Friday, 27 April 2012

Thursday, 26 April 2012

knocking on wood

This past week has had two raisons d'etre, or rather I've had two raisons d'etre this past week: writing up and nailing down my design, which is now locked and loaded! The second is setting a world's record for the most mixed metaphors. Oh, and preparing for my confirmation viva.

If you're saying to yourself, 'Is that like a transfer meeting?', the answer is probably, 'Yes'. Same if you want to call it an upgrade conference, or any combination of those or similar terms.

If you're saying to yourself, 'What the hell is she going on about now?', the answer is this: between starting a PhD and getting called Doctor, there is one and only one milestone. At this milestone, you can get told to carry on with your studies, or you can get told to eff off. In that case, your university will no longer support your attempt to get your degree and will yoink your registration.

My confirmation viva is tomorrow morning. Hopefully I've got my mixed metaphors and dire descriptions (and asinine assonances) out of my system, leaving room for all sorts of brilliant and sensible ideas to come tumbling out of my mouth. Or maybe it will just provide the opportunity for my examiner to enjoy the sound of the echo between my ears. Either way, if you're reading this in 2015 and this is the last post, you can guess what happened.

Friday, 20 April 2012

More Scandal!

OK, this past month has been ridiculous. You know - or if you don't, let me tell you - how everyone, but EVERYONE, who has done a PhD will tell you that the second year is one hideous slog full of pain? Well, they do. The first year is apparently full of happy bunnies and fluffy clouds, and the third year is full of steroidal grit and determination, while the second year is full of self-loathing, lack of drive, and enough angst to make your fifteen-year-old self green with envy. At least that's what they say.

Personally, I've been enjoying my second year every bit as much as my first, and boy howdy did I love my first year! True, I've been feeling more pressured as the time to completion shortens and my reading list continues to mushroom, but I'm also enjoying the sensation of actually knowing a tiny, tiny bit about something. I love sinking my teeth into the theory and starting to get the feedback that I'm engaging at a respectable level. So really, it's all come out in the wash, with no second year sag.

I did, however, run into a few weeks of utter inanity just recently. It was one of those cases where everything that could go wrong, did, all at once, both personally and 'professionally' (for lack of a better word, since they're still not paying me to do any of the things I'm doing). I expected a bit of a mental slump after I handed in my (massive) confirmation document on 8 March, but then I've had to wait seven weeks for the viva. (I'm still waiting - one week to go.)

And in that protracted slumpy bit, I have truly slumped. Plus some parts of my life have been pushing down on my shoulders, willing me deeper down. One tiny example: I got hit in the ribs with a glass bottle, which proceeded to shatter everywhere, as I rode my bike down the road. Yeah. Nothing like a hate-fuelled brush with death to make you feel like the captain of your own ship, huh?

 I had tried to will myself out of this funk by planning an Easter cycle camping holiday with husband and friends - but as soon as we got out of range of hearth, home, and train station, I came down with the flu. It takes a stronger woman than I to will herself into a good mood while cycling in the damp and cold with a fever. Still, it could have been worse - we found a hotel, and the aforementioned husband and friends were gracious enough to check us all in (leaving our soggy tent from the night before to fester downstairs with the bikes).

 But NOW, now, I have willed myself out of this funk for good! (At least this incarnation of it.) I've met some fantastic people lately, including the uber-talented Claire Morgan, whom I went to see in her show Editor. We're planning a collaboration, so look out! Then yesterday I met more fantastic folks at the Journeys Across Media conference at the University of Reading, where I gave my very first proper conference paper. What a day! And I'm leaving for CHI in two weeks! And I got into the DIS doctoral consortium! And I'm going to DS7 in June! And I'm going to a workshop on autobiographical storytelling in, like, ten hours! And I'm doing an installation at the Transform@work symposium in May!

So the next time I whinge, please whack me upside the head with a large fish.