Wednesday, January 20, 2010

off and away

Off to dissertation land...assuming that my plane takes off in this crappy weather we're getting today.

I finally plan to go abroad for an extremely reasonable amount of time - really only the equivalent of two big conferences - and it turns out that two days after I get back Partner will be heading off for his own few weeks of work-related travel. I think the universe is laughing at us. At least we won't have to worry about getting a cat sitter.

Over and out until February.

Monday, January 18, 2010

research

I have a small course release that allows me to travel abroad for a few weeks this term for research. I'll be returning to the country of my dissertation - and I find it ironic that even though I've been there many times, I'm still nervous about some of the traveling logistics. For some reason, traveling in the country where I worked this past summer for the first time gives me no such apprehension. It will be nice to be back in dissertation-land, I think, though it will be strange to be there on my own.

Because of this course release, my teaching load has been smaller than normal, and my inability to get shit done even with this reduced load makes me particularly depressed. This is not a good sign, as I'm currently trying to decide when I should take my pre-tenure leave -- this month's inactivity suggests that I will waste the entire leave, regardless of when it happens. I need to get myself motivated. Damn it.

I've found that I'm particularly bad at planning long-term events -- like pre-tenure leave. What term? Which year? It doesn't help that the nature of my work is so grant-driven that we often end up finalizing whether a project will run only a month beforehand (though that probably isn't so very rare - aren't we all grant-driven to some extent?). I'm worried that I'll make plans and end up with no field work to do, or that I'll make plans right before some amazing opportunity presents itself during a term when I would be teaching. I don't know why this stresses me out so much - it's not like I don't have stuff to do in the lab, or writing to finish. I think it comes down to finalization - I don't like having things locked in too far in advance.

Academia, you are not conducive to my love of short-term planning.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

into the future

Possibly the most frightening aspect of getting older is watching our parents, as our future selves, fall to their genetic and environmental predators. Maybe it's helpful in a way, since you think you know what's coming (and maybe you do, to an extent). But it also marks off the finish line. You have this much time until life changes, or declines, or ends. Get used to it.

So, New Year, it would be nice if you would actually afford a fresh start, since you currently have all that hype and no delivery.

My first lab student is on their way and getting the lab dirty; another begins this week. My research assistant is wading through stuff that I've been waiting to get to for a year now. I'm a fan of this "other people do some stuff" productivity. Definitely.

I have approximately one week before I take a quick trip overseas for some field work. I am so unprepared. Am I likely to be prepared by the time I leave? Hmm.

Things I don't like right now:
- my inability to finish revisions because I won't sit down and do it
- the discovery of high lead content in the soil we grew veggies in all summer (d'oh!)
- bitchy program officers
- allergies that have progressed to the point where I should probably actually go to a doctor (damn you cat!)

Things I'm happy about right now:
- Partner's amazing pizza-making abilities
- my clean house
- awesome friends and colleagues

Thursday, January 7, 2010

new year same old

Resolutions reso...smushions? I'm already failing at my goal to get decent amounts of sleep, which directly results in a failure to get decent amounts of exercise. Damn you new course prep! I had been lulled into a false sense of security by last term, which was my first (and only, for a while) term full of repeat courses. And so, here I am at 1:30 am finally finishing up for tomorrow's lecture and lab. Goodbye, morning exercise, I shall miss you.

This week I have new milestones - my very first research assistant started doing grunt work for me, and my very first lab-based student project will begin as well. Doing stuff! The lab not just sitting there with stuff in it! Data! Dare I dream. I also get to spend more money, which is always fun.

Today I braved the cold to go to a talk and ended up seeing some people and talking about curriculum developments and research directions with other departments. I'm actually starting to feel like a member of this community, which is nice, and a productive/useful one at that, which is even better.

Now, if only the rest of life would de-dramatize itself.