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That's a quote from Alice in Wonderland.  I didn't like the movie (the Tim Burton verson) originally, but it grew upon me.  I've kind of used it as a rallying call for my winter, given how busy I have been with various things.  I've found, that every Saturday up until April, I must believe as many as six impossible things before going to bed:

1) "That candy can make me stronger"

I'm pretty amazed that I've kept on a regimen of taking fiber gummies and calcium gummies every day for....a while now.  And this is me, a person who couldn't remember to take a vitamin because by the time I walked out of the door I'd forget whether I took it.  However, I not only keep up on this Saturdays, but every day, making sure it is one of the first things I do every morning.

2) "That I can sing myself to strength of arm"

Since January 5th, I've begun a pretty simple function of doing 25 reps (each arm) with a 20lb dumbbell every morning, while singing a little song I learned when I was in possibly the 3rd grade. It becomes mindless; I've sat the dumbbell by my bathroom door, so at worst, I see it four times before I leave the apartment.  I normally do the reps as soon as I get up and before my shower, but there's been a few times (like this morning) where wet Steven is doing naked reps.  But I've been consistent with this; I haven't missed one day.

3) "That my phone can train my tongue"

Another thing I've been doing since January 5th is Duolinguo.  I'm a bit embarrassed that I have a degree in Spanish, but I really don't have proficiency in it.  So every day, I do a few sessions of Duolinguo on my iPhone.  I've missed one day since the 5th (which was a mistake, given I convinced myself I did at least one 'class' that day...)

4) "That I can run nowhere, fast"

At least two miles on the treadmill, every Saturday.  I've been averaging about 14 miles a week, and am pushing my Saturdays up to a 5k.  Once I get there, it is all about getting faster.

5) "That I can home home again"

I used to go to a fitness class every Saturday, and was quite the regular, and my body showed it.  However, I stopped going way back in 2015.  Now it is about going back, and coming home.  There's also a class on Sundays that I was a regular up until March of 2016, and then stopped.  I have been faithfully going to these classes since January 7th.  Keep it up.

6) "That I can beat the Jabberwocky"

My comprehensive exam is my 'jabberwocky', the beast only I can fight.  It has to be done in 90 days, and will be at least 80 pages.  I've taken to working on it during Saturdays, trying to conquer it 10 pages at a time since January 31st.  I've done rather well so far, but there's still a distance. If all goes well, the first portion (the first question) will be done by February 25th, and the second portion will begin March 11th (to be finished April 1st) - this will leave me nearly 30 days to revise....  Here's hoping I can keep the good fight going.

Newness

January 31st begins some stuff

- I get my comprehensive exam questions today.  I have already received one and am waiting for the other.  Once I receive both, I have 90 days to complete them - 30 pages minimum per question.  The first question is....intense.  It will take me the entire month of March to sufficiently answer.  I'm hoping to get the other today and spend all of February on that.

- I have set a goal of 90k (54 miles) this month.  I did pretty decent in the month of January with a pretty shoddy start; about 65k or 40 miles.  Just shooting for a bit more, which will be slightly challenging in a short month.

- I will be teaching two courses this spring, one I've never taught before (Sociology of Sport).  I'm excited, and everything starts today.  Additionally tonight is the first night of the Social Problems class.

- My fried food cleanse went pretty well.  Out of 29 days I had 7 servings of fried foods; that's pretty impressive.  I think my waist (and my endurance) show the difference.  I'm going to essentially keep it up through the month of February.  The cleanse this month will be that I can have no more than (again) 7 servings of fried foods.  I really don't want *any* this week.  Maybe I'll treat myself around the 15th or so.

- I also want to keep up on the fitness classes.  It will be hard; I'll miss a number of the Saturday classes due to clinics I have to work.

Fingers crossed to a great degree for the month of February!  Hope to come out of it okay!

Ready? Set? Change.

My marathon of resolutions is going relatively well
- I have a date set for the start of my comprehensive exams, so I'll be done by the end of April
- I have received confirmation that I'll be presenting at two conferences this year, with the strong likelihood of presentation at least for 2-3 more
- I started Duolinguo, and am on a 17 day streak.  It's pretty funny how well my Spanish recognition has shot up
- I've been hitting the gym regularly, like 7-9 times a week, and have made 5 classes this month (and run about 40k)

It's just the first month, so I'm pretty pleased with the results.

I've also been doing 'cleanses' and 'streaks' for periods of time.  I did a 'fried food streak' where I refrained from eating fried foods in a heavy fashion.  Over the last 22 days, I've only had 4 servings of fried food. I'm going to make it an even 28-day "flush" and not have any more.  I'll see how long it goes; I'm just amazed at the changes since I haven't eaten anything from grease, or at least not much of it.

I have also been doing hammer curls every morning, 50 each day.  Seeing a difference there too.

Not jumping on a scale or measuring anything yet; just feeling really okay with the fact that I feel a lot better.

Classes start next week - let's get going.

So far....

Generally, so far all of my resolutions (of which there are 26) are going well.  Most of them are very event oriented (such as four conferences or a certain number of erichment meetings, etc), but for those that are "long term change", those that involve fitness, I'm doing pretty damn well.  Since January 2nd, I've been to the gym (as in walked in the door and exercised) 15 times.  I've run a good number of miles (like 20?) but my pace and my distance isn't where it used to be.  But I am not concerned with that; this is about getting there eventually.  At the start of this month I was happy to do 1.4 miles and not stop.  It's now the 19th, and I'm already up to 1.75 miles.  If I can get to a consistent 2 miles by the end of the month (which would equal 12 miles/week) and then up to 2.5 by the end of February (15- woohoo), I'll be happy.  I really want to be able to do 100k a month starting in February - I certainly hope I can keep it up.

I have a meeting today with one of my dissertation advisors- I still don't have my comps questions.  Hopefully, HOPEFULLY, I get them next week.  I am itching for a 1/27 start date now.

Had to put in my requests for my fall courses at Towson.  I just sent an email to the coordinator asking what he wants me to teach; hopefully an answer is forthcoming.

There's nothing else really big happening, truth be told.

2017 - The Marathon of Resolutions

I call it a marathon of resolutions because of my intent to complete 26 resolutions (and exceed at least five), so it makes sense.


Education (7)
- Finish my comprehensive examinations
- Defend my dissertation proposal
- present at three (3) academic conferences
- get published in two (2) academic blogs
- get published in at least one academic journal
- complete two (2) academic fora at UMBC
- attend one (1) professional academic meeting (CSA, ASA, AMSA)

This will be a busy year, so many of these things will happen regardless; it is just about making them happen.  I need to do most as a matter of course, but some I need to make time so they can happen.

Teaching (2)
- teach six (6) classes
- teach two (2) topics I've never taught before

My goals for teaching are minimal, but I'd like to teach at least two things I've never taught before in sociology, cultural studies, or gender studies.  Last year circumstances really drove down the number of courses I taught; I think I barely taught six when I would normally teach 7-8.

Fitness (6)
- attend seventy-five (75) fitness classes
- run 500 miles
- complete five (5) organized 5k runs
- complete ten (10) urban hikes
- win at least two MapMyRun compeitions against Sashi
- bench 200 lbs

I dropped off on fitness this year, and then picked it up hardcore late summer, and dropped off again.  Cannot drop off again. An urban hike is a walk in the city of at least 4 miles. I barely did any fitness classes in 2016; that was bad.


Growth (3)
- start Spanish Duolingo
- download and listen regularly (at least 1/month) one (1) Spanish podcast
- attempt discussion w/Raf or Alfredo

Working on a language I literally plagarized from Aram.  I mean, I have a degree in Spanish but haven't used it at all in years.  I need to essentially re-dedicate myself.

Travel (3)
- visit three (3) new cities
- take five (5) plane rides
- visit friends in at least three (3) cities

Finance (3)
- save $5000 (independent of of 401k and retirement)
- create and sustain CoH/In the Mattress "account"
- get Pact up to $225

Graduate school has completely depleted my finances; what was once a lot of money in my savings has dried up.  I'm doing a good amount of teaching, and should only have to pay for my dissertation credits, which means Ill be able to save a good deal of money.  Getting my cash on hand back up will be the challenge, but Pact shouldn't be hard, if I keep up on running.

Other (2)
- have at least four (4) meetings with non UMBC, non-Maryland academics in gender studies or linguistics (Skype counts)
- go on at least three (3) dates


Irons in the Fire...

* Comprehensive examinations start in 14 days (2 weeks).  Just ready to get them started so I could get them done.  People seem to think I'll do well on them; I'm just ready to put them behind me so I am more than half done this marathon of a PhD.

* Waiting to see how the enrollment for my mini course shapes up.  Right now I have 4 people; in order ot get the minimum pay flat rate, I need at least 8.  Many of the other courses are well past that minimum - I just want to get there.  Conceivably I have four weeks to get there, but I just don't like being this down to the wire.  Mini courses used to fill SO much quicker in the past; I'd normally have to concern myself with my course closing and letting extra people in.  Times change.

* Sent an email to a blog on masculinity to see if they were interested in me commssioning a piece. No response.  Sent an email to a prof who works with them; he's willing to serve as a go-between, just need to produce the piece. Goal - get this done before comps start on the 20th, and be pretty much set with this.

*Sent another email to a journal to see if they were interested in a short piece on some of my research.  Hoping they saw yes.  The piece is already done, it just needs to be edited, likely.

Other potential in the air, such as two journal publishing opps, but won't even think about them until comps are done, done, done.

Tick - tock

My comprehensive exams are now closing in on me.  Am I ready? I guess I have to be.  I still feel like I'm at a point where my head is absolutely saturated with knowledge.  I've read so much in the last 8 weeks - no seriously, I now know what "cramming" is.  I've read books...like 2 dozen books...in 8 weeks.  And it isn't like these were easy reads- no Harry Potter or John Grisham.  It was all deep, heavy, involved stuff.  Between that, the articles, and writing the annotated bibliographies - it's just so much.  And it really isn't over - 20 more articles and books over the next 10 days.  But that will finish it, and then on the 21st, comps begin.  Yep, I am ready.

One of my friends/acquaintances just told me he failed his comps. At least twice.  I am thinking WHOAH, really??? And he eventually finished his PhD (he had a LOT of problems, though, and ended up defending his dissertation, being told he needed MAJOR revisions, and then, finally, passing because the chair was about to retire).  I don't want to be in that situation.  It isn't that I think I am a better writer or better academic, but I think my focus is a little better. I need to finish this. Bottom line.

I've also found new energy for the job.  I am very excited about that.  I am glad the wonder of the medical records hasn't left me - getting new information is like solving a mystery, sort of like my favorite shows.  I guess I just really love deductive reasoning.

I found out one of my favorite shows is still on, and coming on Sundays - just catching up on-demand though.  I love Elementary. Great show.

Teaching is going great. I really, really like the masculinities course.  I am hoping, so much, I get to teach it again in the fall of 2017 - it only happens once a year.  I guess I'll know by March.  Heck, that's when comps end.  I guess I will know *a lot* by March....

Right There.

I am on the precipe of comps!  Yikes!  In about a month I start the process of writing them!  Two questions. Two responses.  At least 35 pages each.  I know that probably doesn't sound like much in 90 days, but considering I work full time, it actually is.  I hate it when people say "oh, you can just write a page a day and you'll be done in no time."  Er....no disrespect but that isn't how academic writing works.  It happens in clusters.  My plan is to do 10 pages every weekend (broken up under subheadings) for 8 weeks.  That gives me about 4 weeks to do revisions.  I am only nervous about one of the questions - one of my dissertation chairs is pretty clear about where my question will go, and I'm not pressed about that.  My other has given me zero sign.  I know I've read up enough for the one question, not so sure about the other.

Yeah, read up on the first class.  I'm taking an independent study/readings course right now that is essentially prepping me for comps.  Every two weeks I have to read about 20-25 articles and books.  So, by now I have about 90-100 books and articles under my belt.  It's kind of insane because my head is just leaking information - there is just SO much.

Part of me wants comps over, the other part of me realizes as soon as comps is over, the fretting over the dissertation starts.  Picking the rest of my committee. Firming up my topic and title. Having to defend my proposal (which will be 2-3 chapters of my comps).  Setting up interviews with 25 people.  Completing those interviews, transcribing them, and then analyzing them.  Lots and lots and lots of work.  A good year to 16 months of work.  Sigh.

I haven't been running as much as normal, or at least as much as I was 3 months ago.  I knew that would happen as I'd be busier this fall, but I'm only clearing about 9-10 miles a week.  I need to get that back up to 15-20.  I also need to get back into classes at my gym.  I just need a second as a breather - let me JUST get through this semester, please!!

Somewhere in the midst of all of this I've been hanging out with a guy.  I have NO idea where this is going.  He is nice, and smart.  English-graduate school graduate type.  Sort of eco-warrior.  It's fascinating we connect as much as we do.  Meh.  Let's see where THIS goes.

Under. Over.

School.  There's an increase of intensity in my PhD program.  I'm closing in on starting my comprehensive exams; they've been pushed back a month due to the availability of one of the readers, but I'm actually happy about that - otherwise they'd be starting in like 20 days. In the meantime I am doing a "readings course" with one of the readers/dissertation advisors.  The reading course goes like this - every two weeks he gives me a list of books and articles (mostly books).  I have to read all of the books/articles and do an annotated bibliography for each.  To date I, in seven weeks, I have read (no joke) 42 books and about 11 articles...and probably 30-40 more books to come.  It's overwhelming a bit, and my head is exploding with information.  It dwarfs one, because no matter what you think you know, there's so much more.  The sad part is that I felt I was "well read" in my topical area; my advisor says I am - I have read hundreds of articles.  The problem is that the theories surrounding my field are another matter entirely.

All this to get me to the comprehensives, which will be about 90 pages of writing.  Not "looking forward to it".  More "looking to get it done, please".  It will prove to be pretty intense.

Teaching.  Teaching 3 classes at 3 schools is a bit taxing.  I cannot understand how people do this.  Yes, my life is harder in that I also have a full time job and working on a PhD, but just the wear and tear on the soul with jumping across three campuses, with different policies, procedures, email accounts and topics just makes life pretty tough.  Next semester looks to be easier: I'll be teaching Sociology of Sport and Social Problems at one school.....and that's likely it.  At the school where I'm getting my PhD the course I'm teaching is just a once-a-year course, so I won't have another opportunity until the fall.  The community college probably won't have any spaces available, but I'll try for an online course.  I was told, potentially, about another course on campus - not sure it is going happen.  Guess we will see.

Work. Somewhat plodding.  Somewhat interesting.  Not much to say.

Social. Hanging out more, which is odd, because I have zero time.  More about connecting with people I haven't seen, which is great, but...yeah...I need to read more.

Fitness.  Haven't been to the gym in two weeks.  That is a serious problem.

So far...

Work.  Going okay.  There are some administrative changes going on at the departmental level, but it doesn't really affect anyone at the coordinator level or lower, so...yeah.  Just getting my stuff done and doing my job.  Because of school I have to work a more abstract schedule, which is kind of weird, but...it's more of a countdown, I suppose.

School. Ugh.  Do not get me started.  One of my dissertation co-chairs seems to be getting on my nerves weekly.  It's one of those scenarios where a person has NO CLEAR IDEA how to communicate what he wants.  Frankly, if you want me to produce x, say you want x.  Please don't say "Oh, I just want you to do this" and then, after you get it, "Oh, where's x?"  (which, you didn't ask for, you didn't give any guidance or any type of framework, so instead of just 'flying blind', I went to the internet and adapted some examples I found).  UGH.  So I have a meeting with him and my other co-chair later this week; at the very least, it should be illuminating and get me on the right path...I hope.

Teaching.  Going great! Teaching 3 classes at 3 different schools - not as terrifying as it sounds.  All the courses seem to be going well, keeping up on the stuff I need to do, which is good.

Fitness. Getting back in the groove.  Running has been good - in July I ran 100k (62 miles) and I ran 100k in August (another 62 miles).  For September - November my goal is only 90k (55 miles a month), so we will see how that goes (only at 30k so far....sigh).  Starting classes and won some personal training (thanks to a contest)so...yeah...should be fun.