Wanna Be PhD

PhD 2006. Now fully blown by the Postdoc Experience.

Location: My Appartment, Academic Nowhereland

Email: wannabephd@gmail.com

Thursday, January 26, 2006

Better and cleaner

Wow. I managed to clean half of the kitchen and a bit of the bathroom today. And I showered and got dressed and went to a café to meet an old friend from school.

New Supervisor has emailed. (This is good. I like getting emails from supervisors. I feel welcome.) I think it is not good to freak out about the dissertation. The only thing that makes sense is to think of the problems and try to find answers.

And, most importantly, the dissertation won't be the last thing I've ever written. I am in the process of doing some research with collaboratorix. The dissertation is a requirement that I have to meet in order to get a job. A requirement in order to be able to do more research.

It is not the only thing about me that will be judged!

It is ok to write some dissertation. It does not have to be the best book ever written. Success means that I like my work and that I keep going on.


I do like to be in a clean apartment. I really do.

If this is so imprtant for me, why do I never clean my apartment?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Today's the day

Gotta send my manuscript to New Supervisor, because I'm going there next week. I've spent the last days completely freaking out. I am absolutely dissatisfied with my work. I have so many problems. I do not have a solution. I am just repeating what everybody else said before. I do not have a claim on my own.

And yesterday night, I found out that the chapter which I thought of as the core analysis is 1/3 completely wrong. So I have to delete this before I send it. And I want to add several other things at different parts. But its already 10:40 a.mm. noon coming soon.

I feel overwhelmed and exhausted.

Ex Supervisor told me to read another book of 500 pages. I don't do it. He still tries to disturb my work. Problem: I am not sure how much influence he has on the grading process of my thesis.

Sunday, January 22, 2006

Preparing the final draft

I am engaged in a kinda process of "preparing the final draft" of the thesis. Not really final, but the final one should be done in 4 weeks. Now I try to write as much as I can for New Supervisor.

This is not fun. Although it should be.
My back hurts. My legs hurt. My bones hurt.
Forcing myself to write (which does not guarantee high output) is definitely bad for my body.

And I am feeling confused. Although I do have a plan for all the chapters and a somewhat clear line of thought, I keep having nightmares that I have never looked into book X and that I definitely should at least mention argument Y. Not to forget that person Z said a footnote that one cannot omit.
And so on. And so on. And so on.

Instead of freaking out about all the things I know about but do not have read, I should focus on what I want to say. There is enough work to do this, anyway. I have read enough. I have prepared enough. I should now write all this and then, if time permits, worry about the other things.

Preparing this final version is not fun.

Monday, January 16, 2006

The pelasures of being dressed

I finally decided to crawl out of my bed and head for a shower. Then I dressed. Not my PJs, not my yoga pants, but real pants and swater, suitable for leaving the appartment.

Not that I do leave now, but it feels very good. It wouldn't make any sense to go to a library, because the nice ones close between 18 and 19h, so the travel time would be too much. And my laptop battery only lasts for 2 hours, and I have no idea where there are plugs in the libraries.

I might get some milk later and even go for a walk.

Sunday, January 15, 2006

Open letter to a friend

My dear friend,

I did write to you on the occasionn of your birthday, but you don't reply. You don't have any reasonable phone, and you don't have skype either. You cannot expect me to call. I know that your wife and I have different opinions on everything, but I accepted her to play a major role for you.

It sucks that you don't write back. It sucks that you moved far away. I am not going to keep up our relation at any price. You are to decide as well. I would want to chat on skype and I would want to go for a coffee every now and then. I don't mind if your wife joins us.

But today, I'm just pissed that you don't write back.


Breakfast with my iBook

Today I had (or rather I am still having) a pleasant breakfast with my iBook. It smelled fine. Ever since the late morning I am typing and drinking coffee and eating toast and jogurt. I don't have my favourite raspberry jam today, I only have a mixed-berry jam which is not as good. Have to pick up my favourite one tomorrow when I go for milk.

The best thing: I have been typing my dissertation today! I fixed the hierarchy of the chapters and I am adding examples and text.

I will watch ''Mulholland Drive'' tonight on the TV as a reward. I haven't seen it when it was on the movies, so I'm really looking forward to this.

I don't usually like opera, but today I listened to Nabucco on the radio. It had a very positive effect on my work.

Saturday, January 14, 2006

To go or not to go

I am thinking of going to a café. I would like the one where they play loud music (The Cure, Radiohead), but there' a lot of smoke. The second choice would be tha quiet place I used to go while I was in high school. Again, a lot of smoke.

What I like about those places is that they are not nice and shiny but dirty and worn out. The people there are not carrer demons. Those are places where you go when you have nowhere to go. Places to hang around.

The non-smoking cafés are all very expensive. It seems as if the healthy way of living is tied to money (ok I've known that, e.g. poor people tend to eat more junk food and les vegetables), but I didn't know that this is mirrored in cafés. I am not in the mood of going to a posh place where everything is shiny and there are only old and wealthy people there. Noooo.

So, as I am deciding and deciding and deciding I am still at home. I could work here and then go out to on of the ugly ones later and just read something there, without bringing my precious iBook.

I just don't want to wake up on a Sunday morning and my baby next to me smells like an ashtray. I just can't do it.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Delurking week

I've no idea when it started or when it's supposed to be over, but I've seen it at numerous places by now.

Hello lurkers! Please leave a comment! You could, for example, tell me what you eat for breakfast. I am the coffee (3 mugs) and jam+toast lady.
[from here]

The perfect job

Uh uh uh! I just saw an announcement for the perfect job for me! I'm definitely going to apply!!

Setting up the defense

So, I had to contact Ex Supervisor b/c he is the administrative guy. We have to do all the paperwork together setting up the defense (hopefully in June). He keeps making obnoxious comments about New Supervisor. Remember, when I told him that I left for Another Town, he just let me go. Whenever I wanted to talk to him about the problems with my thesis he'd kick me out. There have been reasons for my change.

When I came back from Another Town and told him what I did, he would not sit down and talk it over. We've never really talked ever since.

But now, slightly, more than half a year later, he seems to react. I knew he hated my change.

I just feel pissed and I hate it that I have to go and see him b/c of the paper work.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006

I am...

Perhaps I will go to my former favourite café later, despite the fact that there will be a lot of smoke.

Dissertation styles

New Kid writes:

When you write a dissertation, you have to prove to your readers that you have found and addressed every piece of scholarship ever written on anything possibly relevant in any way to your subject.

I have a personal problem with this requirement. For a very long time, I believed that I had to do exactly this. I spent about two years reading everyting that seemed related to my topic. This totally blocked me. One just cannot read everything that has been said before. It is not possible.

New Supervisor changed my attitude towards work. Together we developed a single research question. I continued to sketch a possible answer to that question and to construct arguments for it. My thesis will just focus on that very question and will answer it in detail.

By now, I have read many many papers and books that do not mention some related articles, b/c the authors were just not aware of them or could not read the language in which they were written.

I think that research is a collaborative task, so no one can read (or be required to read) everything. It is good that I know the main pieces of work related to my question, but I cannot continue to work through more and more papers.

Do you think that this will be bad for my grade?

Another thing that New Supervisor told me (and that enormously helped to tackle the blocking state I was in) is not to write for the committee only. I was so scared that I must write The Perfect Book because some members of my committee really are Very Big Scholars (i.e. BigProf from Ivy). Now when I write, I just think that I am explaining my topic to a bunch of students, and that I want to point out why I think the question is important and what the reasons are that I believe what I say.

Reflections on Cafe work

It was ok, though, the visit to the café yesterday. But there was a lot of smoke, so my precious iBook smells awful today! I so much loved the smell of new plastic it came with. Of course, over the months, it ceased, but a faint of it was still there. Now it's like I'm pushing my fingers into an ashtray.

I've checked, but there are no cafés at walking distance (15mins) that are open after 22h and have a non-smoking area.

Monday, January 09, 2006

Café Blogging

Ok, you do not get this ''live'', b/c I'm blogging from a cafe. My computer doesn't have a wireless device, and I've chosen a plave where's no WLAN anyway.

I'm trying to keep myself away from checking email and from surfing around for so many useless hours.

It somehow works (apart from the fact that I *am* blogging). I have worked for 30 minutes with high concentration. Doing things. Reworking my chapter. Reformulating sentences.

I really must say that writing in English is for me like playing the violin while wearing gloves. I keep searching for words, for phrases. I know I could write 5 times faster in My Native Language. I don't know why, but blogging is not that bad.

I know I should stop to care about my English b/c it blocks me. I know that I will be fine even without worrying. This is *not* a manuscript that I am sending to a publisher. Only my committe will read it (if they do), and most of them are non-English-natives.

The teenager (icky, male, with a very bad hairstyle) accross the room commented about the woman with an Apple laptop (me) to his mates. I have never ever received comments about my computer before! I have used it in public, but only in university contexts such as libraries and classrooms.

If he would just get up and fuck me if he sees my sween iPod nano in the pocket of my coat?

I feel very techie and very up to date. And very rich that I can afford all those nice little toys.


I never ever got envied for my ''technical'' appearance before. This is cool!

NOTE TO SELF: I will not get out of here until I have finished to do this very chapter. The next thing to do at home is the little graphics with the old Windows machine. I must not get up. No no no no no.

QUESTION TO SELF: Ordinary people work 8 hours per day. Why do I want to quit after one????

No. I won't go to the toilet until the subsection is finished.

No. I am not going to recompile my LaTeX file for its own sake. I know my computer can do it.

I just noticed that the battery of my computer only lasts for 2,5 hours! It used to be 6 hours when I bought it almost 2 years ago. Does this mean that I will visit the Apple store soon to get a new one? And to get more memory?

Maybe it comes from the frequent recompiling?

NOTE TO SELF: Do I always have to do two things simultaneously to get myself to concentrate??

Saturday, January 07, 2006

Happy New Year!!

Ok, it is a bit late, but still. Some reflections on 2005 and a wishlist for 2006.

2005 was really, really good. Finally this whole dissertation-supervisor drama worked out. Now that I see my way through, I am a much nicer person. I have started to have more social relations since then. I have a collaboratorix now. We're publishing. I got a paper accepted and one printed and I presented at a Very Important Conference of my field. I managed the whole trip to Another Town. And I even start to like planes again! I really enjoy my profession and I enjoy the travelling.

My wishlist for 2006 is rather short. I do not want to write a list that I should clean my apartment more often or that I should exercise more and eat less junk food. I just wish that I enjoy things more and that I take my time for everything, including eating, exercise, working and cleaning. Even cleaning can be nice, since I love all the stuff that I have in my apartment, so when cleaning, I can say hello to all my books and papers and stuffed animals and whatever.
I do believe that enjoying things more will help me in the process of maintaining my weight and my work.