Monday, August 30, 2010

With Good Reason

I'm in year eight-and-a-half of this doctorate. I am fortunate that only a very small number of people have come right out and said, "Why the fuck is it taking you so long?" I actually don't mind the candor of those rare few, though I do find them a bit annoying and, well, social-climbing or one-upping. I don't make much time for those who climb or one-up (yes, that's right: "one-up" is now a verb). While I wouldn't refer to these people as my friends, as I said I don't mind the candor. What I do mind are others whom I can tell are thinking about asking this question but don't actually have the balls to do so. I can pretty much see right through them.

So I usually explain to both those with and without balls that the dissertation is my third priority behind 1) the family and 2) the job. The order of importance will never change. My priority list may not seem to be a full plate to some, but my family life can be a bit different than it probably is for others much of the time...

For example, read the Wife's post from this evening. Then ask me again why I'm not done yet. After an evening like this, I think I have a good reason to let my brain fry in front of the TV for 90 minutes. I just don't see a problem with it. So maybe I won't make much progress on the dissertation this evening, but I did help comfort my kid as he mentally tortured himself for 45 minutes about an issue with our telephone that doesn't really exist. Being there for him was far more important than working on the fucking dissertation.

I don't intend to use my son's disorder an excuse. It's part of the balance of our lives, and I wouldn't give up that balance for anything. In spite of Moose's disorder, or my "mixed-up" (ha) priorities, or any of the other stuff that life has brought our way in the last several years, I am still making progress on TFD. Wife and I are still married. My kid is growing like a weed, and he's healthy. Bottom line, I am being true to my priorities, and the process is working for me.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Fasten Seatbelt Sign

The captain has turned on your fasten seatbelt sign in preparation for the landing of The Fuquing Dissertation. Please make sure your seatbelts are fastened, seat backs are in their upright and locked position, and tray tables are stowed. Any carry-on items should be stored securely for the duration of the flight. Portable electronic devices are no longer allowed to be used until we are safely on the ground.

I finished the pain-in-the-ass revisiting of the literature section. It's literature I really hadn't read in about three years since I wrote the proposal. I honestly felt like I was pulling that stuff out of my ass in this section, so it pretty much sucks. But the draft is DONE and it's time to move on.

I have two sections left to write for this entire dissertation. One is rather large: the explanation of the actual theory. But that's been in my head for a long while now, and I should be able to write that relatively quickly. The second is less large than the first: the research and practical implications. Again, I have had ideas for both of these floating around in my head for a while, and some of these come out in a few discussions that I've had with family and colleagues on the theory itself.

I have to admit I feel like the rest of this fucker could write itself! Of course, everything always takes longer than I anticipate it will, so we shall see. Wife and Moose will be out of town for the long holiday weekend, and I will have no reason NOT to finish the draft before they return.

That is really weird to say that I'm almost done. Really. Really?

Sunday, August 22, 2010

Mid-way through Chapter the Sixth

I'm resorting to some funny techniques to keep me writing these days. Last night I powered through a good structure for the first section of this last chapter where I review literature that is relevant to my theory and note where it converges or diverges from what actually happened in the study. There's so much floating around in my head, that in order to focus I'm writing small half-sentences, knowing I will go back and write real sentences later. So, it's looking sorta like this.
[Quick fox - jumps over the dog].
...knowing it will need to become...
The quick, brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.
So it's sort of funny to see a bunch of sentence phrases in [brackets] like that all over the page, but soon I will turn those into rich, thick, descriptive prose that will tell the story of my study.

Yeah, and I hope the four people who have to read about it don't fall asleep!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

No More Public School

As I mentioned earlier, Wife and I have been trying to make a decision on whether or not to keep Moose enrolled part-time in the public schools. As of yesterday, we indeed decided to pull him out. The decision is based on a couple of factors, first and foremost being that we're not allowing for either program (the verbal-behavior clinic and the public school classroom) to really have their maximum benefit when he's not attending either full-time.

Also, we had him at the elementary school in the first place to maintain a relationship with the public schools because we always thought that eventually he would catch up and be able to interact with his age-appropriate peers. However, at this point, given the fact that he's three years behind his peers in terms of their academic skills, we can't imagine he will be able just to magically make up that gap. He probably never will; let's be real about it. So WHY pull him out of the verbal-behavior clinic, that we know is helpful to him, in order to spend a few hours at the school, where we're uncertain of the impact? Maintaining a relationship for a just-in-case-he-could-go-there-someday scenario isn't really a good-enough reason.

It's funny: It just doesn't occur to me that he's behind his peers when we're interacting with him at home. He's all we know about child-rearing, so this is our normal state of affairs. Given that Wife and I will soon have five college degrees shared between the two of us makes it all seem sort of ironic. Schooling has been so important to the two of us. However, with our child formal schooling is really sort of arbitrary. It won't really make an impact on him. That's kinda weird.

It's not devastating or anything: I mean, he's not going to die of autism disorder. But it's just weird. Weird in an uneasy, sick sorta way.

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Writing and Playing

Earlier this afternoon, I played through one of the Bach two-part inventions on the piano. I used a technique for learning new music that I've used since I was about five years old: First play through the right hand part, then play the left-hand part, finally play both hands together, slowly. That first time playing both hands together takes some courage. One must be strong and work through the nerves, and then focus so that one's hands operate independently of each other yet still stay in sync with the music on the page.

It occurred to me there are many similarities between playing Bach and writing. For me, the prep work one must do before writing is very much like playing the parts one hand at a time. During the act of actually writing the first page or two, I get a little nervous about it, much like trying to play the invention with both hands at the same time. Usually when I work through the first couple of paragraphs, the rest falls into place, save for a few potholes along the way that I know will take some extra work to get into my fingers. I'll get to that someday. This is similar to that last sentence at the end of that section that you know really sucks, and someday I may be inspired to find better words to fill in the gap.

The main accomplishment from my self-banishment last week was to get through the first couple of pages or so. But there are those nerves, wondering if what I've done is on the right track. Before I did too much more today, I e-mailed back and forth with DC to ask her about a couple of questions that I've had to check and see if I'm on the right track with this last chapter. As it turns out, I am indeed correct. Onward, then. I guess I just need to keep practicing with both hands.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Self-banishment Day 2

Hi. Posting a day late.

It went well. I indeed finished the edits on chapter 4 AND on chapter 3. I completely forgot I did the ones on chapter 3 quite some time ago, but I had a little further to go (I mean, is editing ever really finished?). So by about Noon yesterday, I reckon I officially finished 'good-enough' drafts of chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5! By about dinner time I had a solid outline of Chapter the Sixth, and before I hit the sack I had written about the first 2 pages. Writing the first few pages of any chapter is usually the hardest part for me, so I figure all in all it was a productive few days away.

I came home around Noon today, and I've been out with the fam running errands, buying new shoes (for the first time in about five years, seriously), hitting the grocery store, and now we're in for the evening. If I feel the energy, I'll plug away a bit more on the chapter tonight and will plan to do more tomorrow afternoon. May not have the entire draft finished by Monday as I had originally planned, but I'm making good progress. Bye.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Self-banishment Day 1

I checked into my self-banishment hotel last night, and I tried to hit the ground running. Unfortunately, last night and this morning I had to finish up a couple of projects from work-work, but that happens when one spends waaaay too much time in various meetings and not enough time at one's desk. LOL. Work's all good: just a lot of transition at this time.

Anyhow, Wife was kind enough to stop by and rescue me for a nice lunch. Thanks Sweetie! And then I really got running on the ground early this afternoon. I've completely finished edits of Chapters 1, 2, and 5, and I'll finish up edits on Chapter 4 this evening. Tomorrow morning I'll do the edits on Chapter 3 and will get to drafting Chapter the Sixth in the afternoon. Guess I'm sort of a writing fool, as I should be!

Saturday, August 07, 2010

Back in the 'Brary

I'm spending yet another beautiful Saturday in the library. That's life for now, I suppose. I've been slowly editing the front end - chapter 1 was easy. Chapter 2 is taking longer, but finishing it up is my goal for today. Would be great to go through Chapter 3 tomorrow if possible, since I suspect it will be almost as quick as Chapter 1. Then the proposal will officially be part of the dissertation, and I can move on to Chapter the Sixth.

Should be a good day today. A colleague may meet me here, and then a small group of us, including PR#3, will go out for dinner this evening.

I'm taking this upcoming Thursday and Friday off from work, and I will practice self-banishment Wednesday night through Saturday morning. Yep, going back to a hotel, similar to last year, to see how much of Chapter the Sixth I can draft out. I plan to pretend it's due on the following Monday and get that type of last-minute energy powering the wind in my sails. I'm sure I'll update the blog accordingly.