Saturday, December 31, 2011

Dance LIKE Matt

I was watching the 'Dancing With Matt' videos today and they made me feel ashamed at my current lack of fearlessness regarding my current choices and decisions. In fact, watching Matt dancing all over the world in what had to be a huge project and decision makes my work and study problems seem insignificant - which is I guess the whole point. Time will tell if the impression is lasting - right now I just want to grab me some portion of the life pie - or whether fear (or is it common sense? this is the trick right? knowing which is which) settles in again. I admit it, I wanna Dance with Matt!!

If you have never seen the 'Dancing with Matt' videos, you can check them out at

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Another one bites the dust .. day that is

Although I had every intention of jump-starting my research again now that my kids have both gone back to their respective lives, I was up and down all night last night and didn't actually get up until 11am. Now, in my defense I watched a few episodes of S1 "The Wire" as I am restarting this great show from scratch because I have only every seen it through once .. there goes that uber procrastination again. It doesn't help that it's damn hot today - 37c (98f) .. ouch! My department of education house is not air conditioned and it heats up like crazy so it is too damn hot to work, or to do anything other that surf the web and watch "The Wire" (that's 2 plugs!). 

Apparently it's going to be cooler tomorrow & if so I pledge to complete the following:
  • Plan daily schedule for the next 7 days of study - and tweak during that time to complete maximum amount for the remaining 4 weeks of holidays.
  • Spend only 1 hours per day tracking down work/employment - although this is theoretically a good thing, I am spending far too much time on this for my own good. 
  • Organise for someone to help with my expression of interest to University 'X' for sessional/adjunct teaching.
  • No watching ANY film/TV until the above has been completed (or refrained from as the case may be).
I haven't spoken to my supervisor for about 6 weeks (I assume she is on holiday break which is fair enough) and I need to have some work for her when she returns. We agree for me to start a lit review but I think I need to start working on my proposal so that I can get candidacy underway. 

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My original blog ....

I originally started a website/blog at & I am still to-ing and fro-ing between the two (even more procrastination anyone?) so that there is crossover. Not sure which one I will ultimately decide on but if you are here and there are precious few postings, chances are I am there :)

Tips for procrastination

I consider myself to be an exceptionally talented procrastinator. I don't think this is an exaggeration - some people are talented singers or artists, mathematicians or writers - my talents lie in the ability to either a) ignore a situation - for years if need be, or b) to convince myself and others that I am 'thinking about' a situation & therefore NOT procrastinating nor ignoring.

For a PhD, or anything that has a component of thought built in, this technique works particularly well because 'thinking' about the task is an actual, real part of the process so one is able to kid oneself for a very long time that one is not, in fact, procrastinating. (Of course the immediate question that jumps to mind is just how much a part of the sophistication of my procrastination techniques is built into writing this very blog which is in fact is both revealing and engaging my ability at the same time).

At the moment I am facing a huge decision regarding my career. Although I have a well paid and permanent job that has no direct relationship to a PhD, I have always promised myself that I would, one day complete the degree and this was the year that I chose to start, three years into my shiny new high school teaching career. The two demands upon my time and intellectual resources were actually getting along quite well in the beginning, I was able to work on the PhD after (paid) job as well as on weekends. As my sons have both now left home, my time is my own and utilising in this way seemed a perfect fit for me and allowed me to procrastinate/consider my need to incorporate my need to do more exercise/quit smoking both of which I could legitimately ignore due to the new stress of 'the PhD' - see how committed I am to creating the perfect environment to ignore that which I don't want to deal with? - it really is quite an art in my hands. I should be clear that although I love teaching, whether HS or university, I have been stuck teaching English for the past three years, which is not my discipline. Not that there is anything wrong with English - for those that love it - but my degree is not in English and my postgraduate studies are not in English, I am not drawn to English - and yet I am expected to get up every single day and go and teach and enthuse secondary students in their English studies. You see my problem. When I accepted my current position, I was very clear that I did not want a full English load. They assured me, that if I spent 2011 teaching English for them then they would have some teaching in my real discipline in 2012. But, a couple of weeks before the end of the year, I was allocated another full English load and, just to rub some extra salt in the wound, they hired someone from outside and gave them the subject/s that I was assured I would have. It was a shitty situation.

Enter the opportunity for academia to seem like a viable alternative for employment even though I will be taking part-time, adjuncting work (if I get any) together with some relief/sub work in local high schools. I will also need to move back to the city if I want to do this so I will be leaving behind a reasonable salary for (at best) part-time contract work in a far more tenuous environment that I am currently in ... but, I will have my dignity intact right? And, I will get to 'show' my current job that I am not someone they can screw around with in this way .. right?

And, herein lies both my current problem and my current excuse extraordinaire for procrastinating. So while I am currently on holidays and in the perfect position to get some serious PhD work done, I am spending all of my time 'thinking', 'musing', considering' or .. the best one .. 'researching my options' (read spending hours upon hours online reading about how awful the academic job market is followed by one or two excellent blogs about 'following your dreams'). If I am not careful, I will have wasted 6 weeks in this way and STILL not made a decision and that is scaring the hell out of me.

So, my point is this: talent is not always a good thing. Or, maybe it's just that between the frying pan and the fire there is a scary netherworld on the rim.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


I left my PhD degree about 6 years ago - why? Well, for a whole bunch of reasons really, some personal, some academic, some financial. I was actually doing quite well before leaving, I gained momentum during my degree, finished with a grade average high enough to be invited to complete honours - which I did and did well, finishing with a 1A degree. I was given loads of teaching work, a full scholarship and happily enrolled in a PhD program.

I was a bit of a favourite in my department, a little older that the rest of the students and had been treated as a colleague rather than a student for some time. I knew my department needed to hire a female & that as long as I kept going, the position would probably be mine. (Academic) Life was good.

I may divulge the gory details of my fall from grace at a later date but, suffice to say for the moment - I crashed, and burned, and crashed. OUCH!

About 6 months ago, I re-enrolled (at a different university!!) in a PhD. I have not been entirely devoid of study since my abduction, but I had not studied at PhD level for over 5 years. I actually found it stimulating and enjoyable and quickly became addicted to the rush of learning again. Recently however I hit a wall (just 6 months in) - my current job as a High School teacher is too demanding and draining and because I have been relegated to teaching out of discipline, too frustrating. This is interfering with my studies as I am now facing the decision of whether or not to take leave-without-pay from my job and go for the PhD or, to choose security and a steady paycheck, leaving my dreams at the door.

Sure I could continue to study while working but my job has recently reneged on a promise regarding teaching load and discipline and I am so disillusioned by this experience that I am looking at the academy through rose coloured glasses & wondering if I should make a last-ditch effort at an academic career. As I am in Australia, the academic job market is a little different to that of north America so although jobs are not falling of the library shelves, there isn't the same do-or-die mentality of the TT system.

I have a few weeks to make my decision. My sons tell me I am crazy to be considering this - given that they had front row seats to my spectacular meltdown previously, I am inclined to consider their opinions. But, they are grown up now & on their own paths and I don't want to regret not 'giving it a shot'. Blame Steve Jobs "How to Live Before You Die" Stanford address, blame early-ish onset menopause, blame my own capacity for self-destruction, but chances are I am going to take a chance.