Month: January 2015

Statistics

It turns out I was not a year off-track. I last posted in August, which was more recently that I expected, unless that was from the year before last. I need to learn to read time stamps properly. I still haven’t adjusted to writing ‘2015’ yet. These things take time. Give me another month or so to adjust.
I think I will try to post daily here, just for shits and giggles. It is entirely plausible that I will not be able to keep it up, in which case, well, I don’t really care, because as I said, it is for shits and giggles. A second experiment.

A while ago, I came across a graphic that gave my perfectionism a well-timed and effective knee in the automatic negative thoughts. It seems appropriate to share it here, now:

Failure always means something

This is day 2 of round 2 of my attempt at blogging as a public domain record of my rather ridiculous rollercoastering in the course of my academic life.

I am going to dedicate this one to the bad habits academia allows me to maintain, if not indeed exacerbate. These habits range from the psychological to the practical. For instance, I need to take a moment now to run my lunch up to the fridge in the common room, because when I came in to the office I started writing emails, then followed that up with a desperate trot to the nearest hot water urn to obtain some caffeine, and then the door of a professor I had been intending to meet with for quite some time was open, so I took my tea in there and that took half an hour, and then I came back to my office and wrote another email I had been resisting writing as a way of avoiding starting serious work for the day, and now here I am, still avoiding everything in the name of a writing exercise.

Let it be known: I have gone and put the risotto in the fridge. A small victory against procrastination and something I can be proud of today (I made the choice not to give myself salmonella, hooray!).

Rightio. Bad habits. Number 1, the really really big one, is the way it allows me to allow myself to not get to the point of things. This is probably not a habit I derived from academia. I watch the behaviour of the people I grew up around and I can see that the crazy rants and excessive self-justification are behaviours that I learned. Besides, being obsessed with the why is often what makes a good researcher. It’s just that the obsession with why needs to be tempered with a how, and you can answer almost every possible how with a why not, which can lead to days sitting in front of the desk just thinking ‘well shit’. And that’s the part where we need to remember that we just have to try, and try again, and at least once more. As long as we do that, we will always end up with something statistically significant.

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Green tea really doesn’t cut it

So, it’s a year later, maybe more, and here I am again, with the ready admission that the blog plan did not go even remotely to plan. It wasn’t even a slow fade from weekly to fortnightly to monthly posts as my commitments increased and my free time lessened—no, nothing as clearly excusable as that. In fact, it wasn’t even laziness. It was a lack of discipline, pure and simple. A lack of self-discipline, I should say, although I don’t think I should rightly expect discipline to come from anywhere other than myself. A lack of discipline as I slipped under the multidimensional surface of academic overwhelm and unproductive distractions. I am disappointed, but I am also over it. I just thought I’d have a little rant to remind myself that I failed, and why it’s always a good idea to forgive myself and get on with it, not to mention get back on the blog pony.

It is a new year, and new years are always a good excuse for new beginnings. A new year always seems to offer a grander sense of possibility than a new day or a new month or a new hour. This year is already racing along, though, and before I have to resign myself to saving up a starting post for a new month, I’m just going to go ahead and punch out this meaningless piffle as a record of Not Doing What I Planned To. It’s good to have these things on record, after all, and I find myself disappointed that I did not keep up with The Plan. It would have been rather nice and extremely useful to have successfully recorded my experiences over the past however-long. It would have been interesting to know what my mental state was at particular points in time, because, as a dear friend of mine quoted to me recently (I forget whom he was quoting, so I will just quote him), memory is notoriously unstable. We end up remembering not what we want to remember, as such, but worse, what we think we remember. Our memories are like liquid, and conform to the confines of our brains in most peculiar ways. Having a record would have kept me accountable, to myself more than anyone else, for all that an internet blog is a public sphere.

Anyhow, as I mentioned, here lies a little rant to remind myself that I failed to write regular blog posts of my experiences as a Masters student in 2014. It is now 2015, and I have about five months left to lift myself out of the Valley of Shit and up the craggy rugged rocky Writing Ranges. These, I expect, will be offensively varied in difficulty. There are five major peaks: an introduction, three chapters, and a conclusion. I may not enjoy it while I’m scaling them, but it sure will be nice to sit at the top drinking makkoli and surveying my achievements at the end.