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. I know, right?! 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. Seriously, only mega jerks get their PhDs! I swear it!
 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.

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. 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.

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. This morning’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.

venn diagram phd proposal dissertation


What’s So Wrong with Being Basic?
Yeah, I like things that are pretty and pleasant. So what’s wrong – and why is that “basic?” I don’t get this obsession with women tearing down other women just for the sake of “because.” I discover new music through sites such as Pandora and Spotify. I’m generally going to have to Google an acronym or meme, after which I’ll probably adopt it for a wee spell. I stalk Anthropologie’s tag sales and have my eBay search filters to isolate the Anthro brands I love… and I go into bid frenzy when the $298 dress is listed for $80. Sometimes, in moments of weakness, I purchase full price, then admonish myself for the splurge. I snap with filters; I even Snap filter my poor dog. #OhEdie. Yep, I made a hashtag for my dog. I “F”ing love this little monster – a rescue, and because that is, IMOO (in my opinion, only) THE BEST way to bring a little furbutt into a family. Particularly so in Maricopa County, which is so overridden with homeless, heartbroken, pets.

Oh Edie, Snapchat goddess filter, basic, pink

I go on Tinder and Coffee Meets Bagel dates, and swipe right far too happily on the former app after three glasses of wine. Colors as follows: red in the winter, rose in the spring, and alternating that pink and whites when it’s stupidly sweaty hot in the summer.  I dance and twirl in my living room listening to found-on-Spotify songs and while drinking that wine (pre, during, or post swipes) while Edie alternately watches in horror or goes to hide under the bed. My hair is ridiculously long; I like Essie’s nude/pink nail laquers; I live and die by my Urban Decay under eye concealer;  I dream about DryBar blowouts that make my hair so big, curly, and bouncy; and I rejoiced when my Yelp profile was upgraded to “elite.”

Fact is, I can go on and on about so many insignificant things about me that someone can choose to cut down for my lack of ambition to be cutting edge and bold. Oh… I didn’t even go to what would be considered impressive schools. But, these are my happiness and bank withdrawals, so where’s the harm and foul? I’m not smug, and I’m not intentionally tangential.

I say bring it on, and while I’m allowing myself the carbs, how about I have some white bread on the side, too? You got me, there, I ALWAYS let myself have carbs (cellulite is out of control)! On that note, I need to go back to grading some papers. Oh, my MacBook is probably an indictment, too, but I’ll put on record I’ve been an Apple gal since my folks bought me a IIC in 1985/6 so I think I have a pass to have my Apple obsession without a side of snark. :o)

Seriously, let’s all just lay down some of the snark – my Lord knows I am guilty, there, too. We have so much rage, sadness, fear, and chaotic confusion happening right now, adopting a PSL philosophy to life might not be a bad thing (but I do draw the line at actually ordering PSLs – I think it’s entirely a thing to do with it still being over a 100F when PSL season comes about and I cannot reconcile the two).


PhD Perseverance

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. 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.

I must keep my 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. 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.

latte; lattes and laptops

“By seeking and blundering we learn.” ~ Johann Wolfgang von Goethe


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