Dissertation Data Collection Purgatory | Monday Morning Dance Party
I was not supposed to still be in Phoenix, by now, but few things in my PhD process have gone easily, including the latest quandary. In other words, I have been a not-good, not-bad PhD student, apparently, because I am stuck in a blackhole/wormhole hybrid nightmare AKA dissertation data collection purgatory.
Some mornings require dance parties to get the day started. Monday mornings, especially. For me, “Monday” is only a concept, as I now have been unemployed for coming up on three months. This morning… is one of those mornings.

When you’re unemployed but still “working” – attempting order, focus, and optimism – but failing at most of those attempts because the data collection process is even more mind f-erry-ing than the darned proposal, forcing oneself to not give up on life and lay in bed crying a better part of the day has to be a conscious action. Today’s conscious action is this little number, here, thanks to the ultra cute JT.

…if nothing else, if I ever get my final three participant interviews completed — THREE! That’s all I need THREE! If I ever get those completed, my dissertation will be the best personally edited publication, ever. Purgatory. And not the amazing ski destination. This Venn diagram sums it up pretty accurately.

venn diagram phd proposal dissertation

dissertation data collection purgatory my own true north


PhD Perseverance | Pushing Through Frustration and Blinding Overwhelm

PhD perseverance is… insane. It is intense. An exercise in exhaustion and mental power.

I thought the proposal phase of the dissertation was difficult – oh, wait, it was.

There is nothing about my PhD journey that has been easy. I’m amazed the trials haven’t broken me. I am, however, 30 pounds heavier, 22 of which I can directly attribute to 2014 and beyond.

It’s now been six weeks since my last interview for my data collection. At a minimum — minimum — I need 12 individual interview participants and 4 focus group participants. I am a little over half what is required for me to move forward with analysis. This focus group might very well be the end of me. I already made two failed attempts because of inability to secure enough confirmed participants to show up.

When you get to this space of frustration and complete overwhelm, persevering through your PhD program will require putting that frustration in check and find the work on which to continue to focus.

I cannot afford to go to into the headspace of anger and impatience. I am… so close to the end goal. I have to wait, and persist, and find the positivity through this grind and also keep my head in the mind frame focused on vetting participants and coordinating with administrators at my study site.

latte; lattes and laptops

When I complete the data collection, then I will be able to leave Phoenix, and take that next step. Next step toward analysis and forming conclusions to defend as final actions to obtain my doctoral degree, and next step toward my next step in my life.

I don’t have a hard plan and all of that figured out, and that lack of design is intentional.

For the first time, I don’t have a set plan, and that sort of anarchistic, nebulous construct might actually be exactly what I need to level set. Because my “plans” in the past haven’t necessarily gone bad, but I wouldn’t say they’ve gone exceptionally well, either.

And, I need to remember the words of my dissertation chair, without whom, I don’t believe I would have been able to come this far…

The dissertation is supposed to be hard, the data collection is challenging, and more importantly, I can do this.

Which means, you can do this, too. Push through the emotions. Step away from your computer and your analysis. Put down the books. For a small while, at least. Go for a walk. Refrain from eating the box of crackers and the entire tub of hummus. If you need a big pour of wine, go for it. Your PhD is a test in perseverance.  

“By seeking and blundering we learn.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
phd perseverance my own true north

All the Feels | Sunday Vintage Dreams and Dissertation Procrastination

More than anything else, today, I’d far rather binge on John Hughes films, Molly’s in particular, and gulp – not sip – palomas (my summer 2016 beverage obsession). In truth, what I most want to do is burrow in an air conditioned cocoon and hide from the equal threat of July’s punitive heat and any acknowledgement of my current dissertation procrastination.

Alas, tired as I am from my impromptu, whirlwind, mini road trip, there is no rest for the weary and I have four more papers screaming at me to grade them and a mountain of laundry to attend to.

Instead,I must settle for my Bryan Ferry inspired playlist stream, go find where I set down my glasses, and get back to work.

my own true north dissertation procrastination


Something Pretty – Patrick Park | I’m Listening to…

It’s warm, here. Like, really warm. Although we are not yet in midsummer, technically, by way of honoring the solstice, Phoenix is in the middle of a scorcher. So I’m in the mood for something pretty. Patrick Park’s song gives that to me today while I sit uncomfortably in my seat and review my interview transcriptions. The precision required for data collection and analysis for this stupid dissertation is frustratingly impressive.

I still have bruises up along my left side of my body and scabs across most of my right side from the fall at Navajo Falls. Nearly the entirety of my right thigh is an awesome shade of purple where there is still skin to even see. Three weeks later, healing is healing, but taking its time in doing so.

Damsel in distress is not a good look on me.

But, I couldn’t even protest. I needed the help. Stuck in water current was too strong for me to pull myself out, I had no option but to call for help. I couldn’t reach my foot to release the strap of my water shoe which was effectively “locking” me in between two rocks with my head barely above the rushing water.

Talk about being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

From the shore, it looked like I was drowning, which was terrifying for my friends to see. I would not have been able to get myself out on my own, but I knew I was not in immediate or pressing danger.

Something Pretty Havasupai

In addition to losing my shoe, most of my body looked like a micro plane or cheese grater had been run over me. Hiking for the duration of our Havasupai camping trip was going to be less than pleasant. In fact, pretty much everything I did carried a ridiculous amount of pain! Oh but these are some of the battle scars and stories we live to tell in our futures.

Even with all the pain during and after, if I had to place a value on Havasupai, I’ll say “damn worth it!”

What is one of your worth the trouble treasures?


Something Pretty Mooney Falls in the Grand Canyon

What is Up With the Attack on Basic?

I discovered For the Foxes in a rather “basic” way (Pandora’s BORNS station), but I am, basically,”basic,” so I guess that’s rather alright. It’s a sweet song, a really sweet song, actually, and while not possessing any depth of lyricism or melody, it endears to me. Perhaps it appeals to a “basic” crowd. I really don’t even know why it’s considered a bad thing, anyway, to be “basic,” and why the need for the attack on basic.

I am aware the term is intended to be an insult, but by whom, and what is so offensive to this particular snarky crew?

There’s a punchy competitiveness – and not relegated to females – I occasionally hear the condescending bros for men, too – and pressure to be unique and individualistic.

I want authentic. Far more than originality, I value someone who is willing to be themself. When considering how much energy I’ve invested in judging other people, I wonder what disservices I’ve done my own development and wellness.

Whether one wants to wear pink on Wednesdays, fly their freak flag, or bust out the buffalo check blouse, what I think we need more of is people encouraging each other to just do. You do you. And if that includes doing it for the ‘gram and posting pictures of PSL (I just can’t go there when autumn days are still in triple digit temps), so let it be!

In fact, we need much, much more of enthusiastically pursuing our best selves and worrying a lot less about what the woman next to us is doodling in her notebook or drinking in her coffee cup. That energy being spent toward petty criticism can be channeled toward some awesome creativity and production.

See you tomorrow!



My Own True North - The Attack on Basic