So much snow.
M and I at mash in Ann Arbor. Love this place. Sexy lighting. Good music. Good beer. Brick walls and chalkboard ceilings.
Michael and I joined Katie, Waymon, Jenny, Pat, and many others for the annual AM Rotary murder mystery dinner. This year’s theme was the LUST boat, and the story was very well acted.
Other fun events over the past month:
New Year’s Eve with the Moyers and the Snavey/Yanes. Snavanes? Yanaveys? Anyway:
I made Christmas cookies with my adorable mom:
My super fun baby brother and his girlfriend came down for our murder mystery dinner:
Jake and I:
This was a fun “death” (including a quote from Macbeth):
This month marked our 5 year anniversary, so Michael and I made plans to do something special. We reserved a cabin in the Hocking Hills- a big, private one, hidden away in the woods, with a hot tub! I even left all my books and laptop at home and planned on not doing ANY WORK while we were there.
Although we didn’t talk about gifts, Michael got it right with this gorgeous, handcrafted pearl necklace:
The last time we stayed in the Hocking Hills, I had a Groupon for a package deal, which included a bottle of wine and fruit and cheese plate in the room. We LOVED having the snacks there the whole time, and we decided that we would always bring a fruit and cheese plate anytime we went away. We actually have not done that, that is, until this trip! (In addition to the cheese and fruit, I also brought a selection of desserts from Fluff).
We cooked dinner, played board games, sat in the hot tub for what felt like hours, drank lots of wine, and had an overall very relaxing time. The snow outside was nice, because we got to be all cozy in the hot tub and in front of the fire. There was a frozen creek/waterfall in front of our cabin, and in the morning, we made hot chocolate along with breakfast. After reading the guestbook, we tried to participate in a cabin-specific game, in which previous people who stayed in the cabin hid change around the cabin. I used my very best geocaching skills to try to find the coins, but didn’t find a single one. Either the cleaning crew found and got rid of it all, or I suck.
And here was our cabin before we left:
It was a nice anniversary with a really great partner.
There will come a time that I don’t feel like I need to be working every second of every day (evenings, weekends, while watching tv…), right?
I had the option of doing a seminar paper, a project, or a thesis for my master’s degree. Of course I chose the most challenging, complex, time-consuming option, the thesis.
I’m glad I did it, too, because I learned so much from the process. I’m nervous about my dissertation, of course, and the proposal and the defense, but I’m not scared, because I know what to expect. I know how the formatting works and the template I have to use provided by OU. I know what to include in each of the five chapters. I know how to write ten pages of references. I know that I can write a 150+ page document, because I already did it once.
Of course, there were errors. (I just caught a period at the end of “et” in “et al.” in one of my in-text citations. Cringe.) And of course, my study this time is very different. But as I worked through my dissertation Chapter 1 today, I realized, this isn’t so hard. I pulled out my spiral bound copy of my thesis (because of course I had that done; it’s nice to have) and I flipped through it. And instead of cringing (well, except for when I caught the excess period) like I usually do when I think back on my thesis, I was kind of proud of it. I was impressed by my 4-years-ago self.
One of my committee members (past and present) told me that I basically already did a dissertation. I laughed and shrugged it off at the time (because, really, my methodology was really really lacking), but today was the first time that I can see what he means. I’m not sure what a smaller thesis would have been… but I’m glad that mine was more like a mini dissertation.
I’m ready. I can do this! One last push. One last semester of courses. Two more chapters to write. Then comps, proposal, data collection, 2 more chapters (or 3, depending), defense, and I’m done! Easy peasy.
This has turned out to be quite a winter. In the past 3 weeks, we have had school all of 3 days. Two of those days were 2-hour delays, so my 6th graders didn’t come to the middle school, so I have only seen them once in 3 weeks.
You would think with all this extra time that I would have gotten ALL THE READING done. For the first few days, yes. But then I got tired of ALL THE READING so I wrote an article, I reviewed some courses for a part-time job, I got ahead on planning for the OU course I’m teaching, I cooked A LOT… and so on.
Dissertation update: I think I hit rock bottom last semester, because it has only been looking up since then. I decided on a dissertation topic, narrowed it down, found a ton of articles and books, narrowed it down further, and so on. I’m taking a very helpful class right now- Research Design- which will basically help me write the first 3 chapters of my dissertation (intro, lit review, methodology). I talked to a methodologist about my interests and not only did we come up with a plan that I like (mostly qualitative, will get at what I am interested in, etc.), but also a timeline that will allow me to graduate when I want (next spring). I met with other professors and have put my comprehensive exam committee. I’m not feeling (as) overwhelmed by the thought of comps anymore, and I’m not feeling overwhelmed by finding a dissertation topic and knowing all the background literature. So all of that is good. I have a ton of work to do, but I have a direction.
Running update: I’m in the swing of training for my first half marathon(s). I’m planning on running the Athens Half Marathon in April (just before I turn 30) and the Capital City Half in early May. I have learned that running on the track in Ping isn’t as bad as I thought. I learned that running in the snow and slush is REALLY REALLY fun, that is, for about 2 days, and then it’s cold and crappy and I prefer the track in Ping. And, I learned that I should probably be doing speed work. See, it’s on my training plan to do 1600’s and tempo runs, and I tried it, I really did. I tried doing tempos a few times, but I decided that I don’t like doing them. And this is my first half, so I decided that I’m not trying to improve my time or anything, I just want to finish. So I happily went along not doing any speed work. Until my Runner’s World came this week, with an article on speed work, and why you should do it. They even had a list of excuses and why your excuse isn’t valid. Surprise, surprise, apparently my excuse is not valid. So, today, since I was running on the track in Ping, and it was an easy 4-mile workout, I figured I would try it out. I ran for about 2-2.5 miles, then I alternated one really fast lap with one regular lap. I did this several times…. maybe for about a mile? I don’t know, it’s hard to tell how far I’ve gone when I’m running on the track. Anyway, it wasn’t horrible, and I felt pretty good afterwards.
And now… I really do need to go work on ALL THE READING. I have a stack of books to get through, hundreds of articles on my computer (not kidding, literally hundreds), plus reading for both classes. Here goes!
Over the past month, I completed some projects that have been on my plate for at a year or more. These were completely self-initiated and self-directed, projects that I decided I wanted to do because it would be good experience and good for my C.V. The more publications, the better, right? And I have some good ideas for publications, I should write them up! The problem was motivation- there was always something more pressing to do. Work, or grading, or classes, or books to read, or papers with due dates, or exams to study for. Those all took precedence over these two projects. Even when I had a free hour or two to sit down with my laptop and write, I had trouble putting the words down on paper. I wasn’t feeling inspired. I didn’t know how to organize my ideas. And so on and so on, until…
Something just clicked, and a few weeks ago, I sat down and banged out a pretty good draft of the first article. A few more mornings, and it was ready to be sent off. I felt so good about that, I attacked the other (easier) article.
So what was it that clicked? I had been doing a lot more reading closer to my areas of interest, so that may have inspired me. But I don’t think that was it. I think it was something I had been reading about: incubation.
Hadamard (1945) is a mathematician and theorist. He wrote this little thought piece about “invention” and how mathematicians invent ideas, his phrase for solving problems. Basically, he says that there is a subconscious process (incubation) that takes place after the conscious effort of information gathering and thought (preparation). Things simmer under the surface, until in a flash of inspiration (illumination), something comes together. It seems like this inspiration came out of nowhere, but it’s the direct result of the preparation and incubation.
I’d like to think that’s what happened to me. Over the past few years, I was gaining the preparation I needed for these manuscripts. And then, I had a year or so of incubation while these items languished on my to-do list. And finally, illumination!
Reference: Hadamard, J. (1945). The psychology of invention in the mathematical field.
Mmm, nothing like finding a restaurant that makes vegan wings. Except finding one that makes vegan wings, star-shaped tots, has a kick-ass beer selection (I had a Northcoast Pranqster on draft and the Oskar Blues Ten Fidy, pictured), a great music mix (I heard Come On Eileen, Paradise by the Dashboard Light, and Only the Good Die Young in a few short minutes), a great server who helped me choose all of the above (except the music) with just a description of what I was in the mood for… AND I got almost a whole (academic) book read. Lots of good thoughts about the book, maybe I’ll say more later, but yay, Indianapolis, I’m loving you so far! (Other than the crappy weather on the way in, I guess.)
This is my first winter during which I have been a runner. And I have noticed a few things about running in the winter.
- The cold doesn’t feel nearly as cold when you’re running.
- Bugs don’t fly into your mouth, or into your eye, or up your nose like they do in the summer.
- Fewer people on the bike path- sometimes I’m the only one out there!
- Crunch, crunch, crunch on the snow!
- Bundling up. It takes so long and so many clothes to get ready. Two pairs of socks (one up to my knee to help keep my legs warm), two pairs of pants (one long, one to my knees), a long-sleeved shirt, a t-shirt, a jacket, a neck warmer, a hat/ear warmer, and shoes. So many clothes.
- Planning my run at the warmest part of the day, which is typically early afternoon and not really what I prefer.
I’ve also gotten into listening to podcasts instead of music while I run. And I’ve gotten to the point where running 5 miles is no big deal. I haven’t increased my speed, but I’ve certainly increased my mileage.