poetry informally for years, so I also got to experience a few creative writing courses (there weren't many at that time) and be encouraged to write by mentors I met along the way.

After graduation (1990) I reported to pilot training in Lubbock, TX. I knew I was doomed because I had airsickness problems during the short pilot experiences I had at the academy. I gallantly suffered through, gave it my all, but, after successfully soloing in the T-37, the Air Force and I agreed I would be better suited to another field (not that they gave me a choice, and I had to come to that realization after many months of grieving). I went to intelligence school in San Angelo, TX, and after some additional training in Arizona, I finally made it to Germany in May of 1992.

My years in Europe were fantastic. I learned everything I could about the cultures I visited, and I experienced a level of freedom I did not think was possible while being in the military. I took courses (got a masters degree in Adult Learning and Higher Education), learned some German (not enough), and met my future wife. I left Europe and the Air Force in 1995.

I moved to Austin, TX, and looked for work in the corporate world. After a difficult transition, I ended up working for a company named CheckFree (the first online banking company, now part of Quicken), then another company named National Evaluation Systems (which conducted standardized tests for schools in states all over the country). This work was fine while it lasted, but I wanted to pursue an MFA, so after working and going to school for a year, I quit work to dedicate my time to teaching and writing.

The MFA in Poetry was another highlight of my life. I met long-standing friends and another terrific mentor. The degree took 3 years to complete, and when I graduated I decided to pursue a Ph.D. and move to Syracuse, NY, in 1999.

After getting married in 2001, I graduated (2003) and got my first academic job at Washington State University, Tri-Cities. When my wife and I moved to Kennewick, WA, we were not sure whether we would acclimate to such a different climate and culture. But those 4 years were terrific years, my job was busy but rewarding, and, when it came time to move back to Texas so my wife could pursue her career, it was a hard decision to move again. But we left Washington and I began teaching at TCU in August of 2007.

So I've left out a lot, probably dwelled on too much, and generally made a sketch more than a portrait of my autobiography. But that's ok, for now.



 

 


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Bio | CV (PDF)

Joddy R Murray, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Rhetoric and New Media

English Department, Texas Christian University
2800 South University Dr
Fort Worth,
TX 76129

Updated: 8/21/11