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I am wearing a skirt today.  This skirt was made by Columbia Outdoors Wear and purchased at REI.  It is a hiking skirt, if you can imagine such a thing, made out of material which repels water and collects wrinkles.  I love the idea of it, and maybe even the skirt itself.

However, If you:
a) work in an open floor plan office
b) have only three five foot tall walls and a hallway bordering your office space
c) wear skirts that hit two inches above your knees

Then, you cannot put your feet up on your desk (well, unless you want to show the world your underpants. And showing the people I work with my underpants is against the prime directive). 
Gah. Concentration is shot. Need a dance class and then a celebratory evening that involves Diet Coke, Mentos, and things which go boom. Fortunately those are both on the agenda, assuming I manage to hang in there until the end of the day.
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I have just been told that I am "the best little person to sit at [this] desk ever."  Is there a compliment in there somewhere or am I justified in my desire to bombard her with pads of sticky notes? (I am sitting at the department's front office working on my laptop, she is a first year graduate student in another division).
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I just got an email from one of our recent graduates (she did a M.S. then fled the Ph.D. program) who ran off to the big, bad corporate world that read:

"Compared to graduate school the corporate world is downright warm and fuzzy," and provided real life examples to illustrate this.

I knew it all along...
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I have a 69 page draft of my thesis.  I am definitely embracing Ms. Lamott's shitty first drafts idea, but, hey, it's on paper!  And before my deadline (4 am, tomorrow morning, at the very latest).  I know it could be better, but it isn't.  What it is is a jumping off place for the revisions process, and a conversation starter for my advisor and me.  Need I mention that it will be returned to me gutted and dripping Microsoft Comments?  Nah, I didn't think so....

I am going to send the whole thing off and do a quick victory dance, then run into town.  These dogs need to run about 5 miles before we are going to be friends again....
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It is Thursday night.  I have spent two pretty much full days staring at the shiny box, working on my thesis.

I finished polishing the methods section and wrote up the results.  I figured out the two holes in the literature review (organizational justice and leader prototypicality).  I have a to-do list: "write org. justice section / rewrite prototypicality section / incorporate new articles / draft discussion / draft conclusions / fix up citations").  I have made myself a table of contents and polished up the tables, figures, and appendices. 

What I need to do is start reading and type.  This synthesis is the hardest piece for me - I can do it, but struggle to aim myself in the right direction.  What I need to remember is that the written (typed) word is powerful.  If I just start putting words on the page - snippets from articles, sources to cite, bits of connection, soon I will have a draft.  And once I have a draft, I can revise.  Revising is fun and shiny, its just getting the words down in the first place that hurts.  I need to remember Anne Lamott's advice and embrace my shitty first drafts and silence station KFKD (K-fucked) as it loops endlessly in my brain.

I really want to start messing with citations, since that means I am done. I am good at that kind of cross-referencing detail work, but it doesn't make sense to do that until all the words are on the page.  So, I need to write.  I want to knock at least the justice section and either the new articles or prototypicality off the list before I go to bed tonight.... That leaves me one hard piece and the discussion and conclusion sections for tomorrow (oh, and the citations, but citations are fun).  It's manageable, if I do it.  So, time to focus.


Spending this time thinking about school has also brought to my attention that I still dont know what I am doing 20 hours a week next semester, for my assistantship.  I am beginning to wonder if they pulled my funding and forgot to tell me.  On one hand, that would be disastrous - I would have to come up with enough money to live on while I defended the thesis, swing into the job search, and move, all with very limited resources.  But, I would also be free.  And tonight, free sounds good.... (Fortunately my landlord is unlikely to throw me into the street and my visa has a high credit limit, so I can speculate without too much fear.....).
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I rillyrilly hate literature reviews.  I mean, the good ones are a joy to read, but creating them is Not My Favorite.  Everything I need to include has already been said more gracefully by someone else, whose ideas I must now be careful not to plagiarize. 

I have made it through the first 12 pages of my Introduction and Literature review, and I think they are good(ish) as is. I deleted out some stuff which is no longer relevant and threw in a few additional linkages, but they seem sufficient, well-organized, and complete.

The next eight pages - which probably will grow to twenty or so pages - is less fun, since only three of the five constructs discussed in the original proposal remain, and another one has been added.  Lots of linkages to be pruned and recreated using new variables. 

And then, for fun, I get to go back in and add all the stuff that has been published since I wrote the damn thing (March 2005, so 21 months worth of publications).


And then, for even more fun, I get to  go write a discussion, based on the literature review, and make some conclusions. 

But, once I do that and update the reference section, I will have a complete draft to submit to my advisor.  I just need to quit with the squirreling around and focus.  Easier said than done, of course, but I am encouraged by the feedback from a friend in my program (she said I am doing a good job! She also has a huge list of changes to be made, but I am doing a good job!). 

Unfortunately whining about what remains to be completed is not getting anything done.  Must focus...
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I have not sold either of my parent's dogs on Ebay, despite the obvious temptation.

Eventually I whapped one of them with a rolled up JAP article, which still amuses me.  'If you dont behave I am going to get the Journal of Applied Psychology out, and then, buster, you'll have something to cry about!'  It didn't hurt her, but the noise got her attention.  And, since then, she has shut up.  FINALLY.  If only I had figured that out, say, eight hours sooner. 

I went out to breakfast this morning at my favorite cafe because the dogs and I needed an outing, fast.  Then I came home and worked a bit, fell unconscious for an hour, and ate a turkey sandwich.  This being grounded is REALLY BORING.  I know I need to work fast so I can get it over with, but am reminded why sitting at the computer for days on end is just not a good way to get things done.

Anyone want to make a plan to do something fun?  It would give me something to look forward to, and maybe that would help me work fast.  I am getting desperate here....
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I'm grounded.

I need to send my advisor a complete draft of my thesis by Friday night (night being defined as ending anytime before 8 am Saturday morning, Eastern Standard Time). I have not done any thesising in quite awhile, so it's time to focus.

My aunt Mimi suggested today that I could always blame them, citing pressing family obligations.  Pressing is the right word - as in gang-pressing, a lovely old custom where captains who needed crews would prowl near the harbor, kidnapping poor souls who woke up the next day onboard, far from land, with a new job and life ahead of them.  I love spending time with my family, but, damn, are they capable of derailing my day(s).  I explained to everyone, including my grandmother, that I am grounded to work on my thesis.  They dont necessarily like it, but they understand.

Outside of family life, I have also been being very social, which is delightful.  Delightful, and complicated.  I need some time to myself to recharge, so until Friday night/Saturday I will be grounded.

Speaking of which....
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I am considerring a career change.

You guys know me better than most, so I want your help deciding what I should be when I grow up.

My first two ideas are: au pair and circus clown.  What do you think I should be when I grow up? Please be sure to list the reason why you think it would be a good career for me.
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I just realized my summer is one third over.

I left Virginia on the 14th of May.  It is now the 15th of June.  One month down.

I go back on the 14th of August.  Two months to go.

And I havent gotten healthy or worked on my thesis at all. If i want to defend in October I need to have a complete draft by the middle of August, which means lots of rewriting, data analysis, and writing between now and then.

Time for someone to lock me in the tower, like Rapunzel, so I can focus.
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I was up until two am counting files, then woke up at 4:30 am feeling that my nose was going to fall off from the cold (the rest of me was adequately warm though . . .). I managed to go back to sleep with the blankets over my head until 7:20, then get all the stuff I wanted to have done before Matt's arrival taken care of by 8:20. He showed up just before nine, as I was "fixing" the wreckage of the electic fence using sticks as splints and lots of duct tape.

We worked the schedule out - I am going back to work on Friday this week, getting the Solstice off, and then working a six day shift after that. Hopefully we will have a full weir in by then so I can walk away for a couple of hours each day to take a shower and check my voicemail, etc. Six days in camp with no breaks might make me a little nutsier than usual. Oh, speaking of schedules: I will next be in the greater Anchorage area /  Palmer from Wednesday June 7 - Saturday June 10. If you will be around and want to connect, lemme know.

I ended up staying at work 'til 11:30 to help with the sonar, and finally left when it became obvious that my ability to speak English was compromised by lack of sleep (I kept talking about refueling the sonar and putting the generator in the water).  They were in the middle of a problem, but it wasn't one that an extra body would really help so I headed out.

At home I got scolded by my rotten neighbor because Kis was barking at him (yes, she was being obnoxious; however, he was being a jerk), had lunch with some family friends after a long, wonderful shower (ah, the joy of being clean .  . .), then had a discussion with my dad that lead to be bursting into tears over minutiae. Obviously I needed some sleep, so I took a two hour nap.  Following that, I went off to dance class. It bad been cancelled, which mades me sad since I wont be able to attend another until July 11 (since, I am working or out of town every Tuesday til then).  I bought some care package stuff for my sister, a tether for Kiska, and some M&Ms (the candy of choice in my life right now), then connected with my dad to visit his boat. I have now sat in it in the yard and in the harbor - I am excited that tomorrow I will actually get to go out in it.

Of coures you have to wake up early to fish, so I am off to bed now.  Sweet dreams.
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5/29/06 - Memorial Day Monday:

I froze my butt last night. Apparently my sleeping bag – a leftover from when I was with Mike and using mostly his gear – is not as warm as the down bag my mom sewed for Dad twenty-something years ago.  I need a new sleeping bag and a new tent and may actually get around to buying the bag at least, since being cold makes it really hard to sleep.  I got to bed late – after one am – and was up and about at four, then up for good at 6:30 when I put in a chattering teeth phone call to my dad asking him to please, please bring the sleeping bag with the broken zipper back. I was wearing poly pants, hefty wool socks, a long john top, a fleece jacket, a hat, my down blanket, a blanket Matt left behind, and that sleeping bag, and I still froze my butt.  When I woke up cradling my hot water bottle (a Nalgene I filled with boiling water before bed), I knew I was freezing.

It amuses me that there are men’s and women’s sleeping bags.  Mike said women’s bags have more padding in the feet and in the butt, but I think probably the real difference is zipper placement.  Men’s bags zip down the left and women’s down the right (so you can zip them together, I think). My bag is also narrower than my dad’s, so I feel more mummified in it.  Mummy bags are good for staying warm, but not necessarily for feeling like you can roll over without taking the whole thing with you. When I slept in my bag for summers in the bay, I would often wake up to find the whole bag twisted around me and the zipper in the middle of my back. It’s the non-institutional version of the straight-jacket, for people crazy enough to use sleep in mummy bags.

Camp life is good for me, because it provides a reminder to be grateful for things that I might otherwise take for granted. My new definition of luxury is taking clothes off when you go to bed, rather than adding layers; dressing for sleep rather than fisherman encounters (I sleep in what could pass as street clothes, because I know one of these nights I am going to wake up to some idiot who wants to talk about fish pounding on my door); and warm feet.

The dog of the day (Roxie) was shivering when we got up, so I took her out to the car at 6:30 and sat with her, heat going full blast, for ten minutes or so. Then I cracked the windows and left her there to nap in the warm car.  I came back to the weatherport and layered on more black fleece (Carhartt pants and black fleece make up almost my entire work wardrobe. I am wearing two black fleece items as I type this), then sat in front of the stove with my computer on my lap. It was good – I wrote one difficult letter (Dear Roommates, I am keeping most of your deposit . . .) and some emails.  I suppose I should have been watching Didson files, but I was not that motivated.

Mom and Dad came by after a while to trade me dogs and visit. While they were here they dropped off the (broken) sleeping bag and a mirror (Mom’s response to my comment that I didn’t know my hair was sticking straight up and didn’t care, since I couldn’t see it). She confuses me – she is sometimes a health nut who polices my food and sighs over my weight, but then she brings me a cream cheese brownie and hot cocoa for breakfast. I am realizing that I eat better when she is not around – when she is I either eat crap as a way of pointing out that we are distinct from one another or conform and eat her way, which emphasizes oatmeal for breakfast and the occasional chocolate willpower failure, leaving me on a blood-sugar roller-coaster.  I need to get back to the South Beach style of eating – I felt good and was eating well without feeling deprived  (I clearly remember being able to go up to a table holding a platter of sweets, pour a drink, and walk away without feeling resentful. For me, that was profoundly weird). It’s hard with no refrigeration, but I am going to try to head back that way whenever I can.

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Sunday May 28, 2006:

My parents swung by for a visit this morning, which was fun. I ended up sending Kiska with them and keeping Roxie (their older dog) since Kis was so excited to see them. She thinks it is kind of boring out here, since I am not throwing tennis balls (to rest her gimpy leg) and the water is too high for her to swim much. Rox is not quite the same guard dog, but she is easy company since all she wants to do is sleep.

Mom and Dad brought me yummy seafood chowder (sealed in vacuum-packed bags using my dad’s new toy), my sleeping bag (since I broke the zipper pull on the one I had borrowed), and some company.  Our friend Laura, who is a couple years older than me but works with my mom, tagged along. She was ogling fishermen, and despaired over my attitude, (me: “yeah, he is cute, but I am over here and he is over there, and there is a river between us”). Apparently she will be back once school lets out to coach me on picking up anglers in the river, which should be fun. Hanging out with her is always amusing, and I could use some company as I explore the area.


Mom offered to bring out the mosaic project that she has been trying to get me to work on for two years now. I told her no, I have to focus on my thesis when I have free time, which disappointed her. My dad started hassling me about my thesis, saying that he wasn’t sure we could go fishing Wednesday after all, since I had to work on my thesis, etc. Finally he asked to see what I have been working on, so I pulled up my correlations matrix (printed out it is three pages by four pages of numbers).  He seemed impressed and a little bewildered (exactly how I feel when I look at it, actually). My new threat is that if he doesn’t quit bugging me about having to work on my thesis, I will explain the statistics to him. That should keep him off my case for months.

My mom has taken exception to the notion that my life is unusual. She asked me, in full seriousness, “Why do you think your life is weird?” then dismissed my answer. My impression is that she thinks I am trying to single myself out as being oddly special and wasting energy justifying that perception. I don’t think her understanding is quite accurate: I believe my life is wacky, but so is hers, and so is yours. Life is absurd. Recognizing that and finding amusement in the absurdity keeps me sane and humble (along the lines of another favorite bumper sticker: “I am unique, just like everybody else”), rather than feeling like the universe is out to get me personally.

My cell phone just rang: it was Jacob returning my call from last week, wanting to know if I am busy today.  Answer: yes, and I’m far away too. I immediately tried to call Heather, holding very, very still.  No dice – it kept beeping “NO SIGNAL” at me.  Funny that it somehow got connection long enough for me to talk to Jake (who I haven’t seen in literally four years) but not make a phone call.

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On dancing: I have been to three belly dance classes here. This makes me a regular (there seems to be a fairly large cast who cycles through but not a lot of full-time regulars). I am enjoying the company and the classes. We do about an hour of yoga and evil abdominal exercises (some of them are hard but mostly they are ridiculous: i.e. put your legs up in the air in a “V,” then lift your butt off the mat twenty times). Then everyone changes into dance togs (skirts, cholis, hip belts) and we dance. In Virginia I am the fattest belly dancer. Here I am one of the thinnest ones and the most modest – feeling hopelessly overdressed is providing a good push to start wearing stuff that shows my belly in class.


They are working on zils, which is excellent practice for me.  They are mostly practicing straight triplets (right, left, right, repeated endlessly). I think it’s the hardest rhythm and also boring, so played some 3-3-7 during the warm-up and soon Rowan had me playing a counterpoint to the rest of the class to demonstrate how well the rhythms mingle together. It was cool to realize I can play against other dancers without losing the beat (I am so musically untalented that it took me over a year of dance to realize that you can hear an eight count, so this stuff makes me gleeful). I also get a kick out of the fact that Rowan asked to borrow our mnemonic for that one: “Got to dance. Got to dance. Got a chicken in my pants.” (if you zil on the syllables it makes up a 3-3-7).  She is now calling it “the chicken-pants rhythm,” which I love.


The nicest thing about being an itinerant belly dancer is that you can walk into a community just about anywhere. And belly dancers are, in my limited experience, fabulously nice.  I get a real kick out of the women in this class, and love having the girl time to counter my days with the all-male F&G crew.  They also have massive connections to the community so can answer all sorts of questions, like where to go for a haircut (this actually sparked quite a debate). Hanging around with them is sort of like instant-friends-just-add-drum-music, which is perfect for an introvert like me. It is looking like I will be able to perform with them at least once this summer too, which should be fun. There is no way that I am ready to demonstrate belly dancing as a soloist (even to friends and family), but I really do like performing with a group. It is sort of like donning an alternate personality for an hour, and I really like her.


Interestingly, I think I am becoming her (my bolder self) slowly.  I no longer want to throw up at the idea of dancing in front of people and am making real changes in my life to do what I want (rather than what is expected).  This spring was a turning point in this process of accepting myself.  For example, I had spent years not cutting my hair, since it would make me “look fat.” Eventually my patience for that argument wore thin; fat is something you are or you aren’t. Whether or not I am fat was not the point, and changing my hair was not going to change my figure. When I realized that, I had Marcia chop off all my hair. And I love it.


Along those same lines, I (pretending to be bold) invited the world to my belly dance performance in April.  I was originally self-conscious about my bare belly but self-aware enough to realize that the tank tops and jeans I wear do not conceal much beyond actual flesh. No one who has seen me fully dressed would be surprised to realize that I am curvy and a little soft in the mid-section. So, I invited my social group (only one of them came, but that is a separate issue, labeled “Where are my people?”).


At several points this spring, I have found myself thinking, ‘Geez! If only I could have been bold enough to do this (show my belly to other humans, rock out at the wedding with the little people, wear stupid hats in public, tell people “No” or “Let me think about it”) when I was sixteen, everything would have been easier.’  I am just glad I am figuring it now, rather than regretting it when I am 84. I must say, I knew that twenty-four was going to be a good year, and in that sense it has been. I am getting back to who I really am inside.

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I am posting this from my yurt. Yes, the yurt sans electricity and sans running water seems to be within reach of either my folks' or (more likely) their neighbors' wireless network.

I am excited.

I want to post a long treatise on life the universe and everything, but instead I am tired and need to go to bed.

I will have to just say: getting here was long and exhausting. Being here is great. I am still discombobulated - havent figured out anything such as calling people or even knowing where I live, but all things in time . . .

This morning lacing up my workboots was deja vu all over again, as I begin yet another summer working for Fish and Game. This is my sixth summer as a fisheries tech. My first day back was unexpectedly long (10 hours, which I was not adequately provisioned for) and arduous (our bridge is currently not open to cars, so we had to walk incredibly heavy things like road grader blades across, down a hill, and through an alder thicket). I am tired and know that my shoulders will be screaming in the morning. When I came home from work, a friend of my dad's was there for the night with his wife and six of their closest friends. I probably would have spent another night in the house if not for them, but knew that I could not handle that much people right now, so made repetative wheelbarrow trips out to my yurt. I still dont have real bedding - just a sleeping bag - but will get it taken care of tomorrow. I am goign to wake up to a frigid yurt, but hope to be able to cope gracefully with it.

I am hoping to make it to my first bellydance class tomorrow, and hit the local library. Wednesday is my first all night at the river. Thank goodness for Kiska the bear alarm and confidence booster.
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Essays all graded.

Now I have 27 minutes to prepare to meet with R about my thesis.


At least I have a time bounded appointment, since I am going to lunch with Julie afterwards. And that lunch will be nice, after what is likely to be a terrible meeting.
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Okay, I took an hour and ran a huge load to the thrift shop and some big awkward pieces to the storage unit. I also went to McD's for my guilty pleasure breakfast - an egg and cheese bagel.

The thrift store ladies are hilarious. They say "Bless your heart!" over and over again when I am there unloading the assorted bits and pieces which I give them.

I also called every local lawn service in the phone book (ie the ones that listed my small town, as opposed to the neighboring small towns).

I am back at home now, contemplating one last bit of touch up painting, packing for AK, grading, changing clothes, and heading to school.

I think I need to leave here in about 40 minutes, so will grade for a bit, then see what else I can get done in that time.

Poor Kiska is going to have to be crated while I am gone, since the house might be shown while I am at school and not everyone "gets" dogs. I certainly am not leaving her outside, since we have already had one "suitor" show up since she is in heat. Kis ran straight at him barking ferociously - very funny. He looked nonplussed and hung around outside the fence until I brought her inside.
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I am now that instructor - you know, the one that returns student papers covered in illegible notes and sticky food spots. I just dropped a spoonful of ice-cream smack into Ang's essay. Thank goodness it was vanilla - at least it isnt a colored mark.

Also: my music player is very into Gene Autry tonight. It is quite a party at Chez Redzils: manic house destruction, cowboy music, and ice cream All! Night! Long!


May. 10th, 2006 08:53 pm
redzils: (Default)
Grade essays for 30 minutes.

Change the laundry.

Grade essays for 30 minutes.

Change the laundry.
Throw some things from the kitchen away (I find this remarkably gratifying . . .)

Grade essays for 30 minutes.


Grade essays for 30 minutes.

Pull everything out of the kitchen cupboards.

Grade essays for 30 minutes.

Pull everything out of my bedroom closet.

Grade essays for 30 minutes.

Pull everything out of my office closet.

Grade essays for 30 minutes.

Pull everything out of the bathroom.

Grade essays for 30 minutes.

Throw some more stuff away from the refrigerator.

Grade essays for 30 minutes.

At some point: go to bed.

- pack for AK
- prep to meet with R
- Meet with R (1pm)
- Meet with Julie (2pm) - give her essays
- finish packing and hauling stuff

** I am taking things out of closets and cabinets to ensure I know what has to be packed tomorrow.


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