Tuesday, June 5, 2007

Day 2 of Professorial Life Experiment with Eruptions of Tabby-Love

My gorgeous tabby cat is sleeping in a patch of sun coming in from the windows. He's just beautiful. This is a change from his usual post at the window, watching the birds. (I think I shut the blinds, so that might explain his change of location.) He's an old cat. I've had him since I was in my early twenties, when I was in college, before I got married, moved, moved again, divorced, worked a real job that made me feel like I knew something, came to Grad City U to devote myself to professorial life. So he's been with me a lot of years. (Oooops, he's up. And meowing at me. I think he wants me to say mraaaar to y'all. Now he's going to sit on the desk and make it hard for me to type.) He's not well -- he's got high blood pressure and hyperthyroidism and the suggestion of renal problems to come. Since I don't have to go to school -- or go out much -- we've been spending a lot of time together, just the two of us. We watch the birds. We take naps. We curl up. I'm not sure why I felt I had to blog this; perhaps it was reading Post-Doc's pensive posts. Anyway, I'm a cat person, the sort of caricature of a blogger who types in her pajamas and swats her cat's tail away.

At least, I was until the last hour or so. I got up at a luxurious 10am, journaled and read blogs and emailed and generally typed about until about 1, then began to work on that issue/problem I said I would. I ate lunch (amazing for me that I ate before 4) and researched through the proxy server. All in my pajamas. Finally, around 4 or so, accepting that no one article was going to say exactly what I'm saying about this issue (it would be so nice to just do the whole as this brilliant person says. . . on this one) and that I really am going to have to put a couple different threads of conversation on this topic together, I printed a bunch of articles out and finally took a shower, went to Blockbuster since it is New Release day and rented four and bought three DVDs. (I bought Stranger than Fiction, which is one of those must-haves every writer should own, Blood Diamond, which is now a part of my Big Film Theory even though I don't do film except here on the blog, and Casino Royale, which longtime readers will remember I watched every day for like three or four days when I first rented it, being a longtime James Bond fan and totally floored at how much I loved this one.)

But believe it or not, I didn't mean to get all caught up in writing about Mr. Tabby or movies. I wanted to write about this problem/issue. I got to my stance/argument on this issue on the basis of my own thinking and experience and maybe one or two of the articles I'm now figuring I'll reference, plus some general knowledge of a whole thread of conversation in my field. But a piece of scholarly writing shouldn't always be an intellectual history, should it? So I was looking for someone else to speak my critique, because I don't think it's so damn amazing or anything -- and I felt sure someone would say it by now. And damn it, they won't! It's getting to feel like a willful refusal! This is great from the perspective of having another possible article I could write. On the other hand, I'd rather not focus on this now, when I have plenty of arguments going on already in this dissertation. To me, this issue is a big aside. But one of my readers told me I misrepresented the field, which I kind of did because I didn't stipulate exactly which conversation in my field I was critiquing. OY!

Okay, maybe not an article. A conference paper. I really just wouldn't want to write it, though I can see that with all the crap I printed out, I'm kind of already going to be writing it. And one thing hindering my process here is that I now realize that I didn't copy everything I need from my laptop onto my pen drive. I keep a running bibliography of what I read. This way, I can take out quotes and write off them, engaging in a conversation with the text that can later be cut and pasted into other things. I started this when I was working on my comps -- and when a very productive scholar told me that he kept a running bib, I thought, I already have a jump on that. Often (not always), I've been able to write about some particular idea from a particular text without having the text in front of me because of keeping that bib. But I usually read on my bed and then have my laptop and it feels all weird to try to read at my desk (I have a tail swatting me, by the way) and type, especially since Mr. Tabby usually wants my undivided attention at the desk. On the bed, he's got better things to do -- he must supervise what's going on outside. (Now he's in my lap.) So I have to figure out some new process while those computer people monopolize my laptop.

I didn't write a ton, but I think I've got a bunch of different threads of discussion covered -- and I've got some stuff to read and re-read, which is always fun. So tomorrow, I'll read and bib and freewrite. If I could always have Mr. Tabby when I work, I assure you it would all be much more fun. I don't know what I'm going to do when I'm in an office where I can't take a break to eat something, stare at the birds, watch TV, and take a nap. Then get back to work. Compared to writing the diss, I'm going in slow motion. But since my deadline for having the revisions back is two weeks away, I feel like I can take some time. Maybe I shouldn't, maybe I really should be hauling ass, but now I feel productive yet still like a person. (Except that I haven't seen friends in a while. But this weekend will change all that.) I feel like a summering professional rather than a crazed apprentice. (Mr. Tabby's all curled up on my lap. What am I going to do? I don't like to disturb him, but I kinda thought I was going to go watch one of the many movies I rented. Sigh.)

My big goal to add to my experiment with my new professional life schedule is to journal a bit in the evenings. I didn't manage that last night, but tonight, I hope to. (Mr. Tabby's so cute, trying to get comfortable for nice long nap on my lap. I'm going to have to move him because my leg is starting to hurt. Oh how I love this old curmudgeonly cat!)


Sisyphus said...

Your cat sounds so cute and fuzzily wonderful --- scratch his ears for me.

And I had thought the title of the last post meant you were talking about graduation robes, but this post reveals the pajama-clad truth, oho!

Is the "intellectual history of an idea" going in the dissertation, or the article with Senior Scholar? I was under the impression that these histories were a huge part of the diss. process and your proof that you know the field and can do research. So you'll have to go on and on about it at great length. But then, you take it out from the book version, cause everyone else knows it. So confusing. My committee member, the crazy and cryptic one, says that footnotes are the space of anxiety, which I take to mean that all this referencing and historicizing and defining of things goes in the footnotes, where my committee can avoid reading them. Heh.

Could I be any more long-winded in your comments? Ah well.

Earnest English said...

Sis: This is for my diss. Instead of the sort of lit review I've seen in a lot of dissertations and even proto-books, I have this sort of positioning myself in relation to thinkers I'd consider forebears in certain places and then I'm done. When I asked PA at various points about lit reviewing to "prove" I knew the field, she said that people know I know the field, that I proved that in my comps and the goal of this work is actually different -- to demonstrate I have something new to say in the field. I think that for my readers it's the way I go about making knowledge in my diss that demonstrates that I know the field, if that makes sense. My readers said pretty universally that my footnotes didn't advance my arguments and could be done away with actually. But I think that the process is pretty individual. Or maybe they just want me out the door already, so they're letting me do whatever. Who knows?!