The brain just doesn’t shut off…

I woke up in the middle of the night last night re-writing one of my paragraphs in my head. I just kept hearing the same sentence repeating over and over again in my dream until I woke up.

These days, I either go to bed at 9pm and wake up at 2am unable to fall back asleep, or I stay up working till 2, and am unable to fall asleep. When I wake Up at 2, I usually end up working then napping through the morning. I wake back up around noon, work till 2am the next day, and then I’m up at 9 and working again the following day. It’s an unhealthy cycle, but as a colleague said to me the other day, “you’re in your qualifying exam, so you shouldn’t be sleeping.” I’m exhausted, but when I go to bed, I toss and I turn and I think for about 3 hours before I fall asleep. I tried whiskey tonight, that didn’t help. Here I lay, typing this update.

Side note: Mark is so used to me getting up in the middle of the night and going to the living room to work, that when I went up to go to the bathroom a while ago, I came back and he took my pillow and was cuddling it in my absence. I started laughing and said, “hey, I just went to the bathroom, give me my pillow back!”

On a positive note, I actually feel like I can meet my deadline. I’ve made a lot of progress. There’s still a ton more reading and writing to do, but it seems manageable. I’m less worried about finishing now, and more worried about the quality. Will I have the time to answer these questions as thoroughly as I want to?

A friend keeps saying not to worry about the time too much, but I don’t think she understands me. I always worry about time. I’ve always worried about time. I’m not a laid back person. I speed even when I’m not late. I run around always chasing the clock with no where to go. It’s in my nature. This isn’t about meeting a deadline, or assimilating to the capitalistic notion of efficiency (well maybe that’s part of the way I’ve been conditioned). This is who I am.

I also secretly know I do well under pressure, so even though I feel like I’m moving slowly now, I know that those 19 days after I return from Paris will be my most productive. Oh, 19 days? Wait. Let me count that again. Wow. That’s the first time I’ve counted them. I have 19 days from the day I return from Paris. I might be in better shape than I thought…

I’m glad I decided to write this, I might be able to fall asleep now after all!


Exhausted & emotional

I’m currently preparing for a meeting at 11am, which I will not be ready for because I had to stop everything I was doing and write this down.  There are too many feelings in the room to go on right now.

I have been working on my exam for most of each day since Thursday, but yesterday was a whole new animal.  I worked non-stop for 14 hours preparing my ethnography paper, which came directly from my exam and will be used in my proposal.  I’m proud of the work, but I also see that there are some areas to be addressed.  I’m scared that I won’t be able to finish the rest of the exam unless I continue to work at this pace.  I really need to step away, and just sleep.  I only had about 8 hours in me yesterday, but I stretched it because of the deadline, and I’m paying for it now.  At about 9pm, my eyes went completely blurry, and I knew I needed to step away from the screen, but I just had to add the references page, so I rallied on.

This morning, I have tears in my eyes realizing that I overdid it and I’m totally exhausted, and I’m off to meetings all day where I’ll be revising manuscripts.  Tomorrow’s schedule doesn’t look much better, and neither does Thursday’s.  I haven’t purchased Christmas presents for anyone, no one is getting cards this year (sorry), and I feel like I’m going to have to sequester myself to a room away from my family during the holiday break so that I can meet my deadline.  I put a lot of pressure on myself, too much.  Why am I crying right now?  Are these real emotions, or am I just exhausted?


I got a little carried away…

So, I’m currently sitting in front of a 50-page working document titled “qualifying exam”.  I have been working over 8 hours per day since my last post on Thursday night.  This push really started last week as I began preparing for a 15-page paper I have due tomorrow at 6pm for my ethnological theory class.  The assignment is to relate the readings to the theoretical framework we plan to use in our dissertation study.  (This poor professor is going to get a lot more information than she asked for).  In order to embed the readings into my theoretical framework, I had to first answer THE HARDEST questions on my exam.  So I have been reading and writing  for a week trying to answer those questions.  They’re just about done.  Yay!

The funny thing is though, I’m just now realizing (at 1:30am – oh look, seems to be my favorite time lately) that my 15-page paper is no where near done.  Most of the stuff I’ve been writing, I can’t use because it’ll end up wayyyyy over 15 pages.  Once again, I went rogue and started hopping around all over the questions.  It’s hard to stay on just one question though, because as soon as I read something, I find ways that it relates to another question, then I have a million new questions in my mind regarding that question, so I start reading more, and writing more, and next thing you know, I’ve half answered a question that I wasn’t “supposed” to be working on.

What do I do when I go rogue?  I make an outline.  As long as I remember to consult the outline tomorrow morning, I should be able to get this paper done, but it’s going to be more like 20 pages than 15.  I hope she doesn’t mind.

Other silly things I’m learning about my work habits:

  • Do you know how many lists and outlines I’ve made that don’t get followed?  As soon as I open the document and start reading, I notice things that need to be fixed, or I notice margin comments I made and I start working on those.  I forget what I said I was going to work on.  I guess at least I’m getting lost in it?
  • I scrolled down to the bottom of the document this evening and discovered a paragraph I wrote on Saturday.  This paragraph was intended to answer a question that I just spent 4 hours answering.  So yes, I answered (or at least started to) the same question twice.
  • I literally just went back to the document to see what this paragraph was about, and then I got lost in the document for 20 minutes, reading, writing comments, questioning, and getting confused.

Once again, getting carried away…

Another impromptu 10pm-2am session

I woke up today ready to be productive.  I spread a bunch of books out and started picking up bits and pieces and understandings that would help me make the argument I decided to make last night.  Then, I got distracted by a bunch of, bureaucracy we’ll call it.  Ironic, because my study is about the effects of the bureaucratization (that word is VERY difficult to spell at 1:30am, btw) of the teaching profession on teacher satisfaction, turnover, and relations with principals.  Anyways, before I knew it, it was time to head downtown to a meeting and I was frustrated because I had made little progress.

Then, I decided to be social and meet a friend and Mark out for dinner, which ended early because it snowed in San Antonio and the restaurant lost power (apparently it hasn’t snowed here since the 1980’s, and while this Massachusetts native is no foreigner to winter weather, I found it quite beautiful, and funny to see how excited everyone was about 1.4 inches of snow – oh yeah, campus will be closed until noon tomorrow, LOL).  So we came home, and I made a snow angel, and then I sat around for two hours avoiding the inevitable.  Finally, I forced myself to make an espresso and get to work.

It was a little bit difficult to pick up momentum again, but once I got started, the time flew.  I feel like I made a little bit of progress, although a bit scattered (a paragraph here, a paragraph there).  It seems that about 1:30am is when I hit a block.  I must have moved the same paragraph a dozen times – do I want it up here, or do I want it down there?  Every time I read it, I thought it belonged in the opposite place.  Then, I realized, I shouldn’t even be writing that paragraph yet, because I have another paragraph to finish that comes before.  Then, I looked at some of my notes and I’m like, why did I think that was a good idea?  So then I started re-thinking all over again and it just became a whirlwind of thoughts running through my head.  I made a list to begin tackling in the morning, and now I’m off to bed!

My wheels are turning…

Up until tonight, I have been a bit unproductive since Sunday night.  I refrained from writing a blog post because I knew I’d have to admit I didn’t do much, and then I’d feel guilty.  Having to go to class and into the office for meetings has thrown me off.  Between working on other projects and going to class, I haven’t had a lot of motivation to sit down and get at it.

As a side note, I took myself to the gym today and had a fantastic workout.  I feel really good, and I hope that I can continue to fit in some daily exercise as I try to ramp up my work time (although my legs are already sore, so I’m sure I’ll be immobile for the rest of the week – hey, maybe that’ll force me to sit on the couch in front of the tree and read/write).

Tonight was a great night.  Once I finally got off Instagram, I sort of got lost in the process of answering my theoretical framework questions.  I began writing down the argument that I referred to in the previous post as a major breakthrough.  By 12:30am, I was feeling stuck.  My new way of theorizing wasn’t matching with the language from Young’s (1999) bi-focal approach to policy studies that I’m basing my study on.  She uses the words traditional and critical to describe her two studies, but these don’t seem to fit the way I want to organize my study anymore.  I went back to her original work, and started reading about how I could frame it using her terms, but then it hit me:  I don’t have to use her terms.  This is my work.  So instead, I plan to extend her bi-theoretical approach to policy research in a way that is unique to my study.  This excites me.  I can’t wait to wake up fresh tomorrow and start writing these ideas down.

I’m realizing that when I feel a certain pressure, as in, I feel like I haven’t gotten a lot done lately, I force myself to sit down and get to work.  These are the most productive sessions because I actually get lost in the process and produce some ideas that I’m happy with.  Why don’t I just force myself to sit down more often?  I’m also starting to become a bit anxious that I’m not reading enough.  I’m writing down these arguments, and I’m citing important research, but I could be citing even more.  I should be.  I should be reading more.  But is there enough time to do all the reading and all the writing?

37 pages & a major breakthrough

Well I do feel a bit guilty about being rude in my last post.  However, I haven’t worked one bit on that project, and I don’t feel guilty about that.  It is what it is, and I have more important things to worry about.

I finally made my outline and got myself organized.  I started pulling together pieces of my prospectus as they relate to some of the questions I’ve been asked.  Following a mini-panic attack on Saturday evening and this afternoon, I realized I have 15 pages of my theoretical framework due to my ethnography teacher.  I started pulling from my papers for that class where I’ve been asked to relate the readings to my study, then I pulled what I had written in my prospectus, and I’m already over 16 pages.  I now have a 37 page document with dozens of notes on it that say “revise” or “add here”.  Its a work in progress, it’s piecemeal, its all over the place, but its progress.  (I still have yet to answer one of the exam questions completely).

The 15 page paper due on the 11th is really going to force me to buckle down this week and write up a large section of my Chapter 2.  I started tonight, and it was one of those nights where I started working and I just got lost in it.  I read a little, I wrote a little, and then I made a major breakthrough with how I want to formulate my theoretical framework around the questions I’ve been asked.  I have to admit these were the hardest, scariest looking questions, so the fact that I was able to build this conceptual framework in my head (and then later on paper) is very exciting.  I think it also speaks to the idea that even when you’re not tangibly working, your mind is always working, and eventually it does begin to come together.  I feel propelled to have a productive week after tonight, that is, of course if classwork doesn’t get in the way (eyeroll).

It’s 3am and yesterday was a shitty day

Someone I admire said I sanitize my blog posts too much.  So let me tell you how I really feel:  Yesterday was a steaming pile of shit of a day.

I got up and did some reading for class (took me longer than I wanted), attended a meeting to revise a manuscript (that was the one thing that actually went well, but also took longer than expected and is still not finished), worked on a class project, met with my group…

Let me just stop right there.  What is the purpose of having a group meeting when all members of the group have not taken the time to do their pre-work?  That’s exactly what I was wondering when I was waiting at downtown campus to meet with said group.  Welp, only one other group member showed up – late nonetheless.  I was furious.  RECLAIMING MY TIME!  We got nothing done at this meeting, obviously, so now we have to do it all over e-mail (that should be fun).  I’m over it.  I’m so fucking over it.  I hate group projects, and I particularly hate this project, which I feel has absolutely no meaning to me whatsoever.  Check the box.  Get an A.  Move on.

Ugh.  To be burdened with such trivial coursework.  Just let me work on my work, damnit!

Ahhh, that felt nice.  After my meeting (and after treating myself to tacos because, stress), I dragged my floppy stomach onto the treadmill and finished up my reading.  So yeah, I’m that weirdo on the treadmill at the gym reading on my iPad with my big glasses on.  It’s a good thing I’m spoken for, or there would be no hope for me finding a companion with the level of attractiveness I’m putting out these days.

So by the time I did all that, it was 10pm.  I took myself immediately to the library (where I have remained since), ordered a coffee, and continued working on my list (below).  I still didn’t write that paragraph from yesterday, but I wrote three different paragraphs.  It’s exactly what it sounds like; I’m bouncing around all over the place. I feel a little constricted by the questions, but I also have to answer them all.  I need to make sure I make an outline first thing in the morning, before I continue reading and writing.

  1. Read for ethnography class
  2. Attend a meeting to revise a manuscript
  3. Work on a class project
  4. Meet with group for class project
  5. Read more for ethnography
  6. Attend to e-mails I have been ignoring
  7. Read selected chapters from books that are overdue
  8. Write the paragraph I was supposed to write yesterday
  9. Make an outline for my argument

Oh, and I accidentally looked at the calendar for December.  I have three weeks to get my shit together.  There will be no sleep.  There is no time for sleep.

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