Small things in the middle of big things

I quit working with my Research Proposal introduction half finished today (my supervisor wanted a draft to review over the weekend) and walked out into glorious sunshine and the scent of spring flowers. I came home, played Piggy in the Middle with the kids, did some puzzles in the sun, made poached eggs with fresh garden herbs for tea and had a bath with my daughter, and once she’d got out, with a book. Now I’m settling into one of my more productive writing times of day. Hopefully it’ll actually be productive, but even if it isn’t, I’ve got one paragraph written that I didn’t have this afternoon, and a week more to do the rest of the thing.

This is a more pleasant way to think than ohshitohshitohshit I still have the introduction and methodology background and ethics and method and potential results to write and then there are exams in less than two weeks that i haven’t even started studying for and half the washing is still damp and next week both boys have to be at different places at different times of the day and i have classes and andandandandandwhydontijustgiveupsleeping.

So I’m not thinking like that. I’m listening to this. And as soon as I post this I’ll check Twitter one more time then turn it off and see if I can chip the next few sentences into shape.

I’m getting there, and it feels good to be actually working really really hard and proud of my progress.

Studying for exams. And writing a research proposal.

NOT.

You know that moment in George of the Jungle, where Ursula’s mother says “oh God”?

That’s what my brain said when I went to open YET ANOTHER research methods .pdf. I swear it would have been audible to an outside observer, even though my lips and vocal cords did not move.

Like the time I was talking to someone and watching his lips and my brain suddenly yelled, “God you’re beautiful!” so loudly I was amazed the man I was talking to didn’t hear it. I then blundered away, trying the wrong door to get out, you know the kind of thing.

Anyway.

I am at that moment, like when you’ve been on a long tramp or a long stay in hospital, when you’re about three quarters or more of the way there and the end is almost in sight and you’ve STILL GOT SO FAR TO GO and you STILL have to keep putting one foot in front of the other, or one word after another, or have yet another dinner of reconstituted egg quiche and wobbly pudding and another blood test. 

I’m having bad dreams of conflict with my husband and weird concatenations of the TV I’ve been watching and my studies and the news, although that may have more to do with the warmer Spring weather combined with winter-weight bedding.

I am not tired of psychology, or brains. I’m tired of assessment, of having tasks set for me by others, which have nothing to do with the needs of real people. Writing pages and pages and pages which in the end will only be thrown away. I want to be writing reports which doctors and patients and families will read and which will help them and make their lives a little better, a little more understandable, make sense of the past in the present, give hope for the future.

I want that so bad I can taste it. (Kind of metallic, as my throat tightens and I carefully don’t cry.)

Unfortunately my coping strategies are not all that great. But I’ll come through, I always do. I’ll probably get As. It’s just the getting there that’s a pain in the ass. I may be here a bit more often in the next month, to try and get the conversational writing out of my system so I can settle to the dry academic style where I have to. I do get in minor trouble for being too informal sometimes.

Anyway, I better go, I have to take the cat to the vet and then pick the kids up from school. See you all again the next time a paper makes me scream.

Getting the cogs grinding

I woke up this morning at 6.30, thinking about my assignment, so I got up, grabbed my laptop and did an hour’s work on it.  This has never happened before.

You may notice the effect of my current glut of assignments on my punctuation: double spaces after full stops were requested so now I’m doing them everywhere.  I correct myself on Twitter but otherwise, meh.  Whatever.  It looks right when your paragraph is double spaced, somehow. Otherwise, it kind of gives the impression that you’re hyperventilating.  TOO…MUCH…BREATH……

I’m writing a blog post now because I am at the point in my Annotated Bibliography where I have a conclusion to write, probably looking at about five pages, and I have an outline with stuff to hang on it and my mind is blanking out.  This may be because it is 3.30 pm and I have already spent three hours writing, one and a half hours in class (I bailed before the student presentations) and at least half an hour wrestling with Word and EndNote.  I’m hoping that blogging will unstick the old word machine and get that vocabulary flowing juicily.

How does WordPress’s editor think “unstick” is not a word?  Bizarre.

You may also notice the odd sentence written in the passive voice.  I do my best to avoid it, but it’s hard in academia.  I swear some articles I’ve read were written entirely in the passive voice.  Which makes me want to turn on the ‘read aloud’ function on Adobe Reader because they just sound like a robot wrote them, and it seems appropriate that they should be read in a mechanical emotionless voice.

This is one of the things I like about interpretative phenomenological analysis, which is the style of qualitative research I am planning for my own thesis.  You actually get to hear real people speak.  I will record my conversations with my participants, and my data will be the transcripts of those conversations.  I will use quotes instead of graphs.  I will let the people I’m studying speak for themselves.  I can’t wait.

But in the meantime there are conclusions to write based on summaries of articles and the stuff I’m meant to have learnt in class about levels of intervention and public health perspectives and what-not.  And then there’s the research proposal for next week, for a topic I only vaguely understand.  I’ve never designed or run a lab experiment in my life.  This may be ridiculous.  

I’m quite good at faking it, though.  Wish me luck.

Trucking on

I have two pages written. Six more, plus abstract to go. By Friday morning. I have all of tomorrow, if I wag class, which I plan to do, and the rest of this evening.

I’m exhausted.

Can I afford to stop? I don’t know. Can I afford not to stop? Probably.

See you on the other side.

Deep brain stimulation

It’s another week like that one in first semester – I have four assignments due within the space of nine days. The first was last week, on Wednesday afternoon. I gave a presentation on my thesis, which I have barely begun. The thesis preparation paper is worth twice as much as each of my other four papers, and this presentation was worth 20% of the paper. It was three minutes long, I had two slides, and I bloody* nailed it.

I am totally entering the three-minute-thesis competition next year. I’m really good at and enjoy public speaking. That makes me rare.

I managed to swot up all the last four drugs lectures yesterday for tomorrow’s test, including required readings, and I’ve watched the DVD that everyone else got to watch one evening but I couldn’t because I had the soccer practice drop-off to do so I borrowed it off the lecturer and watched it in the weekend.

That sentence needs rewriting.

Now I’m (well, not now, but most of this afternoon) working on my presentation for Wednesday, which is on deep brain stimulation for various conditions. Would you have electrodes planted in your brain to improve your memory? If it were guaranteed safe and painless? How about to cure depression? It’s a fascinating and slightly weird field. This is probably the first time I’ve found studying for this Nervous Systems Plasticity paper anything approaching enjoyable. Sad but true.

And then there’s the essay due on Friday. So I need to get the presentation out of the way today or tomorrow at the latest… The essay is on Internet support groups so it’s kind of fun but I have to be careful not to be too personal, as we have a different lecturer from the super-reflexive-qualitative G who taught us first semester. The new one is equally nice but much more ordinary-science-y. I like G. I’m an Arts student at heart… the MSc is just to look more impressive if I decide I do want to continue with neuropsych. I’m not 100% sure about that at the moment.

Although, being a kiwi, I must be 100% pure … something. Any ideas?

*Pardon my French.**

**Reply if you get the reference.

The Tao of Bullsh**

The Tao of Bullsh**

Reblogged from my brother, who I wish would come over to WordPress so I could follow him more easily. This bit made me laugh out loud:

Pellicer’s … main [idea] seems to be that if you convince a woman that there are a bunch of other women after you, it’ll get her interested despite herself. His supporting evidence is that this is what happens with fish. Another thing that happens with a lot of fish is that they spontaneously change sex if they find themselves in single-sex groups, so, you know, if you’re a guy living and working in an all-male environment you might want to start buying menstruation products just in case.

Why It’s Hard to Believe Abortion is Wrong

Why It’s Hard to Believe Abortion is Wrong.

A really good post by a Catholic writer who was recently Freshly Pressed. I have always believed that abortion is wrong, and have only recently realised that as the daughter of a man who could be described as a “rape baby” I have personal as well as logical reasons to believe it.

And yet, I don’t do anything about abortion’s prevalence, apart from occasionally get into arguments with people. The thought of those seven holocausts a year sickens me, but so do my country’s child abuse and youth suicide statistics, and I don’t feel like I can do anything much about those either.

I feel a certain amount of pressure to write something “awesome” after my blog being so described by someone far too kind (here), and I’ve been thinking a lot about what he’s been writing about lately too. It’s true that there is an awful lot of evil and injustice in the world, and the Church needs to be responding to it. But is it the Church’s job to take on these problems head on (spending funds only on benefitting the poor and needy while pastors work as volunteers and the congregation all take turns at preaching)? Or is that up to specific organisations or groups connected with the Church – and us individual members – while the Church fulfils the mission of introducing people to Christ and helping us to mature in Him?

If we all, and I mean ALL, everyone in the whole world, believed in and were transformed by the love of Christ and the Holy Spirit working in us, that would solve ALL the problems. ALL THE THINGS!!! It’s not a cop-out, or a numbers game. It’s our Mission. As we work towards it, each of us makes the lives around us a little better, and the future a little brighter, and maybe brings a few more friends into the fold, and they start to make the lives around them a little brighter…

I’ve started from one person’s blog post and ended up answering another’s, which is probably bad etiquette or something. I have to confess that my blog is mostly stream-of-consciousness (which is never going to get me Freshly Pressed…) and here you see perhaps a little further into my soul than I intended. Ambitious, insecure, defensively self-deprecating…

Also I like ending sentences with three dots…

But God loves me anyway. And you. A lot.

Even, even, if you spell it alot.