Sunday, July 31, 2005

Days 12-13: Weekend, weekend! Wherefore art thou, weekend?

I've always liked those t-shirts that say "Unions: the folks who brought you the weekend." But, hey! wait a minute, I'm in a Union and I'm not sure I'm getting a weekend, now that I think about it...

Anyway, what really IS the meaning of a weekend when I'm supposed to be writing a dissertation? I don't mean to turn this into another whine/rant about finding a good balance between work and not-work, but sheesh, I think the biggest single emotion produced while one is ABD must be guilt. Sure -- fear, stress, boredom, anxiety, pride... all those emotions surface from time to time, but guilt is pretty much a constant companion. Again, this is not to say that I don't take plenty of breaks and regularly blow off my dissertation, but I just feel guilty about it while I'm doing it.

So, as you might have already guessed, this weekend's ratio has included much more non-dissertation-stuff than dissertation-stuff. Perhaps weekends are the time just to get one's life together. The highlights: Friday night dinner was fantastic. Check out the recipe for corn (on Epicurious.) I always used to consult "the Bible" (Bittman) for matters such as "how do you cook corn-on-the-cob?" and was assured that corn-on-the-cob was "done" as soon as it was heated... no matter how you did it, just get it hot. So we used to put the husked ears right on the grill until they got hot. Good enough. But this time I followed the recipe for grilling the soaked ears in their husks and it was truly fantastic -- the corn developed a really complex roasted flavor. And to make it more decadent, we added sour cream, queso fresco, and ancho chili powder. Yum.

Feeling the effects of staying up way past my bedtime meant that Saturday was destined to be unproductive. Plus having my husband home meant that my usual computer routine was a bit disrupted. So I compensated by taking care of much-needed organizational tasks, napped, went to the gym, and then after dinner we joined our neighbors across the alley who were having a block party, complete with a fire and s'mores. No, it's not quite cool enough here to merit a fire, but it sure helped with the mosquitoes, and the marshmallow-melting.

Sunday. Ditto. Read the NYT, took care of some more papers off my desk, ran a few errands, napped, exercised, and now I'm sitting down to do a bit of work in the spirit of momentum and keeping ideas fresh in my mind. We're going to a friends' house for dinner, so I should probably do a little something to earn the break, the mojito, the dinner, and our dessert of homemade ice cream and carmelized grilled bananas.

Well, since we'll be out of town next weekend for an Official Break for visiting and relaxing, I plan to have a complete draft of the intro. before we leave on Thursday night. Weekends notwithstanding, it is time to get some work done!

Friday, July 29, 2005

Day 11: Seeking 1BR, 1BA furnished cave

I've finally figured out how I'm going to finish my dissertation! But unfortunately for the rest of you, it is going to involve a major catastrophe to the nation's electric grid. Or perhaps I will move into a cave with no electricity, bearing only my laptop and numerous batteries.

This morning I was puttering around the kitchen while my coffee brewed and suddenly the power went out. No idea why. It's been quite cool here, so there's no need for a brown-out. Thankfully my coffee had just finished brewing, so I was able to doctor my cup as per usual. And then what was there to do? No internet. No TV. No NPR. Well, friends, clearly the only remaining choice... my last resort... was to (gasp) work on my dissertation! And I did. I sat down and looked at some pretty frightening paragraphs, and actually got Into the Zone just a bit. Miraculous. I lost some steam when the power came back on, but was generally able to maintain the momentum for most of the day.

So that's the good news. And I'm finally getting a sense of the beast. I think what I have right now is Rough Draft Type #1. For me, this is very rough. Some general ideas have been put into paragraphs, but it is quite likely that some paragraphs will be revised, deleted, combined, or moved. Hopefully after one run-through of this draft, I can move on to Rough Draft Type #2, which means that each paragraph is generally in the right place and has the right ideas, they're just roughed out in places. I guess Type #3 would be line-editing and footnote-fixing, followed by a pause for husband's brutal yet incredibly helpful editing. Then perhaps a setback to Type #2... who knows. Sigh. But at least I'm making progress!

I took a break in the morning to run and saw a very funny (or disturbing, depending on how you look at it) sight. I ran over to Local Lake and was running along, and I saw a middle-aged, slightly pudgy man wearing a bright aqua speedo. And, of course, the problem with said speedo (aside from the glaringly obvious, of course) is that there are no pockets in which to put one's cell phone, wallet, etc. So this man improvised a solution: he strapped on a black country/western style leather belt with a huge silver buckle and then he clipped all his stuff to the belt!

My frequent breaks throughout the day have involved preparing our house and some food for dinner guests tonight. Foodies, the menu will be:
Guacamole (a food I would eat until it killed me)
Pina Coladas
Mango-lime margaritas

Followed by:
Charcoal grilled corn with cream, cheese, and chili
Chile-glazed shrimp with tomatillo-cilantro sauce
Green poblano rice

Followed by:
Mexican hot fudge sundaes with homemade ice cream. I buy this cream that comes in a glass jar from a local organic dairy. It is yellow due to the fact that the cows are grass-fed, and so thick you have to coax it out with a knife... dairy heaven in a jar.

I've got a full weekend ahead, but am still committed to working on a few more paragraphs...forever in search of the Big Mo. And a cave with a month-to-month lease.

Thursday, July 28, 2005

Day 10: A Delicate Balance

My head was just not in the game today. See Stewgad's recent post for an excellent summary of how my brain has been responding in the past few days. Either I'm an untrained puppy, or I celebrated a bit too much last night with some folks who had just taken the bar exam. In either case, today was better spent on errands (Whole Paycheck Foods), cleaning chores, and exercising. In the interest of making progress, however, I did revise one sticky paragraph.

Which got me to thinking that, yeah, I've revised one more paragraph than the day before. So that's good. Progress is good. But at the current pace, I'll still be working on this damn thing when I'm retired! So that's not good. My question is: how do you find the delicate balance between holding your own feet to the fire vs. not being too hard on yourself? On the one hand, you shouldn't hold yourself to unachievable standards or goals, nor should you beat yourself up if you fail to meet a daily or weekly or monthly goal. Life happens. But on the other hand, if I don't put some pressure on myself, who will?? At some point, I simply have to get a lot of work done, and the only person who is going to make that happen is me.

So that is what I am pondering today. Tomorrow I hope to make more progress than one measly paragraph. My husband and I are going out of town in a week to visit friends and celebrate our anniversary (9 years! And no, I wasn't a child bride, but sometimes it feels like I must have been) so I hope to have a good draft before we leave town. Onward and upward...

Day 9: The Rough Draft. Emphasis on Rough.

I'm taking a second before starting work to think about yesterday. When I sat down with my printed pages, I felt much more like I was on terra firma. I can work paragraph by paragraph, sure, no problem. That's a familiar rhythm for me. I adjust my mini-goals depending on how much revision each draft is going to need. Sometimes I'll do five paragraphs before taking a break, sometimes only one. In the past I've even resorted to giving myself gold stars for each paragraph. Whatever it takes.

So I started out, thinking this looked like a three paragraph kind of situation. Paragraph one, good. Paragraph two, okay. Paragraph three... what the hell is this? Huh? What was I thinking? Ugh. Cue mournful soundtrack music. But I sat there for a while and worked on it, strategized how to make the next few paragraphs work together, etc. So I'm ready to work on those today. I realized, too, that since I've had trouble working this summer, and since this introduction is a whole new and stressful animal for me, I need to lower my standards even more (and I'm all about lowering standards) and feel pleased with any small amount of progress. So my new question for myself is: do I have more done today than I did yesterday?

Thanks to my readers and commenters... I feel like this blog has got to be as exciting as watching paint dry, but it actually does keep me working from day to day...which is the point, I guess.

Speaking of which, time to work...

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Day 8: Hung Jury

Not sure how to evaluate today. We'll see if the jury can reach a verdict.

The downside: It felt like a great day to work. Normal morning routine, beautiful cool weather, cooperative cats, good coffee... but I still couldn't get "in the zone" and concentrate on much of anything. It felt like torture to stay in my chair as I attempted to focus on a few paragraphs. I felt so antsy, both mentally and physically. I know I was doing some work, but it never felt right. Very frustrating to be unable to work when I so badly to make lots of progress!

The upside: I think I made progress in spite of myself. I realized that the last few paragraphs I'd marked off as goals for today were essentially the same thing, and perhaps should be combined. That's one way to achieve a goal -- make it smaller as you're doing it! So I combined some paragraphs, wrote some filler, wrote some stream-of-consciousness stuff that will need serious revision, and now I'm very close to having a draft. It's taken me a while to work my way through the intro, and as I got toward the end, I realized I couldn't really remember what was covered towards the beginning. So I printed the thing and will wrestle with it tomorrow. But the upside is that, yes,I have printed about 25 pages of Actual Paragraphs. So that is progress, even if it felt icky to get there.

Another upside: had a great run today in the cool weather. And yoga last night was awesome, if quite sweaty. I do Power Yoga with an amazing instructor through a community ed program, and she really put us through our paces.

Tonight is homemade Indian food (what is known in our household as the Mahatma Gandhi Victory Diet) and a trip to Costco. Speaking of which, a friend of mine told me a funny story she heard from her neighbor. They live in Durham, NC, and this neighbor attended a barbecue that she described as "Bubbalicious." While at this bbq, the neighbor found herself in a frightening conversation in which she was urged to avoid Costco because it is "run by Communists." There are so many things wrong with that I don't know where to start, but by way of explaining this lamebrained idea to my friend, I thought maybe some folks in NC believe the Commies are running Costco because they actually treat their workers fairly?? Check out this good NYT story, and wish me luck in the cheese department.

Monday, July 25, 2005

Days 6-7: Regress, Progress, Spinning, and Running

Today is "shadow reader" comment day! Let me know you're out there... (And yes, I do sound a bit too eager for company. Anyone else out there staring at a computer screen??)

Today is also spinning-my-wheels day. My husband worked from home a bit this morning, which totally threw me off my normal morning routine. And maybe being out of town this weekend threw my brain out of gear, but ugh, it's hard to work today for some reason. Too many internet searches have occurred. (does Marshall Fields have good shoes on sale? what do people think of the Daily Show's new set?, how can I get rid of moths without those horrible mothballs, etc.) I might have to turn off the internet crack at this laptop. I'm hoping it's just a Monday kind of day.

But... I finally buckled down to solve at least one vexing paragraph problem, which does represent progress. But after taking Sunday off (thus: regress), I feel like I'm standing somewhat still. I realized that writing "regular" chapters entails a more varied pace of work -- some notetaking, some thinking, some writing, more notetaking, etc. But this introduction seems to be all big-picture thinking and writing. Ack. So today I did not meet my ostensible goal, but instead I took some notes from articles and have set myself up to write a few more paragraphs tomorrow. Taking the pressure off myself to Think Big Thoughts, and instead, just type in some notes, oddly freed up my brain to brainstorm how all these things might come together. A better product will emerge, but it is slow going for now.

Most depressing edit: some of the text of this introduction is stuff I cut out of a chapter, and I believe it may even have originated in a seminar paper from grad school. In this portion of the intro, I comment on changes in the field and I had to change "during the past four decades" to "during the past five decades" because so much time had elapsed since first I first wrote those words! Oy.

Most obvious realization: Diet Mountain Dew Code Red has to be the least natural substance on the planet. But oddly enjoyable... And yes, it is sitting in the fridge next to my locally produced-organic-free-range-grass-fed-cows milk.

Now, about running. Many of you might remember that when I turned the big 3-o a few (many?) years back, I decided it was time for some changes -- namely, to get off my ass and start exercising! Many pounds and years later, it was the best change I could have made to help me survive the insanity of teaching and writing. I have a healthy addiction to endorphins and am quite content to be churning away on the elliptical machine at the gym while reading a mystery novel. But no running. Perhaps once a year I would think to myself, "This many people can't be wrong!" and decide that maybe I, too, should run. I'd go for a 3 mile run, hate every step, nurse sore muscles for the next week, and swear off running for the next year.

Until last summer. Last summer was the first time I had an uninterrupted spurt of dissertation writing. And I had my annual burst of temporary-running-desire, except this time I didn't think it was so bad. So I ran again. And again. And now it is a regular part of my routine. Strange days indeed. Don't picture anyone fleet of foot, or (shudder) anyone training for a marathon... on most days I shuffle along for about 40 minutes and call it quits. I've even done a few 5K races. As long as the temp is above 35, I'm out there. My explanation? One of two things. 1) Sitting all day and writing a dissertation wasn't masochistic enough, so I had to find something that I would hate more! or, more likely: 2) Sitting in one place and writing all day made the idea of sitting in a car to drive to the gym to churn in one place on a machine less appealing. So perhaps running symbolizes progress on my dissertation. And when I'm running along, I do think about the idea of One Step At A Time. And I also think about a story that Stewgad once told me, and the moral of the story is something that applies to both running and writing: Don't Quit On a Hill. So now I actually sprint up the one small hill on my running route. I don't relish the idea of sprinting to the finish line of my dissertation, but I do know that slow and steady wins the race eventually.

And one more item for my show trial someday: recently I've felt like I'm running on clods of concrete. I thought I was out of shape until, duh!, I realized that my running shoes were pretty old. I got a 50% off deal on great pair of shoes made by political prisoners somewhere, and all I had to do was swallow my pride and accept that the shoes are white and gray with pale pink accents.

Tonight is yoga and CSI and then back to the goals tomorrow. Stay tuned...

Saturday, July 23, 2005

Days 4-5: Baby steps

After a few days of Big Goals, my Friday/Saturday goals were quite small. One paragraph each day. The Friday paragraph was a scary one and I'm still not nearly happy with it, but it's something. Today's paragraph turned out to involve only minor changes. So I'm finished! It's good to recognize that not everyday will be overwhelmingly productive, but in the spirit of Momentum, it's good to knock off even a paragraph or two.

I knew yesterday would be a Time Suck in terms of progress (hence the small goal) because I had a doctor's appointment after lunch, then a shopping errand, then the gym... and then... housecleaning. I'm sure teenagers everywhere wish they could have such an exciting Friday night as we old married folk do! But after my husband and I spent 3 hours each in the heat and humidity cleaning our house (6 hours total) and it still isn't completely clean... we are pondering the possibility of hiring someone to help us out. My husband works a Real Job and, frankly, his time is quite scarce and valuable these days. And we mightily resist the "natural" conclusion one could draw from that: wife with flexible schedule and "more" time does all the housecleaning. So instead of making that choice, we default to having no one clean, and we end up living in a total sty. I won't ruin your breakfast by describing it. As acolytes of Barbara Ehrenreich, we would commit to paying anyone a living wage if we find someone to clean our house, and it certainly won't be the Merry Maids! I'm sure this is all Fantasyland kind of thinking, borne of three hours of housecleaning in the heat, but it is nice to dream... And yes, you can bring this up in my show trial someday.

Otherwise, today we are going on a Feline Retrieval Trip -- my parents live approx. 2 hours away, and long story short, they've been babysitting our beloved cats. (although with the lack of housecleaning, occasionally really large puffs of cat hair will drift through the room, and we can almost pretend we have our cats here...) So we're heading to their house today to be reunited with our kitties... and we'll take advantage of their air conditioning and home theater in the basement. We might stay for part of Sunday (see above: air conditioning, heat, humidity, etc.) so I should pack up some dissertation items just in case.

Thursday, July 21, 2005

Day 3: Progress Continues

I was pleasantly surprised to see Academic Coach's comment on my last post-- and you can now see me "starring" on her wonderful website! For a while today I thought that it was somewhat ridiculous to pass along my advice to other struggling academics -- after all, I started this whole thing last century! But then I thought about it some more (and not to pat myself on the back) but maybe my friend's mantra of "black words on white paper" will help someone else, too. In fact, once I got over my horrible years-long case of major dissertation-block, I've written the bulk of it during the past three years, while teaching a 4-4 load at the same time. So I must have figured something out... The sad thing about this whole process is that there really isn't a magic bullet that works for everyone.

But for the moment, the golden rules continue to apply. I slowly but surely slugged my way through my goal for today -- and finished it in time to blog, watch a bit of BH90210 (there's my confession for the day), go for a run, AND enjoy the free food and beer this evening. Not bad. Of course, the paragraphs I wrote are going to need serious revision someday, and my goal for tomorrow is already giving me an anxiety attack, but those are jobs for another time. Even though it has felt like running in place, once I looked at the cumulative effect of my efforts over the past few days, it added up to 8 pages!

I think the key for today was to TURN OFF the Inner Critic. For some reason, every time I sit down to start a new chapter, or even a new section of a chapter I've been working on, the Inner Critic returns in force. For me, momentum is a fragile thing -- so I took my usual approach and kept reminding myself that it doesn't have to be good, it just has to be done. Why should I take the time to craft a paragraph about historiography that doesn't directly relate, even if I can see theoretical connections? It would Be Better if I did so, after all. But whenever I come to a such a fork in the road, I always take the path of least resistance (and my advisors have not noticed yet, or if they have, they haven't complained). And today, that path was to put those citations in a footnote and keep on writing. And v0ila!

Time to lace up those running shoes...

Wednesday, July 20, 2005

The Memorial Service, and Day 1-2: Back to life, back to reality....

The weary traveler has returned! I must say that my 10 days away were quite amazing, and I plan to blog about them during the next few days... while also blogging about working on my dissertation. So stay tuned...

The first stop on my trip was Oklahoma City and my grandmother's memorial service. It was really wonderful to see family again -- to reconnect with close family, and to meet and re-meet those who are more distant relatives. My mother's family has "double cousins" (my grandmother and her sister married brothers) plus my mother was born within days of a cousin-once-removed who became an honorary double cousin (I seriously need Family Trees For Dummies to figure this all out)... but the complicated genealogy notwithstanding, it is always pleasant to realize that I actually really enjoy spending time with family members.

The memorial service itself was really wonderful. It was held at my grandmother's church, a small Methodist church in Oklahoma City. I have really fond memories of attending it while a child -- while I'm not Methodist and am somewhat non-religious, I must have responded positively to the church because it had a female minister at the time. And coincidentally it still does. Anyway, the history of this little church began during segregation in OKC, when some people(my grandparents included) split off from their regular church to form a new integrated congregation. The church still continues that "renegade" tradition because they promise to welcome all, including gay men and lesbians. This forlorn little church must be relying on the 20 or so liberal Methodists in Oklahoma to keep their congregation going -- and I wish them well!

During the ceremony my aunt gave a beautiful eulogy, which focused on several primary characteristics of my grandmother: namely, that she had a strong moral core and she did what needed to be done. And it was always easiest to do things her way. Then the folks in attendance stood up and shared their own stories for quite a while -- such as my grandmother's leadership in the church or her influence as their teacher. But my favorite story came from an African-American gentlemen who first met my grandparents when they formed the congregation. My grandparents had recently moved out to a "lake" (a man-made lake filled with brown water, but quite fun when we were kids!) development, and they invited this man and his wife to dinner. Knowing it was a white section of town, this man called and inquired whether they were sure about issuing the invitation. My grandmother reassured them, and they came for dinner. They also went for a boat ride around the lake. When other residents of the area saw who was boating around the lake, they didn't like it. Several days later, someone told my grandmother at the next homeowner's association meeting that she shouldn't invite black people to her house anymore. She responded, "If you don't like who I invite to my house, you can MOVE!" I had never heard that story before! and I really wish I had known stories like that when she was alive. I can just hear her saying that, and more importantly, I can visualize the other members of the housing association recoiling in fear of a very formidable woman!

And after Oklahoma, I went to Mississippi... but I'll leave that story for another day.

In the meantime, since being home, I realized it was time to send the come-to-Jesus e-mail to my advisors and figure out if I can defend before they leave for a year abroad. Long story short, the answer is no. I would have to produce a complete draft of The Whole Dissertation before August 4, and that is just not possible. As much as I can somewhat romanticize the idea of pulling numerous all-nighters or something similarly crazy, I'm too old for that. And this isn't exactly the kind of project I want to rush to complete -- why break with precedent now? My advisors were very positive about a mid-December defense, and I'm all about running with Positive Advisor Sentiments... so there it is. I've been given something of an extension, which is good... but it means I have to defend months after I'd hoped to, which is bad. And frustrating. And disappointing. But as my advisor pointed out, finishing is all that matters. And I have no doubts that I will have a polished final draft in December.

But I've vowed not to succumb to the seduction of the extension, namely, postponing work even more... so I've been diligently working since I've been back. It was really difficult to get back in the swing of things, but I think I'm on the way. I've had to regularly remind myself that I've produced five chapters, so I must have learned something about working and writing along the way -- and perhaps it is best to apply the same approach as I've used thus far. And it is working! Even though the introduction seems terrifying and overwhelming at times, and is much more mentally all-encompassing than churning through primary sources, the same approach can work. So these are the steps I've taken:
1. Look over introduction, make a list of the sections and paragraphs that need work.
2. Break that down into do-able daily goals.
3. Break those daily goals down into even smaller goals. Today I worked paragraph by paragraph. After writing one paragraph, I could take a quick "break" to hang up laundry or empty the dishwasher, etc.
4. Just write! Go! Say something! I've learned that something is better than nothing, so I'm trying very hard just to put down sentences that vaguely resemble what I want to say. It makes the revising process more painful and makes it much more likely that I will grow quite tired of this before it is finished, but at least I've got something written. As a friend of mine says, "Black words on white paper. Black words on white paper. Black words on white paper."

So those are my four golden rules, and they seem to be working. I finished my goals for today, so I'm all set to go tomorrow. Fun, fun. If I finish tomorrow's goals, I'll reward myself by going to an event paid for by my husband's Real Job -- good beer, good food, all at our local Hipper Than Thou bowling alley. And I confess I do love bowling. Any Lebowski fans out there?

Thanks to those who have been reading and commenting -- keep those comments coming! Dissertating is lonely business.

P.S. Does anyone think the fact that a blog's spellchecker doesn't recognize the word "blog" is a bit bizarre?

Thursday, July 07, 2005

Days 14-16: Excuses, cont. Hangover, cont.

More of the same on my end. I have to remind myself that I do have another identity (professor) and that identity will often take precedence over my dissertation, as much as that feels stressful and "wrong" right now. In this case, after finishing the grades for my course, I slogged through two 450+ page books about the Civil Rights Movement in Mississippi (a startling fact: white folks in Mississippi could be quite awful) and I've still got one more to go. I think we're supposed to read these books to actually Learn Information (as opposed to the usual grad school ritual of reading books to tear them apart) and I have no idea if my brain managed to retain what it should have retained. I have no time to take notes, so it'll have to do. One very small bit of progress, however... I did spent an hour this morning looking at my introduction, realized the situation is not as grim as I had feared, and then I took some notes from a secondary source. So no huge leaps of progress and certainly no momentum, but at least I did it.

Otherwise, I've exercised every day and we had dinner with friends last night (more mojitos and grilled things... including some grilled veggies that were quite spectacular) and am just now sitting down to contemplate the packing nightmare that these multiple trips will entail.

So I'll be on the road for the next 10 days... blogging will likely be difficult, but I'll surely have time to check e-mail. Drop me a line! Hope that I won't melt in the Oklahoma and Mississippi heat. And be sure to vote about the best barbecue in Memphis, should you have an opinion about that.

Tuesday, July 05, 2005

Days 11-13: The Return of the Hangover

Okay, okay... a few more days of feeling really busy yet accomplishing nothing, dissertation wise. Saturday we went to the Wedding Extravaganza. We started drinking margaritas at 3:00 (a bunch of us went for drinks and munchies in Rather Rich Suburb during the break between the ceremony and the reception) and then on to the country club... and wow. Mojitos (the bride is writing a really cool dissertation about Cuba), a perfect sunny day, a 12 piece live band that I'd actually pay to listen to (a well-known gospel singer in the lead), and a piece of filet mignon the size of a softball. So that certainly ate up the day, in a most pleasant fashion.

Sunday was spent finally catching up on Life Errands, mostly to buy cleaning products to clean our house and clothing. The cleaning hasn't happened yet, but at least we're all prepared, should inspiration strike. A quick trip to the gym, and then it was time to head over to my colleague's and his partner's house for a cookout. After eating my weight in munchies and drinking wine (sensing a theme?), we had yummy burgers and then a fairly depressing conversation about all the difficulties involved in gay adoption. Anyone interested in moving to Canada?

Monday? More of the same, in that we cooked things on a grill with some good friends, ate our weight in munchies, drank cocktails, and exercised. (must keep the munchies at bay.) But before the pleasantries commenced, I graded like a fiend. Much to my horror, I found out on Sunday night that grades were due Tuesday, and I wasn't anywhere near finishing them. So after lots of coffee and pages of convoluted undergrad syntax (remember not to take things for "granite," folks), I was finished! So now I am officially done with my summer class, the only thing remaining is to handle the inevitable complaining e-mails from unhappy students.

So I guess that means that the dissertation part of my summer really has to begin, huh? Well, you'd think so, but I'm getting ready to go out of town again. I leave on Friday for my grandmother's funeral and then from there I will head to Mississippi for a week-long NEH seminar about the Civil Rights Movement. The only downside so far is that we actually have homework (three huge books) that I haven't started yet, and the combination of lots of frantic grading while trying to read three books is giving me grad school flashbacks. The only new wrinkle is that I bought these books a while ago and I can only find two of them... so task number one this morning, now that I am properly caffeinated, is to tear the house apart looking for it... Anyone seen my copy of "Local People?" And yes, I've already looked under the bed...

Friday, July 01, 2005

Day 10: No excuses

Even though I have no excuses for my lack of dissertation work today, I'm going to try to make some anyway. I hate that feeling of having a very busy day but with little to show for it. Even my house is a mess. Well, I managed to do some course work/grading in the morning, before leaving for my doctor's appointment, which took me by bus (the one we call the Slow Boat to China) into downtown. Then lunch with a friend. Then my return migration on the slow boat. But with Lucinda Williams on the ipod it was almost pleasant. Then a bit more grading. Then chatting with my colleague who dropped off his dog for me to dog sit. I think she is a Great Pyrenees or some other mountain dog. She looks like a polar bear, and while sweet and harmless, is also dumb as a box of rocks. And she is terrified of cats, which works well in our household, because our alpha feline demands that all creatures bow down before him. I swear, this huge dog will not even attempt to come upstairs if there is a cat sitting on the landing. Then I went for a run. And here I am. So in the great spirit of dissertators everywhere, I'll close by saying that "Tomorrow is another day!" and try not to think about the fact that we're going to a wedding extravaganza starting at 2 tomorrow...