Archive for the dissertation Category

i didn’t think i looked like a homicidal maniac on crack, but i was wrong.

Posted in bff, disney princesses got nothin' on me, dissertation, etcetera, huh? on February 4, 2009 by drbolte

i can’t tell you how many times, over the past four weeks, i have heard a variation on the following: “you look SO much happier.” sometimes i am glowing, sometimes my eyes are shining, sometimes i am radiating something.

now, considering the fact that i am completely and totally happy and feel, in some ways, that i have found myself in lots of ways–like i have come home–this makes some sense.

HOWEVER.

tonight, from a person with granted not that much tact in speaking, i heard that i now no longer look haunted, stressed, angry, and upset quite so much anymore.

but wha?!?

i managed to sort of laugh it off, saying that could be because i don’t do much work anymore.

(true story. one for another time.)

but seriously…this is like the versions of the YOU LOOK FANTASTIC weight loss comments i get or have gotten. did i really look that bad before?

i guess i must have.

glad THAT’S over.  goodness.

word of the freakin’ day.

Posted in bff, dissertation, domestic goddess, faith is action, going quietly mad, i am not a gym rat, me, sigh, someday I'll be a real middle class girl on January 29, 2009 by drbolte

thwart:

–verb, used with an object.

1. to oppose successfully; prevent from accomplishing a purpose.

2. to frustrate or baffle (a plan, a purpose, etc.).

in one particular area of my life, smooth sailing is the order of the day. i feel led, guided, protected, and shielded from opposition or most anything bad.  it’s beautiful and wonderful and amazing and mind-bogglingly awesome (in the truest sense of the word awesome rather than the bill and ted’s version of awesome).

i had been wondering where the opposition would come because, if you don’t know, there is opposition in all things.

and i’m not saying there hasn’t been some degree of opposition in this area, but comparatively speaking, it’s been so…not.

and i’m not chasing trouble. please don’t get me wrong. no trouble please. i like how things are and i have no fear that they will change, really.

but i’d been sort of looking around wondering when the opposition was going to come.

and then, walking in the steady drizzling rain to work, contemplating how i was going to accomplish everything that i have to accomplish today, feeling like i was the biggest failure in the world because no matter what i try to do i can’t manage to do it, i realized.

THERE IT IS.

in every other area of my life, i feel thwarted.

it’s such a good word.

stymied. stopped. frustrated.

the weight loss? at a complete standstill. part of that is lack of good sleep. part of that is that i’ve been cooking for two lately and, until about two days ago, didn’t really realize that i could incorporate really healthy stuff and it would go over fine.  also…how do guys eat so much and not gain any weight at all?  my gosh.  it’s insane, really.  so i mean i guess i have a plan there, but…that’s been a unique challenge.

exercise? i’m lucky if i manage to do anything, or so it feels. today is a perfect example. i wanted to go run stadiums today. that was my plan. that’s my plan for every thursday evening.  i did it last week and it was AMAZING. i loved it. today? raining. and i have 500000 things to do before i leave for a weekend wedding tomorrow at 0 dark o’clock.  so i’m thinking, how am i going to get a really good calorie burn? and i get so frustrated that i could cry because i just have done so not great at this lately. i miss it.  but i don’t know how to do it all and when it feels this hard to even do 24 minutes of shred, i’m just not brave enough sometimes to do it.  but i get scared that if i don’t, i’ll backslide.  and i can’t backslide. i’ve worked way way too hard.

dissertation? i got one thing done in the last two weeks when my goal was to finish an entire draft of a chapter.  and that one thing? took me like four hours total. and on that day when i was dedicated to doing it? interrupted continuously.  i interrupted myself to forage for food for us and that ended up taking like WAY longer than i thought it would (my own fault, but still…). just as i was getting back to working, my roommate needed me to go home and get something for her. as in drive home and get it and bring it to her on campus. she’d do the same for me at any moment, so i did it, but her request came just at the time when i wouldn’t be able to return to my studying place so i had to pack up all of my stuff and then restart somewhere else.  that’s a perfect example.

i just feel like, in most of my life, i am walking uphill in mud against a bracing wind. it’s exhausting.  i am desperately trying. i sometimes think i’m not, but would i be this frustrated if i wasn’t? i don’t know how to do it better–i genuinely don’t, not without giving up things i don’t want to give up–and i actually don’t know if i’m managing to do anything at all. i don’t know if i’m actually progressing, perhaps imperceptibly, or if i’m standing still.

describing all of this actually makes the complete ease of the other area of my life even more incredible by comparison, actually.  he is the shelter to these bracing winds.

maybe that’s the point.

i need a plan.

here and now.

Posted in bff, c, dissertation, etcetera, faith is action, Life, me, wish i may wish i might on January 21, 2009 by drbolte

brookem wrote a beautiful post about posts she hasn’t written and couldn’t possibly write.

i echo her sentiments, and post only to add this: if i learn anything in the next few weeks and months, i hope it is to live in the moment.  i am, if you hadn’t already guessed, the big picture girl.  i think broadly, abstractly, often looking towards what will happen next.  i don’t think i do enough to enjoy the exact moment that i am in.

or do as much with it as i could.

i still find myself trying desperately to make everything fit into the time that i’ve been given, yet waste time fretting about how to do it instead of digging deep and using each moment in the best way possible.

i worry instead.  i worry about how to do everything  perfectly, not realizing that by worrying i waste an opportunity to do something.

i don’t know if this will make any sense to anyone else, or if i’m just putting it out there in the hopes that it will make sense to me.

i feel certain that i have to just let go, let go of the micromanaging instinct, let go of the insecurities that tell me that i can’t do it, let go of the fear that i’ll fail, let go of wondering what will happen next, and just fall into whatever it is that is so clearly ahead of me.

(that seems like a weird hodgepodge of imagery to me, freefalling and being led down new paths, but it feels appropriate.)

that’s scary, you know?

but as i’m being reminded recently, you can’t be brave without being scared. and you can’t be brave without making the choice to be so.

that’s my new goal.  forget the goals about shred (i’m still doing it…) and chapters and dance classes and books to read.

i just want to be brave.  in every moment that i can muster it, and even in those when i’m not sure that i can, i want to be brave.  brave enough to choose action over inaction. brave enough to choose words over silence. brave enough to choose silence over panic.  brave enough to choose confidence over doubt, patience over frustration.

brave enough to choose me.

i don’t think it’s the lint trap.

Posted in bff, c, dissertation, drama drama drama, faith is action, i am not a gym rat, i promise you that you won't care, me, sigh on January 15, 2009 by drbolte

have you ever noticed that when a dryer is slowing down, losing functionality, or when something is wrong with it, the first thing it stops drying is the heavy stuff?  jeans, fluffy towels, heavy sweatshirts? it’s like it’s breaking down but still has the capacity to exert effort…just not enough effort to really get the job done.

i feel like that dryer.

i don’t know if it’s a combination of an impressively erratic sleep schedule (i have no idea, on any given night, if i will go to sleep at 1 a.m. or 5 a.m.), eating worse than i have in a whole host of weeks (i think i ate a vegetable on sunday.  fruit on tuesday.  that’s as much as i’ve got for you…other than that, it’s been a carbfest), not exercising as much or as long as i want to/should, and feeling stressed in good and not-so-good ways about lots of things.

(yes, you can be stressed in good ways. shut up.)

i slept amazingly well last night.  i slept for more hours than i have in a while.  and yet now, not yet four hours after i woke up, i am 100% exhausted.  i really just want to go to sleep.

i know i have to fix this problem. i know i have to balance.  i know that i need to find a way to integrate everything into my life in a successful way.

but when my brain is this fuzzy, how do i do that? i think it’s already making me a little crazy and paranoid.  how am i supposed to be a complex problem solver too?

and how am i supposed to run the stadium tonight when i feel like this?

i don’t know how to do any of it.

and that sucks.

california dreamin’: days two and three.

Posted in dissertation, etcetera, forward my mail, holy smartness batman, i promise you that you won't care, me, School, teaching, will work for food on January 2, 2009 by drbolte

day two was panel day.

i dressed up, amazing black pants and the new teal shirt i got from the cousin for christmas. i looked good, i think, but you could tell i wasn’t incredibly invested in the conference because rather than suffering for my art in my kickin’ black heels, i opted for flats.

no one to impress, you see.

the best of the panels came at 830 am…the microblogging session about using twitter and new media (i.e. text messaging, blogging, etc.) in the classroom and what it means for our way of approaching literary studies and teaching. i really, really liked it. it was interactive, fun, engaging, and involved a BOO oklahoma icon from a UT prof.

i wanted to yell GO GATORS! but i didn’t.  be impressed by my professionalism.

that was pretty much the highlight of my day. the rest of them were fairly boring, even though i had great hopes for the travel writing ones.  they were good–don’t get me wrong. the scholarship was solid and the papers were certainly intelligent and thought-provoking. but i think my general sense of detachment abou the whole process made paying attention more difficult.

it could also have been the fact that 8500 people were at the conference.  that might have had something to do with it.

day three dawned much better, though.

SIGHTSEEING DAY!

we began by visiting what was perhaps the best concierge desk in the history of the world. he checked in at southwest for us, printed our boarding passes, gave us a map, and told us how to cheaply and efficiently reach all of our desired destinations.

then, we trekked out to see the painted ladies.

lest you think that was something squirrely, these are the painted ladies:

dscf0953

victorian houses.  GORGEOUS.  it was a wonderful day, as you can tell from the photo–full of sunshine and not very cold at all.  unusual for san francisco, but a blessing for us.

we then went to fisherman’s wharf, where we saw these:

dscf0969

those are the famous sealions that hang out at pier 39.  they were pretty cute.  we ate some fish and chips, wandered in some TACKY tourist shops, and headed off to ghiradelli square. we shopped some, ate some ice cream, and then got back in line to ride the cable cars.  the interminable lines.  or at least it felt like it…

there, we were privileged to be entertained by none other than…escapeman.

yeah.  he was in a straitjacket, chained to a pole. he proceeded to gyrate and seize until he had freed himself (admittedly a nice feat) and then asked us all for money.

it was odd.  it was hilarious. it was bizarroworld personified.

then we walked through chinatown, which was awesome because i bought a t-shirt for $1.88. i didn’t do that in nyc’s chinatown and totally kicked myself for it.  no one can say i don’t learn from my mistakes.

know what i DIDN’T buy in chinatown?

food.

(are you seeing a common theme? me and food…we need to be better pals that plan our interactions more frequently.)

oh well.

it was an awesome day, though. we felt like we managed to see much of the city by the bay for relatively cheap, and i felt like our walk through chinatown and back to our hotel felt like real travel and adventure as opposed to travel provided by an all-day cable car pass.

that may or may not make sense to you, but it does to me.

california didn’t disappoint, but by the end of day three, when i was preparing to get up at 330 to go to the airport for a 645 flight, i was ready to go home.

i hope the next time i go to the mla, i actually have a REASON to go.  you know, like real interviews or presenting a paper. i will say that my foray into giant conference world taught me that i am, in fact, smart enough to present at such an occasion, so next time i won’t be so intimidated.

but i was glad to get home, tired as i was.

and that concludes my travel stories.  boring, probably, but there you go.

you’re welcome.

shred day 9 (?) update: yeah, i tried to do level 2 again today and was pretty lame at it.  i am however (i think?) seeing muscle definition where there really wasn’t any before.  so, yay for that.  in related news, i am able to run a lot easier, except for today when my knees were not having it. i just don’t think that early morning is my time for exercise, as much as i wish it was. or at least not lately and not on a day when it’s maximum 40 degrees outside.

i’ve sort of abandoned the whole 30 times in 30 days thing since i took five days off for SF.  but i’m still committed to every day but sunday, and that’s kicking enough of my trash.

california dreamin’: day one.

Posted in dissertation, drama drama drama, grrrrr., holy smartness batman, will work for food on January 1, 2009 by drbolte

my saturday started at 4a.m.

if you’re horrified by that fact, think of how i felt when i had to haul my carcass out of bed having only slept for about three hours, ready to face a cross-country plane trip and the stress of a conference that was bigger and badder than anything else i’d been to.

good times, eh?

i got to the airport a bit later than i anticipated, only to find that my airline’s ticket counter was mysteriously closed.

as in NO ONE was there to check bags.  there was a line that wrapped around the terminal, but no one was there to get the process started, and i only had an hour before my flight.  so skycaps came to my rescue, and i was on my way.

what is it about smaller airports that the food choices are so abominable? what is about airports that they scalp you up one side and down the other for your money?  why does a bagel cost $40?  why do 8 bandaids cost $3?  i am fully aware of the truthfulness of the law of supply and demand when i fly.

i was hoping to eat before my flight, but i didn’t get enough time and if i had to eat a cinnabon, i would have thrown up completely. not that they’re not good–they’re great–but they’re also death in a box and who needs that before you get on a giant metal tube for four hours?

i thought you’d agree.

we landed in denver early. i was THRILLED because i was really ready to be off the plane. even if only for an hour, i needed space and time to stretch my legs.

and food.  seriously i was in massive need of food.

so we got in early and i was all YAYAYAYAYAYAY.

and then we sat.

for twenty minutes.

behind the plane that was at our gate that hadn’t left yet.

let me tell you, if there is a more frustrating situation, i really don’t know what it is.  i was not pleased.  the not pleasedness could have come from the fact that, at this point, i had been up for approximately seven hours with no food.

i don’t do well with little sleep and no food, just as an fyi.

so i ate a bagel and tried not to hate my life because i was getting back on a plane again.

but luckily, that plane ride was significantly shorter and was over very pretty snow-covered mountains, so i dealt well. and i arrived in san francisco with a degree of excitement that i didn’t really expect.  i got my bag in pretty short order and, after a quick call home to retrieve the confirmation number of the shuttle that i’d reserved, i went to find the shuttle pickup point.

which was supposed to be at the end of an arrow-filled route.

except that the arrows…they led NOWHERE.

exhausted and frustrated, i was about to cry when i finally found it.  whew.

so i made it to my hotel, only to realize that it was SWARMING with people and that everything i had ever heard about the mla–the chaos, the people, the insanity–was absolutely, 100% true.  good times.

long story short…TOO LATE!…i took a nap, ate some peanut butter crackers, waited for my mla roommate to get there, ate the most amazing crab cakes ever at an irish pub, and got ready for my foray into mla panel attendance.

it was a day.

vignettes.

Posted in dissertation, etcetera, faith is action, going quietly mad, Life, me, will work for food on November 17, 2008 by drbolte

Things aren’t all so tangible and sayable as people would usually have us believe; most experiences are unsayable, they happen in a space that no word has ever entered, and more unsayable than all other things are works of art, those mysterious existences, whose life endures beside our own small, transitory life.–Rainier Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet
i am clamoring to tell you how i feel right now, but i have no idea how to word it.  i feel weighted beneath a whole lot of things that i’m not sure i want to acknowledge, for most of them stem from so many insecurities that have yet to leave me.  when will they leave?  i wonder sometimes.  i wonder if they ever will, or if they, like so many memories, will hang on like annoying houseguests who have far outstayed their welcome.

My own brain is to me the most unaccountable of machinery – always buzzing, humming, soaring roaring diving, and then buried in mud. And why?–Virginia Woolf

i find myself unaccountably (sorry, virginia, to steal your word, but sometimes your words are better) jittery. i can’t quite focus, despite the many prayers to do so. the only thing that helps is activity. so i work out. a lot.  and yet, ironically or perhaps not at all, i lose nothing.  life makes me laugh.  a lot. but i find myself frustratingly unable to focus, to get this FRUSTRATING chapter finished. i speak of a literal chapter, the gothic one that i’ve been working on for AGES, but i suppose i mean more than that as well.

A journey is a person in itself; no two are alike. And all plans, safeguards, policing, and coercion are fruitless. We find that after years of struggle that we do not take a trip; a trip takes us.–John Steinbeck.

i am without a plan, really.  perhaps that’s a good thing.  i have no idea where i will be in a year.  i have no idea what i will be doing. i have no idea what to do except to keep stepping, into the dark. i think i use that analogy a lot.  but to me, right now? that dark is not just darkness. it is all-encompassing fog.  have you ever been in fog like that?  i grew up in it.  everything’s quiet. you feel entirely alone, even if you know that you are on a campus full of other high schoolers who are trying to navigate their way through it too. you unexpectedly run into someone, laugh nervously, move aside, and keep stepping.  but you are never unaware of your own blindness, even while seeing.

that is how i feel.  i feel surrounded by everything and nothing, as weird as that sounds.  protected and loved, for sure, but absolutely being pushed onto a road that i have never walked before.

i am scared.

You gain strength, courage, and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing which you think you cannot do.–Eleanor Roosevelt

i realized the other day that i have terrible posture.  i still sort of slump into myself, a habit born of years of wanting that to actually happen–wanting no one to notice me.  it’s not a position of strength. actually, it begins to hurt my back after a while.

it’s time to square my shoulders, isn’t it?  stand up straight?

yeah, i think so.

Don’t waste life in doubts and fears; spend yourself on the work before you, well assured that the right performance of this hour’s duties will be the best preparation for the hours and ages that will follow it.–Ralph Waldo Emerson.

i’m going to the stadium now, to walk up and down some stairs for an hour and think of nothing except why i have a really unnatural affection for chris brown and why my heart wants to explode when i climb stairs.

then i will come home and read some research and take some notes.  and then i will do church things. and then i will read some more.  and tomorrow, i will do something somewhat similar.  and the day after that.  and the day after that.

and i will live my way into my answers.

right?

redeeming this day.

Posted in all i want for christmas is..., dissertation, faith is action, me, perfect brightness of hope, the glass is half FULL, The Single Life, will work for food, wish i may wish i might on October 27, 2008 by drbolte

nine jobs applied for, three of which i actually really, really want.  total number of jobs i really really want and have now applied for, in case you are keeping tabs at home?  4.  all of which are west of the mississippi.

an all-day west wing marathon soothed the savage beast of this sore throat that seems interminable.  even theraflu didn’t really help.  cereal with milk, though, does.  odd, although not.  the milk likely coats my throat…and then makes it worse. good job, drbolte.

i am so looking forward to tomorrow, she says not at all sarcastically, because i found someone to work for me and it will be COLD tomorrow, so i’ll be able to bundle up like i did, sort of, today and stay in bed all day again with my laptop and will myself to finish the rest of these letters.  it’s awfully intimidating, you know, to try to sell yourself. i was planning on completely reworking every letter, but i end up really just sort of retooling the first paragraph and the last paragraph.  i think that’s probably okay.

i think it will be scary to put these all in the mailbox. i got to wondering recently when i’d start hearing back.  i think maybe soon?  i had to change my voicemail from the adorable message i had before–which said “you’ve reached the ridiculously adorable [drbolte]. you may proceed to worship me after the beep.”–to a boring, professional one.  ah, the travails of a job searcher.

but i’m grateful for every one of these jobs that give me hope.  genuinely i am.  odds are better, right?  all i need is one. one solid, good, awesome tenure track job.

i only need one good man too.

but that’s a whole other topic.

keep your fingers crossed on both accounts, okay?

miracles.

Posted in dissertation, faith is action, gators, i love my life, magic, shopping, someday I'll be a real middle class girl, the glass is half FULL, will work for food on October 23, 2008 by drbolte

i believe in a God of everyday miracles.

let me give you cases in point.

this week has been INSANE.  literally. i could have been driven mad by it all, let it totally throw me, let it debilitate me to the point where i couldn’t do what i needed to do. but i didn’t. i’m not saying it didn’t affect me–it did, enough to blog about it and talk to my mom about it for an hour–but then i got up, dusted myself off, and got moving again.

miracle number one.

yesterday might have been the nuttiest day of them all, what with homecoming float things that needed to be done (i promise, i’ll post pictures!) and the fact that i realized what a huge huge fat crisis my procrastination on job applications had created for me.  this job, the one that i was applying for? ABSOLUTELY PERFECT for me.  it’s way far away (just about as far away as you can get in the continental united states), but they’re looking for someone specializing in my field, who has a breadth of teaching experience including interest in/focus on writing, who also has an interest in contemporary lit/film/television.

well, hello. welcome to my schizophrenic career.

but they wanted A LOT of stuff. and they wanted applications to be COMPLETE by friday. most of the time when they give a deadline, it’s a postmark deadline. oh no. not this one.

so i prayed–oh boy did i pray–that i would be able to accomplish everything and that i would be able to let go of the float a little and let people help and that i would be able to meet all of my deadlines and that i would be able to do it well.

and even though it cost me $28 in extra shipping/overnighting costs, the application was complete and sent and will be there by 3 p.m. on friday.

of course they probably won’t even look at it until november 1st, but that’s neither here nor there. and let’s ignore the fact that i found a typo on the first page of the writing sample, one that i have missed for MONTHS now because it’s not so much a typo as a misspelling of an author’s middle name that looks normal but is actually ENTIRELY wrong.  let’s hope they skim over that like i do.

we got everything done for the float that needed to be done yesterday. today is just touch up and final touches.

i even had time to go to the grocery store.

miracles 2 through 278.

today, i am starting to work ahead through the job stuff, looking to not put myself in the position that i was yesterday, so i had to do some copying and some ink cartridge buying (good heavens, they are going to bankrupt me, i swear).  on my way back, i stopped at the bank near the mall.  and a tiny voice told me “go check out ann taylor loft.”

you may think this is a delusional voice that is born of my desire for retail therapy. no, not at all.  i don’t shop at ann taylor loft. it would never occur to me to go there, really, except that i had a conversation with law school girl about their suits.  but my plan was to buy a suit over christmas, just before my interviews, and to have mom pay for it. ah, plans.

i arrived and they were having a sale.  a big sale.

so i immediately start looking at the largest sizes they have. if you have ever had trouble buying clothes in a regular store, because you are too short or too tiny or too large or too tall, you will know what this impulse feels like. you will just sort of automatically gravitate toward the sizes that have fit in the past or styles that seem to work on you, perhaps picking up a piece or too that should be too small or too short or too whatever just for kicks because it’s insanely marked down and it would be a travesty not to at least try.

that’s what i did.  and i cried in the dressing room.

not because things didn’t fit but because, for the first time in my life that i can remember, most everything fit.  and pretty much looked good. and were in sizes that real people wear.  the pencil skirt still didn’t work–i don’t think i have the body for a pencil skirt, as much as i keep trying for it–but everything else fit.

including the most adorable hot pink jacket (it sounds so 1989 but it’s not. it’s SO adorable) with big black buttons and some pinstriped pants that were part of a suit.

i bought a suit. in a real girl size.  and i got it on ridiculous sale.

(WHY does the website say this is denim? it’s not denim! it’s charcoal grey with pinstripes! that’s not denim! what, are they TRYING to kill me?)

miracle number 6.

i have just applied for my first professor job.  i have just bought a suit to go on interviews for said professor jobs.  i have just made 40 copies of my CV.  the float is coming together, and we are finding people to ride on it and be ridiculous with us.

miracles are all around us.  and everything i seem to ask for, the things i need, are showing up for me.  i don’t understand how you can look around the world, at how we are so blessed in our time of need, and not see the hand of a loving God in that.

i see it.  i am blessed.

monday in ten words.

Posted in dissertation, faith is action, i am not a gym rat, me on October 6, 2008 by drbolte

starving.

exhausted.

stymied.

“what have i gotten myself into?”

maybe excited.