Saturday, 29 December 2012

First Draft

December has gone by in a bit of a blur, as always, with my birthday & Christmas & New Year--but this year it went especially fast, because I had a deadline. The goal was to submit a first draft of the PhD thesis on 20 December, to show my outgoing supervisor what my project looks like as a whole and to give my new supervisor an idea of what I've been working on up to this point. The word count target was 75,000, and I'm disappointed to admit that I didn't make it anywhere near that--the version on the due date was just over 48,000.  But I'm proud to say that I really did give it my all. During the MA, there were times when I knew that I could've worked harder, read more, stayed up later, etc. That's why I earned a merit instead of a distinction. When I submitted this draft, I knew it was far from complete (some parts are still in bullet-point note form) and that I have a lot more to say, but I also knew that I had done everything I could by 5 pm on the 20th December.   

It was a difficult month. A good friend passed away, a tragic event that could only be made worse by the fact that it happened during the Christmas season. The Newtown school shooting brought up a lot of horrible emotions, and I had to block the posts of pro-gun American friends on Facebook. I'll never understand why the shooting caused some people to defend guns...They said things like "Guns are tools; guns don't kill people, people kill people; the Oklahoma city bomber killed more people with a fertilizer-fuel-truck bomb, and those things are all still legal." (seriously, I saw these statements on Facebook friends' walls). When a drunk driver kills somebody, you don't see anybody jumping to defend booze.  Even the most hard-core of alcoholics wouldn't go there.  It made me want to hide under the covers and block out those opinions. I'm glad the NRA came out with its statement about armed security at schools, if only because then it was publicly ridiculed and my Facebook friends finally seemed to quiet down. 

At any rate, I'm looking forward to January--exam invigilation & a research trip, and getting closer to 100,000 words every day. 

Friday, 7 December 2012

Two Years On...

I can't believe it's been two years since Phil died.  I still think about him often, wishing I could get his input on my writing, or ask him for career advice, or just hang out with him at the pub. Sometimes it seems like he's just away on leave or at a conference.  It still doesn't seem real.

He wouldn't want me to be this upset, I know.  He would've been surprised that he had such an impact on me, I think, because I never really told him and we didn't work together for very long.  But he introduced me to the field and inspired me to work on this project, at this institute, so he indirectly influenced lot of my big life decisions.

More than my own grief, I feel for those who knew him much better & longer than I did--for Sue, for Gary, for Cristina--and I feel for those students who heard about him and read his work but never got the chance to meet him.  I'm grateful for the limited time we had together, and for his guidance that's led me here.

Rest in peace, Phil.  I'll have a pint for you this weekend.