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Catching Up

Another long silence on this blog… it’s not due to lack of thoughts to write, just lack of time, and a hesitation to bare my soul.  My computer is finally back in good working order, but life has been super busy lately.  I have been away three weekends in a row, including this one.  I am currently writing from my grandparent’s house in Kingston, when I really should be sleeping in preparation for tomorrow’s sheepdog trial.  The last trial of the year. 

I’ll go to sleep in a minute – I certainly am tired enough, so that won’t be a problem.  I just want to get back into the habit of writing on this blog.  One major reason I stopped is because I have long resisted letting this get too personal, wanting to focus it mostly on my exploration around food.  Life lately has been tough, and it’s hard to keep the personal out in these circumstances. I actually marked some of my posts ‘private’ for a while – I’m job hunting and didn’t think it looked terribly professional to be whining away on the internet.  But at this point I’m starting not to care.  I have applied for countless jobs now and have not even received a single acknowledgement of receipt of my resume, let alone an interview!

I know times are tough and that is not helping.  But it’s doubly tough for me right now because I’ve not only been out of the job market for over 7 years (yes, I have been in grad school that long now – yikes!) but I also am trying to make a change of career.  This is tough to do with my background.  As a friend of mine who worked for the Clinton administration pointed out, my resume reads like that of a hard core Republican.  He admited that if he had read my resume prior to meeting me in person, he would have disliked me intensely! 

Funny how labels can affect you like that.  I am really not any different now than I was when I was working for the government or for Big Oil – I actually struggled within those organizations to try and effect change.  Struggled and failed, for the most part, which is why I quit and went back to grad school and now want to work at something I believe in rather than trying to change the system ‘from within.’  But so far, no one wants to give me a chance.  Despite having 10 years of work experience ranging from hard science research labs to senior management, I don’t have the qualifications to do entry level administrative work for an enviromental organization.

I also continue to struggle with my dissertation.  Last week my supervisor started our meeting by stating “my dear, I think you need to go back to the drawing board.”  What???? I have been struggling with this @#!%! proposal for close to a year now.  Fortunately I was too tired and downtroden to cry.  We did manage to resurect the situation with an agreement that I would shift my research focus to a different area.  That’s fine with me – anything to finish this degree.  I am still interested in my new focus (will write about that later) and it’s something she knows well, being her area of expertise.  Hopefully we will finally start making some progress. 

A colleague of mine just quit the program after struggling – and failing – to get his proposal approved after who knows how long.  And he’s not the only one I know from my department.  It’s a tough process.  That said, I suspect it doesn’t need to be.  I don’t understand why they don’t just teach us how to do it.  It’s not rocket science, after all (I’ve done rocket science; this should not be harder!), and everyone says its very simple and straight forward.   Hmmmm….

With all this stress, my health is starting to fall apart again.  I wrecked my health in my youth (ok, I’m still kinda young, but still…) by pushing myself too hard for too long.  Now it is easy to trigger again.  At least I know how to manage it, but it is very frustrating.  The most important factor is to eliminate stress, and that’s a whole lot easier said than done when you have no control over your financial situation or when your proposal will be approved.  So no matter how much deep breathing and yoga I am doing, I still carry enough stress to have my left eye constantly twitching and to prevent me from sleeping well.  I haven’t had a good night sleep in at least 8 months now, and I’m pretty darn tired.

All this to say, it’s hard to always stay upbeat and cheerful in this blog.  That means I can either stop writting (which is what I have been doing) or let some of this struggle seep in.   Since apparently no one is even looking at my resume, I doubt potential employers will take the time to look at this blog.  I’m probably safe.   

So time to catch up… well, actually it’s time to go to bed.  I’ll write about my efforts at putting away winter stores, putting my garden to bed, saving seeds for next spring, training for trialing, working on the farm, and of course struggling with this shift in my dissertation research, another day.  Hopefully tomorrow.

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2 Responses

  1. So…this is a mystery to me about the North American system and I’m starting to feel that the English system is, dare I say it, better, in the sense of being more humane. We don’t accept students on the basis of potential. Or, at least, not on potential alone. We need students to come with us with a real, practical, full-blown proposal and that is one of the main things by which we judge them and accept them or not. Our PhDs are 3-4 years as a consequence rather than 5-7 years which is the North American average. I don’t think that this is completely unproblematic (sometimes you have PhDs who are 24 years old!) but it really forces people to come to the table with something concrete. It also ensures that supervisors accept or no with eyes wide open. The process you’ve been through sounds incredibly tough and worrying in that, if your proposal changes, you may lose the support of a supervisor. But the fact that you’ve agreed a way forward is incredibly positive. Just keep at it – reread How to Write a Lot for Inspiration!

    Good luck with it all. xo

  2. Hi Barbara – yes, this process has been somewhat of a nightmare. But I think part of the problem is my lack of training coming in. I had never been taught the different ontological and epistemological standpoints, or that they even exist. There is no systematic training to that effect, something I have tried to rectify in my political theory classes for the next generation! Had I known 5 years ago what I know now, I would never, ever have applied to this school. It is just far to entrenched in the liberal perspective.

    That said, I have been able to find a very few people who hold alternative viewpoints and have been working with them. So far only one is very close to my own standpoint, but she has only been teaching a couple of years and cannot be my supervisor. She has been a great mentor, advisor and support however! Thank goodness. I probably wouldn’t still be here without her.

    So all in all, a very interesting learning process, but one that I think could have been streamlined into a fraction of the time with better organization and open-mindedness. Ah, well, live and learn! Next time I do a PhD, it will be much faster (ha ha – fat chance!!!)

    Always good to hear from you!
    H

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