Thursday, June 22, 2006

Big Decision

I realized I haven't posted about this yet on my blog, but I made a big decision.

I'm not going into academia.

At least, not the research side. I would consider going to a teaching school. I just don't like the research process. I'm great at coming up with ideas, terrible with the followthrough, and I hate all the details you have to take care of to produce good research. I think my talents are better used elsewhere.

After the whole "certain professors don't want to work with you" fiasco, I did some thinking, and I realized that I didn't want to go into academia. Not just didn't want to go, but really felt that if I went into academia, I would be ignoring my own best counsel, much like I did when I decided to go into a Ph.D. program to begin with. I have always done best when I have listened to my inner voice and ignored what everyone else around me was saying (because usually my inner voice contradicts all the other advice that I get). I basically decided that just like I have resisted pressure to follow a more traditional path in the past (not that my life is so non-conformist, but I did take paths that my teachers, parents, etc. didn't always expect me to take), I need to do the same now. There is incredible pressure to go into research, but I have to stay strong and resist. My advisor and committee are not the people who are going to live my life, and I need to do what makes me happy.

I had decided this before my big retreat, and I had made a commitment to myself that I would talk to the professors at the retreat. They are both lecturers, but one (FormerAdvisor) was tenure track for six years, and decided not to go up for tenure because she didn't like research. The other lecturer is someone with 35 years of professional experience. After he retired, he went back for his Ph.D. I thought FormerAdvisor would be helpful in giving me the moral support that I knew I wouldn't get anywhere else (except for DH), and I thought that the other one would be able to help me see the professional benefits of a doctoral degree, which is something I am having a hard time seeing right now.

Turns out FormerAdvisor left academia for pretty much the same reasons that I don't want to go into it. We have pretty similar personalities, so this just confirmed my confidence in my decision. The other professor wasn't as helpful in terms of encouragement (I don't think I made my question clear enough), but he said that we should talk again, and he has lots of professional connections with whom he can connect me.

More later.

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Highs and Lows

I am currently assisting with this retreat-type, introspective, intensive exec ed type class. One of the exercises that the participants have to do is to create a timeline of significant events- both highs and lows. Then, you have to write a few notes on why each was a high or low point in your life, and see if there is a theme. So, here goes.


Get into prestigious college
  • triumphant
  • relief
  • pride
  • way out
  • moving to new phase
  • exceeded expectations of others
  • freedom

Get accepted into [student organization in undergrad]
  • relief
  • fun
  • belonging

Full-time job offer
  • relief
  • excitement
  • optimistic
  • exceeding my expectations
  • freedom/financial independence

Graduate from college
  • relief
  • excitement
  • looking forward to new phase of life
  • finally over

Living in (former city)
  • First city where I truly felt at home (belonging)
  • freedom/autonomy
  • likeminded people
  • self-discovery

Get married
  • happy
  • relief (that I wouldn't have to worry about getting married/having kids/etc.)
  • self-assured


Rejected from numerous orgs at college (and I mean numerous)
  • not belonging, feeling out of place
  • struggling
  • working hard, not acheiving desired results
  • alone
  • not appreciated for who I am

  • What's wrong w/me?
  • not fitting in
  • atypical experience than what everyone else has
  • tired of struggling and working hard to make it work
  • lonely
  • failure

Best friend died
  • total devestation
  • not thinking straight/made bad decisions that introduced chaos into my life
  • still feeling negative effects today
  • lonely
  • fundamentally changed who I am

Living in [current state]
  • feeling out of place
  • feeling isolated
  • angry at myself
  • homesick for old city

Struggling in grad school
  • feel stupid, talents unappreciated
  • not acheiving desired results
  • forcing myself to be something I'm not
  • feel like an outsider
  • at the mercy of others
  • keep everything bottled up
  • exhausting, stressful
  • poor

Do you see a pattern? I sure do. The common themes for the highs seem to be:
  • relief (getting out of a bad situation or avoiding a bad situation)
  • freedom/autonomy over own destiny
  • belonging

Common themes for the lows:
  • feeling alone
  • working w/o results (struggling, failure)
  • struggling
  • lack of control

So what do I want?? It seems obvious to me. I want:

  • Freedom/autonomy/control
  • Belonging
  • Feeling successful, living up to potential

It was an interesting exercise. I think I learned something about myself.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

House, M.D.

I have been a Hugh Laurie fan for ages now, since he and Stephen Fry were in Jeeves and Wooster on Masterpiece Theatre back in middle school.

I didn't just stumble on Jeeves and Wooster, though. Well, I didn't stumble on the TV show. I did stumble on the books back when I was in middle school. I was looking through the fiction section at the library, and picked up one or two of P.G. Wodehouse's Jeeves & Wooster novels. I read them, thought they were funny.

Sometime later, I found them on Masterpiece Theatre, and since I liked the books, I watched the TV adaptation. After that, I started following the careers of both Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.

For a long time, there wasn't much to follow. I bought the VHS tape of sketches from their show A Bit of Fry and Laurie. I read Stephen Fry's first three novels. I watched Stephen Fry in the movie I.Q.. Noticed that Hugh Laurie was in movies like Stuart Little and 101 Dalmations. Watched them both in some of the Blackadder series. Watched Peter's Friends. Saw Hugh in Sense and Sensibility (with his college friend, Emma Thompson).

And now, Hugh Laurie is this huge drama star in House, M.D.! Crazy. For someone who has been SO well known for comedy to make this big switch to drama... it's really funny. And the show is this big hit now. I feel like the world has discovered my little secret- Hugh Laurie is really good!

(side note: he was also a rower back in college. A really good one. I have a thing for rowers. And he has blue eyes. Something else I have a thing for. And he's tall and thin. And British. Yet again... )

Happy Birthday, Itchy!

Today is my baby sister's birthday. BabySister turns 26 today. She's spending all day taking PRAXIS exams for her teaching certification- great way to spend a birthday, huh?

My sister and I are only 20 months apart. I used to dote on her when we were really little; then she grew up and started borrowing my clothes and slacking off of housework and we didn't get along so well. Typical sibling fighting, etc. But now, we get along great.

Over the years, I have come up with a few nonsense/random pet names for her. One of those is "Itchy." For no particular reason. She's not a particularly itchy/scratchy person. One time, we were in one of those Asian imports stores, looking at all the sterling silver rings that they sold. I was trying to get her attention. I did the logical thing- calling her name. "[Name]!" No response. "[Name]!" No response. "[Name]!" No response. "Itchy!" She turns around and says, "What?" The Chinese lady behind the counter just cracked up. "Itchy! ha ha ha ha ha ha! Itchy!"

So, happy birthday, Itchy! Hope you pass your tests!

Thursday, June 01, 2006

Self-sabotage, again

Today was rough. I found out from my advisor that there are a couple of professors who don't want me to be their TAs b/c I've missed deadlines/had problems with followthrough.

There is at least one professor who has a legitimate beef based on a bad experience with me, when I flaked out on something I was supposed to do for research work. I don't have a defense for it- I just spaced out. I felt so bad about it, and was really, really angry at myself. Really angry. REALLY angry. It was a low point, for sure.

I have wracked my brain, and I can't think of anything else. My advisor thinks that it may be another professor who is pretty flaky and scatterbrained himself, and also very difficult to work with. If this is the case, it's not really a problem. I can't think of anything concrete that I would have done to anger this professor, but he tends to make lots of last minute demands, and you have to rush around doing the very best you can to appease him. So it's possible that I missed something among the many, many things, but if I did, it was very minor. And I really don't think I did, by the way!

Ugh- so bad for morale. I hate academia.