Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Dear World: Please do all my work for me while I eat ice cream. Kthxbye.

So, I had a thought. And I’m going to try and think through this even though it is probably really just another form of procrastination for myself.

I am waiting to hear back on my dissertation, and that makes sense as I do need people to sign off on it, but also, I’m kinda sitting around avoiding doing anything right now. I’ve got my abstract to write, I’ve got my job letter to update, I’ve got two articles to revamp and send out again for consideration. There’s a commonality to all of these ---- I am not working on them because I am waiting for feedback on them. But I don't really need to get feedback on them; I could do them on my own right now. I think that secretly I want someone to tell me what to do with them, give me orders, do the work of thinking through them for me. I think it’s partly that I’m a little afraid and partly passivity --- I’m not really taking responsibility here for the “ownness” of my own work.

And that seems silly ---- the kind of thinking I need to put behind me now that I really am all but dissertated. Really, how can I justify my claim to an 8-cornered floppy tam if I’m going to sit around and wait for someone to do the work, or at least all the planning of work, for me? That won’t get me far as a real boy professor. I’d say “Man up, Cog!” if that worked gender-wise, and “woman up” just sounds silly. “Grad up, Cog!” Maybe that works.

So I am avoiding on all of these because they are hard work right now --- who the hell wants to summarize an entire dissertation in 350 words? ---- and they are at hard stages of thinking and re-thinking. I just don’t feel like doing something tough. (I rarely do.) I want someone to do all the hard thinking for me and then I will color in the lines quietly. Hence my attempts to clean and return library books instead of abstracting or revising. I think, it’s partly that I sorta know what to do and how to do it, but not really --- or maybe I know but am not really confident and secure with this stage of tasks and I want someone to show me the way or do a practice one for me or something. Or to look at something and give me a detailed list of exactly what to do and how to do it, all the big amorphous tasks broken down into doable activities. Then I could trundle off and happily complete the tasks one by one, complaining and railing all the while against this person’s rigid, controlling, micromanaging nature. (On another note, I recently had a discussion about the teenage habit of boundary-testing and wanting it both ways --- both limits and the freedom to push against and test those limits ---- and I came to the conclusion that I have never grown up past that teenage status. Sounds stupid? Oh yeah? Bite me. You’re not my real dad!!!)

Anyway, I need to figure out how to make myself do these things, or make them not scary, or find something that I can use as a work-around. Reading? Scribbling out a blorp of ideas about a primary text? Writing a conference abstract? I can do all those. I know how. I have no worries or fears. I just have to throw myself into it early enough that I’m not tired and late enough that all the coffee has kicked in, and I can go just fine. But I think this next step ---- the publishing, revising, dealing with feedback on articles, preparing job materials that will also be judged and given outside feedback ---- all these I still don’t feel really confident in and need to work on, um, not caring, or being fearless, or being able to throw myself into the job, or something.

So, obviously that’s my next self improvement project --- my next stage of professional development, if you will. I’d invite you all to leave helpful suggestions for improvement in the comments, but eh, I’m not really good at dealing with those, you know?

Monday, August 25, 2008

Wonderful Weekend of Laziness

Mmm. I didn’t do anything work-related or useful all weekend. It was nice. I read a novel for pleasure (shocker!), I trundled around on the internet, read the papers, I cooked a big wonderful fancy dinner for myself (with wine --- yay) and had lots of ice cream (actually, not really good after the wine --- I think I need to stick to one or the other), and lazed around a lot. Then on Sunday I cleaned up the kitchen and went to see a silly, not-so-good movie (Tropic Thunder) with Cool Scientist Friend and The Political Animal. Since it was a matinee and we didn’t feel like going home, that then turned into a leisurely tour of several bars (in search of the perfect patio) and dinner out and then some more bars. It was nice. I feel very dehydrated this morning, but nice. So, all in all, a very successful weekend, even if I did try to force myself to do work, unsuccessfully.

However, it is now Monday. And though I’m waiting for word on various projects, I feel absolutely no impetus to work. It’s like I’ve flipped a switch and gone permanently into vacationing mood. Hmm. The only saving grace so far is that the apt. people came to see to the empty apartment next door, and I knew as soon as they brought the air compressor and carpet-cleaning machine in that I needed to get out of there. So, I’m at school at least. Not wanting to work. Perhaps a list would help? I love lists:


I am waiting for some sort of response before doing anything further on these projects:

- dissertation is with Advisor
- waiting to hear about fall adjuncting job
- waiting for email back about R&R article


Filing Diss
- print and fill out all forms
- meeting with Advisor?
- leave signature forms with committee
- write abstract
-write acknowledgements
-check final formatting

Library Cubicle
-clean out and return all library books (need to wait on the ones directly relevant to that last chapter though)
- clean everything out of cubicle for return
-return keys
-return other set of keys
- ooh, and return that expired parking pass thingy too

Job Market Prep
- update diss abstract? Do I still need one if I’m done?
- update CV (resend out articles first)
- update template for letter
- ask committee to get ready for updating the letters again
- ask Prof Indomitable for extra letter?
- organize a space for all my application crap

The Article
- print it and look at comments
- make preliminary list and see if I can start fixing things
- email someone on committee to meet and look over it for suggestions?
- pick another journal and look at their articles

The R&R
- waiting (see above)
-still could meet with someone on committee with it again
- I have three or four books that just came out I need to get and work into the article

Of course, my notes from an earlier to-do list state that I should be working up a book proposal to meet with Advisor about (ohmigod!), that I have a conference coming up in the medium-future, and there’s always looking out for future conference stuff too. Ugh.

So, there we go. I have plenty to do. Problem is, I just don’t want to do it. Some of these are more do-able and have earlier deadlines than others, but I looked at the abstract/acknowledgements earlier this morning and just can not get myself to work on them. I think I’ll start cleaning out the cubicle/office; that’s not the same type of brain work and it will ease me back into the idea of thinking and working… I hope.

Wish me luck! Ooh, and tell everyone I emailed or gave chapters to to get back to me already!

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Ahhh, chocolate dream

So last night I watched a bunch of episodes of Deadwood ('cause there's nothing like shocking violence and the use of phrases like "errant cocksucker" to cheer you up when you're dissertating) and then went to bed. I didn't want to leave to get any sleeping stuff, so I took a benadryl, remembering how groggy and sleepy they made me back in my serious allergies phase. And this morning? Still felt a little weird and groggy like the medicine was still in my system, but I was much more rested. If I was constantly waking up and tossing and turning last night, I don't remember it at all.

By the time I had some coffee in me I felt like a person again, and actually worked on that intro. The coffee place was packed so I went down round the corner and worked --- get this --- at the mall. Yes, I know. But I wanted not just a bench, but an actual table and chair arrangement, outside, where I could work without being interrupted. There is something a little off about writing a dissertation about Very Deep and Serious Things right in front of a Pottery Barn but I was too busy trying to focus on my intro to actually work that thought out.

The upshot of it all is, I wrote the thing!!!!! And then my laptop battery died and then I did a bunch of errands that I'd been getting behind on and then went to school, where I printed up the thing as well as full copies of that chapter for my other committee members. Now, this is against the express wishes of my advisor, who said she didn't want anyone else to see the chapters until she had signed off on them, but I am ignoring her in the hopes that this will get everyone's timelines coordinated nicely with my deadline. And as I've said before, I'm suspicious that my third reader has not read any of it. Which just means that if I unknowingly have anything totally wrong and offensive in my earlier chapters, she had the chance to
catch it and I'm going to assume that everything in them was fine.

And to celebrate, since it was about 2 when I put things in mailboxes, I went out and had disgustingly delicious food at In-N-Out. Ahh, yes, could I be any more obnoxiously Californian? Well, since I didn't carry a miniature dog in with me on one arm, I'd say I need more work on it. But the food was soo good, and so unhealthy --- including a chocolate milkshake --- and I'm just reveling in all the delicious unhealthiness still. Mmmm!

So, in short, my entire committee has a draft of my entire dissertation and we have three weeks left to get everything that might need to be ironed out, ironed out. I have the abstract and the acknowledgements to write and some weird formatting problems to fix (why does the diss keep repaginating itself randomly? Argh.) and then it's waiting for word from my peeps. I guess I should jump in and prep stuff for the market and send out my articles (ugh!) yet again, but I may just take the rest of the day off. Wouldn't want to put my back out pushing the rock up the final few feet.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008


I'm on three days now of almost no sleep. Ugh. I feel really crappy right now, but I need to stay up ---- I managed not to nap today, unlike yesterday, and I'm hoping I can just reset myself into sleep at night via sheer exhaustion. But man, I thought I didn't do much yesterday ---- I pretty much sat around today counting down the minutes until I could sleep today. I don't know how chronic insomniacs get anything done.

And my back hurts ---- part the tossing and turning, part hauling my computer in a satchel everywhere because I wasn't happy with any of the places i tried to work. I didn't even look at my chapter intro today (again), but I puttered a bit at the funky dissertation formatting, thinking that hey, I gotta get this done sometime anyway, and maybe another day away from the chapter intro will help me face it. Of course, I'll be really upset if I don't file in time for the summer degree just because I'm incapable of looking at the diss right now. But I'll keep chipping away at the mindless stuff and hopefully I'll manage to sneak some of the substantive work in there when I'm not looking. I still have to write the abstract that goes at the front, bleah. Oh, and what am I supposed to write in the acknowledgments? I don't know what I'm doing here ---- after all, I'm in a miserable mood and hate everyone and feel like I haven't gotten any help from anybody, regardless of the actual truth. Maybe I should have thought of this and written them up a long time ago when I was more enthusiastic? Or maybe other people don't have this problem --- I haven't seen any bile-filled, angry and non-thankful acknowledgments. I hated this part of the yearbook thing too --- where you got to write some sort of quote or comment as a graduating senior? --- yeah, I felt that I had to write something brilliant and witty and wonderful and then, I think, ended up not writing anything, at least for some of the things.

Anyway, I'm a total fuzz-brain today. Here's hoping that I will magically wake up rested and enthusiastic to get that intro and abstract and acknowledgment page all out of the way ... then I can print that brick of a dissertation and bring it in to the advisor! Or even the committee! BTW, I went looking at a past grad's diss for some formatting clues recently --- Dr. Hospitality, actually --- and accidentally ended up downloading the whole thing. (I thought proquest only let you see the first 14 pages? This let me see all of it for some reason.) Anyway, I noticed his diss was 368 pages long (no notes) and now I'm feeling all competitive and bummed that mine is shorter. I mean really, listen to yourself and your locker-room mentality there, Cog! And that's not even getting into the quality/quantity point or the ridiculousness of trying to get me to write anything more at this point of utter wipeout. Heh heh. And when I think of all the feminist critiques of these kinds of pissing contests, too...

Oh, and I got rejected for two teaching/tutoring gigs around here and am waiting to hear back from a couple more. After that I'll have to start looking at nonacademic type things. Fucking Schwartzenegger and the fucking budget stalemate! Whose brilliant idea was it to finance the way out of our last state budget crisis through borrowing and bonds, eh Gubernator? Yeah, you "put it to the voters," whoa, yeah, that's brilliant ---- may I remind you that Californians are overwhelmingly the ones who decided to borrow themselves some McMansions and are the main recipients of the whole mortgage meltdown? Way to ask the addicts to enforce fiscal austerity on themselves! Anyway, I've heard some of the departments just aren't filling sections that haven't been locked into the prior budget ---- as in they're closing the sections and booting the kids rather than fill the teaching slots with adjuncts they know they have around, because there's a very strong chance that they won't be given any windfall money in the budget to pay those adjuncts. If the budgets go through and trickle down to the department level fast enough they'll know what kinds of money they can play with and there might be a huge demand when they slot in all the dropped courses in spring, but that exacerbates the boom and bust, binge and purge, ups and downs of the course availability, which you'd think they'd notice was a bad thing. Whatever. I'm in a waiting mode --- if this one dept. is allowed to hire some adjuncts I should be at the top of the pile. Or they may just close the thing and wipe out the dept. Thrilling.

Ok yeah ---- I can see how finishing while unemployed and moving into an uncertain future where I don't have a temp job yet and I might not even get one could be exacerbating my final-lap anxieties. Don't know what to do about that though, really. And as soon as I get those worried about and under some sort of control I get to start up on the job market again. Fun fun! Sheeeeshyeah.

Tuesday, August 19, 2008

I want … I want … I don’t know what I want.

I don’t understand myself. I feel like I’m going crazy. Seriously, I feel so weird and I was trying to just take the simplistic step of listing out all my emotions right now and I can’t even do that. It’s like saying what color is this Pollock painting?

Maybe my brain is swirling around like that too right now. I just don’t know.

I dumped chapter 4 on my advisor on the 13th, I believe I told you ---- well it was a really strange day. I got to school and futzed around on the chapter a bit and printed copies for everyone and then when I turned it in I was just full of fury, just so overwhelmingly enraged that I had to just drop everything I had planned to do for the day and go home. And then I couldn’t stay home, but I couldn’t really walk off the anger. I went and threw things for a couple hours (rocks, mostly) but although it tired me out eventually it didn’t calm me down in any way.

I’ve always kinda laughed at the term “free-floating anger” but really I could not have told you what exactly I was so enraged at or who I was directing all this anger towards. It was just like a fog of red all around me, like swatting out at an enormous cloud of gnats. I really didn’t understand it at all. I haven’t looked back at any of my journals or notes but I think that the feelings I had for previous finished chapters were pride, or relief, or exhaustion. Sure, I’ve had overwhelming urges of the desire to just kill someone or destroy something — but before they have always been provoked, you know?

I was really confused by all this and then eventually I went to sleep and really slept it out for a long time and then took a couple days of only doing the bare minimum on the diss. I felt back to my usual self. But after really bearing down hard on this last chapter and really grinding it out to have something to turn in, I made my deadline for my advisor (sorta) and turned in the last chapter to her first thing on Monday — if by “first thing,” as I had promised her, you mean, “before the office mailroom closes at the end of the business day.” And I left off the intro paragraph; I left a note for her saying I’d bring it the next day instead of writing it because I was too tired to bring it together in any coherent way.

So I was feeling worse and worse and more tired and tired as Monday went on and when I went to drop off the chapter I was worried that something like last week would happen and I’d just flip out and try to strangle someone (so I made sure not to run into anyone immediately before or after the drop-off; I’m considerate like that), and this time I had a total breakdown. I mean tears, sobbing, incredible sadness and depression, everything. And I went home and felt miserable off and on most of the evening and today.

Supposedly today I was going to write the intro and bring it on campus to add to the chapter, and supposedly I was going to get into some of the oodles of more items on my research list done and was going to start tackling the immense list of prep for filing the dissertation, but I don’t think that’s going to happen today. It was rough just getting out of bed. And again, I don’t really understand why — you’d think I’d be happy I am so close to finished, or at least relieved that it would soon be over. But instead I feel like shit. And not just “whoah, I am so tired” shit, I mean, “why did you even waste any time on the shitty experience that is grad school,” “why even bother living” shit — I’ve thought about burning everything I own and moving to Yugoslavia, about just walking away from the entire fucking degree, about moving back home or jumping off a fucking bridge. Luckily I feel too tired to even get out of bed so instead I just look at random stupid stuff on the internet.

I don’t really know what brought all this on or what I’m supposed to do about it. And I’m not done, not anywhere near being done, and yet I feel like I have absolutely nothing to do at the moment; absolutely nothing is within my control or ability to change at the moment. I feel like a fly trapped in amber, suspended. I feel both incredibly restless and incredibly lethargic. I haven’t been sleeping.

So, yeah. That’s been my week so far. And I don’t know what comes next.

Saturday, August 16, 2008

Zeno's Dissertation Paradox

Ugh, I can't work any more today. It's so weird ----- yesterday I wrote a couple solid pages and then beat myself up the remainder of the day that I wasn't working still more, feeling awful about the whole thing and very stressed and under the gun. Today I wrote another couple pages and I feel great about it ---- after sketching it all out I spent a long time, guilt-free, puttering about on the Internet, and finally just recently typed and formatted it all up. Roughly the same amount of work, totally different reactions on different days.

That said, I got an email from my advisor ---- remember how I dumped a chapter in her box earlier in the week? Well, she responded that the timeline I had described sounded good but that I needed to turn the final chapter in to her right away before she would definitively ok the timeline one way or another. So I've a hard deadline now ---- whatever I've got on Monday morning, I'm printing and dumping. And whatever I dump had better be done, if not, uh, good.

There's something kinda liberating to accepting that ---- I'm writing much faster now that I've given myself the ok to just make up shit. Now, at first that just meant sketching out the time period and setting the story without bothering to exhaustively cite all the historical background, but this is proving a bad temptation. I mean, you know me, why do you read this blog? For the crazy, over-the-top inventions! I'm having intense urges to see just how far I could push this making up business ---- imaginary critics? Imaginary primary texts? Alien invasion theories? Ohhh, somebody stop me before I decide to test just how closely she's going to be reading this last chapter!

But despite all that, I think I am in a moment of dissertation zen because I have finally realized that I will never actually finish. See, there was this philosopher dude named Zeno who figured it all out:

It's like the story of the tortoise and the hare, except this was actually with the tortoise and Achilles. And I work really slowly but steadily, like the tortoise of the tortoise and the hare, which would make you think that I would win it all in the end through sheer diligence, right my friend? Wrong.

See, the tortoise, who was slow, challenged Achilles, who was fast, to a race. The tortoise asked for a ten-meter head start, and then proceeded to explain why Achilles would never be able to catch up: if Achilles covered half the distance between himself and the tortoise and then half of that distance and then half of that distance and then half of that, obviously he would never actually cross the finish line, as there would always be another half distance he needed to cross. So Achilles would always get closer and closer but never actually cross the finish line, and if he couldn't do it, there's no chance that the dumb ol' slow tortoise would be able to do it either, right?

Now some people might claim that this is simply a confusion of discrete and continuous motion, and state that an understanding of sets and infinite series would resolve this paradox, but they would be wrong! Because they do not understand that dissertations operate under their own special laws of physics, called string theory, which basically states that since dissertations behave like both a wave and a particle it is impossible to tie all of the arguments within them together even with an infinite amount of string and a room full of monkeys with typewriters (although the monkeys can get pretty tied up themownselves) and that as an external deadline approaches zero, procrastination approaches infinity, and furthermore the gravitational denseness of dissertational prose can coalesce into a jargon black hole into which all free time is inexorably sucked and is impossible to be measured with any scientific instruments, UNLESS the weight of the collapsing giant ball of hot air is so great that it rips a hole in the space-time continuum and creates a wormhole, through which you the hapless dissertator are swept only to be deposited back in time to watch your younger self about to embark upon the foolish task of starting the dreaded dissertation that caused so many problems and Oh! the humanity, you are about to call out to your former self, You fool, don't do it! Don't endanger the workings of the universe and go to grad school! Choose law school! Lawwwww schooooool! but you realize that if the present you and the former you were to actually meet it would be like matter and anti-matter touching and the resulting cataclysmic explosion would transform everything inside out, black into white, Being into Nothingness, and every up quark into a down one. Whew!

So instead you give up, cynically crack open a beer, and allow your younger self to continue her merry (if doomed) way. "I wouldn't do that if I were her," you mutter to a fellow ABD, "but hey, that's her problem."

Thursday, August 14, 2008

Worth the Paper It's Written On?

Dumped the cleaned up chapter 4 in various mailboxes the next morning, just as I promised (and something really strange happened which I will discuss later).

That evening I ran into Professor Herr Doktor Doktor and partner, St. Jude the Patron Saint of Lost Causes and Grad Students, at Staples, where they were buying boxes for their impending move onto the tenure track and the two-body academic problem. We chatted a bit and they teased me a little for my hoarder's buying habits, as I tend to get the cheapest possible industrial TP and stock it up for months at a time. This makes sense to me, since I'm usually so confused and behind on my to-do lists I don't know what day it is much less can deal with the apt running out of toilet paper randomly, but they found it funny. (Ha ha, guys. Sheesh.)

I also got my filing paper, as you need the special cotton stuff when you turn it in, and some file boxes to supplement my groaning file cabinet. Maybe cleaning will be easier if my stacks of old teaching stuff were not out and available for the cats to chew on and create little blizzards of paper everywhere. With this purchase I'm beginning to see filing as a real and tangible possibility.

I chose the "Exceptional" Thesis Paper hoping that it was a transformative rather than proscriptive term, that and because I couldn't find the "Half-Assed Unrevised Dreck That I Need To Get Out of My Life Already Thesis Paper," and I was getting hungry and antsy.

However, when I got it home, I noticed that it was quite pricey. Anything just to get the dissertation over and done with, you say, and I agree. But in looking over the receipt, I was struck: one box thesis paper, 23.49. Umpteen bazillion rolls of toilet paper, also 23.99.

I leave the drawing out of comparisons of use value and exchange value as an exercise for the reader.


(Why are there not more pictures of us cats on this blog? We are far more fascinating than any collections of paper, say I, Timido ---- except those little wadded-up crinkly paper balls. Those indeed can be a source of fascination. Perhaps not quite as fascinating as I, Timido, but close.)

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

I need to get this done

Ok, it’s noon, I’ve been working (with some relocations/bathroom breaks) since a bit before 9, and I have re-read all of my chapter 4 plus made some revisions to the hole in the middle of it. You know, it looks pretty good! It is very close to done. I had much less to do on it than I thought, but I had been working so steadily at it and was feeling so beaten down and demoralized that I was too close, like putting the page up right against your nose til you can’t focus on the words properly. I had thought it sucked and that I had so much piles left to do on it that I would never be able to finish it, so I moved on to the other chapter. Actually it was almost done --- much closer than my chapter 5 is put together --- but I had been too tired out by it to see that.

It was cold and refreshing here in the library earlier, although that plus lots of coffee was still not keeping all this tiredness at bay, and now it is hot and stuffy, in a foggy-outside- the-air-pressure-may-be-changing-with-a-storm kind of way, and that will make staying awake even tougher. Still, I want to go through and make all my rephrasing/editing changes on the chapter now, I want to type in what I did to the hole, and I want to clean up the ending including making the conclusion have a rousing ending sentence. I need to get at least that much done today.

I would love to turn this in today --- I feel like it’s that close --- but there is a huge mess in the footnotes and I haven’t started on them yet, plus lots of biblio material I need to add still. And I need to write captions and print the pictures, or put them into the computer file, or whatever I decide.

Therefore, I vow to fix all the in-text problems today, at school, and get as much of the biblio done here as possible, and then finish all the book-checking-stuff at home tonight, and I swear, as Scarlet O’Hara is my witness, that I shall leave the printed and finished chapter in my committee’s inboxes tomorrow, bright and early in the morning tomorrow!

For tomorrow is another day.

(Hey man, if I can't wear fancy dresses made out of curtains while dissertating, I don't want to play! Everyone should embrace their inner diva at least once during the dissertating process.)

Saturday, August 9, 2008

Random Bullets of Driving People Crazy

  • You know how when you were little and your brother told you not to touch him and you stood over him with one finger out, going, "I'm not touching you! I'm not touching you!"? It still works.
  • I got a speeding ticket, I think too close to the last one for me to do traffic school and wipe that one out. Speed traps suck. As do long and boring stretches of freeway through farmland. As do cruise control buttons that turn themselves off at random times, which cause you to rely on your own lead foot instead. Gah.
  • My neice is also driving, or actually learning to drive, and she got to drive the car over to my parents' tonight. So when they arrived my nephew came over and immediately told me about her driving and started giving her a hard time. She was just standing there taking the teasing (we're a pretty rough teasing family) and I was teasing her and I thought all was normal, and my brother (their dad) came in and immediately ripped nephew a new one, saying any rude comments like this were way outta line. I swear that my neice did not look upset until he started saying she was upset, and then off went the waterworks. But it felt to me like how when they were just learning to walk, and if they fell down and thought someone was watching them, they would scream as if in pain, looking for some attention, but if they didn't know you were keeping an eye on them they'd just get up and keep running. So I called my brother out on it, pointing out all the teasing I got about driving for at least the first 10 years I was doing it, and all the shit we gave the other neiece, and how nephew was just doing exactly what the entire family did all the time and he shouldn't really get singled out for it. I don't know if that was a good thing to do, or if it would change anything, but this seems to be my latest bit of troublemaking: loudly pointing out where they only think they are being consistent or fair.
  • Refsuing to get in the car when my dad is going to be driving would be another troublemaking moment. He needs to have his liscence taken away; he has gotten too absent-minded to be safe any more. We have a big family culture of "respect the elders and never contradict them in any way" so pointing out any of their frailties in a public way or "making a scene" by continuing to hold to a stand after being told to drop it really goes against the grain --- everyone gets silent and starts looking away and at the ground or something.
  • Of course, staying on the driving thing, this is coming years too late --- I shouldn't have ever gotten in the car with my dad for most of my childhood and teenage years, before the AA, but a) I was too young to really even figure out what was going on much less b) make that type of stand while still living in their house.
  • When my sister and I went to the mall today, I picked her up at her place and she took her house key, but not the apartment gate complex key. As she explained, she never gets picked up by someone else, so she didn't think of getting the car gate opener and has no clue even where the pedestrian gate key is in her place. So when I brought her back I idled outside the gate until someone else pulled in and used their clicker thing. That's some great security. On the other hand, the last time I went to the mall with her we lost my car and had to wait until the lot started to clear out after hours to realize we were in the wrong lot. So this was an improvement. And of course I gave her a hard time about this ---- she's been teasing me about losing the car at the mall for years now.
  • Oh and breaking the car-and-annoyance theme of this post, this is so cute: I went out to dinner with mom and dad last night and my mom was saying she had pictures of me in her purse --- and she pulls out three or four of my graduation pictures, of me being hooded and shaking hands with the chancellor. She's been showing them off to all her friends and everyone who says anything even remotely relevant ever since graduation, just like someone with new baby pics (not to infantilize me too much over here). Anyway, that just made my day. I think everyone should show off pics of me graduating, there should be dancing in the streets, a parade with showers of rose petals, you name it, I'm all over this. The more we celebrate this and see it as a big deal, the better. I wouldn't even be averse to a national holiday, just to float an idea or two, although really we wouldn't have to go all-out with the roses thing every year.
  • Oh yeah and it appears that everyone in my family goes to bed at 10 pm, even in the summer and even on a Sat. Sigh. It's pretty quiet over here.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

And On the Seventh Day Cog Rested

In the beginning of the day Cog created an idea.

And the idea was without form, and void, and full of darkness, and was highly unclear.

And Cog said: let there be a paragraph, and after much travail, a paragraph was there.

And Cog saw the paragraph, and said it was good. Except for a little spot that was unorganized, so Cog divided the idea into two paragraphs, the first separate from the second. And it was good.

And the evening and the morning were wasted on Facebook on the first day.

And on the second day Cog said, Let there be a lit review, and some quotes, and a nice little transition over here that connects up to the other ideas. And it was good. And Cog began to fear that all of these undertakings would impinge on valuable napping time. But it was good.

And Cog said, let the notebooks bring forth abundantly words of every kind, the winged words and the creeping, the words of the air and words of the sea, the words that walk on two legs and the words that walk on four legs and the words that slither upon their bellies on the ground (we'll deal with the words with cloven hoofs in a moment).

And words great and small appeared and were fruitful and multiplied all over the footnotes. And Cog saw that it was good.

And so passed the evening and morning of the second day, give or take a couple weeks.

And lo! One such day Cog returned to look upon the words, having been about some Other Business, and she witnessed much wickedness and all manner of riotousness and confusion of every kind amongst the words, and this grieved her in her heart.

And the Cog said, I will destroy these my words which I have created, the great ones and the small, the creeping words and the words that fly in the air. I will wipe them from the face of my notebook and the cache of my googledocs, for it repenteth me that I have made them, and I am in quite the smitey mood today, do not push it.

And lo! There was much weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.

But the Cog said, be not afraid, for I shall create newer and better words, and where the words roamed in the tenfold, I shall make them roam by the hundredfold. And I shall make a covenant to always back up these words and to never again wipe all the words from the face of the earth, and thus henceforth you will all be saved.

And there was great rejoicing, and the Cog set forth in search of a snack.

And lo! it was good.

(His riff is better. If you can't see it all there, try here, without any illustrations.)

Monday, August 4, 2008

W00t! Another paragraph down!

I have just finished tweaking the end of the paragraph I wrote the other day, and then assembled up a whole 'nuther paragraph that goes right after it. It was a mess, too, so it was no simple job. Happy happy! Now if I can only revise two more paragraphs today I will be a happy cog. Part I of this chapter is rapidly approaching a written draft status. Part III, if I may say so myself, looks pretty damn good. (I may have a couple footnotes to fix still, but, eh.) Part II, however, is pretty much nonexistent, which worries me.

But not today! Today I am only thinking about Part I and my incredible progress on it and how soon I will have conquered it and beaten it into submission! Huzzah! Hooray for mental compartmentalization and denial! And I had to have a double mocha extra strong this morning to survive which explains my overreliance on exclamation points! Whee!

Speaking of caffeination, last night was awful, by the way ---- you know what? When your neighbors have been served with eviction notices, there's not much you can do when they start acting shitty: ooh, what are you gonna do, evict me? Already happened hahahahaha! So, I had to listen to the sound of a vacuum cleaner and a very very loud Sublime album blaring away between midnight and 4 am. I'm not kidding. I heard at least one other neighbor get in a brawl with them and I went over too, and later I pounded on the wall, and later later I called the police, but they turned the music off before they got there so the police probably think I'm a nut. My only hope is that all that banging and vacuuming is because their 30 days notice is up and they are getting ready to get out right away. Argh.

After some more incredible and amazing progress on the chapter, I'm back to writing up more adjunct applications, and some apps for some non-academic work stuff too. Sigh. I have four things but if I get through two this afternoon and two tomorrow afternoon I will feel better. Bleah. Ok then, I've gotta get back to work and turn this mutha out. Leave me lots of comments, ok? And you should all post silly fashion things/comments/responses on the post below ---- advice? fave fall outfits? shopping wish lists? Go on, give me something fun to look forward to after all this crazy writing.

Sunday, August 3, 2008

And Now For Something Completely Different!

Today I will be in grading, rather than dissertation, jail.

Note how I managed to be in my chair and writing by 9 for all the dissertating days, whereas today I have been snuggled under a blanket with a cat until almost 11.

Off for some misery now. And coffee.

UPDATE: Well obviously I am in celebrity grading jail because after a mere half hour of trucking away at those essays I left the coffee shop and went shopping. Like LiLo or Paris Hilton being repeatedly arrested and then almost immediately released or given special treatment or moved to a special "treatment ward" because they felt upset and threatened by being placed in the regular holding rooms. Unfortunately, I don't have their celebrity bankrolls (more luckily, I don't have their celebrity cocaine habits either), so the fact that I went and spent money is Very Bad. And I ate out later and felt quite ill from stuffing myself so I had to go home and lie down for a while --- this coming directly after trying on lots of clothing and discovering that I, ahem, am at the very top of my usual weight fluctuations and possibly have gone up a size, but, this cog, she does not learn from her experiences very well. Still, I bought things. Yeee!

I looked at lots of trendy clothes places and peeked in the window of crazy-jewelry-store-that -doesn't-even-have-prices-listed-and-I-wasn't-wearing-enough-rocks-to-even-darken-the -doorway-but-that's-ok-as-I-don't-actually-like-jewelry, and drooled over and molested all the yuppie trendy furniture at places like Pottery Barn and Williams-Sonoma (yeesh, I gotta get out of this place! It is insidiously affecting me ---- I am being ever more hailed by their professional-managerial-class siren songs and I want an antiqued, distressed wine hutch in an apartment with cathedral ceilings. Don't tell anyone!). And I sniffed all the soaps at a place even more fancy than Lush but I'm not so into scented soaps at the moment. And I bought a few things at Ann Taylor. Cough. Um, don't tell. 'Cause I'm unemployed as of now (and so don't need teaching clothes at the moment, even) and who knows where the money for that is coming from and I realize that this was a Very Unwise Thing To Do.

I'm not telling you what I did buy, but I didn't buy this (though I thought long about it):

Cute, eh? The shoes were especially tempting, although I never wear such a high heel due to extreme laziness. What put me off (besides, oh, you know, the insane price) was how thick and stiff the skirt material was --- it looked very uncomfortable when I just held it. But I do love geometrics, and those colors! I'm not such a flowers-and-rainbows kinda girl. My bedroom was black and red and white back in high school and I've been thinking I should return to that scheme. But on the other hand my mother, who's much older (I'm the youngest by a lot), dressed in the worst excesses of barfy 60s-mod prints all the way up until the 80s, when the whole "now sailor motifs and chains are popular" thing came in and she switched over to that. So right now the stuff in the stores feels overly familiar in both a comforting and a terrifying, I-need-to-rebel-against-mom-by-running-in-the-opposite-direction way. Maybe I will return to the retro fashion cycles and how they confuse me so in a future post.

Saturday, August 2, 2008

Bullets of Dissertation

  • I'm back in the library.
  • I'm going to be posting a lot the next few days as I force myself to come in and work. Be careful you don't die of boredom reading my posts.
  • This morning I worked from 9 to 10:15 in the coffeeshop, when my computer abruptly and unexpectedly died. I did some errands on the way to pick up the power cord and that ate up an hour. Bleah.
  • So far I have almost finished up a paragraph. That and I wrote The Footnote That Ate Cleveland. I'm not sure it's quite big enough ---- I want to make sure it has a fighting chance against Godzilla, and right now I think it would only be able to take on Mothra in rigged fight. So it's back to feeding it some radioactive, mutated growth food!
  • You wouldn't think it, but Joy Division actually works as writing music. What does it say about me though that my favorite song of theirs is the one where they quote the sick Nazi novel about the sexual experiments in the camps? In my defense, it has the best drum riffs and is nice and clangy sounding.
  • It's very nice outside but I can't find an outlet for my laptop. It is extremely stuffy in my library cubicle and it's freezing out here where I have internet access.
  • lit review goes here Oh wait, this is my relaxation writing, not my work. Never mind.
  • I'm getting a little tired. The good news is that I have tons of mindless quote-checking and book-pulling now to get this passage up to complete beauteousness. The bad news is I have tones of mindless quote-checking and book-pulling on my to-do list now.
  • I still need to swim today (I skipped yesterday.) Maybe if I can force myself through most of the afternoon I'll be able to swim in the late afternoon and avoid the horrible feeling of swimming on a full stomach.
  • My life is boring and I have neither interesting goofing off stories nor actual interesting chapter work to show for this latest period of boringness. Grumph.

Friday, August 1, 2008

Dissertation Jail

I have sentenced myself to the library to serve out my time on chapter 5. It is only somewhat working. So far I have written for about an hour ---- I took a paragraph that I roughed out on Wed. and rewrote it, and spliced in the critics I am responding to (now it is a nice paragraph). But now I am restless and my brain is loose, like how after a really hard swim or run you can't even clench your fist any more. I went and returned some keys and videos as a break. Now I still feel blah. It might be because the lib. is so stuffy in here --- perhaps I shall go and work on the next section, which I have printed out, outside in the fresh air. I might get another hour out of that, and then I can break for lunch.

It is hard going from "an hour or so here and there" to "now you have a full open day to dissertate for 8 hours or more." However, I have deadlines, people, and I can't just go on at my turtle pace for this home stretch. Gar. Grah! Bleah!

I also have the final papers from my students but I won't even touch them today. I can do them on Sunday or something, after having really driven myself nuts on the chapter writing.

Ok ---- pushing myself away from the table and going off to stare at a different section of my chapter now. Any words of encouragement and silliness are appreciated, as I'll probably be back here for another break in a little bit ---- but not until I turn this blob of notes and quotes into another paragraph!

Update: Ok, so where are all my supportive and helpful comments? Tphthththththtth! You all are either falling down on the job or have gone off to have fun this Friday, and I am grumpy about both those options.

What I have done: I wrote for another hour outside and typed it all in. That was another roughed-out paragraph that needed fixing. Then I took a short break, then I tweaked a mostly-done paragraph. Then I ate lunch. So that's three crappy paragraphs turned into actual paragraphs! (Ok, I write sloooooow. I usually either rough out or write up a paragraph a day, so it's more like a 1/2 paragraph every day in my "little bit at a time" system. If I were to continue at that pace I wouldn't have everything cleaned up for another year, I feel. Anyway.)

After I ate, I felt all tired and blah. I've been "puttering" more than working ---- I grabbed some books, played with the biblio for a while, pulled more quotes and dumped them here and there ---- nothing really substantial. Then I took an internet reading break, and here I am.

What next? that is the question. I could do some more biblio work and some more checking details against this book I got out (I hate it when I take notes and then the topic shifts, so that I don' t have exact notes on the new stuff I want to reference.) I could also print out what I've got and stare at it a while. (Or I could take a nap.) Who said that? WHO? Don't you go napping the day away missy! You've got craploads left to write!