You are currently browsing the tag archive for the ‘blogging’ tag.

First thing’s first – here’s Assange’s address from last night: http://wikileaks.org/Statement-by-Julian-Assange-after.html

Secondly, while I’m aware some of you follow this blog more regularly than others, I should probably say that I won’t be blogging as regularly as I usually do for the next few months. That’s because ‘crunch time’ has finally arrived – I have run my last study, analysed the data, and now I must go into the self-imposed solitary confinement I’ve promised myself I will, I must, go into, to finish writing my thesis.

Writing my thesis.

It has a funny ring to it when you say it out loud. I’ve been doing the field work, the desk work, the paperwork for this thing for two and a half years; there’s so much work piled up that’s been done. Everything’s done, and just waiting around to get written up. I terrifies me.

Come March, I must have the full thesis written, complete, reviewed, edited, formatted, and ready to go. I am in a state of disbelief that this could even be possible. And yet, I know, it can and must be done.

And if you are working on your own thesis right now, take heart, and keep working with the faith that you too will reach your goal in the end! A PhD is a long and lonely journey. That’s what my supervisor warned me at the very beginning, when I was first considering putting an application in to grad school. But I said I’d take the hit, and so, here I am. I have come this far, and now I am going to give it one last shot to make the home run. And so are you! We will accomplish this, all together.

And now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to go write my thesis.

Onwards and upwards!

Disclaimer: No particular logic was employed in entitling or composing this post. I take no responsibility for any confusion, incredulity, or insanity that may result from reading it.

Today is such a blah sort of day. For those of you who may still be at the start of your PhDs, trust me, towards the end, just about every day will be a blah sort of day. That means you will have a seemingly endless number of things to do, but, rather than worry and try to keep up with them as you did in the beginning, you will take on a relaxed, apathetic kind of attitude that will still ensure you get things done eventually, but will freak out everyone around you in the process. It being a blah day, however, you will not care much about this, and will continue blahing around until there is blah no more.

This being my first and, so far, only time doing a PhD, I am still uncertain of how this actually works, but I will make sure I continue blogging about it to inform future generations of PhD-goers.

I had a quick-catch-up-before-Christmas-and-the-foreseeable-future meeting with my third supervisor on Saturday (yes, we occasionally come in to the office on weekends…academia is such a passionate place) and in all honesty I came out with more questions than when I went in. So many different things to chase up, look up, finish up. I have a meeting with my second supervisor tomorrow. No doubt that’s going to be just as chaotic, stirring up another list of things to do and not doing much to resolve others. Why is it that after two and a half years of virtually non-stop work and countless attempts at early preparation and drafting, my last few months of being a PhD student seem more hectic than ever? Sometimes I get the feeling I have the completely wrong idea of when this is going to end – it doesn’t end when you enter write-up, not when you submit, not when you have your viva, not even when you do your corrections, but when you get your certificate in the post. When you’ve got your certificate in the post, that’s it, you’ve got your PhD. That’s when all the PhD-related chaos finally comes to an end.

Of course, that’s when the postdoc-related chaos begins. But I don’t fancy writing about that right now.

Today is a blah sort of day. I have more on my ever-rolling To-Do list than I did last week, even though I thought the opposite would be the case. For my supervisory meeting tomorrow, I have to re-run all my analyses ready to show my supervisor, and track down some admin forms for her. For my other supervisors, I have a list of things to run after from our meeting on the weekend – mainly papers and other literature, but I also have to do the reading and actually work some kind of interpretation into my analysis, because field research is only ever quasi-experimental. Oh, the joys of social science!

Apart from all that, I also have to do that little job that’s been pushed back continuously for several months now…what was it again? Ah yes, writing my thesis.

Too bad you can’t write blah blah blah in that.

Do you believe the web should stay free of censorship and open to all people across the world? If the answer is yes, please take a minute to support this petition run by Google to campaign against government control of the Internet:

Take Action

Support liberty in all its forms!

 

 

 

Yesterday I did absolutely no work on my PhD.

At all.

I mean, usually I’ll at least make the effort to open one of my draft documents and stare at it for a while, willing myself to write something, even if it’s just a sentence or two, or I’ll read some papers from my literature folder and will myself to come up with some amazing new research idea. But yesterday I did nothing at all. I spent the morning bumming around on the internet, wandering aimlessly from one site to another, just looking at different things out of curiosity. Then I had lunch. After lunch I was exhausted from doing so much nothing all morning, so I napped for about 4 hours. Then I spent a couple hours reading a humorous self-help book (I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, And Doggone It, People Like Me!, by Stuart Smalley, but really by Al Franken – a brilliant collection of pick-me-up diary entries). Then I had dinner. After dinner, I watched Ellen, Jay Leno, and Conan. Then I went to bed.

And all through the day I couldn’t believe how exhausted I felt by having done nothing. It’s like I’ve been without inspiration for my PhD for so long I’ve forgotten what it’s like to have that get-up-and-go attitude towards my work. Right now I’m in a place that’s eerily quiet, except for my own inner voice telling me that hope seems to be fading, and misty that I cannot even see what’s around me.

And the one thing that’s constantly in my mind, day and night, is that I want to, have to, submit in May; that there is so much work still to be done; and that I have absolutely no idea how to do it.

Yes, this is me, the one who used to work 85-hour weeks on my PhD, enthusiastically planning studies, writing up papers, and dreaming about the next conference in my diary. Well, OK, I still work 85-hour weeks, but most of those hours are spent worrying about my PhD rather than actually doing anything productive.

Where O where did that energetic young lass go!? I feel like I’m a decade older than I am. I guess PhDs age you, like wine. I’m just not sure the result is as sought-after. Hmm…

Yes. Today I blog from the quiet, misty depths of complete, unadultered inspirationlessness.

I have an ideal ‘me’ in my mind I’d like to be. In those inspirational Hollywood films where a protagonist struggles and struggles, and then finally finds a way to succeed. In those time-lapse montages they have, of the protagonist working away, diligently, with intense concentration, we get lost in the soundtrack of slow, yet fast-forwarded progress. In Misery, the trapped Paul Sheldon sits at his typewriter, tapping away tirelessly at the keys, churning out page after page of work, stretching, grimacing, straining his neck, churning out more pages. Eventually, he finishes the book.

Mine is still hopelessly at its beginning.

I guess I’m blogging about this because I feel better blogging than not doing anything at all. At least this gives me half a chance to reflect on how I feel and what I think, and maybe, how I could find a way to get out of this annoying ditch.

I really just want to get out!

Here are some of the strategies I’ve tried:

  • Constructing those tables that list every section and subsection of a given thesis chapter, their main argument, the lesser points within that argument, and the evidence to be cited there in;
  • Just free writing without any planning;
  • Writing in a casual style as if I were explaining the material to an interested lay person;
  • Typing on the computer;
  • Writing with pen and paper, old school;
  • Writing at my desk;
  • Writing on the balcony with a sea view;
  • Writing in my journal randomly, alternating at will between my PhD, life, and my PhD again.

Annoyingly, none of the above has worked lastingly, and I just don’t feel I have produced as much work to as high a standard as I could or should have. I feel I’ve been mucking around, without a clear goal in mind, except that I want to finish my PhD, and that I haven’t really been doing much to achieve that.

Just like the grass always looks greener on the neighbour’s side of the fence, I guess everyone else’s PhD looks better from here compared to mine. And as much as I know it’s a misconception, it really does seem like everyone else has better ideas, is doing better research, has published more papers, is writing more words, paragraphs, and chapters, and is just generally more worthwhile than I am as a researcher.

So there.

Now, I know that’s not true. I know, and believe, that we – all PhD students – are about as good as each other. That’s why there are generally fewer classification systems for doctorates than there are for, say, undergraduate or Masters degrees: Because it’s generally accepted that whoever is smart enough to start a PhD in the first place, be fired with enthusiasm for it, keep working on it diligently even after that enthusiasm fades, endure the late nights, early mornings, all-nighters, cracked knuckles, sprained spines, throbbing eyeballs, splitting migraines, and aching wrists that come with the job, take the criticism, defy the marking-undergraduate-papers-induced insanity, write the thesis, and somehow make it to the viva alive, will get their PhD, and there isn’t really much point in classifying different levels of PhDs.

So where am I going with all of this?

Well, I have no idea. That’s what I love about blogging – it’s perfectly acceptable to have no idea what you’re trying to say. Unlike writing your thesis. I guess that’s what I’m trying to say.

From the quiet misty depths of inspirationlessness, signing off now.

Peace.

I’ve already dealt with a host of generally nerve-wracking chores this morning, which, admittedly, has lowered my sense of agitation somewhat, though I could not get started on cleaning up my thousand-participant data file this morning without first blogging out this insanely bittersweet rant about nothing in particular.

Well, thank God for blogs.

While it has only been so long since I started using this blog in earnest, I feel better once I’ve blogged out, no matter how little sense it would probably make to someone else. I suppose, in a way, blogs can take the place of people who are no longer around to share our daily nonsense rants. I sometimes try to convince myself it’s all for the better that things have worked out this way – dead man or no dead man, blog or no blog. I try to convince myself in earnest that I have been mistaken that I was ever a worthwhile friend and that right now, the best thing I can do is throw myself into my work and categorically stop wishing that I were an accepted part of the seemingly cohesive social circles that surround me. I can’t be who they are. I will never be who they are. I will always feel, and therefore be, different, have different views of the world, and different priorities, and I will never have the time to commit to them wholly, and therefore I will never become a part of those circles. Most of the time, I don’t even know what they get up to.

I realise none of this makes any sense. That’s why I say thank God for blogs.

Sometimes I wish I could afford to be less of a workaholic and more of the laid back social animals my colleagues seem to be. But I can’t. Sometimes – often, even – I wish I had a face easier to read so that people would know that I need a hug. A really big, really warm, really accepting hug. But I don’t. I never will, and mostly, it’s of my own making, because I’m that reserved and stubborn that I swerve away from the people I’d like to know more about simply because I’m afraid I’d bore them. It’s this ivory tower I’ve shut myself in that lets me get so much work done, and that’s what other people marvel at when they praise all I achieve. Yes, I achieve a lot, but so what. Hard work speaks for itself, and whatever work I do now is for myself. That’s not what’s important.

“What’s important in life?” asked one of my classmates in an Individual Differences seminar when I was an undergrad. The subject was the critical review of a paper concerning the overt expression of emotional experiences in individualist versus collectivist cultures. How we got onto values escapes me. But suddenly the question was asked, and it got me to thinking what really is important in life. However much science and technology can make our lives easier and get us closer to the hypothetical ‘truth’, those things only matter insofar as we base them on what we hold to be important. If we did not hold them to be important, we would be concerned with other things and society would have grown to evolve other institutions.

What’s important in life is friends and family and the sense of assurance you feel when you know they’re fine. When you don’t have that, work, play, and anything else you do feels as meaningless and mundane as…well. Whatever.

Then you hear the laughter coming from the offices down the corridor and the lively conversations they have that you can’t follow because you’re not part of their circles, and you see them buzzing up and down working on their projects, and then you look at yourself in your own unfrequented office and the hours you spend staring at your screen in silence, trying not to notice the excitement around you that you can never be part of, and you feel ridiculous because the only likely outlet you seem to have to rant about such ridiculousness is this blog.

For goodness’ sake.

Today is one of those days when I wish I could just disappear from this place and never have to come back, and I know that if that were possible, no one would really notice my absence.

Friend of WikiLeaks

July 2020
M T W T F S S
 12345
6789101112
13141516171819
20212223242526
2728293031  

Categories

Enter your email address to follow this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.

Join 96 other followers

The Final Countdown

Submission of PhD ThesisMay 1st, 2013
The big day is here. Joy to the world!