I Just Emailed My Thesis Advisor a Terd

At least, I felt like I did.  One of the hardest things to overcome about writing this thesis is the expectation that I’m going to turn out something good on the first try.  I spent so much time agonizing about the introduction, and then my advisor comes back and tells me not to worry about it that much since I’m going to have to rewrite it anyway.  I knew that all along…I guess I got too caught up in that whole “fear of failure” thing.  I shouldn’t have been so scated to send my crappy draft to her.

Anyway, with that behind me, I’m going to wait until tomorrow to start on the first chapter.  Now, some club soda and Destination Truth:)

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She’s not sending you a terd.  I promise.

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Better Labor Day..

I can’t remember if I showed you guys my desk-skull.  I made him a little do-rag so he’d look more badass.  I have him sitting in front of my houseplant, and he makes me smile.  Incidentally, everyone at my job has a piece of one original plant that my friend Cindy brought.  We’ve all been growing them, and they’ve all crawled so much that they’re starting to take over the office.  It’s our attempt to make the place less grey and fluorescent.  I haven’t named my desk-skull, though.  Any ideas?

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Anyway, I’m past my mini-meltdown from yesterday, I think.  I’ve decided that I’m going to let myself laze around until 10 or 11, and then I’ll hit my thesis introduction full-force.  Part of my anxiety over this is that I haven’t had to work on it since February when I got my prospectus approved.  Once I got that done, I had to focus on my class (Middle Eastern Lit), and by the time I was done with that, I was in the throes of my “chemical storm” )as my psychologist called it).  So, really, the past few weeks have been the first time that I’ve actually been able to get my brain back in gear again. Unfortunately, I’ve forgotten most of what I worked on and now I’m left looking at the blank page and feeling overwhelmed because I don’t even know where to begin.  I’ll get over it, though.  I’ve got no choice.

One of the major things that I’ve discussed with my psychologist over the past couple of years has been my sense of practicality and how it pushes away anything else.  I don’t take care of myself because I’m so busy trying to take care of everything else.  My motto has always been, “the world’s not going to quit spinning, and I’ve got to do my job, so I’ve just got to suck it up and get over it.”  I’ve been so busy trying to “suck it up” that I forget that it’s okay to take care of myself, that it’s not frivilous to put up Christmas decorations or to want to re-do my living room in earth tones and owls…that knitting isn’t a waste of my time…that a day trip to the mountains to hike is actually good for me.

I’m glad it’s going to be rainy for the next couple of days.  It’s always easier to concentrate on writing when it’s rainy outside.   I have absolutely no idea why. 

On an unrelated note, Joey moved our recliner back into the living room from the office.  I think someone else is enjoying it more than he is, though…

It’s just a matter of time before she realizes that I’m not going anywhere today and crawls up into my lap, rendering me incapable of moving but desperately needing to get up to pee.

Another One Bites The Dust….

Spring 2011, you were a difficult semester.  And, unfortunately, you are only transitioning into the mad dash of summer thesis-writing.  Honestly, I don’t have any more to give.  Where I’m going to muster up the will to finish this program is beyond me.  If you love writing, never go to graduate school…I loved writing too, once;)  But at least, for now, my final paper and final reflections for Middle Eastern Lit are turned in and I can probably afford a day or two to regain my sanity..or at least, what’s left of it.

I’ve been thinking for the last week or so about a new tattoo.  Recall, if you will, Birthday Adventure #1:

And Birthday Adventure # 2:

2010 was uneventful in terms of body art.  I planned to get another tattoo, but time and money never lined up properly.  My 2008 tattoo was extremely significant; it had been exactly one year since my dad’s emergency bypass surgery and ensuing two-week hospital stay.  It also marked my taking control over my depression and anxiety and seeking treatment.  So, exactly one year from what was undeniably the darkest moment in my entire life, I did something I’d always wanted to do.  On my birthday in 2009, I did it again, forever commemorating my connection with my lineage, paying homage to my folks and indelibly marking myself with pride at who I am.

2010 and–thus far–2011 have proven to be years of challenge and struggle, and I think that, once I’m on the other side of the struggle, it will be time to commemorate in ink my survival again.  I’m thinking either the middle of my back or the inside of my wrist…what do you think?

I Got Nothing…

This is happening right now:

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You may notice that she’s in her harness.  We’re trying to get her used to it as we are working on getting an ultralight camper in the (relatively) near future and we want to be able to take her with us, which would require that she be on the harness/leash pretty constantly.  After half an hour of flopping around like she was dying, she’s discovered that the harness is not a torture device and is contentedly napping between my knees.

Today is supposed to be a thesis-working day, but thus far, I’ve made myself breakfast and watched the DVRed season premier of The Deadliest Catch.  I do intend to work hard on it today, though.  I promise (Dad).

The past few weeks haven’t been so great, honestly.  I need an adjustment to my meds, which won’t be coming until the 29th, and I’m going to have to pay out-of-pocket, which also sucks.  Work has been really stressful, which is both good (we’re getting more business, which is *excellent* for us) and bad (I’m having trouble keeping up with it all). My grandma fell and broke her wrist and her hip and had to have surgery.  We did get a nice weekend in the mountains last weekend, though (pictures to come…it was beautiful).

Unfortunately, this week showed me the ugly side of corporate America.  We had some “restructuring” which didn’t impact me directly, but affected the guy who took a chance on me six years ago and hired me even though I didn’t have any experience and knew nothing about the industry.  He’s a really good man and a good leader, and I feel blessed to have gotten to work for him.  He’ll still be with us, but in a different capacity, and it’s been a really hard thing to process while trying to keep up morale among us.  I still have a job, though, and I am grateful for that.  And I’m even more grateful that I love my team.

I’m also struggling with trying to let go of the desire to accomodate everyone.  I’ve always been that way, and it often leads me into friendships where I care about the other person more than they care about me…which breeds a lot of resentment on my end.  Detaching myself from that is something that I’m vowing to work on.

There’s no detaching me from this right now, though:

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🙂

Secrets of Successful Thesis Writing

I promised myself that I could blog as a reward for rewriting my introduction of my prospectus.  I don’t know how I’m going to bribe myself to get the rest done.  However, I will say, now that I have part of the rewrite under my belt, I am feeling much better.  I’ve also spent two hours or so corresponding with my advisor, and she has been really helpful, so the chances that I’ll spend tonight sobbing about anything/everything like I did yesterday are much lower.  It’s amazing to me how much being overwhelmed about this project can affect my ability to handle anything at all.  That and being home alone because Joey is on a trip with the guys (note to any freako pervs who may read this and want to break in:  I will shoot you dead.  And you can believe that).  I’m doing better with the solitude today, though.  It’s funny to me that, even though I enjoy and value time spent by myself, I don’t really like being alone all that much.  I can remember being a kid at home and crying all by myself when my parents went somewhere and I was home alone.  I wasn’t scared or anything, I just liked having them around.

I am getting more done without Joey here, though, so this is a blessing for me.  And, since he’s gone, Shelli is having to settle for second best and is currently sleeping on the couch with me.  I love this.  However, I am a slow coffee-drinker and have a bladder the size of a hamster, so I’m currently sitting here with lukewarm coffee and an intense need to pee.  Ah, the price we pay for the happiness of our fur-babies.

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Here’s what the other half of my immediate surroundings looks like.  Except now, there’s an empty tupperware container that had sliced deli ham in it.  Lunch of champions, folks…coffee and sliced ham.

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I’m totally amazed at the writing process for this prospectus.  I cannot begin to imagine what the next few months hold in the actual thesis-writing process.  I can tell you a couple of things I’ve learned thus far, though:

  1. Your first draft sucks.  Expect it.  Send it in, get criticism, pick out a few sentences that work, and then scrap the rest.
  2. Research *anything* that you think might have to do with your topic…not just about the novels you’re discussing.  In addition to the three novels I’m working on, I’ve ended up researching mental illness among Latino communities, mental illness and feminism, feminism in Caribbean literature…you name it.
  3. Think of your research as a pot of spaghetti; do a ton of it, and toss it at the wall to see what sticks.
  4. Ask, ask, ask, ask questions.  Dialogue with your advisor…about lots of things, not just the paper at hand.  This is a lot harder if you’re doing DE, but it’s worthwhile.
  5. Cut some slack in other areas of life.  I had to beg off on a slumber party last night that I was looking forward to.  I didn’t want to do it, but a peaceful evening at home spent sobbing about life and this paper, followed by a good night’s sleep left me refreshed and prepared to take on this paper this morning.  Some times you’ve got to be okay with letting things go.

OK, back to it.  Enjoy your Saturday!

2011: A New Year!

Today is going to be a good day!  It’s MLK day, so I’ve got the day off, and the morning is being spent like this:

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I can never pass up a Shellikins on the lap; it’s a rarity for me, since she usually wants to be on Joey all the time.  So, it dawned on me that, because things were so crappy, I’d neglected to post the resolutions I finally came up with for the year.  Here we go!

  1. Further My Education; (1) Graduate, (2) complete PhD applications
  2. Improve my health, fitness, and weight.  (1) reduce takeout to once a week, and make it last two meals if possible.  (2) Plan meals one week in advance. (3) eat mostly paleo and reduce refined carbs, (4) incorporate exercise every day!
  3. Lead a more peaceful life/reduce stress:  (1) Yoga at least once a week, (2) read Bible and pray every day, (3) have one fun outing with Joey every week, (4) establish morning and evening routines, both for myself and with Shelli, (5) incorporate 15 minutes of cleaning the house per day.
  4. Be a better friend/more thoughtful person
  5. Tighten back up financially, (1) the aforementioned reduction in takeout, (2), meal planning (getting our grocery/toiletries budget back down to $50 per week)

In an effort to improve both #2 and #5, we bought a Wii with the Wii Fit Plus package!  It was a bit of a steep up-front cost, yes, but when we did the math, we’ll save about $300 over the year over our memberships to our gym, which just isn’t convenient to us and doesn’t really fit our schedules.  I prefer to workout in the morning, but to do that, I have to get there at 5 am, right when the gym opens.  As much as I’d like to, I just can’t get myself up at 4:40 to be ready to leave at 4:45.  However, I can get up at 4:55 to do thirty minutes in the morning before I get in the shower!  Or even get up at 5 to do 30 minutes since it won’t really hurt to be five minutes later.

Here’s our home-screen:

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Initial thoughts:

  1. I do not appreciate that the little voice goes “Oooh!” when I step on the balance board/scale.
  2. It hurt to see my BMI and have the little voice tell me I’m obese and to imitiately change my Mii (avatar) into the chubby girl you see above.
  3. It’s TOTALLY awesome that you can enter your pet!  Shelli is just under 8 pounds, by the way, which is very healthy for her, so we’re not trying to change her weight with it.  However, she did NOT appreciate being held so that we could get her weight.  She got pretty pissed.
  4. It’s FUN!  It’s really nice to have something to work toward, and the games are great for a workout.  When I played it at my friend Katie’s house over the weekend, I was really sore the next day from the workout that I got…but it doesn’t usually feel like exercise because it’s a game.  Good stuff!

In other news, my prospectus draft has been submitted and I’ve gotten feedback, so the next step is revision and resubmittal, and then hopefully it’ll be good enough for submission to my committee for the meeting.  I’m feeling positive about it now rather than overwhelmed and my advisor is very involved in my progress, so I don’t feel nearly as lost.  Middle Eastern Lit has been interesting so far; I’ve read The Reluctant Fundamentalist by Mohsin Hamid, which was thought provoking and made me uncomfortable with my own thoughts/beliefs and assumptions.  That’s the sign of a good book, my friends; confronting uncomfortable realities isn’t a bad thing.  Too many people shy away from it.

That’s all; Maury is about to come on!

Hi. My Name is Melanie, and I am Socially Awkward

Sometimes I wish I was less socially awkward.  I mean, put me up on front of people to speak about some issue or another, and I’m totally put together and fine.  Put me up there with a song to sing, and I’m even better.  But putting me in a small group of people is generally safe neither for me nor those around me. 

In happy news, The HEABlet has arrived!  I’m so happy for Heather and CD.  They are going to be completely awesome parents, I know it.

In other happy news, I HAVE A THESIS!  Finally!  Unfortunately, it involved me scrapping the idea of writing about Native American literature entirely, but it brought me back to my first love way back in undergrad:  Latin American literature.  Particuarly, I’m focusing on Cuban-American lit at this point.  We’ll see when/if I include other Latin-American sub-groups.  Now that I’ve got an idea of where I’m going, things are moving very quickly.  I’m glad.  I’ll be thrilled to finish this up and graduate…and then figure out where I go from there.

On a highly irritated and unpleasant note, I experienced a 30% tuition increase that was voted in shortly after the semester began by the general assembly and put into action last week.  The real kicker?  It’s retroactive, so I had a charge for an additional $500 bucks on my account.  Gotta love those who promise that they won’t put a greater fiscal burden on the lower classes and then jack up the price of education.  But “it’s for the children,” right?

I’ve been writing a lot in my physical journal lately, hence the dearth of substantive posts, but I think it’s a good thing.  I keep telling myself how badly I want to be a writer, and then I never write.  I’m toying with the idea of starting to wake up at 5 every morning and blogging so that it remains a priority.

I also need some knitting to work on.  And I need to figure out what I’m doing for everyone for Christmas.  ‘Tis a busy, busy world.