Thursday, March 29, 2012

Wikipedia Fail

My Cambridge professor began our year last year with a very long lecture on plagiarism.  Part of the lecture included a stern talk about using Wikipedia as a source.

Who is he kidding?

I have gotten to the end of a nearly 100 page chapter on ritual and sacred space in a British book published in 1637.  It will be one of my main primary source documents but one question has thus eluded me: the whole thing is a snarky rebuttal against a pamphlet published by a man the author always calls "the Doctor." I probably need to use "the Doctor's" original argument to set up my arguments about my primary source, but I can't figure out who on earth "the Doctor" is supposed to be!  (Yes, my friends, I do believe that I have found my own evidence of the existence of a time-travelling humanoid alien, but I don't think my supervisor will buy it, somehow.)

So, this little bell goes off in my head and I think "maybe, just maybe." I open up a new google window and type in "Heylyn's Antidotum Lincolniense" (the book is mostly in English, I promise, but I guess the Latin titles looked more impressive back then...probably still do! Ha!).

Did you know there is no Wikipedia article on Heylyn or his ginormous rebuttal against this anti-ritual "Doctor"?  All I wanted was a nice brief history: Heylyn was so-and-so, born in this year and lived in this town.  Wrote a tract against Doctor so-and-so's pamphlet titled such-and-such published in blank year.

Was that too much to ask?

Don't worry Professor of mine. Apparently I have outgrown Wikipedia. It will be of absolutely no use to me this dissertation around.  Maybe next time.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Heartbeat

I survived college. I survived it well, too. I juggled a lot of things throughout the years: projects, papers, exams, painful homework assignments that took way too long to complete for far too little reward, every-night language study, hours of flute practice, a happy social life, service in the church, sleep...eventually I added courtship-engagement-marriage, grading huge stacks of papers, writing multiple lesson plans per night and teaching multiple classes each day to the whirl. I got it all done - perhaps not as proficiently as possible with fewer demands on my time, but done and done well. Somewhere during all of that college hubbub I decided that come what may, I could do it all. The process might be painful, but I could meet the requirements of my daily schedule, whatever they may be.

I remained determined that this was so as I headed off to Cambridge. Though I faced many different challenges (which tested me to my limits - I came back a wiser, more pensive person), I actually had far greater latitude with my time than I had experienced in a very long time. Thus, I came back from Cambridge with the same belief that whatever came my way would get finished, regardless of the challenges.

It is now March and I am panicking! I realize now that my attitudes were far too confident! Too late, though, to save me.

I'm trying three new things at once - three very new things. I've never written a dissertation before, and sometime a few weeks ago I realized that I have no idea what I'm doing. I feel utterly lost. Always a good feeling 3.5 months before the due date! STRESS!

I'm also working full time for the first time in my life. It's a great company; they need me and are putting my skills to work! Very rewarding in its own way, but very time-consuming also. Most of my energy is used up at work, which is really, really not a good thing when a dissertation is waiting at home. The job is definitely the most dispensable of the three current demands on my time, but I have made a commitment to them and I feel terrible when I even consider walking out on my co-workers and employers.

The third new thing?  Pregnancy.

And hopefully this is where you understand that my panic paragraph above is mostly jest. Life is good and I am grateful. But I also laugh cynically and shake my head at the girl who carelessly assumed that all things magically finish themselves somehow. Pregnancy, as wonderful as it is (supposed to be), has drained ALL of the energy out of me. I lie on the couch and stare at my closed computer lying on the floor across the room hoping wildly that this darn thesis will write itself. I have yet to see the magic paragraphs, so I'm begrudgingly beginning to accept that now I really WILL have to do it all. It's not going to be pretty.

Shame, too! My topic is SOOOOO COOOOL.  Can I emphasize that enough? And I have sacrificed so much already for this program. I would love to finish it with a bang! But my thoughts are currently elsewhere.....

Like on the heartbeat I heard for the first time last week. I was so terribly afraid that there would be no sound to hear. As if to confirm my fears, the doctor had a challenge locating the heartbeat and for many long minutes there was just the soft whir of nothing. She found it eventually, though, and for the first time in my life, I listened to a sound that was almost beyond my comprehension. A heartbeat, from my stomach! I finally felt a glimmer of awareness that there was a small life growing within me - a beautiful, healthy life!

Before then it hadn't felt real at all. The sickness and the discomfort felt very real, but despite all the hopes and prayers Dave and I have had throughout our marriage, I have recently felt mostly flat. I don't know how else to describe it...just flat. No emotion, no understanding of the life-changing implications. After an evening of tears one day, Dave helped me decide to spill the beans to our family members, like, right. then. I needed their excitement to boost my own feelings of excitement, and their happy tears, cheers and choruses of "For s/he's a jolly good fellow!" definitely helped. I love that we can share news like that and know that those who love us the most are rejoicing in the most pure and beautiful ways for the happiness that a new little life will bring to us and to them. Family is truly the most precious thing in the world, and that is why this trial is going to be worth it. For all the added stress that my dissertation will now bring to me as time pounds towards the deadline, I know that the reward will be worth it. I'm working on copying and pasting that concept from my head to my heart. Difficult right now. But getting there.