Unstuck in Time

The days keep doing this thing where they blend together; one week rolls into another and I don’t feel like I’ve accomplished much of anything.  This is particularly funny given how many things are on my desk right now.  The main problem is I’m smack dab in the middle of a bunch of big projects and, for whatever reason, the projects I have basically completed feel very distant.

Measure for Measure closes this Saturday, but the bulk of my work on this show happened over the summer.  I’m proud to have worked on it, but for whatever reason the show’s run doesn’t feel like anything real or tangible.  Insert some comment about the fleeting nature of live theatre here.

Twelfth Night rehearsals continue and we’re starting to really have a show.  We did some

at least campus is looking really pretty... if a little soggy due to the great thaw

at least campus is looking really pretty… if a little soggy due to the great thaw

costume/prop digging last night and have most of our cast clothed (of course, I’m one of the exceptions since my quick-changes partnered with the two drastically different roles I’m playing make me exceedingly difficult to costume… but!  I have a vast wardrobe and a gay best friend to help; we’ll work it out).  Again, this doesn’t feel really real yet… we’ll see what happens when we start inserting props and costumes into the rehearsal space.

I got a big proposal off my team’s desk for my ASTR sub-committee, but the project’s in a holding pattern until it is approved by the big cheese Executive boards.  We are doing a wonderful job of hurrying up to wait.  The brief thrill of excitement at having submitted the proposal was quickly quashed by the dawning realization that we had created a lot of work for ourselves, but couldn’t do any of it until we were given the official green light to continue.  Work hanging over my head about which I can do nothing is perhaps the worst feeling in the world.  Ah well; provided the project is thumbs-upped by all official parties, it should be a very useful thing for the Graduate Student community.  Here’s hoping!

I’m working on a lecture for the class I’m TAing.  Actually, I’m writing this entry as a method of procrastinating from compiling my research notes.  I’m certain that this particular project will become more real-feeling as soon as it is anything more than a pile of disparate word documents.  Maybe a PowerPoint will help.  PowerPoints always make things more real.

Reading, reading, reading for my coursework.  This is a tiresome and thankless job and there’s always more to do.  Completing the week’s reading never feels like an accomplishment because there’s just going to be more dumped on your plate right after.  Really, finishing your assigned reading for the week just means you should be working harder on your papers, presentations, abstracts, or side projects.  Blargh.

board doodle from my ancient theory class.  This is what we do in Grad School.

board doodle from my ancient theory class. This is what we do in Grad School.

German progresses apace (though I took the weekend off to be with my family who came to town to visit me).  As the date of my exam draws loomingly closer (it’s in April, it’s not really all that close), I worry more and more about my own ability to translate anything not written for an eight year old audience.  I’m probably ready to step up my practice reading to something a little more convoluted than Grimm’s.  The Grimm’s tales are great and they were wonderful to get my feet wet, but I’m reading them pretty solidly now (with the occasional pause for vocabulary check).  The test is going to be administered on the level of academic-style writing; not exactly children’s fables.  Ah well.  Bring on the crazy grammar constructions and crammed-together German words.

Podcasting is a constant joy interspersed with panic at finding the time to do it.  The posting has been on hiatus for a few weeks due to my Partner’s real-life exploding all over him.  We should be back tomorrow with the wrap-up of Comedy of Errors and then onward next week to one of my favorite plays Love’s Labour’s Lost.  In case you haven’t already, go check us out!  We make great buddies for your commute!

So despite my busy busy schedule, nothing seems to be landing at the moment.  My life may be fast-paced and exciting, but it’s all a bit hollow right now.  I’m certain the feeling will pass; really what I want is a couple weeks off and somewhere sunny to go without worry about Renaissance playwrights.  Is that an awful lot to ask?

Well, in any case, I did have fun with my family.  Here’s some videographic proof.

The Blahs

Whether it’s the lazy, hazy days of summer that have hit us here in Boston, a general sense of overall fatigue from the semester that I haven’t given myself a chance to recover from, or the moon being in the seventh house and Jupiter aligning with Mars, I’ve found myself deep within a case of the “blahs”.

You know the blahs.  That thing that happens that makes you want to do nothing more than sit on the couch and be a lump.  That thing that whispers lazily in your ear telling you “just one more episode, you didn’t actually want to go to the gym today”.  That thing that puts a fire-blanket over productivity and makes it nearly impossible to keep up with your “gotta do it now!”s (forget your “should do it soon”s).

For people with conventional jobs, while annoying, the blahs aren’t exactly life threatening.  You’ve still gotta get up, go into the office, do your basic functions, and come home.  You’re still accountable for your responsibilities to a boss, supervisor, team, company.  There’s going to be someone asking questions if your productivity takes a nose-dive for the bottom of the bar graph.

Unfortunately for me, summertime in academia is a very very difficult time during which to get the blahs.

Not only is there no one besides myself to whom I’m accountable, but I don’t even have any hard deadlines to work towards.  I’m awash in a sea of amorphous, ambiguous, and very large tasks which all require attention and diligence, but also provide the illusion that succumbing to the blahs could be alright.


My to-do list is no shorter than it has ever been, I’m just working on things that are long-term goals.  I’m trying to maintain better gym habits.  I’m putting a lot of effort into personal projects that fell by the wayside during crunch-time.  I’m trying not to give myself heart attacks while accomplishing my summer tasks, and I’m also trying to get in some of that rest that’s so crucial to being prepared for the fall.

But the blahs are not sated by ambiguous improvement, nor can they be fought with small accomplishment.

To help myself beat back the blahs, I’ve tried to create visual guides and land-marks for the things I’m doing.  I’ve created physical flash cards for my German vocabulary so that I can actually see how many words I know now that I didn’t know yesterday, a week, a month ago.  I’ve started stacking my used-draft-papers again to (hopefully) find some convenient fire in which to burn them when I’ve submitted the paper I’m polishing.  I’ve created a cheat-book of song chords for my ukulele so I can A) localize the songs I know and B) see how much I’ve learned since I took it into my head that I should learn to play a ukulele at a friend’s wedding a month ago.  There’s not much I can do about the gym other than pat myself on the back and have a nice shower when I return home, but endorphins and a few hours of temperature control (my place has many virtues, central AC isn’t one of them) are reward enough, no?


I, like this sheep, feel droopy about the ears

In my experience, productivity expands and contracts in direct correlation to the amount of time at one’s disposal.  Have A MILLION BILLION THINGS TO DO RIGHT NOW!? No problem, you will get them ALL done.  Have a lot of time on your hands and just a few projects with a bunch of space in which to accomplish assorted random other tasks?  Meh.  You’ll get done what you need to get done, but no more.

So as I struggle through my case of the blahs, I have every expectation that I will accomplish what I absolutely need to accomplish… but likely not so much as I had wished to accomplish.  With any luck I’ll be seeing some sunshine at the end of this gloomy tunnel and be able to kick my summer into overdrive as soon as I find some inspiration to do so.