brainpage for a busy day
Posts tagged history
my understanding of what a PhD is so far…
70% administrative faffing around
10% smiling when you really don’t want to
will now proceed to make a useless pie chart of this information to accomplish my 20% research quotient for the day
i actually love writing analytical history
recently i pondered whether i was really meant to be doing this.. history and academia and reading a lot of books and touching old letters. i found myself not enjoying history as a whole, and wanting to cry when people mentioned colonial india or something similarly dire as they knew i studied history and wanted to engage. i thought this not wanting to know everything was my downfall and it made me doubt all that i’m doing. but today i sat down knowing i needed to write some more of my thesis and once i had got going i started to enjoy it and by the time i was finished i felt a lot more happy and accomplished. there is something very fulfilling about transforming scattered research and muddled thoughts into concise, academic literature. so i’m not doubting it anymore. now i just hope i get funding for the next three years or this little revelation will be about as useful as my degree.
i thought once the research was over
that i would feel free and full of momentum and vigour for writing this thesis, but it’s just like standing in the foothills of k2 and wondering, ‘should i start to climb, or just plan it a little more?’.
i’m sorting this out by tackling it incrementally. little steps, little nuggets. little chicken nuggets of my brain work getting munched up each day. i’ve got down the first bit of my historical context section which was a complete drag. this is because i’m not one of those know a little about a lot type people. i know what i know and i know it well but if i don’t it’s like a dark cellar of nothing but musty air and crumbly red brick. so i found it quite hard to piece together a concise historical context to my topic based on stuff i thought i knew, what other historians wrote down and pure guesswork. it’s going to need revised. but thats okay, it’s down, i moved on.
i have the old historiography done which was easy cause it was basically me going ‘NO RESEARCH, NO REFERENCES, MYTH MYTH PISH MYTH, SO SO BAD’ only in a more eloquent manner. new historiography i can’t tackle yet because i have forgotten some of it ( :s ) and need to find notes for the rest. doesn’t help that there basically isn’t any. so today i did my remit and methodology section which was fun because it required no looking at notes and lots of thinking about just what i have actually been doing for the last seven months. i did manage to write more than drinking tea and photographing my pets beside flowers, which i deem admirable.
anyway, i’m sure you care not for the ramblings of me about what appears to be my career (though it still feels weird to say that) as whenever i see anyone else’s posts that start ‘so, today…’ i usually just skip on by. nevertheless if any of the rest of you out there are in academia, professionally or as students, i am sure you will be able to relate, maybe you will think pfffff she’s a lazy arse and maybe you will think hey so am i. either way, i welcome your creative criticism of my process. now to go and get the camera out, molly is sleeping with her chin on her back legs again. (again)
today was just one of those days where everything gets better and better. it started with the temperature outside. it being 12 degrees meant that i didn’t need to whole host of extra layers just to stop myself from shuddering in cold lecture rooms. sometimes it’s actually colder in the lecture rooms and i can never tell if that’s the actually temperature of the place or if it’s just my lack of motion. regardless i wasn’t in lecture halls today, i was in allan’s office and the postgraduate room, where it felt cosy and friendly. for some reason i never even tried to be friends with the people on my course, i just assumed that the solitude of honours would flow over into the next rock pool of my graduate career. but i have somehow just made some friends and we sat in that room in the afternoon working and listening to the strokes new album, talking haphazardly. it felt like an actual community of students, i’ve never felt that before despite having been a student for six years now. before it was always you, on your own, working, and group projects were the bain of my existence as i was a) a control freak and b) someone who wanted to get a good degree.
i got a lot done today too. i managed to finish the second last peice of coursework i had in a very small amount of time. with allan’s help i tidied up my research proposal which is now sitting pretty at bang on 500 words. then something actually amazing happened. i transcribed a letter which basically is the missing piece of the puzzle in terms of all my research. it was interesting and it was impressive and i was grinning and realisation dawned on me that i was actually doing this, history i mean. for once i wasn’t thinking of this as better than an office job but still the hard grind and more something i want to do. something i was looking forward to doing. i’ve always felt like a fraud because i don’t care about history in the way the lay man with a penchant for the tudors does. i don’t watch history based televison or buy history magazines. i am actually repulsed by the idea of reading historic fiction, or any history based literature outside of for research. and yet i am good at it and it’s my career. maybe that is finally falling into place. and maybe it’s a good thing for your hobby not to be your career.
i walked home in the sunshine briskly feeling as though spring had finally gone steady and that i could have even sat outside. stuart and i went to the gym and i pushed through 4.6 kilometres in 30 minutes which is heading to my goal of 5 in 30. then we went home and got food. there is something undescribable about the comfort and satisfaction found in getting back home to your niche. the idea of being on the sofa with jumpers and blankets, food and a dvd, stuart to my side and cats curled around our limbs makes me feel like someone’s gently heated my vital organs and put them back inside glowing. right now i’ve got that feeling of hazy contentment where i am so unbelievably at ease with myself and the world. i know tomorrow will be hard pressed to live up to todays perfections but it doesn’t bother me just now - such is the mood i’m in - and the thing that makes me feel the most safe is that this all came from lifes ordinary day to day passage. surely happiness is not needing any extra-curriculars to make you feel like this?