Christmas is coming and so is my deadline!

It has been almost a month since I last published my blog – not that anyone reads the researchy bits anyway, but there you go. Apologies. So the last three weeks have been about trying to do another draft of another Narrative Chapter for my thesis and not quite getting there. Luckily I’ve one I wrote back six months or so, so at least I have something to be going on with. I’ve been trying to finish my transcripts and they are the most boring things of all, and it is those elements of my research that have slowed me down the most. I have to sit in the kitchen to do them because the noise in my study is just a little too high for comfortable transcription and then I have to concentrate! This is the most boring bit of all. Transcription, let’s face it, is crap work.

So hubby and I recently went to another conference in Perth, Australia. It was the Power of Music Conference and it was a really enjoyable conference. Something for everyone and there were few sessions missed. We missed the last day completely, but I find these things so tiring and the keynotes didn’t appeal to me that morning. Both hubby and I delivered our papers on the first day, and then I spent a good deal of time ensuring people like Profs Gary McPherson and Jane Davidson know who I am and that I am referencing their research in mine… Particulary the lit review; I am seeing the parallels in their work that have resonances in my own. This could be important in future. My paper was on emotion in singing teaching and learning, so I might be able to weave this into my thesis somehow. I think it’s important, but I don’t want to revisit old ground if it transpires that my emotion paper needs to be divided into other elements, like the learning and teaching relationship, that sort of thing.

So, timelines for December – January: submit all three draft narrative chapters to my supervisor, then submit draft chapters to her for my lit review and my methods chapter. All by the end of January.

Then, in February, I’d like to revisit my literature entirely, and begin to formulate my discussion/conclusions chapter.

Once I have submitted my drafts to her I will feel a lot better about where I am at. But it’s hard to focus, once again, on my work. I need to sing and I’ve not done any meaningful thinking today.

What I HAVE done, of course, is send out my CV to the two main tertiary institutions in the state that have advertised for casual tutoring/lecturing for 2012. I desperately need about 6 hours work a week (or, in other parlance, $100 an hour for 13 weeks) and I don’t care if it’s singing teaching or lecturing or tutoring. As long as I get something! And since none of it starts until March, I should be fine for my thesis, as most of it should be drafted by then anyway, if plans go as they ought.

So, today was a reporting and planning exercise. Sorry folks, no meaningful dialogue today, but I’m starting to move on the ideas front a bit. And that’s a good thing.

Oh! And we bought the children their Xmas gifts already, and I’m nearly done with the other family members. So it’s all looking good for Xmas.



Running (crawling) to the PhD finish line

This is the PhD section where life gets hazy and thinking gets confused. I’m heading into the time-honoured place where I’ve about had enough of working on the PhD because I realise there is life after PhD land, and life after PhD land appeals to me right now. Mainly because I am deep in data analysis and I have to keep poking my head up to think about things like substantive theory, thesis shape and other annoying elements of PhD land.

It was great to see my friend Rache on Monday and just clear up a few things about my talk on Friday – I was chasing my tail, as often happens on one’s own, when one is not able to discuss thesis and ideas with others. She cleared it up beautifully! So I went home, redrafted my pptx, and it now looks much more elegant, simple and clearer to understand. I have refined my literature review to two main areas: Cultural Psychology, and Narrative Inquiry. I will throw in the references to other research in Motivational studies, Expertise studies, Identity studies and various music studies, but I’m not putting them up on the PowerPoint, as they are not the focus right now. I can’t show everything!


Attending Conferences

Fun, or fraught? Sometimes both. In the last three years I have attended some 10 conferences and I have had some of the most amazing experiences. I have also attended some terrible conferences. I’ve just finished attending and ASME conference on the Gold Coast. I was to attend all four days, but my courage deserted me yesterday. My mother-in-law is in hospital and in the end it was all too much to drive to the Gold Coast, some 45 minutes away to see some papers I was not sure I cared about. I probably would have learned heaps, but sometimes one needs to step back a bit.

So, now I have another paper to send to my supervisor, to talk about potentially publishing it. I’d like to have 6 publications in train by August next year. Can I do it? They take so much energy, but at the same time they’re a great primer for the PhD. Will ponder this.

In the meantime, I am heading to Melbourne for a writing retreat, and I’m both excited and worried about it. I have had some good writing days just recently and I have packed a heap of books to read and all my equipment, but one is never sure how the whole thing will turn out. And because Winter in Melbourne is very cold, I’ve had to pack three coats, boots and various warm things. Should be a good escape, though.

Workshops: not sure I like ’em

I gave my workshop to the bunch of third and 4th year PE students yesterday, working with them on voice use, and it went fairly smoothly, I suppose, but I’ve realised something: I don’t really like giving them. I like to build my relationships over time, and there is no time in a workshop to do that. So I subsequently felt I was dictating to the students rather than helping them to learn much needed skills about voice use. And, as is always the case in these instances, I was reflecting-in-action and having to fix things up on the spot. Which is annoying because I spent so long working on the talk, so missing out some little important details just bugs me. I came home feeling quiet and a bit miserable, and soon felt I was not very well, which has translated into today. I’ve been feeling a bit tired and under the weather, sadly nothing to make me not work, but I went to bed for a lie down for several hours yesterday, which was a lovely moment of repose.

But now, of course, I have many things yet to do. I’ve found pretty much all the articles I want to include for the writing retreat on Monday, and I’ve heaps of work to do on it, and I have to spend more time on my transcriptions, which I’ve neglected while doing all this other stuff. I can’t afford to ignore them as I have a paper to deliver in a couple of weeks at ASME, and I’ve not even started it yet!

So Thursday and Friday, Saturday and Sunday I will be transcribing, preparing the article by putting together the lit review; preparing my paper. Then, Monday and Tuesday it’s off to the retreat; and then the remainder of the week is getting ready for the ASME conference – three days to prepare my paper. I’ve cut it fine this time! Lucky I’ve a writing retreat of my own coming up.

No posts means I’ve been busy!

This could be a good sign, or a sign that my work is being swamped by grant writing considerations.

Hopefully, at the end of today, when I hand over grant writing operations to another RA, that will be the end of it and I can work unimpeded on my PhD until its completion in 2012. Aside from some singing teaching.

I’m getting excited and nervous about it, because I am enjoying this year so much I don’t want it to end, but also concerned that I am running out of time to finish!

Thank goodness for my writing retreat: one at present, one in July, one in September and the next will be from January 2012. These retreats will include no other work at all. This is my promise to myself!

Plus some important conference papers to write and an article or two. I’m aiming for three articles over the next 18 months, and four conferences. That should see me through.

Solutions to the old and tired life: get active

Well, after a fairly exhausting conference – particularly if one is presenting – and saying goodbye to my 18 yr old son who has decided that life in Melbourne is more to his liking than life in Brisbane, I discovered the best way to get over the grief and sadness and tiredness of his going is to get active. Get busy, get cleaning. It so happened that the hard rubbish collection was due over the weekend. We took the opportunity to get rid of old filing cabinets and the usual collection of mechanical detritus on our front lawn. Funny, to say the least, that curb burglars then mussed up our neatly piled up junk and took the bits they preferred, leaving the complete dross behind.

It was such a relief to get rid of old and unwanted things, even those which had served me so well, including the old colour printer and various other implements. We removed old broken things and even said good bye to a working cathode ray tv. We noticed that nearly every household was getting rid of their old tvs – it was sad to see the passing of an era, but, like us, I guess people, once they had tried the new tvs, couldn’t get rid of the old ones fast enough. Curb burglars were raiding the insides of them and leaving the cathode ray in the box – there’s probably gold in there. I said goodbye to an old, very good quality mini Sony stereo – the radio still worked, but various connections weren’t working so well anymore, and the CD player had ceased to work years ago; plus no-one plays tapes anymore… I hope the person who took it has a great time with it – the speakers are excellent.

We moved rooms around, set up a really lovely guest bedroom with the spare parts from Blake’s life – his bed, the desk, his storage units from Ikea, and rearranged Zoe’s room. She is thrilled with her new/old Ikea storage unit and the crappy desk which we will paint pink. Her room is fully set up now with the old computer (not connected to the internet) and she couldn’t be happier, even if her furniture is a mish mash of old cast offs, like castaways on a desert island, in her room.

And, to top it off, I made a lamb roast which the children wolfed down. They were lovely to me during my grief-stricken day. But I am better now. I spent money I don’t really have on things I don’t really need for the studio; – well, I DO really need them, but I could JUSTIFY NOT getting them on the basis of cost and cash flow. I bought an HP monitor – 20″, cheap as chips, and a desk chair (another one) for my own desk. And the children set up our Christmas trees, which has lightened my mood considerably. I’m so much happier about things now, even while I continue to mourn for my boy – I will miss him dreadfully. But he’s not dead, he will no doubt come and visit throughout the next year and I have finally paid off his school fees. That’s it – the last of them gone, and the chance now for me to get my credit card bills down to a dull roar. I’m planning on paying it off next year and reducing the limit from $15000 to $7500. I haven’t paid it down for years and I’m sick of paying the interest and living beyond my means. So that’s in hand, too. If I pay it off at $1000 per month or thereabouts, it will be no time before it’s completely gone and then the saving can begin in earnest. I want to own my own house!!!!

Nime3 Conference

I have spent the last three days attending the Nime3 Narrative Soundings conference. I have found myself only partially attending to the very interesting presentations and I wonder: am I all conferenced out? Am I done going to conferences for anything other than the networking opportunities? While I have enjoyed listening to some of the presentations I have discovered that my mind wanders and I am drawn to attending to other things, like blogs, Facebook and online banking. Perhaps I need to confess: I am only interested in the work of Graham Welch and a few others in illuminating some of the work that they do. I am not really interested in Narrative Inquiry for its own sake as I have attended many workshops and talks already. Maybe I’m tired, too. I’m saying goodbye to my son tonight. He returns to Melbourne tonight and he’s leaving on a jetplane, don’t know when he’ll be back again. We took him out to dinner last night and then to a club where we listened to funk/jazz. I drank 1 too many glasses of champagne and I am old and tired today, sad and quiet.

Work getting in the way of study

Well, my bottom is getting fatter and fatter as I sit for hours in front of my computer, working on reports and grant submissions and anything other than my study. I’ve sent my Nime3 conference draft to my supervisor, but instead of doing my transcriptions, because that is the most boring thing ever (and weirdly engrossing, as I may have mentioned), I have taken the opportunity to work on an ARC grant submission. It has been great practice for any future grant preparation as I now know the difficulty of the work needed to submit these things.

I wish I had known about grant submissions when I was an undergraduate, and that we were made to do one in preparation for life outside of uni – I might have thought about the way in which I developed my career a bit more. Anyhoo, grant preparation is time consuming and boring, but also engrossing, and interesting and will be very useful to put on my CV once this has finished.

Whew! Time to go home now – it’s a big weekend. Tomorrow my students and I perform in a concert, then I race out to my step daughter’s birthday party. Then, tomorrow night me and my son attend a freebie concert with the Spooky Men’s Chorale. I’m hoping Sunday will be a bit easier!

The day after the day before

It has been a huge week here at chez Jess. We’ve had children staying with us, friends, a conference to run and attend. We’ve picked up people from the airport and dropped them off. We’ve entertained visitors, discussed new editorships. We’ve stayed up until all hours preparing presentations and ensuring conference delegates are cared for. We’ve had multiple meetings and thousands of minutes to prepare. We’ve launched a book, gone out to dinner at Rydges and seen more about singing pedagogy than most teachers will see in a lifetime. To top it all off, Scott has been awarded three times for his services to music, research and teaching. He received $3000 in his research account for services to research; he was awarded a certificate of recognition for his services to ANATS, and best of all he won an ALTC award for teaching excellence in the Humanities and the Arts. We’re exhausted. I’m almost catatonic and can barely drag myself around the house today! And I have teaching from 5pm. Oh well, life rolls on.