Tuesday, 3 November 2009

Working in the Dark

LPC threw me an easy post the other week: to provide the tenth picture of my first folder. Nice one, LPC. It must be getting across through my long silences and pissy posts that I am running up mental sand dunes these days and in need of some small victories. I am subtle and self-contained like that. Like LPC, I am not the biggest techie going round so instead I have provided an old picture that was found in one of my few folders. It's of a mother and her girls sharing stories and enjoying Autumn in the Loire Valley, France. I took it two years ago, the day after the wedding of a family friend.

I wish this were the Autumnal mood of Oxford, here where the grey clouds overtake the peach-pink clouds by 4:30pm, and the sky becomes the darkest blue by 6pm. Apparently, there are more (or at least as many) correlations between poor health and the onset of daylight saving time than adjusting to 'normal' time in Autumn. I am not convinced. The odd farmer, please excuse me, but this whole getting dark in the early evening is, for the rest of us, simply rubbish.

Evidence for the government inquiry and/or PhD student class action (leading to legislative changes): Most evenings, I have slap my own face and throw myself against my carrel wall in order to stop myself from crawling under my desk to lie down and stare and blink. As that last dark bird passes the fluffy, descending clouds, all I want is a good tuck-in and a parental kiss. Instead, frowny, I drag myself to eat dinner in College hall (something having boyfriend had spared me) where the walls bounce an orange glow that makes me squint and feel I have been woken up at midnight to join a party, but a party of people with chunky backpacks and flourescent trouser protectors. The air is chilly and makes a sound like we are all in a plane, a plane heading for the darker months and then, eventually, death.*

Tonight, I avoid hall. I am heading home to cook something with Vitamin B in it, and watch my lovely friends (some of my oldest here, the first to make me less frightened of scientists and mega introverts) play in their band, the dreamy Stornoway, on Later with Jools Holland. They're playing alongside Jay-Z, the Foo Fighters, Norah Jones, Sting and Ginger Baker, a prospect Brian, the lead singer, said made him need to lie down. Will post a clip of it tomorrow or as soon as I can (learning not to make promises during this writing time). Have significant creativity envy, but been trying my best to reframe thesis as a hugely free, infinitely creative pursuit. Please feel free to chuck me some help here.

As for the pic, I tag Aliteralgirl (whose recent post on creative living is pretty superb).

*Not a cry for help. Last clause put in solely for my own amusement.


Kate said...

That's a lovely photo, AH.

I feel so deeply in your own head space - sometimes I read your posts and I wonder how you hacked my brain... One thing is for certain though: when the weather is sunny, bright and the beach beckons, the writing also doesn't become easier. Perhaps it's one of those cheeky 'the problem's in your mind' moments.

My suggestions: focus on eating good food. Even if it costs more for the ol' student budget, just buy good food. Your body will says thanks. Sleep and meditate when you can. Set very small tasks. 'Today I will fix this paragraph'. Then when you meet it, be proud of yourself.

Very few people know how peculiar this thesis-pain is. I whinged to my supervisor the other day that this would all be fine, if only I had a finite time frame. I love deadlines! I moaned. She laughed and told me that theses can morph into your worst nightmares, whatever they may be. "Kate," she said. "If you hated rats, it would be rats."

So hold your fort, keep your head up to the sky. We're all barracking for you and know you'll conquer.
Big hugs xxxxxx

LPC said...

Northern latitudes are tough. Here in California we have invent reasons for despair. Hence, Los Angeles. It's a lovely photo and thanks for playing.

Academic, Hopeful said...

Kate - Bugger! You mean I can't rely on the Aussie sun to push me through?

No, you're all over it. I suspect my umbrella fear is isolation/ lack of connection. Perhaps these shortened days make me feel more alone and less clear about why I am doing this.

Definitely focusing on healthy food - it's where most of my cash money goes to. Sleep and meditation not going too badly.

Thanks for the advice and morale-boosting! Can't wait to moan in person. Maybe we can just lie in a ball together for a little while.

LPC - (laughter)

Good Enough Woman said...

Glad to see you're hanging in there, AH. I love your idea of framing the thesis as a free, creative pursuit. But your word "infinite" makes be a bit jittery when I think of my own thesis, which is really in the baby stages and which I am quite confused about right now. But when I think of your current intellectual fortitude, I feel like a lightweight for sure.

Good to hear from you!

Academic, Hopeful said...

GEW - 'infinitely' was an utterly ridiculous word to use. There are too many audience constraints. Plus, limits become your saviour! I am just trying to think of ways to see it as a gift...and remember that it is voluntary.

Bavardess said...

Ooo, I love Jools Holland. Will have to keep an eye out for that episode playing here in NZ. And with that line-up, I can see why your friend had to lie down!

My sympathies on having to eat Hall food. If you think the lack of sun is really affecting you, see if you can get a therapeutic sun lamp - they really do make a difference. They're not cheap, but it could be a worthwhile investment for your long term well-being and productivity.

Anonymous said...

Hmmm. Trying to think of a reason for celebrating working on thesis in dark/gloom. How about this: if it were sunny and glowy, you'd feel like you were missing something?

In any case, I understand. One day at a time, my friend...

Dr. No said...

"Please feel free to chuck me some help here"

I chuck to you one ratty flannel robe. As it hurls your way you will want to jump out of the way and avoid touching it because it looks like something you'd find in a dumpster. But, a) it is clean (I swear) and b) it got me through my thesis. I like to think it has some magical powers, so CATCH.

Anneso said...

i wished I could say things like you did. I will leave happy ever after... This is a chance and your strength.
Hope is our best friend. When your mind is open on the world around you. You can notice that even if it's dark and couldy the sky is blue somewhere. love u