learning some lessons (a crankiness review)


This has been a bit of a week for learning for me. I love learning. I am a bit of a long-term student. And even my career goals for after I get the PhD involve continued research. But the truth is, sometimes, the learning process can involve some crankiness. I like to feel like I know stuff, but often learning involves being shown that I don’t know stuff. Which is not always comfortable.

Take Monday. I had my violin lesson. I hadn’t had much time to practice last week, and there were 2 new, unfamiliar pieces. Worse, I didn’t practice until late in the week, meaning I more or less couldn’t remember the pieces at all from the previous lesson. And while Phoebe has lately been encouraging me to practice (she points at the violin, and then plays quietly nearby while I practice), she has less interest in listening to me struggle with a new piece that I play poorly (she kept leaving the room). Resulting in a shorter practice session. End result: Monday’s lesson was not my best. The topic of my lack of rhythm came up. Sigh.

Take Yesterday. I noticed that a deadline for abstract submissions for a big conference was today. I had meant to submit an abstract for the work I did for my master’s project. (Re-submit, actually, as the abstract I submitted for a previous conference was rejected.) I decided that I should make the push, and spent 4 hours re-writing the abstract yesterday afternoon and evening. I then sent it to a professor (one of the reader’s for my master’s project) on the off chance she would have time to look at it and give suggestions. Remarkably, she generously agreed to read the abstract, and even came back with several helpful suggestions. She said I should definitely submit the abstract, but that it would need to be “re-written.” Crap. I thought re-writing was what I’d just done. But I re-re-wrote, and was up till 2:00 in the morning. It apparently still needs re-re-re-writing, though. (The deadline was extended, so my professor will send me more comments tonight or tomorrow.) It will definitely be very good for me to learn how to write a better abstract, but, well, I hadn’t thought the first one (or second or third) were all that bad. Showing that I indeed have stuff to learn.

Take today. Another lesson in a different domain. I took Phoebe to Whole Foods this evening, as we need some stuff for a dinner we’re having tomorrow. (The aforementioned veggie dinner.) I was trying to get out the door by 5:00, with the plan of picking up some dinner for Phoebe at the store. We didn’t manage to leave till 5:15. Phoebe usually eats around 5:30. The store is 20 minutes away. I gave her some cheese before we went in the store, thinking it would hold her till we finished shopping, when she could eat some more.

We went in the store, I plopped her in a cart. Then I plopped her in another cart, because the straps on the first cart weren’t properly attached. Then we started shopping. And more time passed. Then Phoebe realized she was cold, and I’d left her sweater in the car. (It was about 90 degrees out, but downright chilly in the frozen food aisles.) But while Phoebe is generally a very happy and well-behaved toddler, she becomes less so when her needs aren’t met. Such as when she is cold and hungry. We almost ended up leaving without most of the items on the list. After buying a bit of bread and milk for her (yes, I went all out for the gourmet dinner), and returning to the car to warm up, eat and get her sweater, we were able to then complete our shopping mission in relative calm. You’d think I would’ve known providing adequate food clothing were among the basics of parenting.

Now, it’s 1:00 a.m., and I am back at work on the abstract re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-re-write. I’m completely wiped out and cranky and am no longer sure I can manage to get the abstract done. Is it too late to change careers?

6 thoughts on “learning some lessons (a crankiness review)

  1. I hate re-writing, especially since it means that the prior one was not good enough. It also gets harder and harder with each revision as your mind gets drained of looking at it fresh.I tend to be more hasty and careless and sending it off anyway and saying F’ it. (thus, multiple manuscript rejections).

    But to anticipate bringing a sweater for her in 90 degree heat, that’s just a/c insanity.

  2. KC-
    Yes, re-writing sucks. Especially the way I do it, apparently. I ended up not resubmitting the damn thing. I had too many other things to do.
    (And yeah, the air conditioning was excessive. But seeing as excessive is also standard in lots of places, I should be prepared.)

    YTSL-
    Yeah, I guess you know about changing careers! It is nice to know that it’s not too late. It actually helps keep me going, to realize that it’s my choice to keep at this. But those late nights when things just aren’t clicking…

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