[Note: Written on Saturday, during my “I am going to be productive by turning the internet off!” day; posted today.]
It has been a beautiful weekend, ducklings.
Well, okay, it’s been an unexpectedly snowy and then unexpectedly melty weekend, which has so far involved an awful lot of trudging through slush and getting my boots and socks absolutely soaked (and we all know that of life’s little inconveniences, wet socks are some of the worst), but! Why let that bring us down? The snow was beautiful, and now it is apparently fifty degrees outside, which is also beautiful because it means that hypothetically at some point we will actually get to that spring we were promised when Persephone agreed to leave the underworld for half the year. I have made delicious food, and subsequently dined on delicious food, and gotten my stitches out, and, okay, not been quite as thesis-ly productive as I wanted, but I have had some very positive meetings with my thesis advisor and my thesis mentor, so I’m feeling oddly at peace with the world right now.
It’s Spring Break, ducklings. Celebrate.
[Under the cut: The three states of thesis being and a LOT of food talk.]
So! What have I been up to this week? Well, on Sunday I helped Previously-Mentioned Housemate Natalia focus lights for a few hours. She was the lighting designer and one of the electricians for a Second Stage show called Under Milk Wood, which I know nothing about except that it was staged in the round, it involved a lot of dirt, and it stole absolutely all of Natalia’s pre-break non-class time. No, seriously, housemates David, Katie, and I would trade “Natalia sightings” like she was a yeti or the Loch Ness monster or something.
Focusing lights wasn’t too bad, it was just amazingly inefficient. Which wasn’t the fault of Natalia or any of the electricians who were helping out; there were just a lot of lights involved in this show, and some of them weren’t working the way they were supposed to. But we got some stuff done, and I even got to go up in the Genie (the machine that lifts you up level with the lights) once before I had to go, so that was fun. Don’t try that at home, kids; I’m a certified professional. Well, I’m certified. With no certificate. Um. I’m trained? Or rather, at one point this year, a member of Second Stage taught me how to use it without killing myself, and then gave me the AOK to use it to help hang lights as long as someone else is there.
Anyway, it was nice to get out of the house for a bit that day, since over the weekend and until Tuesday night, I was slamming myself against my most recent thesis section. I believe on Tuesday I actually used the phrase, “So help me god, I am going to finish this section tonight or I am going to DIE TRYING.”
And, you know, I finished it on Tuesday night (or Wednesday morning, if we’re getting technical), and I didn’t die even a little bit in the attempt, so. Success?
But it turns out that I’ve discovered the mystical third state-of-being of the thesis process, which was an interesting experience, since so far I’ve really only gone through the first two.
State-of-being #1: Positive, or at the very least determined. “I’m capable of doing this! I can write! This isn’t as bad as I thought it was! I’m making progress! My advisor’s comments were pretty good! I can finish this and I will finish this!”
State-of-being #2: Abject despair and frustration. “WHY DID I CHOOSE THIS TOPIC WHAT WAS I THINKING EVERYTHING IS AWFUL AND I HATE IT I HATE IT SO MUCH I CAN’T WRITE NOTHING IS WORKING I AM NEVER GOING TO FINISH ON TIME WHY CAN’T I CONCENTRATE WHY AM I WRITING A THESIS WHY DOES EVERYTHING I SAY SOUND DUMB I WILL NEVER EXPERIENCE HAPPINESS EVER AGAIN WHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY.”
So, you know, I’ve been sort of cycling on the spectrum between those two (currently I’m at #1, which is nice), but this weekend I found:
State-of-being #3: Anger. Note that this is not frustration, which falls under #2. Rather, it is best summed up as: “Maybe not all of this is great but I am going to finish it anyway because I REFUSE TO LET THIS THING WIN. It has made a shambles of my life and IT IS GOING TO PAY FOR THAT.”
For the record, this is apparently the point in the thesis writing process where you start fantasizing about finishing your thesis, turning it in, and then burning it in effigy in your back garden. (Only in effigy, of course. I’m sure it would be more cathartic to burn the whole thing, but I’m not going to waste that much paper and ink, come on. That stuff costs money.)
I did manage to finish it, though, and not only does it mean that I now have 90+ pages (double-spaced), but my advisor also liked it! Yay! And I met with my thesis mentor on Thursday, and she also said that she’s been finding it interesting and followable, even without a background in TV, so double-yay!
[A thesis mentor, for the record, is a student who has a background as a writing mentor and helps look over your thesis while you’re writing it. Thesis mentors are usually most useful for people whose advisors aren’t quite as thorough as mine, I think, but I occasionally have issues balancing what I comprehend with that others are likely to comprehend, and I wanted to make sure my readers didn’t get lost in my TV talk. Betsy is an amazing critic and editor, but she’s also even more familiar with TV shows and their history than I am, so I wanted someone with more of an outside perspective.]
So today I get to write my summary of Hawaii Five-0, and then if I’m not done by tomorrow I’m just putting it aside because tomorrow I start on my FINAL CHAPTER/SECTION/THING. Which so help me god I am going to finish before the end of spring break, in addition to thoroughly outlining my introduction and conclusion, and then I am going to edit like nobody’s business. SO MUCH EDITING. Editing which is probably also going to involve a lot of rewriting, which is why I need as much time for it as possible.
I’m coming down the home stretch, guys, and I think I have a little too much momentum behind me.
But anyway! After I finished that section at 3 AM on Wednesday morning, I spent Wednesday and Thursday typing up some of my notes, which I really should have done earlier. I’ve tried to do as much hardcopy stuff as I can, to save my eyes and also because if I’m reading a physical book it’s easier to take physical notes, but it’s really more convenient to have it all digitized. I tried having notes on my wall connected to each other with string, but it was taking too much time to write all the quotes and stuff down again. It’s irritating, though, because that’s really what I want to be doing — I want to be able to have a string connecting to something else and something else. I know that my thesis itself can’t look like a three-dimensional concept map (even if it would make SO MUCH MORE SENSE that way), but I wish at least my notes could. What I really want, honestly, is Tony Stark’s hologram technology from the Iron Man movies. I could put all of my typed-up notes there, move them around with just the touch of a finger, and then copy&paste them into my outlines where appropriate. I’m a really visual person; things make more sense to me that way.
But so it goes. I may end up trying to figure out if I can arrange everything in InDesign; we’ll see. If that goes well I’ll post a copy here, never fear, ducklings.
Oh! I did do some other things this week besides thesis work. Mostly cooking-stuff, actually: I made dill pesto, and beet burgers (DELICIOUS, surprisingly enough. Good with cheese and ketchup, actually), and lemon curd, and yogurt squares:
which are divine when warm, taste a little like a healthy version of cheesecake bars, and saved me a lot when I needed a breakfast on the go. Or a dessert on the go. Or a snack on the go. Or really just when I wanted to eat one, honestly.
Besides that, I made chocolate beet cake, which was excitingly magenta on top and also was a sneaky vegetable cake because it didn’t taste particularly like beets:
and also made fruit leather (apple-lemon-blueberry) and braided lemon-cream cheese bread (I only got the photo of it before it went into the oven, sorry):
Knishes, in case you haven’t heard of them, are one of the Jewish versions of that age-old staple: filling wrapped in dough. Generally some sort of potato-based filling, since my people are from Eastern Europe and we need our hearty starches in order to survive the cold and miserable winters. Mine were potato and caramelized onion, and a little more than half had carrots and broccoli mixed in for the sake of healthy eating. And they turned out fantastically, honestly; the dough was perfectly flaking, and the onions got a little burnt but still tasted fantastic. I think I liked the veggie ones the best. Now I just need to figure out who to feed them to, though, since I might have a few too many and only Housemate Katie will eat them. (Delightful Housemate David does not like onions, apparently, since he’s a weirdo; Previously-Mentioned Housemate Natalia left on Thursday; and Delightful Housemate Kristen left earlier today. It’s only Saturday and it’s already a little lonely here.)
(Delightful Housemate Kristen also spent a great deal of the week miserably sick and then miserably snowed-in, until her parents came to pick her up today so she didn’t have to drive home and worry about getting dizzy or sleepy on the road. Poor Delightful Housemate Kristen; if the things that I cooked coincided more with the things she is willing to eat, I would have spoiled her rotten over the past few days. But she is home now, with her dog and her fireplace, so I suppose I can’t fault her too much for abandoning us.)
If I hadn’t been writing a thesis I’d probably be in NYC right now, actually, but as much as I wanted to, I couldn’t justify going when I knew I would inevitably end up spending time with friends instead of getting work done. But maybe that’s for the best, anyway, because it means that I didn’t have to spend my Friday 1) going to ice skating (last class of the semester!), 2) getting my stitches out (literally took two minutes, holy crap), 3) going to taiko (SO GOOD. SO. GOOD.), 4) having a meeting with my thesis advisor, and then 5) dragging my stuff over to the bus, 6) through like a foot of snow.
So I guess the weather and my thesis were in cahoots? I can’t complain, anyway. I got to spend a night in eating delicious knishes, and I don’t have to pack until Monday, and my internet is decisively off so I am ready to continue writing my thesis.
…Just as soon as I stop stalling by making this blog post as long as possible. Wow. 1888 words? Yikes.
Okay, seriously, I’m done. (1895.) Until next week, ducklings! Have a happy “I don’t know if it’s your spring break but it’s my spring break so let’s celebrate” — and let’s all hope it warms up a little, hmmm?