Tuesday, March 29, 2011

And No KitKat Bar in sight...

I know it is time for break when I check, re-check, and check for a third time my word count and see the same four-digit number pop up. 2,095, in case you were wondering. I would like to take a REAL break, the types of breaks people take when they are not in grad school (like watch TV or read a book or take a nap). Instead, I will clean my kitchen and bathroom and take a minute to organize my desk. I will then take a deep breath, wrap up this paper with 400 words of a conclusion, then call it a night. My iPod will help the tediousness of cleaning, though, so it won't be the worst break ever.

"Good bye, Ruby Tuesday! Who could hang a name on you, when you change with every new day? Still I am going to miss you."

don't stop me now

1,422 words! I am on a roll. I just hope it is in the right direction.


Oh, and an update: I am currently at 988 words out of the 2500. I dug trenches today at work and am now physically wore out. I guess that is a good thing because I lack the motivation to do anything else but sit and type.

type. type. type.

And type some more.

Another blog to follow

I have started a team blog here. I will be a contributor. It is for my trip to England in May. I plan on keeping up with this one as well, but the content will likely be different (or I will just cut and paste between the two, who knows?).

I am looking forward to my trip to England, but am trying to maintain a balance between focusing on my present, planning for my future, and not getting so excited about what tomorrow brings that I trip on my today.

Monday, March 28, 2011

618 of 2500

I forgot how word count could kill. I am currently writing an article that I will submit for at least the George Wright Society Conference Proceedings, but received word that it might get published in the GWS Forum (a journal published by the society). That is exciting for me! And overwhelming. The required word count is up to 2,500 words and I currently have 618 written. Good news, I pumped those 618 words out in about an hour. Bad news, I hit a writing wall. Too bad for me that I have no excuses because I have to submit this puppy by the end of the week (which means it needs to be completed by Wednesday so I can have it reviewed before I send it in). Argh. I have to bound over that writing wall and keep running. There is no rest for the... me.

In other news, I am waiting [not-so] patiently to hear about a potential job in Virginia. It may happen, it may not. In the meantime, I have to finish my thesis very soon in order to graduate in August (the hiring folks want me graduated by then, so now I have no excuse to dilly dally). Good news: this article that I am writing serves as a small part of my last chapter of my thesis. Bad news: I still have to finish the article before I can seriously focus on my chapter.

I wish I could tell stories other than than "I write" or "I work" or "I run" (of which, the time spent running has been shortened drastically to make more time for writing). One day it will happen! One day.

[I just typed "The" in my article so the word count is 619. Go me.]

Sunday, March 20, 2011

happy birthday to me!

Yesterday was the anniversary of the day I left my mother's womb and entered this crazy world. I enjoy my birthday, probably because of the fact that it is designed to be a "me" day. I spent the day visiting two National Park Service sites (insane, I know), Monocacy National Battlefield and Catoctin Mountain Park (where Camp David is located!). NPS 4evah.

In the past few years, I have used my birthday as a time to reflect on my past year (much like people use the holiday on January 1st). What have I done in the last year? How have I changed? How have I grown (and I am not referring to my waist size)? What have I accomplished? What have I not? Since I was fifteen years old, I have written a letter to my one-year-in-the-future-self, about who I am on that day and who I hope to be. At some point today I will write my letter, starting "Dear Twenty-Seven-Year-Old Biz..."

Why is self-reflection even important? I feel it helps me to keep my self-perceived crazy life in context. I can see how I have moved forward and consider my current direction. I can think about my future in relation to my recent past. And especially now, with recent events in Japan and Libya, I can think about my in perspective. What is honestly important (and what have I let overtake my focus that may not be so important?)?

I know I am prone to stressing out (surprise surprise). But maybe I need to identify my true stressors and knock them out. If something affects my life so much that I break down or lose sleep over it, maybe I need to make the effort to remove it. This may sound like common sense to an average person, but it is my own revelation and my own struggle. I think it really hit home when my best friend said to me the other day, "man, I have never known you to not be stressing out about something." Dude. That is almost four years speaking (and she didn't know me the three years before that).

I won't make any resolutions for the year. And the wish I think about as I blow out my candle will most likely only be the same it has been for years, something related to ponies or Prince Charming (does that ever change??). But I have got a fresh start today. And tomorrow. And this week. Spring is a good season to consider life anew.

Friday, March 18, 2011

practically gold

I spent my day at the National Archives II in College Park, Maryland, pouring through War Department records related to the establishment of Stones River National Military Park. I am not sure what a true sign of a dork is, but if deriving sheer excitement from some eight-decade year-old government documents is not a sign, I don't know what is.

I found many supporting evidences for my thesis. I also found some new information that may help my argument in my last chapter. The true treasure in the day lay in the inspiration the whole day provided. I have a huge name to include in my "Acknowledgments" page, a volunteer there I met almost two years ago at the battlefield (Tim is the man). He helped guide me through the whole NARA experience. The security in the building is stricter than that of going through an airport. He also helped me find the correct files, as well as a few other things (like some maps of the Battle of Stones River that the battlefield may not have in its collection).

Between the excellent feedback from my presentation earlier this week, the conversations I had with many individuals at the GWS meeting, and today's discoveries, I am itching to get home and finish my thesis. I have a deadline by the end of April to finish my rough draft before I head to England and wrap up all of the revisions by early June. Then BAM! I will be done and gradeeeeeated by August. Then I will be a big girl! No longer a student! Today is a shiny day.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Noooooo, I'm not nervous at all

I am sitting in my friend's room, all dressed up and ready to go. Freaking out (or better put: freaking in... my roommate is still sleeping). Today I present on a panel at the George Wright Society Biannual Meeting here in New Orleans. Yee Haw! I am not going to lie: I am nervous. Every time I do this, I get nervous. This ain my first rodeo. Agh! But this might be where I fall off my bucking horse!

I tell myself I will do fine. Everybody who knows me expresses their faith in me. But I still feel inadequate on mornings before big presentations. So I will be taking deep breaths between now and 4pm, praying very hard. Five counts in, five counts out, I can do this.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Greetings, Old Friend

We meet again, BNA. I missed your bustle of people traveling to and from and everywhere in between. I missed your soft music interrupted with announcements of gate changes and baggage unattendance. Your patterned carpet contrasted with the geometric-shaped chairs. Your bathrooms with the automatic everything. Your recycled air.

I missed the buzz of anticipation. The hum of excitement, girded with the minor tone of traveled stress. I live for these moments. I am about to see somewhere new! Or maybe visit a familiar face! I will take off here and land… somewhere else. I am at my least level of high-strungness sitting in your terminals. These are the precious moments that I can do nothing but wait, watch, and imagine what my trip has in store. Freaking out serves no purpose. Worrying helps nothing. Breathing calmly helps sharpen my senses.

Tomorrow the sun will greet me in another city, in another state. Oh, happy days, those I get to travel! Off I go!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Pep Talk (to me)

You got this! You rule! I know, I know. It has been a long road getting here. But this is your last obstacle to overcome. You can practically see the finish line from here! Just imagine the relief you will experience after you submit your thesis. Think of the massive amount of free time! And while you know this does not have to be your opus magnum, you know you want to be proud of your writing. Once this is published by the university, it will be searchable! And it will remain among the battlefield archive for years. Decades, even, if Willard's thesis is any example. People will be mispronouncing your last name in association with your research for a very long time.

You know this is just a dip in the road. Shake it off, water off of a duck's back. Remember that bad is never good until worse happens. And this ain' that bad. Just a few more months, really only a few more weeks left of this. Pull up your bootstraps and overcome this mental obstacle. You got this.


Since I have started this whole writing-my-thesis thing, I have collectively stared at my screen for probably hundreds of hours. It isn't making sense anymore! It looks like a bunch of letters on the screen. Last week, I had my thesis "up" and felt on a roll. My argument flowed smoothly. Ahhhhhh.

Now I am on a thesis "down." So I am going to pout: ThisisdumbwhydoIhavetodothisIsisevenworthitsighIwanttogoplayhelp!

Pshew. Now that is off my chest. I am going to go make some chamomile tea and try to refocus. Deep breath, this is not the end of the world. It might be spinning so fast that I will fall off the planet entirely, but it isn't the end.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

rule #32: enjoy the little things

Today was a long day. Tomorrow will be even longer. I can't really complain about today's length, because I have got a job that I like. But it often wears me out.

Before I decided to crawl under my covers for that brief interlude from life called "sleep," I sat at my computer to check some emails and discovered this:

It really is the little things.