Despite my persistent whining, crying, and moaning about being “stuck” still in Phoenix, my reality is I’m close to leaving. The number of weeks I am here is longer than the original intention. But, by the love of family – the kind you make not the kind that is kin – and friends, I still have a “home.” Even when crying about being “homeless,” Mom Two, Kathy, assures me I have as long as I need to stay with them. Which, I appreciate. More than appreciate. Dad Two, Pete, greets me every morning with a daily reporting on my progress, challenges, how I’m addressing those challenges…. Between Pete and my dissertation chair, Dr. Dale, I have more motivation to find every conceivable way to complete my data collection interviews than a gymnast training for Rio.

***With, of course, more sugary and fatty diet options… of course. Metaphorical back flips, not physical. Heck, I am so out of shape right now, I can’t even do a handstand, anymore. Not even on a wall. Can’t kick that robustly enlarged bottom up over my shoulders without risk of throwing out my back and breaking my neck.***

I told Pete and Dr. Dale they are very much the personality equivalent of dopplegangers if ever existed. Right down to their ages, education and backgrounds, military service, vast professional accomplishments… oh, and ultra type a and insane alpha male dynamics. With senses of humor, and affections for me… when not wanting to kick me in my tush or neck, I’m sure. Between those two and their tough love philosophies, even if I wanted to be a lazy loafer, I’d have no chance of succeeding on that front.

What bothers me is I don’t have an equitable way to repay them for their love and generosity to Edie and me. Not only do I have their shelter, I receive their counsel and wisdom from very successful and moral lives lived. It does not matter whether the talks are over split pots of coffee and morning paper reading with Pete or midnight margaritas (who am I kidding – full witching hour cocktails were consumed) with Kathy. There is no possible way I can even come close to bringing them the value they give me.

I love and respect these two as my own parents. Heck, they were both as actively involved in raising my best friend and me in high school as my own parents. Where Amy was, I was, and vice versa. Heck, we even wore each others’ clothes, constantly. The only things that were off limits to each other were bras because her “ladies” were much more developed than mine. Still are.

I’ve spoken with Amy about my feelings and discomfort. I’m not used to being in a position of accepting help. I’m not good at asking for help. I am intensely uncomfortable with that vulnerability to another person. That discomfort and extreme unease of letting myself go to any state of personal interdependence or -any- dependence is a common theme in my many failed attempts at relationships. In fact, numerous men called me out on it. I know it. That is deeply rooted within me.

I had lunch with a couple of friends this week. We spoke about my discouraged optimism and my challenges with lack of progress on data and relocation. We spoke, specifically, about the difficulty in vulnerability and accepting help and love for the sake of loving help. Struggling to not feel as though I am taking advantage of someone if I take their assistance.

I know how much joy I receive when I help someone who sincerely needs and receives my help. I helped many friends with no expectation or wish of reciprocity. But, I have a hard time even considering I could be the person someone wants to help. I don’t know why, I just do. And, so as my friends made sure to observe to me on Friday, my dissertation data collection going badly – worse than I could have predicted – and the necessity for me to remain in Phoenix under Mom and Dad Two’s care and supervision, might be a life lesson for me to learn.  And the lesson might be to receive help without ability to neutralize.hipster swimming pool float for dogs

After all, Edie has her own pool boat float. I promise you she. does. not. love. The boat or her doggles.


Diary of a Frustrated PhD Student | Morning Coffee Dates with Jackalope
Today is another day in PhD frustrations, wearing the cloak of self doubt, and swimming in the deep end of the pool of imposter syndrome. Let’s call it what it is: another entry in the “Dear” diary of a frustrated PhD student. This morning is another one of those mornings. Up at 4. Not by choice. Laid in bed until about a quarter to 5, then decided to make an effort to capitalize on the early day.
A few cups of coffee on the patio and several mosquito bites later, Edie and I are taking refuge in the air conditioning, listening to the din of the washing machine and dryer with laundry loads # 2 and 3 complementing Matt Simons streaming on the iPad.
Grading is already complete for the week, I checked in with my class and all is seemingly well with my students. I will check on them again tonight, but for the day, my work is mostly done.

Well, of course there is more dissertation editing. The task list of a working PhD student feels never ending.

ALWAYS dissertation editing. It’s a grind, my friends! If I cannot interview, I can edit. I can transcribe. I can work more on building the database to prepare for analysis.
 manchester terrier mix, Oh edie
I have the house to myself for a couple of weeks and am celebrating my reunion with my solitude in rather appropriate fashion: underwear and a too-small tank top, the back of which is completely damp from my hair.
Even though I aim to have no interpersonal interactions today and intend to not dress for anything other than the walk to the mailbox to send off a consent form for another participant for a skype interview, I  was overdue for a hair wash, so in the spirit of the early day, I even already managed to shower. If I were willing to face people, I almost might be adultable, today.
But I’m not.

I’m tired. Restless and agitated. Emotional. Tired. Too long spent, too much trying to do too many things at the same time. It’s possible multi-tasking will be the death of me.

Truth be told, I feel like I am walking through deep mud. I’m trudging, but with an exhaustive effort. Unable to make the progress and distance I aim for, and the exertion… well, without muck boots, it’s even more… muckier. I understand, now, why so many people leave their PhDs when they are so near the end.
Before, I couldn’t understand how on Earth someone could make all the way through the pain of the course work, the heinous torture of comprehensive exams (that is time and energy in my life I will never get back and I am certain the stress I experienced during that two week period of time took years off the end of my expiration date), and walk away.
Now, though, I can get it. Obstacle after obstacle after obstacle. Roadblock, puzzle, solve, solve, endure, patience, patience, perseverance, obstacle, regroup, redirect, over and over and over. It’s exhausting. I cried again, last night. From the emotional and mental fatigue. Perpetual disappointments. I’ll have a breakthrough and success, then another complication.
A PhD is not for the weak or wearisome, I tell you, that much. I have been broken so many times throughout – and by – this damn degree… there’s a cargo ship’s volume of irony I see, right now, in reference to a PhD being a “terminal” degree.
my own true north frustrated PhD student

When Doors are Definitely Closed | Finding the Open Door
When one door of happiness closes, another opens; but often we look so long at the closed door that we do not see the one which has been opened for us. ~Helen Keller 

Today is her birthday. Ms. Keller’s. She also penned poignant messages regarding suffering, pain, and overcoming adversity. If anyone understands the struggle to finding the open door of opportunity, it’s surely her.

I left my employer 60 days ago, today.

Today is a sort of mini anniversary.

I guess….

finding the open door

I retained my faculty role, but that is part time and inconsistent, dependent on scheduling cycles. Planning and  set up my first weeks of unemployment to complete my dissertation data collection, I actually believed I would be able to accomplish so much more progress with my interviews with my open schedule. I did not factor an unexpected derailment in the form of obscure dates, paperwork filing, and administrative actions… and waiting and waiting.

What I did not factor in was the emotional fatigue of selling and donating almost all of my possessions. I had NO idea of how exhausting and disorienting the process of dismantling my Phoenix life while simultaneously attempting my data collection would be for me.

Hypothetically, I thought leaving my job would release the stress, but if anything, I feel more stress, I feel less grounded, I feel less certain about my next step, than ever (ever) before, and I am in adversity of my own creation.  I’m in veritable Purgatory of sorts, and while I know this will pass and I will be able to eventually progress beyond the present situation, that does not mean any part of what I am doing… is… easy.

Which is why I love this quote by Helen Keller so much.

We owe fidelity to finding the open door.

Abandon blindness and looking toward only what is not working – there IS a way out and through.

finding the open door 



Halo – LP (Cover) | I’m Listening to…

Full disclosure: I found LP thanks to a bank card commercial featuring a trad female rock climber years ago. I’m happy to consider myself a fan girl ever since. I think I like her cover of Beyonce’s Halo even more than the original. Which, to me, means a lot because Beyonce’s track was… resplendent. No disrespect to everyone’s favorite Queen B the Halo LP cover is kind of the bee’s knees, to me.

LP Halo Cover

I’m finally deviating from my The O.C. marathon stream session (seriously, Summer & Seth don’t stop being the most adorable love birds) and showing some movement at my desk formerly known as the kitchen breakfast nook.

Aah, yes, that dang dissertation. I hate it. Bain of my existence. I once argued I am not a masochist, but the more I remain in my dissertation research, I am not so steadfast in my prior beliefs.

I lost my religion a while ago, but would get down on my knees for three more interviews this week. My dissertation data collection is as wrought with obstacles and folly as the darn proposal. The tears started drying up, which means my pity party is winding down. This time.

Jackalope, is supposed to be close to completion, but I have as much confidence in that likelihood as I do of Jackalopes existing in the wild. Hence, the namesake.

Suffice to say, I am having major fangirl moments over LP and her new album. It’s on repeat. Over and over and over. Jackalope and I, however, we aren’t the best of friends but cannot seem to stay away from each other. Until I can claim that to be complete, I’ll continue to find comfort in my music. Whether the Hamilton musical soundtrack, the score to Swan Lake, Lila Downs, or a random Spotify playlist, music is my milk.

Who are you listening to for some extra oomph?


PhD Problems | Not a Whale of a Good Time

I sat down to grade papers at 9:30 this morning. PhD problems. Hmm… SIX HOURS LATER, procrastination and a mental block preventing me from thinking of anything other than avoidance, I discovered Juno, a beluga whale at Mystic Aquarium. WITH mariachis. He dances.

Would you know, that THE penguins from Mr. Poppers Penguins live at the Mystic Aquarium as well? Why, I did not know that either, until I spent six ridiculous hours brainlessly searching crap online. I could be done grading and working on my own (MUCH NEEDED) research. But, no, I took a lazy-ass pill today, apparently. Ugh! That’s what we call PhD Problems.

PhD Problems

I think I have seen nearly every video of Juno on the Internet by now. And I have not written the writing needed. PhD problems.

And you? What is your most recent sorry not sorry should be ashamed procrastination method?