Thursday, June 23, 2005

Made it through the tollgate

Honestly, I still can't believe I'm done with classes. Wait, did I MENTION I'm done with classes now? The last class, fortunately, was VERY informative and gave me plenty of tools to apply to educational practice.

Now I'm catching up on some things at work and getting ready to go "over the river and through the woods" to my grandmother's house, quite literally, next week. Am looking forward to the time away from SCT and hanging out with "Gram."

After the trip, I feel like I'm starting a new chapter of the doctoral experience. No more course syllabus: it's all up to me to read, write, read, read, write, and write some more. I actually can't wait. I keep hearing Wise Old Program Advisor's voice, "This is the last time in your life that you're going to be a full-time student; may as well take advantage of it." Sounds OK to me.

Monday, June 20, 2005

Full Moon - How Appropriate!

Full moon
Originally uploaded by Allseasons.
Gorgeous moon picture here by "allseasons." Tomorrow (Tuesday) is technically when the full moon will be, but the moonglow tonight on my back deck was most inspiring, relaxing, awe-striking. It's most appropriate for the evening, as I'm composing this final paper for my final class ever. It's the last due date not imposed by me. Wow: the future is looking pretty bright. I have a feeling of empowerment over my schedule for the first time in three years. I also have a feeling of an upcoming immense responsibility to myself to actually focus and pump out this "book" I'm endeavoring to write.

I've heard full moons make odd things happen. Let's hope the only odd thing here is that I finish up this paper on time!!! And most of all, I hope for as smooth a transition as possible into my newfound wide spans of unscheduled time, after tomorrow night.

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Father's Day Picnic

Father's Day 2005 011
Originally uploaded by chesterley.
Happy Father's Day. Not a great picture of me here, but Son looks like his normal fantastic self. Of course, who wouldn't be happy with a home-made chocolate chip cookie in hand?

We had a nice time at one of the local parks here in town. Son and I took a little nap right after lunch before getting up and running around the park itself. He enjoyed running through the frisbee golf course (glad there weren't too many around!) and Wife enjoyed how Son took so easily to going down the big slide all by himself. All in all, a very good day was had by all so far.

I've finally figured out how to post pictures and things into the blog (at least I think I did) and wrap text around them (at least I think that works), so perhaps I'll start putting up a few pics from time to time. Part of me is interested in documenting photos of my world online. I have no idea why I'm attracted to this notion. Probably because I've read others' photo blogs and it's cool to learn about other parts of the world.

I'm a nerd.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

A Nice Evening/Travels with Son

Tonight was a nice evening: we went to the Taste of Small College Town, modeled after the Taste of Chicago, though MUCH MUCH MUCH smaller. For those who may not know about Taste of Chicago, basically it's a sampling of many of the town's restaurants in one central location, selling low-priced samples of their food. There's usually a band in the background (tonight's was a good Reggae band) and plenty of people having a good time. We got to sample good food from restaurants we've not yet hit here in SCT. The variety and high quality are impressive for a small town in the middle of the Midwest!

A fun time was had by all, including Son who neither screamed nor had any trouble understanding what was going on (so it seemed). This good experience was very well-timed, because just this morning we booked a trip to visit my 97-year-old grandmother who lives in a remote part of New England, still in her own home near the coast. For various reasons we've not seen her in a year-and-a-half, and it's high time to go there soon. We're a little nervous about chasing Thomas around a house that's not remotely child-proof, but we'll arrive armed with doorknob protectors and other things to keep him corralled inside. Should be a good trip, and if tonight's outing is any indication of how he'll do on the road, then I have no worries.

Yeah right. No worries from Me? I laugh vigorously in disbelief!

Paradigm Shift

Well, I did it. I now officially have a chair for my dissertation, may she remain at Large Midwestern University forever (Lemming, 2005).

And now I have a bit of a paradigm shift with my schedule. I had planned on finsihing my proposal this summer, collecting data in the fall, and writing the results and conclusions up next spring with the hope of defending the whole thing early in the summer.

Not the case anymore. I've changed my topic several times and got stalled earlier this spring. Life happens. I still have a ton of reading, processing, and just plain ole thinking to do. the fantastic thing about my dissertation chair (wow, it's nice to be able to say that I have one) is that she understands how life happens and is understanding of my need to explore topics, research questions, etc. At the same time, she's also aware that "a good dissertation is a completed dissertation," I think she'll help me to stay on track. Best of all, her area of expertise is right up my alley, and she's supportive of letting me explore my own ideas.

A dissertation proposal tends to consist of the first three chapters: 1) the introduction, 2) the review of the literature, and 3) the methodology. I need to have these three chapters completed before I present them to my dissertation committee. Once I successfully defend the proposal, then I can start to collect data (in my case, start to interview undergraduates about my research topic).

I'll aim to keep to a schedule that looks somewhat like the the table, below (want to hear God laugh? Tell him (or her) your plans!):
Proposal Writing Schedule
Friday, 8/5A completed write-up of the pilot study I started this spring (thus removing the incomplete grade from my record)
Friday, 8/26A draft of the lit review chapter (ch. 2), which will be an outgrowth of completing the pilot study
Friday, 9/30A draft of the methodology chapter (ch. 3)
Friday, 10/21A draft of the introductory chapter (ch. 1)
Friday, 11/11Complete edits, and submit Proposal to Committee. Arrange defense date
Friday, 12/9Defense better be completed by today!

Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Another morning at the cafe

I am TRYING to get myself into a couple of regular routines. First, get up and write something every day. Second, get up and exercise.

So, here I am at Favorite Cafe in SCT, complete with the free wireless connection, eating organic food and attempting to finish the penultimate paper for class OF MY LIFE (have I mentioned this is the last class of my life?). I guess I'm shooting toward Goal 1 today. This paper was due a while back, but I was sick and still haven't finished it. It's just not a very hard paper, but I'm having trouble getting focused. This leads me to Goal 2 of exercising...

It would be nice to get back into a regular exercise routine again. It's been a long while since I've done this, and frankly it shows. I'm considering starting another blog about health, but that may be sharing a little too much information. We'll see how it goes. Needless to say, after being so damn sick a couple of weeks back, along with having just a general lack of energy and motivation, perhaps if I get my @ss in gear then I'll get a few other things in my life more focused. I'm not looking to be a model or anything (that wouldn't be possible! lol), but fitting into clothing a bit better and being able to focus the brain a little better would be nice.

OK, am probably sharing too much information here, but it's on my mind and I wanted it to get out somewhere...yet another reason why I have this blog, I suppose.

Beat the Rainstorms

Just drove back from a weekend trip to Chicago to visit the family. A big series of rainstorms are on their way in now, so it's good to be safe & sound back here at Chesterley, the house. And now it's time to update Chesterley, the blog.

The occasion for our trip was Nephew No. 2's baby-naming ceremony (in lieu of a briss...ouch!). It was quite nice. He has his own first name, and his middle name is in memory of my father who died about a year-and-a-half ago. It was a nice touch. Lots of relatives from all sides of my sister's family were in town, so it was a pretty big deal. Son did well with the crowd, which is a new thing for him. It was nice to have a party experience that did not end up with us leaving in a big hurry; Son actually seemed attentive to the others who were there. It was nice progress to see.

And now I'm gearing up a for an eight-day run of finishing up THE LAST CLASS OF MY LIFE (have I mentioned this is the last class? ha ha) on Tuesday 6/21. After that will be very nice, and very weird, to only have 20 hours of my week scheduled with work at my assistantship. The rest of my time will be filled with either family commitments or time that I get to schedule myself for dissertation work. Can't wait!

Thursday, June 09, 2005

Farewell, Good Friend

I had lunch today with a good friend of mine (let's call him Jake) who is moving away from Small College Town. I am proud of Jake, for he has survived one of the roughest years of his life. Moving away from here will be one of the best things for him. He needs to find a way to start his life over.

In some ways Jake was a personal mentor to me when we first met, as I respect his intellect, his wisdom, and his personality in general. His manner of working with a group of people is remarkable; he is able to note various points of view while facilitating disagreement among others in a civil manner that allows folks to just be themselves and communicate.

The rough spots this past year caused him some personal losses. However, watching the recovery process has been remarkable and makes me respect him even more. It's almost been a rebirth of sorts that is not only truly impressive to watch, but it is also encouraging to me during my own life journey. He was an inspiring force for me during a very low time in my life.

I will miss Jake a great deal, and I must admit it breaks my heart to see him leave. Part of joining the academic world involves getting to know good colleagues and other related friends, only to see them leave toward brighter pastures a few years later. I'm not sure I like this part of academia. On the one hand, I'm so very happy for Jake as he moves on with his life. On the other hand, I already feel a great hole within the small group of people I consider to be my close friends in Small College Town. Student life can be a bit of a lonely wilderness. It's difficult to see people leave this journey earlier than I'd like, but I am excited for the next journey that's about to begin.

Jake, until we meet again: hold your head up high, keep focused on your family, and smoke a couple of stogies once in a while to keep it all in perspective!

Monday, June 06, 2005

Why Do You Blog?

A good friend of mine from College, Elsie, called me last week. We hadn't spoken in a long time, as is the norm for many of my long-standing friendships of late. I'm not proud of that, so I'm always thankful when an old friend calls up and says, "Rob, where the hell have you been?"

Elsie reads this blog regularly, though she herself does not have her own spot of cyber-space. Last night she asked a question that I will attempt to answer here, and then I'm going to pass it onto my other blogging buddies. She asked:
"Rob, why do you blog?"
I started this blog as an exercise in writing, in preparation for my qualifying exams and now for my dissertation itself. I had always wanted to start a personal journal, but I never stuck with it. For me, I need the motivation of knowing others may read this stuff in order to keep adding to it. The act of writing has always helped me to organize my thoughts. I wanted to improve the speed at which I could organize my thoughts and communicate those to others in a manner that (hopefully) doesn't put people to sleep. I think it's worked so far: the papers I've written for my classes have gone along more smoothly, I believe, because writing has become part of my regular routine. I hope this improvement translates into the construction of my dissertation proposal

There is a curious, yet understandable, divide between the reality-world and the cyber-world. Elsie asked me if she should call me to say hello and see how I'm doing, or if she should just read the blog. I encouraged her to call! She is an in-person part of my life, and this blog is really just certain snippets of my life. This discussion does raise another question: why do I choose to place certain items from my personal life in this blog? For me, the events of my life influence the way I write, and even the subjects about which I write. There is an inseparable connection between the two. So, perhaps I blog not only to practice my writing but also to practice thinking out loud and organizing my thoughts.

So (drumroll, please) I have two questions for my fellow blogging buddies. Please help Elsie understand all of this and respond when you have a chance on your own blogs (or here as a comment, if you prefer):
  1. Why do you blog?
  2. How do you choose the subjects about which you blog?
I'll pass this onto Lemming, John B., Hugh, and Joe. Elsie, check out their sites in the next week or two (I think some are on vacation now).

Thanks for reading (and responding!).

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Nephew No. 2

My sister had her second child in the middle of last week. All parties involved are doing well. I love being an uncle; no, it's not as much fun as being a dad, but it's pretty darn cool nonetheless. Nephew No. 1, at age 3, calls me "Unca Rob." I love that!

Next Sunday is the baby-naming ceremony in Chicago. It will involve a slew of relatives from my family and from that of my sister's husband. I think the naming of relatives is funny. For example, the guy married to my sister's husband's sister is the brother-in-law of my brother-in-law. That's how we're starting to introduce ourselves to others: "This is 'Joe,' my brother-in-law's brother-in-law." I told my cousin about the arrival of Nephew No. 2, and her daughter was excited to have a new cousin. Does she realize this is a second cousin? Does she realize I'm her first cousin once-removed? Where do we come up with these names??

Why do we drive on parkways and park on driveways?

Can you TELL that my friend Ida Wanna is visiting me tonight as I attempt to write a paper??

Saturday, June 04, 2005

Ah, much better

Yesterday I STILL wasn't feeling better. I was pretty bummed I wasn't attending the one conference I had been looking forward to for months, and I still felt quasi-drunk for days due to this weird sinus infection. I was beginning to think I had a brain tumor. That's only half-heartedly a joke; I really didn't know what the hell was up with my head. I'm not one to complain about feeling sick, and I hate sitting around waiting to get better. This particular illness has SUCKED, as nothing was draining out of my head (gross, I know, but true).

Our son has had craniosacral therapy (CST) on a regular basis for the past year. I can usually tell that he's worked with her because he seems more 'present'. He's more calm, more focused, and just generally more 'with it' when I come home from work/school. All she's doing is laying her hands on certain parts of his body: his back, his legs, and especially his head. It's interesting to watch, because he REALLY likes this person and is practically showing her where her hands should go. Then he sort of squirms around a bit, and later feels better like he's releasing pent-up energy. I was a little skeptical at first, but he seems no worse for the wear: quite the contrary! We think the pent-up energy is related to his rough birth (I'll spare you the details for now).

Yesterday I was feeling so lousy, Wife recommended I ask if CST Woman could work with me. Last night I went to her home where she sees clients regularly. A one-hour appointment lasted almost 90 minutes. I feel SO MUCH BETTER. This will sound weird, but it's like I re-lived every head trauma I had ever experienced during my 34 years. I felt the pain, and then I felt them leaving my head. All she was doing was holding my head, my legs, my back, etc. in different positions. No pressure was placed on these areas; rather, my body just reacted.

Any skepticism I may have had about CST is now gone. This is the first time in weeks where I've not felt a pressure on my head. Truly amazing.

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Nagging Headache

Man do I have a headache! I've had this headache over my left eye for the past 3 weeks or so. Finally went to the doctor on the Memorial Day holiday (PromptCare to the rescue!) after feeling dizzy & nauseous and was diagnosed with a sinus infection lodged way up in my head along with the first migraine of my life (which would explain the Gremlin-like abhoration of 'bright light!').

As a result of all this, I cancelled a trip to Atlanta last night - was supposed to attend a conference I've been looking forward to for months (NASPA Student Affairs Assessment & Retention Conference). SUCKS that I can't be there! Though I suppose I'm saving myself from an exploding sinus cavity somewhere over the Appalachains. I've never been to Atlanta, and I have two cousins who live there, so I was looking forward to everything about this meeting.