Thursday, January 29, 2009

Haunted by Music

For many people, committing to career area is a process that involves the resolution of more than one developmental issue. For me, the biggest hurdle has been saying good-bye to the notion of becoming a professional musician. Those of us with the curse of considering the musical career path have the added burden that typically we started playing our instruments at a very young age. I think I learned to read music around the same time that I learned to read English (age 3 or 4), so the notion of becoming a musician "when I grow up" has been with me most of my life. That longevity makes it awfully tough to say good-bye to this career path.

There is a grieving process that occurs with these decisions. Also, for me, there has always been a fine line between personal identity and career development. I mean, it's not like choosing to go into higher education meant that I am no longer a musician. That's a part of me that won't ever leave, in spite of it not being my career. So, I suppose I didn't really say good-bye to my musical side, however, I no longer have the reason, or the time, to practice the piano for 3-4 hours per day as I did several years ago. I sorta miss that. I miss being good at it. After all, it's really the only thing I'm naturally good at doing, so I feel like I'm sort of leaving an important part of me behind.

There are many, many times that I will hear a work of classical music performed, either live or recorded, where it sorta pulls at my heart strings. It's particularly acute when I hear anything written by Mozart or Beethoven for the piano, played at a fast tempo. I truly enjoy playing things fast, and (hopefully) well. Now when I hear something like that performed, especially when it's good, I practically shed a tear because I miss that experience as part of my regular life.

One of the many, many, things I intend to do when I finish this dissertation is to go back into practicing more regularly. I do play quite often now, but I tend to repeat the same songs since the act of learning new repertoire takes much more time. But what will I do with the new pieces I learn? Should I plan a recital? Perhaps pull together a small chamber group? I dunno. We shall see. But I will need to do something tangible so I stop getting all teary over Mozart. Honestly!


Saturday, January 17, 2009

Two Weeks

I have been approved to take two weeks off from work in March to do nothing but dissertate. There is simply no other way to get anything done without just breaking it all off from the world like that and focusing.

So, between now and then I must get all the codes in order, attach codes to the text, and be prepared to really just knock out most of that chapter. I realize it's not all going to get done during this time, but if the bulk of it is, then I'll be in good shape to edit out the crap and have something decent to chair with DC in early April.

Sounds like a decent plan for now. Off to wrestle The Longest Code List in the World down to something swallowable.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Helium Hand

I have Helium Hand. This means that when someone asks for volunteers to help with something, somehow my hand is suddenly raised high in the air, waving and saying, "choose me choose me! I can do it!"

Idiot. I have a phuquing dissertation to complete. I need to Nancy Reagan these requests and Just Say No.

But then again, I've been Nancy Reaganing these sorts of things for over six years now. I'm sick of it. But perhaps I should have just sucked it up one more semester? I dunno. Sigh. Here goes:

I am teaching a class this semester. I love teaching, especially first-year graduate students in my field. It's a one-credit class, so it will end a week prior to the start of spring break.

I am advising a student organization. It's, once again, the master's students in my program here at LMU. Their recruitment programs start up next month. It's going to be a busy time.

I'm volunteering for a national professional association. Well alright, I was elected to a position with this group. I suppose I should be honored, which I am. But still...somehow I landed on a committee to plan a conference this summer?? Oy. I mean, I love the work, I like my colleagues, but man oh man this isn't the right time for me to jump into this pool. And on top of it all, I probably no longer have the funding even to travel to said conference due to budget reductions. Nice.

I guess these aren't so bad, and they are related to my job in more ways than one. I guess it's just that the semester started up yesterday, so these fringe activities are all really active right now and are on my mind.

I am making an effort to ramp up the dissertation time, but now something's come up at work and I'll need to forgo part of my dissertation day tomorrow. Ack. Shit happens, I guess, but it sucks. It's a tough balance, but I'm hoping that in the end the outside work I do will keep me more sane than crazy. We shall see about this, though!

Friday, January 09, 2009

Approaching the Hilltop

I seem to be approaching the top of the hill. Am probably still in a lower gear, though, which means I'm moving slowly, deliberately, and with a lot of power. At least I that's how my brain feels at the moment.

On Wednesday I completed the last full description of my fourteenth participant. Whew. All of these summary descriptions will feed directly into the text for the results chapter. This is good.

Next up: I will wrestle the gazillion open codes across all the interviews into a far shorter code list. Part of this is necessary, and another part is, frankly, bullshit. The necessary part involves ensuring that I am able to list the common threads and cite examples of these commonalities in the interviews. That will be crucial to have when writing and discussing the results, and let's face it it's really the crux of this entire endeavor. The bullshit part: if needed, I could rattle off the commonalities off the top of my head. I don't NEED to do these next steps in order to see how things will come together. However, I know I will be much more organized and better able to communicate these ideas if I just slog through the data one more time and work through the tedium into something more tangible.

I always get to this stage when writing any paper. Always have. I conduct the research and make the conclusions I want to make. Mentally, I'm finished. And then, I still have to write it up and share it with others. Someday I'm going to make a flash drive that just fits into my ear, reads my brain, and finds my conclusions automatically so I don't have to go to the trouble of organizing them and writing them down. But alas, this is not the case.

I still have several tasks ahead of me in this process. However, the car is chugging up toward the hilltop, still in a lower gear, but making good, slow, strong, progress. Once I reach the hilltop, I can shift into a higher, smoother gear, get back into the writing process, and hopefully gain some speed and momentum downhill. Can't wait. Let's hope the ice has melted by then so I don't slip off the road!