The Simplest Things

On a personal note – 2008 has been pretty productive. I am into my second semester in my PhD program – one more short (one reading class, one seminar) semester to go then it’s onto my comprehensive exams and proposal. I am on a 3 year plan – but my friends, advisor and the rest of the department tend to chuckle when I tell them that. No more than four years though – else I have been threatened with divorce (of sorts since I am not even married!). I have trucked through my BA, and MA in record time, I would like to do the same with my PhD.

However there are a few things getting in the way. I have reintegrated going to the gym into my daily routine. Being a student who only has to leave the house once a week – twice on a busy week – sitting in front of your computer or laptop in bed, at your desk or in comfy blankets on the couch does not make for a healthy lifestyle (if it is any consolation I have a very fit brain!). So, in order to work on my physical self, I have returned to the gym. I love my gym very much. The people are very friendly yet not intrusive – they have good things on the television and it offers justification for having a beer or two when the hockey game is on. However – it seems that going to the gym is the ONLY thing I seem to be able to fit into my daily routine! The gym is not far – a 15 minute walk there and back. My workout is an hour and a half… thats … two hours total. You would THINK I could manage a life outside of those two hours! Not a chance it seems. So that is small thing number one that I need to work through – hopefully soon since this semester has four papers and a 30 minute final presentation (heavy semester compared to last term).

The second thing I am having trouble getting around to is actual work. Not reading. But work. I have a film analysis to do that was left over from last semester. I now have two to do for two seperate classes. In concept, I get it. I have to watch a film, and write a paper based on one of the film theory perspectives that I learned in the class. However, I am struggling with actually getting it all going. Do I watch the film, then read my ‘outside sources’ then watch the film again? Do I read all I can, then watch the film then pull examples out of the film? Do I pull examples out of the film then corraborate them with the outside sources? Do I leave the scene on while I write like leaving a text open beside my keyboard? I know this might all seem silly to someone who is used to working with a visual medium in textual form, but I find the practice of the task hard to manipulate in me head … the manipulation that would be able to kick start a project or paper. I don’t know a thing about a working method here, and it makes me procrastinate.

The simplest things can block us. I remember during my MA thesis defense, I could not find MY pink highlighter. In a panic, I called a good friend to pick one up for me at the store on the way to the defense. Not knowing what ‘one’ I ‘needed’ she bought all the pink ones she could. Happily, she got a ‘sharpie’ and I could happily (but still nervously) get on with the show. I don’t even think I used it for my defense! Such little things I tell you – such little things!


5 thoughts on “The Simplest Things

  1. I found your blog on google and read a few of your other posts. I just added you to my Google News Reader. Keep up the good work. Look forward to reading more from you in the future.

    Tina Russell

  2. I totally hear you on this one. Both school and gym are now 5-10 minutes away max for me, and yet I find all kinds of excuses to not “bother” going. This year, the snow here has been an excellent excuse to cocoon and ignore the world.

    That social isolation – is it common to grad students? or just to those of us who are either anti-social by nature *coughcoughMEcoughcough*? Or for those who have a busy and satisfying home life anyway?

    I’m trying to make sure that I read one book a week that isn’t directly related to my classes but is related to my general academic interests. Doing okay on that so far, though it tends to be more like one book every 10-14 days.

  3. The social isolation thing is indeed common to grad students. At least at the PhD – I know now for sure since it was explicitly told to me by a visiting scholar in our joint seminar with Paris 3. Philippe Dubois). In describing the academic route, he said that the Master’s level is to demonstrate that you ‘know’ a body of knowledge – you ‘master’ it – and your colleagues must also demonstrate the mastering of not only a topic but the process as well. This gives way to a more collective experience (not necessarily a drastic one). At the PhD level, he said, you are here because you told us you have something to say – and it is our job (as advisors) to give you the space / place to be able to do so. They are not there to support, egg us on or to get us going etc. He said that his job (as an advisor) is to make sure that we are being rigorous in our method and follow the appropriate measures necessary to get the PhD done. He called it the ‘solitary phd’ because doctoral students within a cohort have the least in common than the previous two degrees.

    I felt a bit better when he told us this. It made me realize that intellectually, all students (at least at the doctoral level, since that is what he was speaking to specifically) work in solitude.

    To be fair, he said that this is why research groups are important – for the student to feel involved with the academe etc. With me, I have been feeling isolated (as well as solitary) also because of the structure of the university. I have become accustomed to ‘grad space’ and ‘grad offices’ – a place for students to be on campus when not in class. Where I am – it is the library, cafe, pub or cafeteria – a big change from what I am used to and makes me feel even more solitary since I am encouraged (or rather perhaps forced) to work from home. Although this is good for the fact that I can work in my pyjamas, it does not always provide me with the intellectual stimulation needed.

    In the end, I have lunch with two of my colleagues after class as often as we can and that gives me the little bit of interaction I need to keep chugging along.

  4. We’ll keep having these lunches. And not for the food! 🙂

    Oh, RE: your original subject…you really work how’s best for you. I tend to watch a movie, think about it, then usually some intuition pops up, I start writing, then the references and links to theory come along the way and are inserted. And I need to pop the thing back in for some specific scenes (it’s pretty hard, like Benjamin’s presentation last class – oh wait, you weren’t there! shucks. but anyway – to watch a film and see all the subtleties of the film form instead of the content.

  5. i have been sick all week =( I really wanted to see Benjamin’s presentation too GRRR!

    as for the gamecode blog – I havent really been posting game specific related stuff and felt like I was spamming the blog with my personal yammering. So indeed, stop by here more often =)

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