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Apr. 17th, 2014

Manhole

(no subject)

It's been almost a month since I've posted. Oops. Seems like my social media platforms are shifting, though I've been on LJ in some form for the better part of a decade. (Or, uh, more.)

So, here are five relevant things from the interim time:

(1) Bought our tickets home. We'll be back for good on May 9th, in the late evening. Powerful urges for home have set in, now that it's gotten close--but I also know I'm going to miss my CF box pretty fiercely, so I am sad about that.

(2) I have finished a draft of the thesis (60 pages / 19,000 words or so). So, from here til the end I have [1] revisions on the thesis and [2] two essays for class to complete. That's it. The long slog is almost over; I can see light on the horizon; etc. Of course, there's one more year of teaching and courses and writing at UofL when I get back, before -->

(3) I'm definitely taking a year off from academia and, if that works out, quitting the process for good. There are plenty of jobs that a person with two MAs can get in a university; I don't have to leave the culture or the community just because I might not ever pursue a PhD. I have a few people to talk to about my options, in this direction, and some thinking to do.

(4) Liverpool has been remarkably good for letting me get a taste of what the PhD process would be like: the relocation, the stress, the isolation, the continued grind on nerves that have been shot for a good three years now, etc. It has made me very sure I need the time off.

(5) I fractured my big toe, around where it joins the foot-proper. I dropped an empty barbell on it from chest height. Which, so you know, is excruciating. I'm on light duty for the next few weeks while it heals: have to do any olympic lifting with no jump, feet locked in place; no box jumps or running or jumping rope, etc. But I can still lift nice and heavy, and I can scale crossfit around the toes issue, so. I'm not couch bound. (I was for the first five days or so and it almost drove me insane.)

Mar. 15th, 2014

Manhole

(no subject)

The to-do list that preceded thesis work has been vanquished: essays and talks written, books reviewed, magazine work tackled. So, this week has signaled the start of the thesis-specific to-do list: lots more research reading, plus writing at least the introduction and an outline in the next week or week and a half.

I've been keeping up the close-to-book-a-day pace on the research this week; I've also gotten about 1,000 words drafted (though admittedly like 350 of those are just part of a later chapter that I got down in rough when an structural idea occurred to me). The introduction, if I work a bit per day while also finishing the research, should be done on schedule. Then there are four reasonably sized chapters to complete. Though the requirement is a minimum of 15k, I suspect this one will clock in around 20k, which is a range I work well at. (The Russ thesis was 21k.)

There has been... some panic, yes. Some rough days. But as of yesterday, there are only eight weeks left. Plenty to do during those eight weeks, but spring is approaching, and with it, home.

*

Regular CrossFit classes have been, by the way, a delight. I've been tackling fresh skills left and right, testing endurance and conditioning in more varied and intense ways, et cetera. It's a good group, too--the folks are friendly, open, and encouraging.

I regret not testing in sooner. If I'd had my mental game together over the fall semester, and been training properly, I would have been up to where I needed to be around, oh, December. Hindsight. In fact, if there's one thing I'll miss, it'll be this gym and the group there. Good coaching, solid companionship, fun work.

Feb. 24th, 2014

Manhole

(no subject)

Over the past eight or so days, I have:

(a) read three books, two of which were critical nonfiction
(b) written a 3000 word essay on one
(c) written reviews of the other two, between 1000-1500 words each
(d) read for and then wrote the next short fiction column for Tor.com, another 1000 words or so
(e) done editorial work

--and also the usual shit like "attend seminars" and "be at the gym for long periods of time" and "eat food."

Now I just have to keep up this kind of volume for the next two months.

Feb. 8th, 2014

Manhole

(no subject)

90 days.

I swear I'm not going to do a countdown too regularly, but--90 days is a sort of landmark.

After I finish reading this Rushdie novel for the seminar next week, I'll be starting thesis reading in earnest: re-reading the novels I want to discuss, brushing up on the theoretical framework and also adding to it, ranging out for some research material, etc. According to the schedule I have developed for getting the damn thing done, I have until approximately March 20th to research and annotate and think.

Then from March 20th to March 30th, I'll be putting together the official proposal and a full outline--like, a *really* full outline. With bracket notes for each section. (I also have A Thing I have to do on March 26th-28th that I'll be announcing soonish, so that'll knock out a few days.) From April 1-21st--which covers some of spring break--I'll be drafting. By that third week of April, I need a full draft of the thesis to be finished so I can meet with my advisor about revisions and be clear to come home on time.

I also have three essays for seminars to write: 1x5,000 words and 2x4,000 words. Theoretically I could write that last 4k one from home if I can arrange to turn it in digitally. If I have to turn it in early--well, so be it. I don't think there's ever been a *better* motivation to get things done than coming home?

Oh, and also a few book reviews, a commissioned essay, and The Thing I can't announce yet. And editorial work. Because I like life to be, I don't know, exciting. Or crushing. Whichever.

Jan. 23rd, 2014

Manhole

(no subject)

At some point I should write a well-thought-out analysis of the forms of self care I have been using over the past year or so, though often I perceive them to be forms of "failure" or just fall into them out of a sheer inability to keep trucking with what I've been doing. And a lot of them have certainly taken me off of the radar with regards to criticism, the genre world, etc.

A few, in particular:

(1) The relationship I have developed to training, fitness, and the body that I live in. Yeah, this has sort of turned into a workout blog half of the time. So has my social media presence more generally. But it's because this is something physical, fulfilling, and emotionally enriching; it makes me feel more whole and grounded. It is important. Frankly, it is one of the singular pleasures in my life--it keeps me going.

(2) As I tweeted to Alex MacFarlane the other evening, I realized something: I haven't been writing editorial-style essays for almost a year and a half now. The majority of my writing for Tor.com is just fiction criticism. And it's because I'm tired. Existentially fucking tired. I do not have the energy to wallow in those comment threads, to keep pushing the boulder up the hill. I can't do it. And I haven't been doing it.

(3) When at home, I have spent less time online and more time doing things that are fun. I spend time with my partner and my best friend, I visit and have meals with my mother, I try to get out and go to events or gatherings with friends. I relax. I imbibe. I attempt to have some measure of comfort in being alive.

And this stuff? It means I don't do as much work. I don't blog as much, I don't write as much, I don't write activist-oriented material much at all, et cetera. But there has to be some kind of balance, and I'm still trying to find it: a balance where I can enjoy what I do again, instead of resenting it.

Consider it a work in progress. I know I've said this before, or some variation of it, but--hey, you know, it's slow going and I'm not sure where the next while will lead.
Manhole

(no subject)

Hit a deadlift PR this week; first one in a long while.

It might have been an even bigger PR, except I tried to make a 5kg jump (from 80kg/176lbs to 85kg/187lbs)--forgetting that kg are heavier than pounds, and I should have done a 2.5kg jump. That one, I couldn't hit. I did get it off the ground but I couldn't clear the knees to stand it up.

Also, when I let it drop on the second fail, it sort of felt like I'd been kicked in the brain. And that was that for the day, more or less. But I still feel good about the PR.

Log Week 1/18-1/24Collapse )

Jan. 16th, 2014

Manhole

(no subject)

Back to the grind.

I've started a four day training schedule again: Mon/Tues/Wed for strength and Saturdays for CrossFit & Olympic lifting. I intend to keep this or accelerate it further throughout the semester, and see if I can hit some of my goals by the time summer rolls around and I'm back home. (Goals include: 200lbs+ deadlift, 165lbs squat, 135lbs bench press. Pull-ups.)

So, without further ado, more logs.

Logs from 1/8-1/15Collapse )

Jan. 8th, 2014

Manhole

(no subject)

We're settled back in our flat in Liverpool, having come back to plenty of electrical/heating issues. They're somewhat sorted for the time being; we're still waiting on word on a replacement storage heater, which would make a big difference in the level of cold that we have to grumble about. Classes don't start for a couple of weeks, but I have meetings coming up to discuss thesis proposals, accelerating my drafting schedule so I can be heading back home by the end of the spring semester, etc.

It's more or less just back to the grind, except we're trying to keep ourselves busy more successfully this time. I've drafted a strength program to stick to for the semester, and I intend to actually do it this time; I also have a list of work to do, books to read, things to edit, etc. He has planning for the entrepreneurial venture he intends to undertake when we get back home. (And also games.)

It's been a "Deja Entendu" kind of week, nonetheless. (Yes, I am communicating my emotions in Brand New albums at the moment. It's a sensible system.)

Dec. 31st, 2013

Manhole

(no subject)

This has been an odd, odd year. Particularly for me to write about while it feels like it's not "over," in that I still have to return to Liverpool for another four months or so. I suppose I can start there and work backwards.

The biggest thing this year is, obviously, that Brandon and I moved to the UK so I could do an MA in Contemporary Literature at the U. of Liverpool. The visa process was a nightmare, which was sort of an omen for how the rest of the experience was going to go, also: the university didn't come through on our housing, so we were homeless and drifting from one hostel to one hotel to another for nearly a month. Which, just so you know, is heinously expensive. So we're going to be scrabbling to cover the basic expenses like rent for our last several months overseas, thanks to that fuckery.

It's been stressful. Turns out that I don't adapt well to living elsewhere, when my heart and hearth are very clearly centered here. I know plenty of folks who can move around all they like, who appreciate and enjoy the new places that they end up, but--I am not one of those people. I like to travel and visit, but I feel like a plant that's been uprooted when I'm not here.

This also plays into the year's big life decision, namely: I am taking time off from academia, possibly permanently, after I come back and complete my teaching contract/program at the U. of Louisville. I was already burnt out and miserable and floundering, but now--knowing what I know about how I react to living elsewhere--the thought of spending five to seven years in another city, another state, to get a degree for a job I'm not sure I even want, is... Well. Just no. I can't do it. I may take a year off to work other jobs and do other things and decide that it's right for me after all, but. At the moment it seems like something I'm not going to do.

The future seems blank, unplanned, a drop-off into freefall. I'm trying to learn to appreciate that.

Of course, this year has had positives also. I got far closer with a person I had already been fond of, and it's a fulfilling, resonant, deep friendship. Complex, certainly, in some ways. But very good. Spent most of the summer splitting time between home and their home. I'm strong, too, stronger than I ever thought I would be; also more physically healthy and capable than I ever thought I would be. So that's cool.

I didn't publish or read much, compared to past years. But I did a little, and I scraped through on coursework and academic nonsense.

Mostly I'd like to rewind to the summer, which really was brilliant. But time doesn't work that way. For the first part of next year, I have to finish this program, write a thesis, etc. And then I'm home, maybe home for good--so that's something to look forward to. Here's to hoping 2014 is a good year.

Dec. 27th, 2013

Manhole

(no subject)

It's that time again--the yearly roundup posts have been going up everywhere. I contributed one to the "Pleasures of Reading, Viewing, and Listening" series on Aqueduct Press's blog, here. Spoiler alert: this was not one of my most productive years in terms of reading or viewing or listening, but there were a few things that stood out to me.

*

Seven days left, here, at home. We fly out on Saturday the 4th of January--in the afternoon, at least, so I'll have that Friday night to make final rounds and say goodbyes. The sensation that time is slipping from me is kind of overwhelming, but so it goes. I'll make it through.

At least we have a lot of room in our luggage, this time, to bring necessities--and by necessities, I mostly mean food-stuffs. Cereal! Protein powder! Economy-size bags of nuts! Pickles! (We live an exciting life, I swear.)

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