crunchy bits and squeezy bits and cranky bits

I started this post a week ago. I have a lot of drafts of posts lying around collecting dust. Seriously, I must have well over a hundred draft posts in various stages of completion. And seriously, I think they are dusty. Some of them even have cobwebs.

Life has been hectic again (when hasn’t it?) and I’m trying to fit all the bits and pieces together.

A large item that’s been on my mind is that I’m finally going to try to make a push to finish my degree. Sadly, I am really not all that close, even to being ABD. I finished my coursework ages ago. But coursework was the easy part, what with the structure and the regular, manageable assignments with regular, manageable deadlines. My other requirements are larger and more nebulous, with typically much fuzzier deadlines. I have this bad tendency to push off my own research until I’ve worked my way through my other obligations. The trouble is that my other obligations manage quite easily to fill up all of my available time.

Since May, Phoebe and Theo have been in childcare 5 days a week, an increase from the 3 or 4 days they had been going. This gives me more available time. In theory. In practice, there have been more weeks than not during which there was at least one holiday, vacation day, or sick day. Since May I have travelled to a conference in Chicago for work, visited my family in California, visited my in-laws in New York several times, had a short trip to New Hampshire, a visit to New York City for BlogHer, and then most recently another trip to Chicago for a funeral. My job has kept me busy with deadlines for conferences and papers, plus meetings and running subjects. Our house continues to kick my butt, with its demands for upkeep. My head has been full of concern for family and friends.

Each time I have gone back to my own research, I have had to regroup, and remind myself of what I was doing, what I’d done last, and what I was about to do. (I’m working on figuring out better systems for keeping myself on track and moving forward, but I will probably save that for another post.)

I know that I can do better than this. I feel like I’ve just been making excuses. I used to be an effective and productive person. I’m trying to get there again, and right now it feels a lot like crunching. I’m trying to squeeze everything tighter to make room for my research. Honestly, all this compression has made me cranky.

One of the few places I can find time to squeeze is my time spent online. Since I rarely get to see friends in person, I’ve been clinging to my online world, the interactions with friends I see in blogland and on Facebook. But I have to cut back. I have started cutting back. (In the last couple of months or so, I’ve had several unhappy exchanges and experiences that have soured my online world and that has helped me pull back. Though, again with the cranky.)

Since I started blogging several years ago, I have spent a lot of my time offline (such as while I’m driving or doing laundry or dealing with other largely thoughtless tasks) thinking about my life online. Often thinking about posts I’ve read, or posts I’d like to write. I somehow need to shift my focus so that I spend that time thinking about articles I’ve read and papers I should be writing.

I’m not saying I’m going to quit blogging, but I can’t participate as much I have in the past. I probably will start leaving even fewer comments, even though I intend to keep reading posts.

I still hope to post here from time to time. Maybe even a couple of times a week if I can do so in a constrained amount of time. I hope to dust off some of the drafts that have been piling up for the past several years, and maybe I’ll still manage to get out some of the ones that have been cluttering up my head.

I’ve been sticking with Project 365, taking and posting at least one picture a day, and that will probably continue to be my main creative outlet. Taking pictures is something I can do in a few minutes if I need to, or that I can do during my time spent with Phoebe and Theo.

I’m not sure where I’m going with this post, but it feels like I’ve been leaving my blog hanging.

This photo doesn’t really have anything to do with anything in this post, but I like it.

19 thoughts on “crunchy bits and squeezy bits and cranky bits

  1. Reading this made me wish I could come out there and help you out some, even though I can kind of totally relate to what you’re saying and see so many parallels in my own life: there’s too much to be done, not enough time to do it. I get it.

    It’s hard to find a balance. I’m not even convinced such a thing exists. If it does, I’ve stopped looking for it. Still, at the end of almost every day, I am acutely aware of all that remains to be done. I feel this now especially because of the much-anticipated arrival of Burt Reynolds. I find myself wishing he would come NOW so I can be out of this liminal state and into the next phase of our lives – I am just so ready to meet him. And yet I am grateful for each day that I have before my life re-erupts into chaos and everything changes.

    Good luck with finishing your degree. I am ABT and I have no idea if I will ever finish. I don’t know if I care to. Life has led me in an entirely different direction…

    Sorry to ramble…

  2. Alejna, I’m sure I’m not the only one who will miss you if you post less or not at all, but I’m also sure we all understand and support your goal of finishing your degree.

    And that is indeed a charming photo.

  3. Hi Alejna —

    As John Lennon sang, “Life is what happens to you when you’re making other plans.” From the snippets you share on this blog, it sounds like you have a full life indeed.

    With regards to the pursuit of the Ph.D.: as someone who’s been there, have to say that the slow move towards getting done and published helped lure me online. And while it can seem like a distraction, have to say that online is where I got a lot of writing practice and — most importantly — the confidence to make some major, life-changing decisions that have led me to where I am today — a place that I wasn’t expecting to be back when I started having an online presence all those years ago, yet one that I’m generally pretty happy to be at.

  4. I love that photo, too.

    All I can think of right now is the sign off for The Writer’s Almanac: Be well, do good work, and stay in touch.

  5. I’m not the first or the last one who’ll say it– you should do what you feel is needed, and trust that it’s right. And we’ll miss you when you don’t post, be excited when you do (even if it’s “just” an excellent picture like the one you posted above), be happy to see you in comments when you get a chance to leave a comment, and know that in general– you’re allowed to have a life outside the internet, and life, well– it happens. Goodness knows I know that one real well.

    You deserve to be happy, less stressed, spending time with the kids, and like you’re on the road to being done with your thesis. When you write here or post photos here, it should be done because you want to, because it feels cathartic or creative or fun– and not because you feel like you it’s some obligation. There’s no point in keeping it, otherwise. Let it become a source of joy again.

  6. I know. It is tough. I find myself cutting back, too…reading, but not always commenting…marking all as read at times…writing less. I can’t do 100% of everything, but I try to squeeze in a little of everything because it is those little extra things that keep me balanced enough to keep up with all the have to’s in my life, school included.

  7. Oh, I understand. I’m noticing a lot of bloggers stepping back a bit to live their lives, and that’s as it should be. I’m glad you are not quitting, though. I will read you as long as you keep posting.

  8. Last weekend I came up with a list (erm.. which I can’t find at the moment- that’s not a good sign) of ways to get back some control over my life and especially my online activities which are eating up an inexcusable amount of time and leaving me with an inexcusably long to-do list both at work and home. A couple of the strategies worked, at least, when I stick to them, and I’ll try to phase in others soon. I’ll let you know how it goes, in case it might help. And like I think I said to you (perhaps even in person!) you’re in a position where you can back off on blogging a bit and still know you’ll have readers when you do post, which is nice.

  9. When blogging (including reading and commenting) becomes an obligation, it ceases to be fun. IMO. And since we are not using this as a revenue source, when it ceases to be fun, it becomes “tail wagging the dog”, again, imo. Like you and many others, I found myself strapped for time and if you ask me, commenting really takes up the most time. I have no idea where I am going with this… I just want to help put you at ease and wish you the best of luck as you finish that darn thing! :-) Yes, you can do it!!!

  10. I like it, too. The only way my husband finished his thesis was to incarcerate himself every night from about 7 pm to 1 am behind the locked door of his lab. It worked, but it was hard on him and on us – and he left a lot of things behind. If you have to leave the blog behind for a bit, I’ll miss you but I for sure will understand. Mine sits idle for days and weeks sometimes.
    Hang on with the 365 if you can – that way I will still hear from you sometimes.

  11. I’m glad you’re keeping up with Project 365 because your photos make me happy. They also keep you a little bit near–you know, ever since I started long-arming the Internet’s hold on me. It’s a difficult practice, that. I still regret that I am not active with the JPs anymore even though I know that I simply can’t be.

    Good luck with the work.

  12. I feel the exact same way…sometimes I wonder how I used to be so organized and what the heck happened. I also ignore my blog although I often think of it fondly. I don’t even read other blogs as much, and in some ways I appreciate less postings because they seem to be more meaningful. So as we say in yoga class…take what you need, do what you like. =)

  13. That is a very cool image!

    Good luck in school (I’m right there with you sister, still need 20+ hours to finish my second degree) and maybe at least keep up with FB posts so we can monitor your well-being? :o)

  14. Sending love and hugs and supportive thoughts.
    I know what it is like to be there, in that space, and it sucks.
    I wish we lived so closer so I could do your laundry.

  15. My getting to this so late is an indication of my own need to manage my time better. I’m glad you’re going to be making more time for all the other things you need and want to do. Good luck with school.

    And I love that photo!

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