Alone time and distractions

I have yet to reach 10 hours of thesis writing time and that has been for two reasons.  First, today is the first time I’ve been alone in the apt.  I can’t write with my husband around.  He gets offended when I say things like, “Do not talk to me unless the apartment is burning down.”  In our old apartment the desk and all of my stuff for writing were in the living room.  So, if he was home, he would either have to stay in the bedroom and not come out, or sit in the living room and not talk and not walk around and basically not do anything in order for me to be able to concentrate.  Need I say that was essentially an impossibility?

Now, we are in our new, two bedroom apt. and the second bedroom is set up as an office.  You’d think I’d be home free, right?  You’d be wrong.  The office is the least complete of all of the rooms in the apt.  First of all, it has the boxes of books that go in the living room.  Those boxes can’t be unpacked until Husband takes his work stuff into his new job (Thurs. is his first official day) because the work stuff is blocking the living room bookcases.  In the living room boxes of books is a lot of my thesis stuff so I really need to unpack at least one of those boxes.

Second of all, in addition to the boxes, everything else that doesn’t currently have a home in the apt. is in the office.  And, there is no space on the desk due to a large collection of computer wires that Husband says he’s going to organize.  There’s no space to put your legs under the desk because a little file cabinet is there because there is currently  no other place to put it because there are unpacked boxes in there, boxes which contain my thesis stuff.  Argh!

So, not a lot of thesis writing going on.

So, my goal for the week is to get a work area set up in the office and find my thesis stuff.  If I can sneak in an hour of writing, that would be great, too, but I’m not going to hold my breath.

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Blog Block

I’ve been suffering a little writer’s block lately when it comes to the blog.  As you might imagine, not being in lab eliminates most of the previous blog fodder.  So, I need to find other things to talk about, I suppose.  The thing is, this blog mostly has an identity as a “disgruntled grad student” blog.  Now that I’m not so much disgruntled (does that make me gruntled?) I’m not sure where this blog fits in my life and the blogging community at large.

This is almost certainly related to the fact that I don’t know where I fit in society anymore.  I don’t have a job.  I’m still technically a grad student but I’m not in classes or in lab or even on campus.  I’m writing my thesis, but slowly so as not to overwhelm myself and what does that really mean anyway?  I mean, I have a really bad feeling that if I got all gung ho and tried to work on my thesis more for than an hour on any one day, I might collapse into a depression.  Am I just paranoid or is this really a valid concern?  I don’t know.

So, posting may be light while I try to get a handle on things.  Maybe I should try something simple like twitter.  Surely, I could manage 140 characters or less on a semi-regular basis?

Back to the writing

Having found an apartment we could live with (or, rather, in) Husband and I headed back to the LA-area yesterday.  So, today I got back to the business of writing.  Right now I’m writing twice a day for half an hour.  So far, I’ve written a total of 6 hours since I started keeping track and have earned myself a sundae from Cold Stone Creamery.  Next reward comes at 10 hours when I get a new hardcover or two trade paperbacks or four mass-market paperbacks.

Having a couple of problems with registration and insurance at Grad School has reinforced my desire to get this damn thing done.  I don’t want to have to deal with the stupid university any more!  Who knows how many ways they can find to make my life complicated?  Best to graduate and be done with Grad School forever (except of course, from the annoying phone calls I’m sure to get from the alumni association).  It’s not the best reason in the world for getting my degree but I’ll take whatever gets me to sit down in front of the computer.

Turns out, I like my current apt. and city just fine

Husband and I are here in the Bay Area looking for apartments.  I’m already homesick for the LA area and our current apt.  We’re having some difficulty finding a two-bedroom apartment with all of the amenities we currently have in a price range we can afford.  So, now we have to decide what our priorities are.  Plus, we may have to get a second car, depending on whether it will be reasonable for Husband to bike to work or not.  *sigh*

Thesis-writing is on hold while I’m out of town, but I did manage to get two hours in earlier in the weekwhich brought me up to five hours and when I get back I’m having my first reward:  a sundae at Cold Stone Creamery!  I wrote in half hour blocks twice a day and that worked pretty well.  I sent a paper draft to Advisor but he is going on vacation and writing a review with a post-doc and so can’t give me comments for a week or two.  😦  I still need to write the discussion section, though, so I can work on tht in the meantime.  And there’s always the lit. review chapter of the thesis.

I found further motivation to write when I had a kerfluffle with the university that is still getting straightened out.  And, I may be forced to take the student insurance even though I don’t live in Grad School City.  All of this makes me want to be DONE so I don’t have to deal with that kind of crap any more.

Reward Structure

In my last post, I talked about maybe setting up a reward structure for the number of hours I put into writing my thesis.  Here’s what I’m thinking right now:

  • any week I write on five days:  Baskin Robbins ice cream cone
  • 5 hours:  sundae at Cold Stone Creamery
  • 10 hours:  new hardcover book or two trade paperbacks or four regular paperbacks
  • 15 hours:  something from Paper Source (I’m a little bit of a stationery freak)
  • 20 hours:  something from Bath and Body works
  • 30 hours:  manicure and pedicure
  • 40 hours:  dinner at a nice restaurant
  • 50 hours:  something from Ann Taylor or other clothing store
  • 75 hours:  hair highlights
  • 100 hours:  massage
  • complete draft of lit. review:  afternoon tea
  • complete drafts of each of the other chapters:  dinner at a nice restaurant
  • paper submitted:  afternoon tea
  • thesis ready to hand to committee:  Kindle (I want one of these BAD)

This may change around a bit, especially when I start working on my thesis for more than 30 minutes at a time, but these are the goals I’m working toward right now.

Thesis writing

It’s much more difficult to make myself sit down and write my thesis than I thought it would be.  Why?  I want to get the damn thing done, after all.  I want my degree.  I don’t want it hanging over my head any longer.

I think the thing still scares me.  The defense scares me.  On top of that, having moved away, it already feels like I’ve finished, even though I haven’t really.  The thing to do, I suppose, is just to say that I’m going to work on my thesis everyday at X time for at least Y amount of time no matter what.  I’ll start out small, with half an hour and work my way up.  I know I can’t possibly write my thesis in half an hour a day without it taking a ridiculously long time to write, but the idea is to just get myself in the habit of sitting down to work everyday and to use an increment of time that seems really, really manageable.  Then, I can work myself up to larger increments of time.  I do want to get this thing done, really, I’m just having difficulty finding the motivation to do it right now.

Back from Iowa

Well, I’m back from the middle of nowhere (otherwise known as Grandma’s house where there is no internet) and feeling like I really ought to get working on that thesis of mine.  There are two reasons for this:  Janet’s post and an email from Advisor wondering about my “timeline.”   These two items provided the kick in the pants I needed to get moving on that oh-so-important document I have hanging over my head.