I’m flying  to London tomorrow.

I hate short-haul flights. It’s bizarre, but I tend to feel sicker, and get more bored and restless, on flights under 5 hours than I do on 24-hour, half-way-across-the-planet globe-trotting adventures with layovers on three continents. On short-haul flights, there are no in-flight movies (not even Mary Poppins, which I once watched 3 times on re-run on one particularly mind-blowing flight from Frankfurt to Melbourne…great times!), no meals, no blankets, and (particularly in the case of Europe in September) no interesting views from the window, because it’s mostly overcast. I’m just lucky I have a daytime flight this time because the only thing I find more sickening than a short-haul flight across Europe is a short-haul flight across Europe in the middle of the night, which disrupt my pathetically sensitive digestive system and make me sick, usually at some really awkward moment, like just before landing.

I hate short-haul flights.

Although I’m not looking forward to the flight, I am looking forward to being back in my office, sitting next to other people madly pursuing their PhDs, being occasionally overwhelmed by the sheer number of errands demanding my attention, feeling guilty that I’m neglecting my research when I do attend to said errands, and proactively searching for any opportunity to procrastinate with my fellow lab inhabitants (this has, on occasion, included some pretty pathetic procrastinatory activities, like cleaning the fridge…and taking out the recycling).

It’s going to be a crazy year.

Despite almost constantly feeling inadequate as a researcher (“Stinkin’ Thinkin’!”, as Al Franken’s Stuart Smalley would say) and being convinced I’ll never make sense of my project, write it up, and submit it on time, I think I do still have hope that I’ll make it somehow, and determination to work hard.

With hope and hard work, I’m pretty sure you can do anything.

As soon as I touch down, I have to get started on the following insane list of tasks:

  • Catch up with my long-suffering supervisors
  • Set up and start running my last set of PhD studies
  • Set up and start running the second part of an over-ambitious side project I naively agreed to do last year
  • Write my thesis chapters from the manuscript drafts I have lying around
  • Attend various conferences to present papers I have sort of forgotten about because there are so many months between submitting an abstract and presenting it
  • Write and submit a few papers
  • Do some teaching, but mercifully less than I have done in previous years
  • Send out various applications to join things, like learned societies, which I’ve been putting off for 2 years
  • Write my postdoc proposal and send postdoc applications
  • Convince myself that I will get through my viva without having blanked out, fainted, or died

I will keep up hope, and I will work hard. Even though the simplest things often take so long to get right, even when I will myself not to be a perfectionist.

I tend to slap myself on the forehead and shriek, “Stop it! Cut the perfectionism!” amidst worried looks from my lab colleagues. Bless them. Although my eccentricity has been long established, people still get concerned about my self-deprecating outbursts.

I will keep up hope and work hard. That’s my thesis!