Craig Wood is a public school teacher as well as a PhD candidate with an interest in reflective practice methodologies. In this post, Craig’s reflections on lived experience and his conversations with fellow post-graduate colleagues become data and are expressed as a fictional representation. Where are you located in this story?
Promising himself just a short break, Frankie stepped out on to the terrace of his hotel suite. He was still 2500 words from finishing his Masters thesis and he could sense the demons of apprehension closing in on him.
Frankie sipped from his water bottle, drew a breath, and closed his eyes. The cacophony of noise from the Vegas strip below was somewhat dampened by nearly thirty stories of distance.
– Shrill screams from the Big Apple Coaster as it roared and clanked by the Statue of Liberty – The crisp sound of someone elegantly breaking the surface water of one of the hotel’s five pools
… laughter …
– Chinking glasses and cutlery falling on crockery
… voices …
– From the car park below, the bone jarring rattle of a hot-rod turning into West Tropicana Avenue and vibrating through the still air into the distance.
Then, the theme from Happy Days, Frankie’s ringtone for his manager, Sid. Frankie thought to reject the call but
– Hey Frankie! It’s Sid. Ya there yet?
– Yeah Sid.
– Where are ya?
– I’m on the terrace.
– Da terrace! Wadda ya mean ya on da terrace? Ya not spendin’ all damn day in dat hotel are ya?
– I just need to get away from everyone, Sid. Lock myself up. And write.
– Frankie it’s Vegas! I gottya da best damn room, Frankie. Hey! Tell me I’m da bes’ damn manger, Frankie. Look down dat strip and tell me whadda ya see?
– Vegas, Sid.
– Tha’s right, Frankie. Vegas. Three nigh’s time: You. Me. An da best damn ticke’s in town. Pacquiao V Bradley3. I’m da best ain’t I Frankie? Tell me I’m da bes’ manger.
– I’m da bes’?
– Good boy, Frankie. Now don’ go bustin’ yaself up on dat book o’ yours. You’re back in Vegas, Frankie. It’s your town. They luv ya!
– I’ll call ya tomorro’, Frankie.
Frankie tried to at least say the words ‘Thanks, Sid’, and not just thanks for the room, or thanks for being the best damn manager. Frankie yearned to be able to find the words to tell Sid how important he was in Frankie’s life. Not that any of that mattered, Sid had already hung up. It wasn’t that Frankie was unintelligent. Since retiring from boxing he had balanced a public profile with his private pursuit of a Master of Science degree in Sports Management. Nor did he mean to be curt with Sid, Frankie loved Sid. It’s just that Frankie didn’t want to be around people; that’s a feeling he had had for some time.
Frankie looked out from the terrace. The sun’s rays of dusk were slowly rescinding from the Eiffel Tower, Caesar’s Palace, Treasure Island, and the rest; giving way to the flickering, shimmering neon energy of a Vegas night awakening. Beyond the desert the now deep dark blues of shadow blanketed the mountains that were holding up a horizon of pink and orange pastels. Looking at the emerald lights that were wrapping themselves around the terrace, Frankie briefly thought about giving himself just two rounds of bourbon in some bar, but, determined to stay focused, he sipped from his water bottle, stepped back into his room, shut the door and drew the curtains.
He was alone.
Letting the full drop of plush velvet separate him from the passions playing out beyond his terrace.
Frankie flipped open his laptop and scrolled to the top of the document. Everything to everyone: Stories of balancing the demands of elite athletic performance with celebrity. By Frankie Rosetti.
He hovered over the title and changed the font size. Again.
Then the font type.
Then removed the underline…
… and made the title bold.
Then, clicking on his name, changed the text to Francis Rosetti.
An incoming email popped up on the screen. It was from Rex, Frankie’s supervisor.
Hi Frankie, I’ve just read your ethics chapter. Of course you are using pseudonyms for your informants, but I still need to be convinced about using your data to create an entire fiction.
Frankie reread the email seven times.
He could feel his eyes getting wet.
Clasping his hands over his cheeks he read the email twice more as waves of despair enveloped him.
Frankie knew … in one of his three suitcases he had brought … he knew he had packed them … interview transcripts that were his data … as well as hand written minutes from all of the meetings he had with his supervisor … and he clearly recalled discussing how he intended to ethically manage his data in the dissemination of his research … it was that meeting, when, after interviewing twelve high profile athletes and meticulously transcribing the interviews, Rex had criticised Frankie for arranging the data alphabetically by sport: Baseball, Basketball, Football, Hockey, Soccer.
“Where are the NASCAR drivers?” Rex had grilled Frankie, “and why are there no Olympic sports? These are omissions that are clearly gaps in your data. Where’s your own boxer colleagues? It’s all a bit basic, don’t you think”
Frankie clearly recalled leaving that meeting feeling demeaned. Like he was some kind of fraud who did not belong in graduate school. It was Sid who had offered a solution.
– Wadda ya so work’dup about, Frankie? You know I can take care o’ dis Rex if he’s bothrin’ ya. Waddas he know ‘bout sports?
Lissen, waddas it madder what sport anyone plays? Ain’t dis all about turning yasself inside out tryin’ to please everyone?
Sid had been right. Perfect even – not about the idea of taking care of Rex – but about the other stuff. So, with a new lease of energy, Frankie had rearranged his data in less than 48 hours. He had gone beyond ‘basic’ delineations based on specific sports and identified patterns in his data that he called: Personal tension; Franchise/team tension; Relationship tension; Fan tension; and Success tension. Then, with specific sports no longer an identifying label on the data, Frankie began the process of further de-identifying the data. The more he played with the data, the more readable it became. Even Sid commented.
– Dat interview stuff ya wrote, ain’t no one gonna read dat. But dis, well dis is like one of dem books ‘bout a person’s life.
Frankie found the minutes he was looking for. In a meeting with Rex where they were speaking about ethics and de-identification, another member of faculty suggested Frankie read Michael Angrosino’s Opportunity House. Frankie had done so. In fact he loved the idea so much that he had run a search to see who else had cited Angrosino. Google Scholar had returned over 2000 hits. A whole world had opened up: Laurel Richardson, Lisa Tillmann-Healy, Carolyn Ellis, Tony Adams. And then Frankie had found an entire book series dedicated to Social Fiction.
Rolling his chair back to his suitcases and opening the second one, Frankie looked over his collection of books by Norman Denzin, Michael Angrosino, Patricia Leavy, Art Bochner, and at least ten other social researchers. He clasped his hands out in front of him, then rolled his shoulders and cracked his neck.
Alone. But with a new sense of energy.
Frankie scrolled down to his chapter on managing data and began typing.