Saturday, December 31, 2011

Home for the Holidays 2011

I consider myself fortunate to get so much time off to see friends and family for Christmas and New Years. The one thing I will say about being a perpetual student is that getting a nice long winter break is... nice. Far less stressful, and I can't begin to imagine what it would be like trying to squeeze so much into a shorter break. Having three weeks definitely takes the stress off of me. I don't like it much that Matt's family and my family will probably never or rarely get together for a holiday, but having the time to commute between various states makes it okay after all.

I spent an evening in Pennsylvania with Matt and his family, and then drove him back to CT. His parents always go to visit with his grandfather, and Matt went there again this year. We've been in a relationship for three years and haven't had a Christmas together, but maybe next year. My aunts are starting to get disappointed, since they are the only family members who haven't met him yet, ha. I at least get to spend the beginning of the new year with him, and we're going out with my friend Jenn and some of her friends.

2011 has been an okay year. Nothing really bad happened to me personally, but I know it was rough for a lot of people I know and care about. I'm always happy to see a new year go, actually. I have no sentimental feelings in particular for the passing of time. I don't like looking back and realizing that it's been so long between events, though. It doesn't feel like that much time has passed, even though I know it has. Hell, I've been in graduate school for a total 4 1/2 years already. That's nuts.

The only resolution I'm making this year is a very broad one, I'm going to start taking better care of myself. No more going weeks without going outside and getting some exercise. No more eating badly. No more drinking a lot. Less coffee, unless it's to catch up with friends. Eliminate an much stress from my life where possible. That last one is the biggest thing.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Never Ending

I just spent the past 2+ weeks scrambling to try and get my book chapter out to the editor. You know, the one that was due in November. Felisa and I kept pushing back the deadline, and it finally came down to the absolute last minute. All the nit picky stuff towards the end was beginning to drive me bonkers, I felt like I was chasing a moving target for a bit.

I don't think I'll be writing one of these things again any time soon. I'm just glad it's done. The whole thing makes me nervous about working collaboratively, it challenging enough to corral myself. I have another project coming up quickly, with a firmer deadline, and it isn't for a book but I'm working with 3 other people. I'm not complaining, really, I'm just mentally and physically exhausted. I learned a lot from the experience, but now I'm just ready to kick back, enjoy the rest of my break, and hope the book people don't come back with too many edits.

It feels good to work on something and see it to its completion.
Merry Christmas to me!

Monday, December 5, 2011

Wrapping up the Semester

It's that time of the semester, where I'm in a perpetual state of "just about finished" before the break. I have three class sessions and two assignments left before I am done with Fall 2011. I finished my paper for paleoclimate seminar that is due tomorrow... the other project is for PiBBS and is really poorly defined. This is lack of instruction has made it annoying and difficult to do, and I just don't feel compelled to do it since the instructor didn't take the effort to assign a clear project. I will, of course, do something just to get through this.

It's also that time of the year where it's really hard for me to find the motivation to get through the last bit of the semester. For one thing, it's starting to get colder, and it would just be so easy to stay in bed in the morning. Fluffy blankets and pajamas sound much better than getting on a dirty city bus to go sit in my office. I'm also usually fried by the end of November. This fall has been very busy with submitting fellowship proposals, developing my dissertation research, and taking classes.

Felisa is gone this week to a conference in New Zealand. It's really bad timing. We have a book chapter due NOW, and we haven't even put together a first draft. I'm getting nervous, but there's really only so much I can do. While she's gone I'll continue to write and edit my part, and I'm also trying to figure out a conceptual diagram to include in the chapter. If I have that finished for when she gets back I'll feel confident that I've done all I can.

As I wrap up this semester, I'm thinking about what I'm going to do when I get back from winter break. What are my goals for the spring? By mid January I hope to have a manuscript submitted, so I'll be dealing with the fallout from that project. In all likelihood the paper won't get accepted right away, and so I'll be spending time editing the paper for resubmission at other journals. Not all journals use the same format, some are REALLY different, so the amount of effort will depend on where we send it and what the reviewer comments say.

My committee expects that I will give a department talk on my master's research some time in the spring, so I want to get some preliminary data on some of my research. It will be easier to talk about future research directions if I can make a little headway on some projects between now and then. The projects that will involve going to museum collections or doing field work will obviously not be something I can talk too much about, but I have some data from databases I can play with in the mean time.

I'm really eager to get home to Connecticut. I miss everyone so much, and it's always too long between visits. I'm excited that we're getting a tree this year, we haven't had one in 4 years. I get anxious when I don't see my family for long stints, especially with my grandmother not doing so great. I think if I manage to not get sick this year, it's going to be a really nice Christmas. Last year was awful, I picked up a stomach flu right after the holiday and Matt and I were sick for most of the break.

The big thing I am looking forward to when I get back in January is the kitty Matt and I adopted. He will finally be coming home with us. We went to PetCo last week and we found such a wonderful cat, we adopted him even though the timing isn't right. Luckily, his foster mommy is willing to keep him until we get back from break, so he can stay comfortable at her house. He's so sweet and handsome!