Monday, May 31, 2010

Things worth celebrating

This month, Rocket Scientista is hosting the Scientiae Carnival and the theme is celebrations. What do I have worth celebrating?

My biggest accomplishment this year is the completion of a successful field season. In April I wrote a post about all the things I was doing well, and that list held true to the end. I really feel like I have friends at my field site now and I'm getting much better at figuring out how to get things done.

Since returning home in early May, I submitted a report and am well on my way to submitting the paperwork for my permit renewal. Finishing writing projects can be so tedious, so I try to celebrate all of the small milestones along the way. I try to lay out a plan for what I need to work on each day, and if I finish all of it before the end of the day, my reward is going home early. It usually motivates me to work more efficiently and stay on task (though not always).

Acknowledging and celebrating small victories is one of the things that has helped me progress in my Ph.D. and stay happy. I'm nearing the end of my third year of grad school, and I figure I have three more years so I'm just about half way done. My glass is definitely half full! Cheers to Rocket Scientista for asking us to share our celebrations.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Summer priorities

This summer I've got some big priorities:
-submit paperwork for permit renewals (I should have done this a long time ago)
-submit that #!@*%!# little note
-analyze last summer's data
-analyze data for my interdisciplinary project
-work on that review paper that I haven't talked or thought about in months
-figure out how to fund my next field season

I've been dragging my heels soooooo badly on the first one- permit renewal. I'm not entirely sure why, but I think it's partly because I don't really know how to approach this (and am stupidly afraid to ask Sam for help), partly because I'm unsure how to conceptually unify all of the things I need them to approve, and partly because I'm afraid they're going to reject me for some minor oversight or omission. Jon has given me some pep talks, reminding me that really the agency that approves research just wants my money and then to make sure I'm not barbecuing their endangered species or something egregious like that.  I've really got to get this done before I can move on to other things on my list in any significant way, but I would just so. much. rather. be cleaning our apartment or doting on my plants. I'm in one of those homemaking phases when I just don't want to go to work at all. But here I am... Blogging. Gah!

Monday, May 24, 2010

Post-trip wrapup

I've had three good meetings with Sam since I got back from Ukenzagapia. He has said some very complimentary things about me which has made me happy. I've had a couple of meetings with Leo, who is happy with my progress and told me I need to work on that review paper from ages ago. I had a 5 minute (I'm not exaggerating) meeting with Herb before he took off for Neotropical Field Site. I'll catch up more with him later in the summer, but it's one more example of how Sam is my functional advisor.

Last week I turned in all of my receipts for reimbursement, except one but it's complicated. I'm getting back about $4500. More than half of that goes to my parents, who were kind enough to lend money because I couldn't get advances on the grants. The rest of it reimburses my set-aside-for-taxes account. I was waaay over budget this time on salaries. I'm not sure how much of our personal money we spent this time, certainly more than I wanted to. It seems like I need about $5000-7000 for each 2-3 month trip to Ukenzagapia. That sure does seem like a lot. I don't know yet how I'm funding my next trip.

I submitted a report to the governmental agencies concerned. I was writing that in the evenings after my all-day Wilderness First Responder classes. That was exhausting and it's a relief to have it done. Now I need to focus on my renewal application.

I feel so much better after this field season compared to my first one. I was kind of a wreck when I got back last year, at least as far as how I felt about my research. I'm still not thrilled with the data I collected in that first field season, but at least now I've got other data too. Time to start analyzing!

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Not much to say

I'm back in Big City now and it's wonderful. I'm so glad to be home. Today I finally finished opening all of the mail that accumulated while I was gone. I don't have plans to go anywhere until ESA in August, but we do have many visitors coming. I'm looking forward to this summer.

For whatever reason, I just haven't had much to say on the blog this month, which is really unusual. I'm not sure why. I guess I've been traveling so much that I haven't had much of a routine. I have a few draft posts that maybe I'll get around to finishing. Perhaps I haven't been inspired to blog because I also haven't been reading any blogs. I haven't even opened my feed reader in 2 weeks, and I've hardly read any blogs since late February. I expect once I really get back into the swing of things at work and home that I'll have more to say.

Thursday, May 20, 2010

College: a reflection on time and place

It's a funny thing, time. I've been out of college now longer than I was in.  I just spent the last week at SFC in a Wilderness First Responder course with current SFC students. The faces and names have changed, but in many ways the students haven't. They're still talking about the same SFC things as when I was a student.

I love coming back to campus, because in so many ways it just feels natural. It feels like home when I walk across campus. But it is somehow bittersweet for me to return. I love the memories- I love recalling the people and events that helped shape me. But, I am reminded that that time has passed. I can tell I'm older. Several years older. Part of me is sad that I'm not a SFC student anymore. The stories from my time at SFC are like ancient history to the current students. Time marches on.

I've done so much since I graduated. Really! Far more than I did when I was a student! I've been to three new continents and back to Africa (three times!). I'm halfway through my Ph.D. I'm married. I've had jobs, owned cars, moved several times, and lost three loved ones. But since SFC is where I feel like the modern me started, it feels like my roots. It feels like the place to return to, to pay homage to.

One year after I graduated, I wrote:
Somehow, in four years I managed to bond myself and part of my identity to the physical SFC. SFC is an inextricable part of who I am. It brought so much love, peace, and happiness into my life. My time there has given me the strength and skills to go beyond, but I can't fully escape the longing to be there again.
Maybe it is bittersweet because I know that even if I went back there to teach, it won't ever be home again like it was as a student. That time and stage has passed, and with melancholy I accept it.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Most of the way home

I'm safely back in the U.S. (in case anyone out there was worried by my blog silence). I got home last week, and then left again! I went to my cousin's graduation, visited my parents, and am spending the week at Small Friendly College for a Wilderness First Responder course. Here's hoping I can get some work done too.