Thursday, May 31, 2007


So I woke up way too early to be well-rested, but managed to get started working on the article for SS anyway. I wrote/revised 2,170 words. The section I was working on is something that I've written a lot about so I had lots of versions of this idea in a number of different files, so I had a lot of material to choose from, so it's not quite as amazing as it sounds. At least, the article is still a complete mess with lots of placeholders. But I've handed it off. Not much to show for working on it for two weeks, but at least there was a significant revision to a big section. OY!

Again, this morning I forgot how to get started, but I only wasted about an hour. Which is pretty good. But here's the secret: I need to write. Like in a journal. And then gets me warmed up. I can't start cold on the open document. Too scary.

Now I feel so good about having gotten up in the morning to write that I want to take the rest of the day off! At least give myself some kind of treat. (Can you say vegan chocolate muffin? Or perhaps a soy latte?) Of course, I have tons of errands to run today. But right now, I can't quite remember what they are. Oh yes -- I need to go to the post office and mail a couple things off and before that I have to arrange them, get information, take a shower, get dressed blah, blah, blah.

Today I feel like a scholar, an academic, a person who can wake up in the morning and get some writing done because it needs to be done rather than because there's someone with a gun to my head. (Shame is a great motivator.)

Of course, now there are few excuses for not getting back to the dissertation. I need to read all those comments and respond to them. This is my process for taking the dissertation back. After everyone writes so much all over it, I kind of feel full of holes. So I write in pen in response to their comments. It gives me the illusion of control. Yes, it's a neurosis. But it works. That's all that matters, right? I'm going to need to write them up for Peppy Advisor anyway, because already I saw that some of them disputed changes she had asked for.

So now I have to go shower. Do I have to? How about a little breakie, see what else is going on in the blogoverse. I'm so bad.

Day in Review

Today is one of those days I have to focus on what I did do, because it's totally obvious to me what I did not do, which is work on the article for SS. Just when I thought I was becoming a serious scholar, able to form my own research agenda and my own deadlines, I reveal myself to be the kind of phony who will only get tenure by panicking at the last minute. Hell, I don't even believe in my own deadlines! What happened to Boice's brief daily sessions, I ask you?! OY! I'm determined to wake up early tomorrow and get some work done before sending it to SS around -- oh, midmorning. All right, maybe after lunch.

What I did do today:
  • Went to school and picked up Reader 2's comments. Also saw that new passport had come, thank the State Department.
  • Went to the Health Center for lab results. (Nothing to report, but at least that's done.)
  • Spent a ridiculous amount of money on computer geeky stuff: new power charger and, more important, a back-up drive. (Because I am no longer spread out over three computers, there have got to be plenty of copies.)
  • Came home. Received outside reader's comments which made me want to go lie on my bed and twitch.
  • Listened to WSF on phone explain that the comment that really stuck in my craw will make me better able to explain my ideas to those who don't share them while I pretended to believe him, while really lying on bed and twitching.
  • Figured out back-up system and associated software (though not how to have it back up automatically once a week -- yet).
  • Did whole bunch of emailing to friends, faculty, conference staff firming up lodgings, etc.
  • Made vet appointment for Mr. Tabby. Totally alarmist, but he seems to be breathing a bit heavily. (Actually this was totally inspired by Dr. Four Eyes's Man-Kitty. I remembered that we found out about my Great White Hunter Cat's cancer only through chest x-rays. So Mr. Tabby's getting a chest x-ray on Friday. And yes, calling my cat who died last year a great white hunter is troublesome; on the other hand, he was all of those things. Think of it said with a wink and a nod.)
  • Talked to landlords about extending my lease through August. The rental manager said she'd check with the Big Manager, and if there were a problem, she'd call me. My phone has been silent. (Oh dear, is it on? Oh yes, no calls.)
  • Got sleepy around 7, but thought it was totally ridiculous to take a nap, so, realizing that I hadn't eaten all day, I made food and watched Out of Africa.
  • Watched the special features of the Out of Africa DVD in preparation for my usual post-movie research.
  • Took TylenolPM in an effort to rid myself of a terrible headache and go to sleep at what is to others a totally reasonable hour but to a person who stays up until 3 or 5 is a totally unreasonable hour.
  • Blogged this fascinating post!

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

Will Blogging Jump-Start the Work Process, or Is It Just Procrastiblogging?

So the reason for my uncharacteristic bloggy silence is that I spent the rest of Memorial Day Weekend not doing any work, except for those 250 words. I've actually been reading a non-work book. Of course, I should be reading the review book, but. . .well, I deserve a break. And I need to return to my procrastinating ways in order to reclaim myself as a person instead of a machine. (Ooh, good sign. Rationalization of desires. I am Earnest English after all.)

SO was here, so we spent time watching movies (Fay Grim -- go see; Little Children -- UGH, painful on so many levels) and, of course, Avanti! since I talked myself into it. We also spent much time working on transfering computer stuff so that I will stop being spread out over multiple computers. Of course, this has had the unfortunate effect of screwing up my laptop -- and now will have to call the wretched Support Staff universe. (I try to avoid Tech Support at all costs -- my ex-husband and many techie friends have worked in that universe. It's bad. A bad bad universe where most customers lie. I like to solve my own techie problems or take them to my friends, but this is beyond most of them.) It's also just kind of scary to have one's whole life tied up in something so small. So now I'm all techie paranoid.

To distract myself from other things, I have a huge editing job to work on. So hopefully this job will inspire me to do something besides pine at the lack of caramel mochas in my world, stay up until 5am reading non-worky book, and nap with my cat. (Mr. Tabby is on my lap, purring. He'd shout out to all y'all in the blogoverse, but he's busy.) Also, had weird dream about WSF last night. Hmm. Maybe before I settle down to work, I should call.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Trying to Address Graduate Student Spread

So I'm beginning to feel normal for me -- that is, I start browsing the blogosphere when I wake up and can only convince myself that I should even bother to get up when I start to get hungry. I'm in a Coffeehouse in order to work and instead I'm blogging, with no desire whatsoever to do anything on that article that SS and I are working on. Pretty normal. Or I would be normal, except that I'm detoxing myself from all the chemicals and bad foods I usually eat -- coffee, sugar, dairy, basically everything that makes getting up even remotely worthwhile. And now I am at the site of my last caramel mocha -- and! What is even the point of living if you don't get to eat yummy creamy liquid chocolate? Okay, so I feel decent in my body for the first time in months. So maybe I'll actually lose some weight and won't feel like a graduate student whale. But I'm not sure that the lack of caramel mochas in my life is actually worth it. Waaaaaaaa.

Otherwise I'm just overwhelmed with the amount of crap that I put on the backburner when I was dissertating and has now become visible to me. I'm making slow progress on the vast list. Which is the only way for a list this size.

But for the record: I HATE DIETING! The question is do I hate it more than not being able to fit into my clothes? Shouldn't I be allowed one small pesky cup of chocolatey goodness? Sigh.

***Update 5:48pm***

Okay, I've written 254 words. I've decided that 250 words is my bottom limit. So I'm done, throwing in the towel. I must get back to the excitement of reading about other people's wacky weekends.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Turning into a Cat

Has anyone seen the Billy Wilder movie Avanti! with Jack Lemmon and Juliet Mills? Jack Lemmon's father has died in Ischia and Jack has come to gather the body and get it back to their televised Baltimore funeral in record time. And everything goes wrong. There's this wonderful part where Clive Revill, as Carlo Carlucci, director of the hotel Jack (and his father) is staying at, comes to tell Jack about latest developments about the complicated export license and the acquisition of a hard-to-find zinc-lined coffin.

"I'm here to give you a progress report," Carlo says.

"How are we doing?" asks Jack.

"We are making progress," he retorts.

Okay, it's funnier in the movie. (There's this other part where Carlo says, "I have good news and I have bad news," then proceeds to tell him about how all their plans for getting Carlo's cousins to do things have fallen through and a fogged-in airport has grounded the plane that has the coffin. "Okay, so what about the good news?" Jack asks. Carlo answers: "That was the good news.")

Anyway, that's how I feel right now -- yes, that I'd like to pop my antiquated VHS into the player and watch the movie now -- but also that we're making progress, but still little is getting done.

So one reader has read my diss and given me comments. I'm elated! Nothing I couldn't do in a couple days!!! Maybe we can push up the defense! But the other reader hasn't read it at all. Can't push up the defense because of schedule conflicts. Sigh. The long-and-involved moving project is the same way. Two steps forward. One step back.

But I'm happy that one reader thinks that there's not too much work left to do. And though I had not been able to get my butt in gear to work on the draft for Senior Scholar until this morning, it turns out that SS won't be able to get to it until next week, so there's still some time for me to do a bit of work on it. And it seems clear that I won't get comments from Reader #2 before then. So -- the only problem is that I haven't been able to make myself get to work!!! What have I been doing the last few days? Going to the doctor, fielding phone calls, checking my email 400 times per day, watching a couple movies, looking out the window with Mr. Tabby, taking naps. The other day I was pretty sure I had become a cat, waking up, checking blogs, eating, then going to sleep. I'm not saying it's hard to be me by a long stretch, but where exactly did that productive, focused, hardworking writer-scholar-dissertator go? The machine has apparently left the building.

There are some things that it would be very nice to do if I could just get myself to do them. I'll put them on the to-do list, in the hope that shame will make me work. But really, right now, I'd like some food, since SO's plane is delayed and it's possible we won't have time to go to dinner (since Grad City's kitchens tend to close at ten), and then maybe a wee nap. I swear I was once productive, running around and getting the impossible done. But now I don't even plan on doing laundry before SO comes. Too tired. Mraaarrrrow.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

What Happens to the Voice When the Body Is in Pain: A Kvetch Session and Resolution

I'm absolutely determined that tomorrow will be a better day than this one was. Sometimes you've got to blog the kvetching and sometimes the blessings. This one is a little bit of both. Here are reasons to cheer that this day is almost over (well, I have to give the cat both his pill and his ear paste, so there's still potential excitement before I waddle off to bed):

  1. I don't have to go to the nurse and jog in place for a couple minutes, gasping and sputtering about how I don't know how my fabulous friend just managed to run the half-marathon.
  2. I don't have to pee in a cup. Maybe this is TMI and not appropriate for an academish blog, but hey, you're over at my house now! You can leave if you want to. I have this totally shy bladder. She just won't go on demand. I've always been like this. Doesn't matter if I drink liters of water. And in the lab they have this bathroom where you can hear people on all sides! Totally no go. So tomorrow, I won't have to wait while they test the dribbles to see if there's enough there.
  3. I have no appointments at any time tomorrow -- not in the unreasonable morning or in the more reasonable anytime. This is good. Very good. Because it means that if I can't sleep because my blasted back (!!!!) hurts all night again and I can't get in a good position, then at least I can doze throughout the day.
  4. I have food in my house. This is most excellent because I found out how full of hate I was today as the result of ongoing pain, low blood sugar, and lack of sleep. I really cannot deal with anyone. After chatting with a colleague for a while, I had this incredible sensation of claustrophobia. I must get out. A day off from being in that place where there are still people who are all excited and passionate about what's going on there will be very good for me. (By this, I of course mean Grad City U. Would you believe Summer School is already in session???) (Also, I don't want to run into anyone, except Similarly Self-Reflective Fab Friend. I just don't quite understand this; I thought with the dissertation stuff out of my hands I'd be generally happy again, able to enjoy the people here. But I just want to flee. Next best thing? Hide in my house. Excellent notion.)
  5. I got movies. Very good for hiding in the house.

There were good moments today, well, okay mixed. I learned that my mother is totally wonderful and she is totally going out of her way to do something for me ASAP because I'm so obviously crippled and falling apart. (Those were not her words. She said that I've been doing such good work and I shouldn't have to deal with extraneous stuff.) I also totally overreacted when SO did something annoying. I had this epiphany about the whole thing: I'm really lucky to have such good people in my life. Here's the bad part: I really should be gracious, because they are making my life so much easier. The really bad part: I am totally not being gracious at all. Rather, I've been spreading my foul mood over hill and dale and barking at people.

I am just a black cloud. A twisted crabbed old graduate student with a hurting back. I'd like to keep this post going because I've found a good position in this chair, a pillow sort of wedged in a good spot so my lower back is supported and doesn't hurt. But Mr.Tabby does need his meds. I guess there's no avoiding going to bed. (Aren't I an adult? Can't I not go to bed if I want to?) I really need to learn how to sleep on my back with my knees up.

Here are my resolutions:

  • I will work on the piece that I said I'd start for SS for at least ten minutes tomorrow.
  • I will stay in the house where other people are safe from my pain-induced and graduate student-induced evil.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Denial Is Not Just a River in Egypt

So, I realize now that my feeling of sort of bored freedom was actually total denial. Yes, I feel a bit freer than I have in a long time. But that is only because the dissertation, which has totally monopolized my brain in recent months, isn't demanding any immediate work. (I stayed up until 2am last night reading blogposts documenting my accrual of the symptoms of Dissertation Crunch Disease -- especially the part where nothing else is important and you don't even want to watch movies!) But really I have tons to do and yesterday I was just ignoring that. Basically procrastinating by another name. But without even the itch that I should be doing something else.

So just in case I forget again and turn again into that pompous ass (why whatever shall I do?), here's the list of things I should do:
  • Go through the accumulation of five years worth of papers.
  • Clean out school office and get rid of some books.
  • Go through clothes.
  • Write email to Adventure U.
  • Free-write notes for Dissertation Epilogue.
  • Work on Conclusions in Chapters.

But the most ridiculous thing is that I have to have a draft of the article that we're rewriting for Senior Scholar on Thursday!!! No time to talk. Panic!!! (That's the real denial. I can't believe I just sort of didn't even think about it!!!)

But first I have to go to the doctor. So afternoon self: Get to work!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

So What Am I Supposed to Do Now?

So I sent off Chapter 4 to my readers. I do need to go to school and print out a draft of the whole mess and get that to my outside reader. Must go explore at PetCo and see if they have any quality food for His Royal Highness Mr. Tabby. But then what? WSF left a couple hours ago. Maude left last week. Thank goodness Similarly Self-Reflective Fabulous Friend is still in town. But that's it for the inner circle. Sigh.

I guess I do have other projects I could work on. Jeez. Didn't I used to have hobbies? Even the books I want to read seem too much like work. I do want to get healthy -- and that usually spirals out of hand into a huge project. And then there's the entire house it would be good to go through in preparation for moving. Dear lord! Isn't there anything I can do for fun?!! Even sitting around watching movies doesn't sound good. It's probably not a Drafts-at-the-Readers funk as much as a WSF-Has-Left(-Me) funk. Ya, ya. I'm moving anyway. In three months. What am I supposed to do until then?

Well, I suppose I better get my butt to school. If I just get going, the what-to-do usually figures itself out.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Complete Reader-Ready Draft, at Long Last

I would just like it noted for the record the timestamp difference between the last post and this one. That is how long I've been working, fueled by Caramel Mocha. I really don't even want to think about it. All I know is this: it's a Saturday night and I'm in a coffeehouse working, where I have been planted long enough to have sort of noticed that no one who was working when I got here is working here now. I've put in a full day. And my lower back is killing me. And I am crabby. And there is no alcohol in my house because I took it over to WSF's house, like a dork.

Happy couples are walking by the window, hair gently blown back by the breeze. Guys are walking with important strides to Pub Street. They are gloating, all of them. I know it. Because I am the center of the universe. Or so says the pain in my back. (In The Body in Pain, Elaine Scarry said that when in pain, an individual loses a sense of the world. She's right. Of course she meant in pain from being tortured. Well, dissertating counts, doesn't it?)

I hereby make a proclamation to the universe: I AM NOT WORKING TOMORROW. (I'll send the chapter and notes to my readers on Monday, as promised.) In fact, I think in celebration of my finished reader-ready third draft (okay, the changes from the second to the third draft were pretty minor, except for this chapter), I think we should all take the day off.

Drinks for everyone!

By the way, the best part of being done with working was seeing that some of you had left me comments in the time I was trapped in this dungeon. You all rock!

Saturday, May 19, 2007

How Quickly One Slides Back into Hate

So I'm at a local coffeehouse again. I'm here to work on Chapter 4. A good one-third of it needs to be totally revised. Radically revised, because I think my message is getting drowned out -- and of course in reading it over again, I see there are all these great points that are sort of buried in it. Have I even opened the e-file? No. But I have written all over the paper copy and gone back and read some source materials. That's something, isn't it? I had wanted to pound out the whole revision today, because tomorrow WSF needs me to help clean his almost empty apartment. (So sad.) But I'm totally down and almost full of hate. I wanted to begin a new health regimen, but may have to have a caramel mocha to spur me on. After this revision, the whole thing will be with my readers -- and good riddance!

I don't want to work. I don't want to do anything. I'm sad because I got a rejection in the mail today. (PSA: Do not check mail before working.) The letter from the editor was somewhat helpful, pointing out a (ultimately probably helpful, but initially totally spirit-crushing) critique. Well, I guess I'm a wimp who can only take one critique at a time. I feel like moping like a sad dog. I'm totally ridiculous. But I'm in mourning for the possibility of that journal publication and the deep critique of the work. Oh well.

I need to WORK! How do I get myself into working? Clearly, a caramel mocha must be had. It's just not possible to work without it. One cannot dissertate and diet at the same time; it's just mean to one's writing self. The writing self needs chocolate, sugar, caffeine, and whipped cream. I mean, what's a writer to do? I need to harness the writing self, and she has needs. So there's that rationalization out of the way. (See how productive I am?!) Then what? Well, I should probably go back to either free-writing what I'm kind of thinking about as a rewrite. (That's what it is: a re-write. I have to find a new way in. A new frame. It must be done. It will be so much better than what is there now. I know it.) And then I should go back into the source material and copy out all the quotes that seemed so perfect a couple hours ago and then write from them. I hope that with the original, a free-write, and a bib-ish focus on quotes, I'll then only have to string the damn thing together and edit it. I've already worked -- what? 1-1/2 hours. Sigh. I'll stay here long enough to drink a caramel mocha (of course), do the free-writing and working with source materials. Then it'll probably be time to take yet another nap. I think I'll go home for the nap. As Bridget Jones says, good plan.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Aren't Fridays Supposed to Help Us Drift into the Weekend?

I'm running around like the proverbial chicken sans head -- except that my chicken is also crazy. Not only did I go over to WSF's house last night and help him move furniture and watch movies until 3am (and drink wine -- could that have anything to do with the smidgeon of headache over my right eye -- ya think?), but today I ran around, dealing with passport crap. I wouldn't considered it done exactly. Not until I have a renewed passport in my hot little hands. But the court-certified divorce decree and associated crap are on their way to Philadelphia. Cross your fingers (toes, eyes?) nothing bad happens. I triple-checked the Express envelope, but I'm still nervous.

Now I have a meeting with Ex-Advisor #1 from my backburner field. Am I just a mean-spirited person to think that E-A1 intends to beg off my Oral? And maybe my committee altogether? I just find it hard to believe that E-A1, who rarely comes to campus on Fridays, is giving up a Friday afternoon to shoot the shit with me. Well, whatever. Big steaks tonight with WSF and father. Do I have to be on my best behavior? I need a nap. There's just too much going on. Oh, and when I was on campus I got PA's notes on Chapter 4. So there are my weekend plans. I don't think this is going to be a couple hour job.


I'm a wretch who doesn't deserve to live. There was no begging off. There was in-depth discussion about my work. There was support, encouragement, publishing ideas, invitations to keep in touch post-graduation. I totally suck.

I do think that grad school or maybe it's the culture here at Grad City U (with the accolades always seeming to go to the same people -- no, not me) makes us grad students suspicious. On the other hand, I need to go against the grain and stop expecting the worst (though not in a cultish New Age-y The Secret kind of way): despite the fact that there are people at Grad City U who do seem to get everything as if there's some kind of magnetic attraction, there are also people there who believe in my work and believe in me. And I need to learn how to better see that and stop being so goddamned defensive and wary. Though maybe not before the defense. =p

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Expedited Stupidity -- The Fed, My Own

Where the hell have I been? Well, not working on the dissertation. I've been in this lovely wormhole-of-no-work since Peppy Advisor hadn't gotten back to me on Chapter 4. Yesterday, I was thwarted by a federal government that thinks we need passports to go to Canada and Mexico (I mean, are they really totally foreign countries?) so a real traveler like yours truly (or so I aspire) has to wait a month to get an expedited passport renewal. Expedited, mind you. That is, pay-extra-through-the-nose expedited. Then they gave me shit about the Kinko's passport photos being overexposed. So I have to go back and bug those people. And I need to get my name changed on my passport because once upon a time I believed in marriage and was institutionalized in that way. (Sorry married blogfriends. But you've got to admit -- marriage isn't for everyone. And I was way too young. I just don't like the government in my sex life. God, I'm sounding more and more like a libertarian every day. I'll grant you there are all these government benefits to being married, but I am totally opposed to all that -- and don't have kids so I can afford to stick to such principles.) Apparently, one needs a court-certified divorce decree -- because people go around faking divorce decrees??? Now, I'm sure this is fine for people who are born, live, die, marry, and divorce in Grad City. But for those of us from far away Urban Home City -- well, thank goodness I know people. I had to arrange that whole thing (actually easier than it sounds, but when one has no money and cannot even realistically send flowers, one must be very nice, and being very nice when one is dissertating is exhausting) so that I can get the paperwork sent to me soon. I had woken up tired. Once I lit a fire under the butts of some very kind people in Urban Home City and ate lunch with WSF, I was exhausted and took a long nap. Still haven't returned to torment the poor people at Kinko's. OY!

Then today, I met with Senior Scholar to talk about our article collaboration. We have ideas. We are basically going to totally rewrite our article. I'm supposed to write for the next week and then hand it off. (Can you say intimidating? This Senior Scholar has won Big Time Awards for his scholarly work. Ack.)

But the real thing that is going on that is so awful that it's tempting to try to figure out something to work on instead of deal with is: WITTY SARDONIC FRIEND IS LEAVING!!! I can't stand it. I. just. cannot. stand. it. I talked to him on the phone before lunch, and he said something like he couldn't stand leaving me. I told him he just hated packing, making light of his astonishing statement. He said no and don't tell him what he felt. (Our relationship just isn't built on that kind of direct statement. In fact, I think I'm kind of stupid about expressing how much I care about someone; I mean, it was fine to tell him I missed him on the phone when he was gone. But I just can't take it when he surprises me with such a thing. It just came out of nowhere. I wasn't ready.) We got together for lunch, and he had some terrible headache and I ended up bugging him and totally pissing him off. I think this is part of my MO of total stupidity. It's much easier to deal with his impending moving by picking a fight with him. We ended up talking about the homeless problem in Grad City -- and then circling back on an earlier conversation about authenticity and alternative ways of living beyond the typical have-a-house/have-a-job/live-in-one-place model we're trained to think that we're failures if we don't have by a certain time in our lives. We started musing about people who lived nomadically over the summer, coming up with alternative ways of looking at people without homes rather than as "the unfortunate" and "a social problem." I said the whole thing hinged for me on whether one's lifestyle is based on choice. (Yes, choice of lifestyle is a classed concept itself, but I think it's a good goal.)

But really I wonder if it's that WSF and I just can't talk about the fact that he's leaving. I refuse to be all clingy, wailing and screaming "don't go." But what to do? As he pointedly reminds me, I'm leaving too. In three months. There's no point to ruining the time we have left with thinking about how lonely it will be. But when I got home from all the silliness, I just sat with Mr. Tabby and looked out the window and realized how sad I was. I mean, a truck is coming and taking his furniture on consignment tomorrow. It's real. He's leaving. Similarly Hate-Filled Dissertator and Fellow Blog Goddess already left early this week. It's going to be very lonely here in Grad City for the next three months. And then at Adventure U. He's just so much fun and so smart and totally calls me on my shit. How will I do without him?

Sigh. So he told me he was going to nurse his headache and call me later. If he's smart, he won't call at all, because I'll just be trying to avoid the fact that he's leaving and not be able to and then being stupid and monstrous. But now I'm a girl waiting for a boy to call. Obviously a great time to get some work done. Harder to stare off into space when you're working. With TV it's almost mandatory. Who am I kidding? I'll call him soon, I'm sure.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Happy Half Blogoversary!!!

Happy half-birthday, happy half-birthday, happy half-birthday, half-birthday to you, Absurdist Paradise!

Yes, it was six months ago today that Absurdist Paradise with its rants, nerves, screams, and whatthefucks was born.

I'd like to take this moment to thank all my blogfriends/readers (lurkers too, but who are you?) who have commented lately, making me feel like I have my own cheering section as I huff and puff my way through the marathon called dissertating. Thank you to Hilaire, Medieval Woman, Nik, Sisyphus, Adjunct Whore (that's Dr. Adjunct Whore), Dr. Medusa, Tiruncula, K8, Diss Daisy, Abby, and Meagan. (I really hope I haven't forgotten anyone.) I know I've probably been pretty boring, writing about all things dissertating. (Of course, this blog started out with my reflections on all things job search-related, griping about things like Wiki-Watching. Suffice it to say, I'm quite obsessive.) Y'all have been really fabulously supportive, making me feel not so alone in this process. I really really appreciate it. When I've been working all day, it's lovely to go online and see that my blogfriends, who only know me through my whining and kvetching, are cheering. Thank you so much.

Because I'd hate to disappoint y'all and not update you on Diss News 2007: I started revising the chapters according to Peppy Advisor's comments (mostly line edits, thank god, goddess, and angels) and pumped out the Intro and Chapters 1 and 2, Draft 3. An hour or so ago, I sent them to my readers. PA still has the evil Chapter 4, Draft 2. So the only thing for me to do is (watch TV???) go and work on Chapter 3, Draft 3. But last night it occurred to me that as the workload lessens, there are a number of things it would be good to get done before I go off to Adventure U. So a new to-do list is in the works. Oy!

Monday, May 14, 2007

Summer and Second Draft Reflections

This week, two good friends, both on the shortlist of people who I can actually deal with in my dissertating panic, are leaving town, ne'er to return while I'm here. (Of course, they are probably skipping town because of me, quitting while they're ahead. After all, the world is all about me.) So then there'll only be one person who I can deal with in my dissertating frenzy. I already feel bad for her.

Then there is the fact of this bloggy quiet! So many people are getting rested that they don't update their blogs, probably because they have nothing to procrastinate. Yet, I, with my summer graduation, am becoming the most regular and boring blogger ever. I appreciate those of you who shout out here from time to time. How I wish you were updating your own blogs so I would have something sensational to read on my train!

So in dissertation news I dropped in my two figures, decided against fixing all the figures throughout because my readers are just going to have me adding and deleting and scooting paragraphs which would screw up my figure placement anyway, and sent the puppy to Peppy Advisor. HA! By 9am, I might add, at which point I promptly fell asleep.

So now I have to address PA's three pages of comments in preparation for turning in to readers tomorrow. Should take me about an hour and a half.

WSF said that my productivity right now kind of makes him want to shoot himself. I told him I just have lower expectations than he does. He has this grueling writing process where he contemplates each sentence. (And they are beautiful and witty sentences.) All my life I've known writers who've had to get one sentence perfect before they could go on. I appreciate that sentences build on one another -- and that if one isn't right, you could spend days going on and on in the wrong direction. (These people just do all this thinking; the one thing I've learned in my life is that I'm wrong any time I think I can think my way through things; I have to experience them. The fact is I can't approach whole ideas while they're still in my head. I must get something down so that I can read them, change them, throw spitwads at them.) I, on the other hand, pump out pages as fast as I can so I can't get too self-conscious about what I write. My thinking center critiques a lot, and I just have to outrun it. If I blather on long enough there'll be something in there worth talking about. I freewrite and freewrite and freewrite until I kind of think I know what I want to talk about. And then I freewrite some more. I'm very process-based. I freewrite until I know the shape of the piece. Then I start cutting and pasting. For me it's all about the flow of ideas, moving from one idea to the next. Once I know how the piece moves, it's easier -- usually because I've written so much by then that I just cut and paste some stuff in.

But I wish that my process, which is still painful, didn't make others feel bad about theirs. Yes, I may be working like a demon now, but I've been ABD since March 1 of last year. Then I spent the summer writing and rewriting a prospectus I totally didn't follow. By December, nine months into candidacy, I had managed a single very-bad chapter. Another by maybe February. Then I got this job and had to high-tail it. I wish I wrote like this all the time, just pumping it out of myself. I don't. I write like this in a panic and then spend months and months not able to figure anything out. This is no way to spend a whole career. It's not a bad way to pull a dissertation out of your ass. (I feel sure I'll spend the next six months following my graduation doing no writing whatsoever.)

I need to remember these things for the future. I also need to figure out a more balanced writing process so that I'm not writing like a demon as my ass spreads to gargantuan proportions. There's got to be a way to write things on a regular basis and work out.

Apparently, one of the side effects of dissertating is blathering. I do it on the phone as well as on the blog. OY!

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Kicking Some Chapter 4 Butt, The Sequel

Well, it's barely before noon -- but I'm up. That's got to count for something. Today, I woke up all tired and stuffy instead of well-rested and able to breathe like yesterday morning. The plan is I'm going to work for two hours, take a shower, see WSF and help him with his CDs and caffeinate myself, maybe eat some brisket, and then get back to work. Tonight the local club has their 80s night, but I'm not sure I'll quite get myself to go. It would be lovely to finish up Chapter 4, then celebrate by jiggling my graduate student spread around. We shall see.

In dissertation news, which I realize is the most fascinating news-worthy story around (I watched the Lehrer News Hour the other day and was surprised and fascinated that the whole world has been continuing on without me -- no more Tony Blair, the cutest and most well-spoken Prime Minister ever): I worked for an additional hour or two post-blogging adding what I believe may be the most self-indulgent self-aggrandizing tripe ever. I'm thinking of leaving it in because I'm worried this chapter is going to be a little short -- and because it's Peppy Advisor's job to tell me what's interesting and what's not.

So today I need to work on getting the chapter to flow, add in a paragraph of explanation where there is a hole, add in a whole bunch of examples, and put in other voices where they need to be. So basically, way too much. So the question is: what can I do in the next two hours? I think I can work on flow and assembling materials. So that's the plan, Stan.

You? Go do something fun.

***Update 3:01pm***

Okay, I have now pretty much done everything (no parceling out of each task for me!) for two sections of this chapter. I only have one to go. I hope it won't be too painful. But whatever. I'm taking a break. It looks like I will turn in this puppy tomorrow, which means that I will be addressing the issues that Peppy Advisor already noted for the Intro and Chapters 1 and 2 tomorrow in preparation for the Great Turning In of Pages to Readers, Part 1 on Tuesday. What a riveting life I lead. Even I'm sort of bored by it, unless I think of it not as a dissertation, but as a book. Then it sounds interesting. This is then my second book, and my master's thesis was my first. Granted unpublished, but that's no biggie.

When I got together with Similarly Self-Reflective INFP Friend the other night, she said that I sounded like I was grappling with all the usual issues of a novel. I like that. I always wanted to write a novel, but I thought I'd never manage because it was too long and I didn't have the stamina. Writing a dissertation proves we all have stamina, people. Maybe I could write a novel after all. (A short novel.) I won't be able to tell myself that old saw about not having the stamina anymore! YAY! But I'm not going to start a novel today, if it's all the same to you. I'm tired. =)

***Update 11:51pm***

No, I haven't been working all this time. I went over to WSF's and organized all his CDs for selling. He's preparing to leave town for six months, and because he wants to travel light, he's decided to get rid of them all. Yes, all. So I took whatever I wanted. I think I doubled my CD collection, which is totally stupid since I'll be moving soon enough -- and probably rue the day I took all of them and loaded myself down with them. But many of them are classical or post-punk, so basically I had to take them. I think there's a law written somewhere.

I came home around 7ish and go back to work and have been working on and off (had to talk to SO twice, had to call the Mom for Mom's Day), mostly on, since then. And except for two figures I have to drop in to Chapter 4 and then figure reformatting, because they pretty much ruin everything, I'm done. Yes, you heard me. (Almost) Done.

So in order to celebrate (Sisyphus, where's that ice cream???), I've decided to count the pages:

Intro: 21 pages
Ch. 1: 30 pages
Ch. 2: 40 pages
Ch. 3: 43 pages
Ch. 4: 43 pages (but maybe 1 or 2 more tomorrow)

Grand total of Earnest English's dissertation today 13 May 2007???

177 pages! Now I'm going to sleep. Mr. Tabby has an early-morning date at the v-e-t. I'm sure Peppy Advisor will want to work on Chapter 4 all week long before getting it to the readers. ACK! And tomorrow I'll have to fix up the Intro and Chapters 1 and 2 in preparation for giving the stack to my readers.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

Kicking Some Chapter 4 Butt

I got some sleep and, after my four pills and two snorts in each nostril, actually feel pretty good. I have even already started working today. (Can you hear the crowd going wild?) But it's too hard to work on the computer. There's so much text to reorganize, revise, chop, add. TOO MUCH I TELL YOU!

So I'm blogging the plan. I'm, alas, killing more trees and printing the monster out. Then I'm going to shower. (I know, I know. But I wanted to get working before noon. So the shower had to wait.) Then I'm going to take the stack and one of my new good pens, courtesy of SO, and hop over to the Caffeine Corporation. I'm going to write all over it. And only then will I come home and start back on the laptop.

By the way, since this is the weekend I have to radically revise this chapter, I would count on updates pretty regularly. No more checking Adventure U email for me! Must WORK! I envy y'all sitting around watching TV. Watch some really awful 80s miniseries for me, okay?

***Update 5:13pm***

Well, I went to the Caffeine Corporation and wrote all over my draft. Then I made the mistake of stopping by a friend's yard sale. Not only did I get a silly hat, but I stood there wasting precious hours when I should've been working. But how much can you work in one day? How much is reasonable to expect? I worked about an hour or so this morning, then two hours at the Caffeine Corporation. That's not even my usual 4-5 hours -- or what's become my usual as the panic has set in. If only Peppy Advisor hadn't said I was "in good shape." If only she had said that I better race to the finish line because she wasn't sure I'd graduate in August. Even if I stopped working right now and picked up again on Monday, I'd probably still be fine. Hmmph. Derrida is right. When something is under erasure, it's definitely not the same as if you'd never said it.

Okay, it's bargaining time. Because a part of me really wants to go and watch a movie and let my brain reconstitute itself now that it's melted from being in the sun in spite of silly hat. I need to type in my notes and cut and paste stuff to make a chapter that sort of flows. After that, I'm definitely going to need to add stuff and do some reading to remind myself of some source arguments. Then I'm going to need to add those other voices. Then I'm going to need to go through the whole thing again. Then turn the damn thing in (Monday). If I stop today before I do any reading, I need to have a list of things I need to reread and why so I can start right up reading tomorrow. So that leaves typing in my notes, cutting and pasting stuff together to make things flow-y, adding the stuff I know I need to add, and figuring out what I need to read. NO! It's too much. That's a good three or four more hours. Waaaaaaaaaahhhhhhhh!

Okay, I'm in my whiny state, which usually signals diminishing returns (or so I'd like to tell myself). Perhaps a nap? Watch a couple shows to clean my brain? Then we'll reconvene and stay up late. How's that for a plan?

God I suck.

***Update 7:21pm***

I'm up. I really am. Naps are soooo gooood. But now I'm up. I'm at'em. I'm nuking vegetables. Everything will be fine. I will work. I will.

***Update 12:52am (if I haven't slept, it's still the same day)***

My suckage knows no bounds. I'd say that I've set a personal best for suckage today, but I've had far worse days where I watch TV shows and tell myself that "after this one, I'll get up and go work." But I haven't quite been this bad on the dissertation. It's my last damn chapter of Draft 2; you'd think I'd be able to get some momentum going. But no. I just want to laze around. And I talked with WSF for about an hour because I just can't handle working. On a Saturday night. What the hell is wrong with me?

So where am I now? I am sleepy, that's where. (And apparently grumpy.) I've done 11 pages. This is practically nothing in comparison with the crazy goals I had this afternoon of typing in all my notes. No, I have not even typed in all my notes, though I am much closer as the second and third sections are not as disordered as the first section was.

Mr. Tabby clearly has the right idea. He has deigned to come down from his favorite perch near the window in order to consecrate my drafts with his sleepy self. I am yawning, which is good as it suggests that I might sleep. But I'm mad at myself for not getting my shit together and just pounding this thing out today. Tomorrow's going to suck, because WSF wants me to come over and help him with his CDs (which actually means that I'm going to look through them and decide which ones I want and which ones he's borrowed.)

Well, I'm very tired, but actually going to bed would mean moving all the papers off the bed, which means moving Mr. Tabby. Which I clearly cannot do. So I'll plunk a little longer and see if I can't get a bit more together so tomorrow won't look so terribly bleak.

It's Real!!! (aka I'm a Dork)

Guess what? I have an email account at Adventure U! It's real. And I had MAIL. All sorts of faculty bulletins and things. Yes, that's right -- not Grad Announcements, but real live faculty notices. Me! Little Earnest English! (They write Dr. Earnest English on all the paperwork. Ooh, it's scary, since the diss isn't finished, though Peppy Advisor said I was in "good shape." Phew!) So I read through my various mailing list emails sent to Faculty at Adventure U that said things like "Research Grant Deadline" and "Submitting Grade Rosters." Then I sent myself an email from my new email account. Teeheeee. Yes, I AM a dork. Totally.

I signed the contract and mailed it back to them last week. Because this is Adventure U and not University-as-Usual, there is a ton of paperwork still to do. Lots of things must be arranged. (Not the least of which is that I'm going to have to start a new blog. Let's face it -- once I teach at Adventure U, it's going to be very hard to obscure important details. So I'm thinking of a private blog.) And packing.

But of course I still have a weekend of work ahead of me. I think the fact that everyone else is on break -- that Fabulous Similarly Neurotic (we prefer "self-reflective") INFP Friend is talking about watching TV (oh I wish I had TV -- without cable, I can only get two fuzzy channels) and painting her kitchen -- plus the double-whammy of this cold makes it hard for me to focus. I should be crashing and burning. Instead I have to pedal pretty hard to make it to a decent finish line. Soon. Soon. But tomorrow I'm going to have to kick some serious Chapter 4 ass.

I did a mere and paltry hour of work today (granted I think I figured out how the beginning of the chapter will flow and that is something) and then went to see the French film Avenue Montaigne, which reminded me how much I love love love Paris. Also I realized my French isn't terrible; I noted there were some times when the subtitles were wrong, which made me feel like one of the fabulous cultured people in the film rather than a lowly grad student trying to save the world by dissertating in a decidedly undercultured Grad Town. (As I was born in a big Urban City, I feel like this place is a town rather than a city.)

Anyhoo, what am I doing up? I should watching Sleepytime Theater! Have I mentioned that I can't get myself even to read a book I actually want to read? My body just knows I should be sitting around watching bad daytime TV and will have none of this reading thing. Here's to sleep, rather than tossing and turning. Wish me luck!

Friday, May 11, 2007

Getting Serious

So I haven't worked all day. Instead I've been totally distracted, probably partly because I was stupid and had an extended-release Sudafed right before I went to bed and woke right up after two hours. Also, my stomach has been hurting -- probably the result of taking all those tablets on an empty stomach. Then of course the blueberry pancakes. Then errands on a hot day. So I fell into this super-funk and decided I needed to clean my brain. I should've exercised, but instead I watched Sideways, a wonderful movie that suggests that even depressed, anxiety-ridden, unpublished writers can find the love and appreciation of a good woman. (What if you are a woman? They don't say.)

So I have to talk myself into working, because this is ridiculous. I get a small reprieve from Peppy Advisor -- and then the day goes to pieces! What is that about??? I suppose I'm overdue for the crash and burn part of the semester -- and today sort of slid into it. I'm sure part of it is that this chapter is daunting. The existing draft needs to be hacked and slashed. Yesterday, I cut and pasted pieces of the old draft into a new document and printed it out, so I could do some hacking and slashing on paper, my old standby when times are tough. But here's the thing: one must actually go ahead and read the draft in order to hack and slash. I think I have to see how much I can do in an hour. One thing I could do is go out to a coffeehouse and try to use the good mojo of all those other working people to inspire me. Am I too glum? Too cheap? Hard to tell. Maybe I'll do a little reading of my own work and see if I start to get antsy to go out.

Oh the life of a sick and allergic dissertator!

PSA: Blogging the lost totally works. The book decided to return from the land of lost things. It's very exciting.

RBoC Updates

I'm in a hurry -- really should've been in the shower a while ago, but had to check blogs, update blogroll, very important stuff like that. So all I'm up for is bullets. Here goes:
  • The Nice Doctor says I have bad allergies with a secondary infection of sinusitis. Which puts me up to three pills and two snorts in each nostril daily (some pills more often) in addition to my don't-go-insane-right-now pill. If I weren't in such a hurry, I'd calculate the daily rate of what it takes to keep me going right now. The good news is I can breathe through my nose.

  • Talked to Peppy Advisor yesterday. Gave her Chapter 3. I told her I'd try to have Chapter 4 for her on Monday instead of the end of Friday (which is already later than the 7th I was once shooting for but then decided was impossible). I'm handing readers a big chunk on Tuesday. We've agreed it may not be the whole chunk. And that's okay. Also we discussed adding a conclusion, but asking the official readers what they wanted to see wrapped up or brought back up at the end. In other words, I don't have to write it until they give me comments. Woohooo!

  • Witty Sardonic Friend is making me blueberry pancakes.
  • I still haven't made it to the shower!

  • I can't find a book that I need for this wretched chapter. Now that I've blogged the lost, it should scoot itself forward on its little spine, right?

  • I'm tired from terrible insomnia. That is, classic insomnia. The go-to-sleep-and-wake-up-two-hours-later kind. Sigh.

  • Must work today, but people who are blissfully done with the semester want to do other things -- little things like spend the day in the dogpark with WSF's fabulous black lab, move to different cities, and have fun. Can't fit it all in. Sigh.

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Report from Newer Deal

So I am finally done with Chapter 3. I did go see Spiderman 3 -- don't bother unless you need four different villains in your superhero movie. OY! But it was good to do something else and keep my mind off of all the stressful stuff I can't do much about but work, work, work. So I finally got back to working a few hours ago. And it's taken me until now plus a few boxes of tissues to get done.

Okay, I've been thinking: this is the third time I've been coughing, sneezing, headachy during Dissertation Time. I would like to think that what I have now is Hay Fever and that before I had Colds from Hell. But I think the truth is that my immune system is shot. I was talking to my mother and I had to tell her that I don't think I've ever been as stressed in my whole life -- and I've had some life events that usually emerge in the top five stressful events list. Dissertating should be up there. I'm intellectually, emotionally, and physically sapped. Only one more chapter to go. Too bad it's the Needs-a-Total-Rewrite Chapter. Peppy Advisor and I will not have enough time to pass it back and forth between us before sending it out to my readers on May 15. PA also got me comments back on Intro and Chapters 1 and 2 today. ACK! I'm not ready! I have another chapter to do!

Overwhelmed. Giant wave crashing down about to swallow me. Must sleep, before Round 2, tomorrow.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

Newer Deal

Dear Dissertating Self in the Terrible-News-and-Tremendous-Allergy Funk of 2007,

Just as Roosevelt issued The New Deal to help people out during the Great Depression in the 1930s, I will now make you a Newer Deal. If you work for the pretty diligently on the new Chapter 3 for two hours, then we'll go to a matinee showing of Spiderman 3. How's that for a deal? And yes, you can have all the coffee-and-chocolate you want. Certainly that's worth working for, no?


Not the Home Stretch, Just Stretching toward Home

I'm sitting in Coffeehouse with Parking, wishing that someone would either email me or walk in and keep me from just staring off into space, which is what I've been doing for the last twenty minutes. I am here to work. But the world is not helping my work. Between the Allergies from Hell (or maybe it's a cold -- my immune system is probably in the toilet) and some terrible news I'm not in the mood to blog about (nothing academic or anything), I don't want to do anything. WSF is trying his best to suspend carrots at regular intervals (Spidey 3 this afternoon), but this workhorse is just exhausted. In spite of a truly alarming amount of coffee, all I want to do is go to sleep. I'm really tempted actually, except that I would probably get home and then stare at the ceiling. Or cry. Crying is always a good option.

On the other hand, I need to get some work done. I really need to be done with this second draft very soon. Peppy Advisor already read the Intro and two chapters! I have to get cracking if I'm going to be able to turn stuff over to my readers by next Tuesday.

So this is the deal I'm making with myself. I will write down a few notes about what I think needs to be done with this next chapter, which likely doesn't need a lot of work. Then I will go through my paper copy of the chapter and make some notes and instructions for edits. Then I will go home and sleep. Notes and notes should take me an hour tops. Then sleepity sleep sleep. That sounds reasonable.

***Update, exactly 62 minutes later ***

I've written a bunch of notes all over the chapter printout and noted a couple things I have to look up at home. When I wake up after my much-needed nap. The question is: can she sleep??? I'll keep you posted. I know. You're riveted! Now that your semesters are over, all you want to do is spend your days reading my blog.

Ouch. I bit my tongue while it was so firmly lodged in my cheek.

Monday, May 7, 2007


It appears something odd is happening. Could it really be that I finished the First Draft of the unholy beast called the Dissertation a mere fifteen days ago? That seems like an eternity of waking up, working, going to sleep, having bad dreams, waking up, working ago. But the blog says April 22 -- and the blog don't lie. Today I made it to the halfway point of the Second Draft, emailing the Intro and Chapters 1 and 2 to Peppy Advisor. (Who knew? Maybe I really will be able to revise this beast in a mere three weeks!)

SO, who has admirably put up with my headaches, stomachaches, bitching, and need for overpriced coffee since Thursday, took me out to celebrate with appetizers, salad, steak, and desserts. Now I can barely move. This, my friends, is how one attains the great graduation distinction known as Lard Ass. (SO says sexiest lard ass. What can I say? SO's on the payroll.) We also went out for steaks on Friday. And then at Graduation-Party-that-Wasn't-So-Bad-Because-I-Was-Well-Marinated-by-the-Time-It-Started, I ate two burgers without really even noticing. (It went like this. "Honey, want to share a burger with me?" "Okay, eat half and I'll eat the rest." SO turns around to be charming to yet another department bore. SO turns back to me. "Hey, what happened to that burger?" "Uhhh, what burger?") On the other hand, we did go dancing on Friday. (Today is the first day I woke up not totally sore.) Of course, my dissertating partner in crime and fellow bloggoddess Maude Lebowski ran the half-marathon. I just totally suck.

PA has already written me an email talking about being excited to read the three pieces together. Oy vey. My challenge is to be deep into the next chapter before that response comes. Also, to get organized. The next graduation weekend that will turn downtown into a damn street fair will be mine! And people are starting to call me about flight plans and dinner reservations and, of course, the inevitable when-are you-leaving?s. I have no clue. Doesn't the dissertation have to be written before I make flight plans? Apparently not. SO and I have a strict date to sit down tomorrow with many calendars and figure it all out. I used to be so organized. What happened?

Oh yeah. Dissertating.

Saturday, May 5, 2007

Cinco de Grumpiness

Okay, really more like the 420th day of Grumpiness (my calculation starts around the time I went ABD, which was March 1, 2006). Here I am, in a neighborhood coffeehouse with the poor much-beleaguered SO. What do I need to do? Work on Chapter 2. This chapter has been drifting from one argument to another -- and I. don't. like. it.

I'm a terrible grump. And I have terrible insomnia, only able to sleep for four or so hours at a time. With a headache most of the time. (I'm turning into my grandmother, who, when asked the obligatory "How are you?" would answer with a litany of complaints starting with how bad her arthritis was that day.) And poor SO can't help but mutter and then I snark (yes, a verb) at him.

However, I did go dancing last night. (Am totally out of shape with a dissertating ass and am sore now.) And I saw my adorable student who I have totally been pretentious to! But, god forgive me, when I saw him (I gave an incomplete last semester), the first thing that fell out of my mouth was that I didn't get the project that he told me he'd get to me on May 1. Is it a wonder that he did not dance crazy techno with me but avoided me like the plague? I suck. I really just wanted to read the project because it sounded cool. I should send him an apology.

Scary party tomorrow. Whole department invited. Warning: If anyone asks me how my dissertation is going, I may have to kill them. The first person who asks me if I'm going to graduate in August is going to be strung up and wacked until candy spills out of them. I wonder if they'll let me blog from prison. At least then no one will give me shit if I wear the same thing day after day.

Today is my day of rest between two wild days. I mean, day of work. With SO here, I just want to laze around.

This is the most boring blogpost ever. Sorry guys. Same shit, different day. Which means I need to read again important dissertation wisdom 1 and 2.

***Update 6:54pm***

I don't know what happens, but I'm thankful for when the fog seems to lift from my eyes and I can actually reach my dissertation and work on it in a fruitful way. SO and I are still in this coffeehouse. He is writing. I am looking through the rain-speckled window. I don't know why it has to be so hard. I wish I could just sit down and get to work. But finding a new organization for a chapter is hard. And this chapter is no picnic. The next chapter should be relatively easy. And then there's the evil chapter that needs to be completely rewritten. All due in oh god 10 days to my readers? Which means, of course, that I would like to get the chapters to Peppy Advisor a little before that. But not much before that, I might add. I feel pretty decent. Which of course means I should not stop now, but set out exactly what I'm going to do tomorrow so that I can type it through the inevitable fog that will descend on me between now and then. OY!

Thursday, May 3, 2007


Okay, so I'm in a coffeehouse (not Scary with Ginger and Gecko Coffeehouse), and I should be working but I am so, so tired. And so am blogging for energy. I blame the rainy weather (why?), though really it might be because I had a dream about the revolution last night and it wasn't pretty. I always thought I'd be on the revolutionary side! But it turns out that my family and I were being held as prisoners. We refused to give our names and had to figure out how to get food to eat. (I remember we nuked some spinach and cheese.) There were children and elderly people -- and my mom was getting really skinny and scared. When I woke up, I was a bit rattled -- so I called WSF and told him that the end of the world was at hand.

In real life, I've managed to revise Chapter 1 (and the crowd goes wild). It kind of sucks. I think I made it worse. There are now all these conceptual problems that I see with some of my ideas now that I'm close up enough to see the holes in my thinking. Damn Swiss cheese brain. Anyway, I turned it in and am now onto reconfiguring Chapter 2. That is, I'm procrastinating Chapter 2 -- partly because I'm tired and partly because I think I need to figure out how to get Chapter 2 to address the problems I now have in Chapter 1. Sigh.

SO is coming into town, poor man. Tomorrow is his birthday. Can I just say how much I am not in the mood to be the good girlfriend, a nice person, anything but the Hate-Filled Dissertator I am? I can now deal with only three people in town: Witty Sardonic Friend, Similarly Hate-Filled Dissertator and Blog Goddess Maude Lebowski, and Similarly Neurotic Cool Friend. Everyone else is suspect. And there's a party for people graduating, including someone who looked at me at one point and said: so, are you going to graduate on time? Well, actually, heartless rat, I'd like to answer, I'm not because I'm writing a traditional dissertation and the powers that be have seen fit to reduce the number of funded years for TAs. But I'm only taking the summer more, so there's no point in trying to make this point. Besides, I already told some department people that they need to rethink the time to graduation for people writing traditional dissertations -- and I heard from a colleague at the beginning of her program that they're talking about it in department meetings. Who knew? There might be a god.

But she has a sick sense of humor. (An absurdist, I knew it.) So it turns out that a person who hasn't been teaching has managed to get a big teaching award. I'm still puzzling that one out. In what kind of world does this make any kind of sense? And this person does tend to get every award. I can only imagine that as the department is trying to make a name for itself in a particular field, the powers that be see that this person has the capacity to be a posterchild/success story for the department. Hence the investment. (I know it sounds like sour grapes, but I don't think this colleague is all that. Not that I would get that award. Just that it doesn't make any sense to me.)

Anyway, while I was angrily drinking last night over this, today I just see this inexplicable phenomenon as evidence and motivation for me to get the hell out of here!!!!!

So I guess I better get on it.

***Update 6:04pm***

Okay, I think that's all I can do today. Peppy Advisor advocated reordering the chapter, so I sort of dumped the pieces in the new order into a document. I figure I'll print it out and make sure that I'm highlighting what I need to be highlighting. I do some good revising just on paper. (It's less intimidating!) I also did some freewriting on some questions and think I've come to a new understanding of what I'm trying to say in this chapter. I hope. Maybe. We'll see. I feel like I'm convincing myself of new things through the revision process. I hope that I'm not so deeply inside this work that these ideas are going to seem far-fetched. Sigh. Time to do laundry and pretend that I'm not nearly as disgusting as I, in fact, am. And hours to go before I sleep. Hours to go before I sleep.

Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Not at My Fighting Weight

In Starting from Scratch, a book on writing, Rita Mae Brown says that whenever she begins a long project, she loses five pounds, getting down to what she calls her fighting weight. I understood this only theoretically. After all, she's getting up in the morning to plunk her ass on a chair and get working. When I think of writers suffering for their art, I think of staying up in late-night cafes, wreaking havoc on their bodies because of wonderfully dissipated and indulgent lifestyles, sleeping odd hours, eating bad food, and being underemployed.

But wait. Doesn't that sound like a graduate student? (Except for the dissipation and indulgence, of course.) Worse yet, doesn't that sound like a dissertating graduate candidate?

I'm here to tell -- or remind -- you of the various health problems of dissertating. There are the obvious things like inevitable ass-spread (I ran into a delightful professor on too-early Sunday morning -- okay, afternoon -- and we decided to diagnose the problem as Dr. Fat Ass) and resulting "fat-girl problems" (as Hate-Filled Dissertator and Blog-Goddess called them last night). Then there are the inevitable antidepressants so that you can avoid all the pesky questions (such as why, why, and why the mother fuck???) that people like Scrivener have had to deal with. But there are other problems. Like the fact that added weight hurts your lower back and makes it impossible to sleep. Like your digestion being all screwed up. Like your sudden compulsion to drink every day. Like the fact that you have terrible dreams, such as the one about having to sign up for more classes at a new school and the one where your mother is trying to terrorize you instead of let you sleep. Like the fact that for no reason, you find yourself awake at 7am and no reasonable or unreasonable people seem to be around. None of the early birds like Witty Sardonic Friend or SO seem to be up. Have I mentioned the perpetual grumps that make vicious barking PMS seem demure and withdrawn?

Let's just bullet the day, shall we?

  • Must post something for Cool Class on the class website. Now, really I should have a piece of writing that I hypothetically have been working on alongside all the students (and that damn Senior Scholar!) all semester. I have a couple drafts. But really, what I've worked on all semester is a draft of my dissertation. Can I just want to post that and say kiss my ass?
  • Must register for Cool Institute. How can it be that Expedia, who has always worked so diligently, suddenly sends me an email saying that the airline hasn't confirmed my flight? What's going on and why do I have to deal with it?
  • Must make up total crackpot conference proposal for Small but Perfect for Me Conference and send it in today.
  • Must meet with Maude and not be bitchy and not distract her.
  • Must go to last celebratory class tonight and not be a pain in the ass, counting the minutes under my breath. Similarly, must not get drunk and maudlin.

Poor readers. I just foist all my bitchiness on you. (Blogging the bitchiness. Discuss.) Do you deserve it? No! You come all the way over to Absurdist Paradise and all you expect is a little nourishment, a little levity, a teensy insight. Sorry kids. I'm out. Sarcasm vol au vents anyone?