Sunday, June 07, 2015

The thesis stretch of a master's program is basically indentured servitude.  You're into this whole thing too far for quitting to make any sense (logically), so you basically have to finish.  But you aren't finished until you've written a book, in an unfamiliar citation style, with kind of spotty and somewhat inconsistent guidance on HOW to write this sort of a thing, and invariably an inadequate expectation of how many hours it's going to take to arrive at something cogent.

There is no better recipe for burnout.

Actually burnout happened back in January and February.  My entire family nursed some resentment for the effect that December 21st Comprehensive Exams had on our Christmas season, which hit at a time that we were all still trying to cope with the stress of having moved into a house that needs ever so much work just a couple of months before that.  Everyone around here resents the time I spend thesis-ing.  And they don't hide it well.

At this point it is an enormous accomplishment just to arrange childcare for a decent writing session, and half of the time I'm only a shell of a thinking human by the time I am able to get started.  Summer time with our particular child menagerie home all day is intense. It was for good reason that I was hoping to be done with this before summer break came along, but I'm having to face the reality that I'd be very very lucky to be finished before summer break ends. Miles to go before I sleep.

I am, however, finding a newfound respect for well-researched and well-organized academic writing.  AND I'm developing a healthy detachment from any idea that I might ever want to write anything like it ever again.

Doing intense and interdisciplinary analyses of women blogging and posting on other social media platforms has had an interestingly paralyzing effect on me.  I over-analyze anything that I might be tempted to post and quickly talk myself out of it.  It's not that I'm being protectionist.  I don't think that avoiding online participation is realistic or ideal.  I'm just still developing a concept in my mind of what the most healthy types of online engagement might look like.  That concept is likely to turn into the third chapter of my thesis as I get it articulated.  So once I finally manage to get all this research articulated for academia, I may return to it at some point to self-publish something more digestible for the masses.  Everything out there advising how to make smart choices on line is outlining what content you should avoid to protect yourself from malevolvence. Nobody is talking about tone, voice, word-choice, postures of self-presentation, sustainability of practices, or any of that stuff that would actually prove useful in the long run.  I may take a stab at it.  Once I recover from burn-out.

In my efforts to remain human while my thesis owns all my large chunks of discretionary time, I'm picking up things to do in smaller pieces of time.  I'm cooking a lot of food my kids refuse to eat, I've started learning how to do ferments: I've kept water kefir happy for months now, have been perfecting real sourdough, and experimenting with sauerkraut.  (Next stop: homemade yogurt.)

So yes, I'm still alive and at it.  I'm still chipping away at this Master's degree.  The going is slow, and even though it ultimately gets a smallish portion of my time, it takes up a huge chunk of my mental space.  I have got to get this thing behind me.  But I can't just work on it straight through.  I have 4 little kids and it's summer.

Mr Renn and I escaped on a date over the weekend to the Hidden Garden Tour (and Parade of Homes), mostly just because we can count on one hand the number of dates we've been on this year.  A lot of it was mildly depressing, given the state of squalor our home is currently in.  (Our DIY remodel/finishing of basement is trotting along at a slow, steady, messy pace.)  BUT, there was one garden, a cottage garden, that found my recharge button and fed my soul.  Have you ever been in a place that you'd never been before but that felt more like home than any place you've ever lived in?  I had that feeling constantly when I was in London 13 years ago, and I got that sort of a buzz when we'd visit Longwood Gardens (which is why we went constantly).  I felt it for the first time in years in this garden in Lindon, and it made me want to find somewhere to lie down in it and just melt into the place.  I wanted to eat up all the great details, but my overwhelming emotional response was a desire to just be still in the space.  I felt an inward calm and home-ness that quieted a part of me that has not sat still in years.  I can see why people want their homes to be sanctuaries.  If I could manage to feel like that at home, wow would I ever have a clear mind and a calm heart.

As it was, I came home to legos on the floor, melted crayons on the porch, half-drawn pictures all over the living room, and four hungry kids who refused to eat their dinner. Se la vie.

No comments:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...