I’ve been traveling on and off for a few months now (hence the photos in this post). Mostly for fun but with a little bit of science thrown in there. Looking forward, I don’t have so many plans, aside from a job interview in Boston in a few weeks. Mostly I’m trying to write my dissertation. That statement is becoming almost a joke to me now — the task is so large and progress seems very slow.
I think the traveling has been good for me so far. It has given me a strong motivation to get particular tasks finished and the conference I went to in Australia got me thinking and feeling good about the level of my knowledge. It can’t go on though, not with all I have to do. I think a few weekend trips will still be needed for de-stressing, but nothing that takes much thought to plan. I don’t have any brain power to spare right now.
Occasionally I turn down invitations to participate in some event or organizing committee with the excuse that “I’m writing my dissertation” but the task still seems un-doable. Even just organizing the idea of what should be included seems daunting to me.
Despite the nagging feeling that I’ve completed too little in these last 4+ years, the document will be the biggest thing I’ve ever produced. Bigger than any quilt project, more consuming than my masters degree and all of my undergraduate education, and necessarily larger than either scientific paper I’ve written. All that, and only a handful of people will ever read it. I feel like I’m standing at the bottom of a very big mountain which seems mostly, but not entirely, impossible to climb.
Kepler Track, New Zealand
Needless to say, I’ve found work very consuming lately and my normal outlets – of sewing, spinning, knitting and such – have sounded like a chore. I’ve been too tired to get beyond cooking and eating. And seeing as how I have 1 of 4 chapters completed, all of these things are likely to get worse before they get better.
Mono Pass (the southern one)
Maybe I needed to say this to make excuses for myself and justify the lack of crafty output. There are so many projects I have in the queue, but I can’t seem to muster the energy to finish or start any of them. I bought a polwarth fleece in Australia (and brought it back on the plane – declared!) but can’t imagine dealing with it right now. I washed another fleece I got as a gift last year and, same thing – I don’t have the concentration to decide how it should be spun and what should be made from it. Is my only hope right now is to work on things which require no thought at all?
Typical sheepy vista, New Zealand
I’m sure that my task isn’t has hard as it seems right now. I have moments of optimism here and there and sometimes I even feel like I’m making progress. Maybe the whole exercise will help me throw my over-controlling tendencies out the window and embrace a more fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants approach to projects and adventures. I hold out hope for this outcome – I went on a backpacking trip recently and didn’t over-plan it. In fact, I think we had just the right amount of planning, resulting in a lovely (relatively) stress-free weekend.
campsite, Desolation Wilderness
But the truth remains that I like control, and I like knowing what to expect. Sitting at the end of this grad school adventure is the prospect of moving. More importantly, unspecified moving. I don’t know where we will go, or how long we will be there.
I keep having fleeting thoughts about how the time passing may be my last months in the Bay Area. Ever. This is hard to imagine, but also not out of the realm of possibilities. The Bay Area is my home and I can’t imagine not living here for the bulk of my time. But there are a lot of things about my future that I can’t quite imagine now… Much uncertainty looms.
I’m trying to stay positive and just execute the task rather than spend too much time being philosophical about the process. I’m inherently an over-optimizer. There is a fine line between relaxing by ignoring all the things I have to do and relaxing so I can make progress without stressing. I haven’t sorted it out yet, but maybe this will have to be an unwritten chapter in my PhD in order to write the sciency stuff that I need to graduate.
Swingbridge on the Routeburn Track, New Zealand