Friday, February 26, 2010


I was going to have a lovely new post today (I've been thinking about this one for weeks, really!), but am sick, sick, sick! Leaving the office shortly for a day of napping, reading, tea-drinking and more napping. Maybe a nap in there, too.

I can't complain too much since I rarely get sick - and since I will probably recover by the end of the weekend. I am generally amazingly healthy and so have no right to complain. Still, I am feeling rather sorry for myself.

I dreamt last night that I had 2 blogs. The other one was way more interesting, so when I found out that I was its author, I was super-excited: me? that is me? sweeet!!!

I dreamt the other night of 2 glasses. They were so simple, such perfectly clear glass, free from all decoration, just straight lines and wonderful clarity. One was slightly taller than the other and they stood side-by-side on the curb of a sidewalk (of all places!). They were so beautiful together. But they weren't real, and in my dream I knew that. They were actually covered with colors and patterns and etching. The perfect glasses were in a vision within the dream and I couldn't see them otherwise. This was, strangely, a happy dream.

More next week. Really. When my writing is not so punctuated with spelling mistakes and grammar deficiencies. When I've removed the cotton from between my ears and drained the lead from my arms. Then I will write.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

stay tuned ....

new posts are indeed in the works!

I've been busy being, well, productive lately. It's really strange. Good, but weird.

- I've been exercising every day - at least 30 min/day on the exercycle and a strength routine about 4/7 days

- I've been keeping up on dishes, laundry, tidying and even bed-making - again, every day.

- I've been menu-planning and eating real, wholesome, balanced meals ... every day

- I've been reading for chapter 2 of my dissertation - need I say it? - every day - doggedly crossing off chapters from my To Do list.

- I haven't yet worked in the time to work on blog posts, but I'm um, working on working on it ...

Monday, February 15, 2010

the combined power of incompetence and persistence

is a workable chart listing my reading list. After frustrating myself with columns in a Word doc, it finally occurred to me that an Excel sheet already has adjustable columns. Still, the thing took forever and I'm not sure if the 2 hours I spent on it were justifiable or not. Glorified procrastinating? Whatever. I just need to use the darn thing now.

In happier news, I am inspired to go home and make dinner. I have everything I need to make a satisfying pasta alla carbonara. Great big bowl of cheesy, eggy, bacony, peppery pasta goodness, here I come!


Am in the process of trying to pin down a date for my dissertation proposal defense. It was almost there. And then almost there. And now it is just up in the air.

There is still much to do. I have a rather intense list of books, chapters and articles with which I'd like to be familiar before I defend this proposal. This list, luckily, happens to also be my reading list for chapter 2. The more familiar I am with this before the defense, the better I can discuss the project as a whole and the faster I can write a draft of chapter 2.

Though I submitted my proposal draft on Thursday, I have not yet begun work on that reading list. Dragging my feet a little. Reading will begin ... tonight. Yes. Tonight.

Yesterday I felt inexplicably tired. I find that days like that are rather good for completing necessary but dull chores. I put away laundry, changed my bed linens, scrubbed the toilet and bathroom sink, organized clutter. I baked 2 different kinds of muffins and froze them. I made four 1-serving portions of chicken with tomatoes and thyme and froze those for lazy evenings. I cleaned the kitchen. Organized the freezer (that may have been the most satisfying part of the day) and cleaned out the refrigerator. Exercycled. Went grocery shopping. It ended up being a wonderfully productive day, even if I didn't do any academic work.

To Do:
- Cull readings from bibliography for Ch. 2/defense preparation.
- Break them down into chapters.
- Include a nice, neat column for checking them off.
- Post that to this blog so its format can be admired. Or not...

Tuesday, February 9, 2010

A carrot!

I had a long and lovely lunch with a friend on Saturday (mmm. m.henry.). I told her that my dissertation director expects me to defend my dissertation proposal by the first week of March. She looked excited and pleased and asked that very, very important question: "What will you wear?"

What will I wear indeed?! Important question! Do I go full-on ironic and wear a hyper-conservative navy suit - 2" pumps, pearls and understated makeup? Do I try for something more post-modern and wear mining overalls, spectator pumps and a lab coat? Or maybe I should try for head-to-toe tweed and punked out hair. No matter what I choose, what I wear will say as much about my project as what I say - or else I undermine my own work (on that which is not said), so it is of the utmost importance.

However, I am not allowed to seriously consider the wardrobe component of my proposal until after I have set a date for my proposal defense. That is the carrot. I am allowed to go shopping (joy!) when I've set a defense date.

Taking suggestions....

Friday, February 5, 2010

Neuroses, snobbery and general melodrama

In my head this is what happens every time I think of completing my dissertation:

I go on the job market. There is nothing. Nothing at all. I scrape by for a time. Perhaps I move in with my mother for a year. (*shudder*) Then, eventually, finally, I get a job offer. Full-time teaching position. At Exile University, in Noplace, which is in the middle of the state of Nowhere, USA.

Exile U. is a small liberal arts college located in a town so small its population triples when school is in session. Or maybe it is a community-type college in close proximity to 3 or 4 dead or dying villages.

To do anything in middle-Nowhere, one must have a car. The grocery store (there's really only one. Or maybe there are 2 outposts of the same chain.), one must drive a minimum of 10 miles. Probably more. Unless one wishes to shop at the gas station (of which there are several) for most of her groceries.
One must buy plenty of groceries, as the restaurants are either fast-food, major chains (Applebees anyone?) or family-style restaurants. There may be a pizza parlor. It will be very popular. More popular than the food (canned sauce? frozen dough? cardboard-y pepperoni?), the wine (mmm. Black Opal...), or the service (yes, I would like a clean fork. If it's not too much trouble...) can justify.

The rent is cheap in middle-Nowhere, which means I can afford a garage for the car I have to purchase, and I have space for the furniture I don't have. The extra bedroom-cum-study is nice. The extra space unnerves me. Cat and I rattle around like two dried beans (thank goodness Rancho Gordo delivers!) in a bell, er, Ball jar.

The sidewalks are poorly maintained here in Noplace, Nowhere. Or they are smooth and plentiful in the 'shopping district' - which takes up about 4 blocks. Or perhaps there are more interstate highways than village roads and biking and walking don't feel safe. It is not convenient to walk anywhere in Noplace. There is no gym. Or there is one. Or the college has a small, cramped room that serves as a fitness center. I keep my exercycle and pedal to movie after movie after movie.

There is no local, small/mid-size roaster in Noplace (or anywhere nearby). I stop drinking coffee. Tea is not so difficult to mail-order. Perhaps there is a coffee shop. They will call drip coffee with Hershey's syrup a caffe mocha. I drink my tea at home. I miss the camaraderie of the small cafe.

I will be able to afford to have internet service at home with my new job at Exile. My preservation! I am able to maintain my friendships for a time, exchanging messages about our new, then less new, then old accomplishments and mileposts. The frequency with which these messages are exchanged, however, decreases. Perhaps we only see each other at conferences and the occasional wedding. Perhaps one's teaching load is not conducive to conference attendance. Perhaps we don't really keep in touch very much at all. But we're busy. Very busy. So that's understandable. That's okay.

So I'm already thinking of what kind of car I should consider (2-door Toyota Tercel. I think they're so cute. Red. I usually have red cars); whether I should rent a small house or a large-ish apartment; whether I should get some serious free weights so I can build a home gym when I leave. This is not helpful. My hope - perhaps an ambitious one - is that by exposing my dramatic, excessive anxiety, I can begin to laugh at it. Oh, and remember that none of it, not any of it at all, is real. At least not yet ....

Tuesday, February 2, 2010

in my out-loud voice

It has not slipped my observation that anxiety about my life post-dissertation is what fills my shoes with lead. I'm happy here. I have friends. I have a cozy living space. This city is a wonderful one and suits my lifestyle. There are more things for me to do than time or energy with which to do them. When I think of finishing up this degree, any anticipation of accomplishment is immediately accompanied by the dread of leaving - I cannot separate the completion of my degree from the inevitability of leaving Chicago. Thinking about Ph.D-me means thinking about my eventual banishment from city, friends, life.

It appears more pleasant - or perhaps simply less painful - to take forever with this dissertation. How can I be excited about the project that will only bring about my future poverty and loneliness?