Monday, January 31, 2011

I avoided a trip to MambyPamby Land... This time.

I made it to the library. I may not accomplish a lot this evening, but every step towards graduating is one less step I have to take later.

I have my roommate to thank for shaming me into feeling bad about feeling sorry for myself. She was most likely tempted to send me to MambyPamby Land to gain some self-confidence, but she overcame and instead berated my pity-party. I will make sure she gets mentioned on my "Acknowledgements" page. If this ever actually gets written...

"I don't want to risk side-tracking you"

So I got an email today from my thesis advisor. Evidently she wants to give me feedback about my chapter in person rather than via email, so I won't puzzle over any of her comments. I don't know how I feel about that. She mentioned that the meeting should only last 15-20 minutes (how long does it take to say "it stinks," I wonder?). She also said she didn't want to side track my writing of my second chapter. Well, how bad was the first chapter? So now I am nervous. I don't think that what I wrote was horrible, but maybe it was not what she was looking for. Maybe I get to start from Square One again? Yay! Not.

I am trying not to let this little piece of news bother me. Unfortunately, that little burr has nestled under my skin and is disrupting my focus. Argh! I had hoped to wrap up my second chapter this week. I leave on Sunday for the Grand Canyon for two weeks and I know I will not be writing then. Tonight would be a good night to write. But I think I am going to go pout and watch a movie.

That thesis certainly won't write itself. But neither will the movie watch itself...

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Suavitel to no avail

In an attempt to remind me of "home," I purchased a series of detergents and fabric softeners that I know my parents use. I took the extra time and tender, loving, care to make my laundry feel and smell like they do when laundry gets done at home (and I say "gets done," because sometimes parents do my laundry and I get to kick my feet back... I don't let go and let others do for me very often...).

Stupid Morning Sun Suavitel! You let me down! My towels still are not quite as full. My shirts are still not quite as soft. My linens hint of an odor that reminds me of home, but it is not the same. Ugh.

Very few things remind me of home, as home was never one place for very long. Laundry detergent is one thing that remained fairly consistent, regardless of what house we lived in. I guess Dorothy had something. There really is no place (or in my case, fluffy laundry) like home.

Saturday, January 22, 2011

bloggity blog blog blog

I respect the piece of advice given to me earlier in the week by a friend who told me to find what I do well and do it. His advice intended to help me lighten my own load while encouraging me to not be afraid to say "no" when I can't, shouldn't, or don't want to do something (because I-Can-Do-It-Girl struck again!). I have this insane knack for filling up my proverbial plate so much that I start to drop things.

I almost had an opportunity to say "no" yesterday, but couldn't because it was a friend who asked. Who says "no" to a friend? Argh. So I continue forward. I have much to do in the next five months. I am still writing on my thesis, though my second chapter is not going as fast as my first one (heck, the first one only took 3 years to complete...). I still have my weekly commitments. And work. Workity work work. I have a training in Arizona in two weeks, then I present research at a conference in New Orleans in March. Then I will be gone the entire month of May on Group Study Exchange to England (of which I will be blogging about separate here).

But, like Helen Keller said, "Life is either a daring adventure or nothing." So tonight I will stop a minute, take a deep breath, organize the mess my research has recreated in my room, write out my to-dos, schedules, and calendarings, and look to the future. My anticipation for the future may create a constant buzzing of stress, but I know I don't have any regrets. I live this daring adventure to its fullest.

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Cue the [fill in the blank]

I just clicked the "send" button and submitted the first chapter of my thesis to my advisors. I am not sure if I should cue the applause, a drum roll, or a blood-curdling scream. First, I think I had planned to have finished already and not just starting with the finishing-my-last-task-to-graduate part. So while I want to be excited, I really just feel kind of lame. Second, I know my professor(s) and the tearing up that is about to commence. It might prove a little discouraging, and more work, but I can handle it. And this is only the first of three chapters...

But it is kind of a big thing for me to submit that one. I can hear the sound playing in my dad's head when he reads that I have officially started the beginning of the end of graduate school.

Next up, finish my second chapter and click on "send." I won't even know what to do with myself when all of this is over.

Friday, January 14, 2011

RIP Athena

In early December I totaled my car. While driving home from babysitting on a below-freezing night, my car smashed into the side of the road and ended up bouncing back out of a ditch. Crazy times. The appraiser said that the car absorbed the impact (and the design of the car potentially saved my life) but indeed, it was totaled. I shook it off, flew off on a whirlwind Christmas trip to Europe to see my parents, then hit the ground running upon my return to Tennessee.

This may sound stupid, but I did not get a chance to give my old car a proper farewell. I loved Athena. She and I shared a good many miles together (well over 65,000 miles in about four years). We laughed. We cried. We zipped around. Some of my best of times and worst of times in the last four years I experienced with Athena. After I got back, my insurance towed the beautiful, very broken car away while I was at work, and I never officially said my "goodbye."
Me and Athena, taking in the Florida sun

My drive home from tonight's babysitting gig (after a regular 8-hour work day... I'm plumb wore out) provided me a moment (well, 20 minutes-worth of driving time) to ponder my "grief." I don't necessarily mourn my car (although I miss the seat heaters). I think I struggle with this life change. I face several changes this year and plenty of uncertainty. I will graduate. I will get a new job and most likely move. I will travel to Arizona, Louisiana, and England within the first 5 months of the year. And while my new car is a smooth (and safe) ride, my old car was a comfort, something consistent, something stable.

Louisa May Alcott reportedly said "I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship." I am learning, too. I can't quite make out the horizon to see if there are clouds, but I know they are inevitable. I just have to learn to ride the waves as they hit.

Monday, January 10, 2011

I can't help myself

Three posts in one day, what?! Well, I have justified my blogging exuberance based on the amount I have accomplished on my thesis today. Thank the Lord for snow days. I stayed inside. I couldn't even pretend like some errands were going to be more important than writing because I couldn't argue that any errands were important enough to brave the slick roads.

I am about 90% done with my first chapter [curtsy, curtsy]. I still need to verify all of my citations (don't want to get busted for plagiarizing, even if on accident), add three more citations from sources found at the battlefield (again, those slick roads...), and self-revise the document before sending it along. Woo. Heck, I am on a roll here. I might just go ahead and get my second chapter rolling, too. Or maybe I will pop some popcorn and snuggle under my blankets to watch some movies. IT IS a snow day, after all...

And people wonder why this takes so long...

An excerpt from my thesis:

"Cosgrove called this idea “dual ambiguity.” He argued, “the dual ambiguity… purchases landscape’s continued value in a geography which aims to comprehend terrestrial space as both subject and object of human agency, in a geography which finds its aims and methods more closely aligned to those of the humanities and the hermeneutic modes of understanding than with the natural sciences.” This dichotomy provides a connection between the two ideas of cultural landscapes as natural entity and cultural landscapes as a form of perception. The human elements, the natural elements, and their interactions continually progress with time."

I just broke my brain. Again.


I am momentarily trapped in my house... by 3 inches of snow. Because of this county's lack of snow, it takes a while for roads to clear. That's ok. My forced inside time gives me an opportunity to write. I wrote a little yesterday and am about 5 pages shy of my first chapter. That also means I am still on the schedule I had set for myself in December.

That's weird.

I will continue to press toward finishing by May. In May, I am going to England with the Rotary Club on a vocational exchange program. If I stay on track, I will go on that trip completely thesis-free. What a weird thought after having "thesis" on my brain for almost four years (yep, I became one of "those" students... the ones that people use as an example for new grad students to get done in a timely manner). I should not get ahead of myself, but I wonder what it is like to walk around without that mental strain weighing me down with everything I do? I wonder if I will float a little? I should probably consider getting a string or some rope to tie to my waist so people around me can pull me back to Earth when I start levitating.

(P.S. I am fully aware that I am on a positive writing-streak and that is why I have my positive outlook. I am also aware of this roller coaster ride called "life" and there will be days in my future where I will want to set my computer on fire because of my frustrations. It happens.)

Saturday, January 8, 2011

uniform malfunction (or operator headspace)

Last week, as part of our 148th anniversary commemoration activities at the park, I gave several talks and tours throughout the week. For one tour, I lead five guys of varying ages around the park (the youngest was nine years old, the oldest was in his sixties). It was not until after the tour, after the touring visitors had dispersed, that I realized my fly had been undone. It was most likely unzipped for the entire tour and none of my male tourees mentioned it.

Because that is not embarrassing.

In other news, I am sore from more chainsawing (an addictive activity), I continue to add page after painful page to my thesis, I had a fantastic holiday break, and am expecting a heck of a lot of snow tomorrow. More on all of that. Later.