Thursday, August 28, 2008

To get me out of my slump...

I just remembered NaNoWriMo:!!!

The premise is just crazy enough to appeal to me.

I have wanted to do this ever since I found out about it last year. It might seem like something stressful, but it is really just all in good fun. The "novel" can get as crazy as you want it. Anyway, I am perked up a bit now.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

Feeling the PhD burn: Or, time for me to vent.

When I trained for the Mercedes Marathon in 2004, I remember everyone talking about how marathon runners eventually hit "the wall." I trained and trained, running/walking 12, 14, 18 miles. Nothing happened. Then, one day, my running partner, Linda, and I went on our longest run yet: 24 miles. While on this run, I hit "the wall." "The wall" is really just a mental barrier. Your mind says that you must stop everything and tries to convince you that you absolutely cannot go another step. (My body wanting to refuse another step came at about mile 22.) Anyway, though it felt like it was going to last forever, after about 3/4 of a mile, I broke through "the wall." Still, my body paid the price. Long distance running is fine for me up until a point. I do really well until about 18 miles. After 18 miles, though my legs will keep going, my body begins to react in strange ways and I become ill. So, that was the end of my marathon training.

Now, what does this have to do with the PhD? Well, I think I am close to hitting the wall. I have worked and worked for years without a break. Since 2000, I have earned an English undergraduate degree, a Masters in English, a Masters in Library and Information Science, moved to a new state, begun a PhD program in Florida, left Florida and worked at a feverish pace for IRD during the worst summer of my life (not due to IRD), dealt with my dad's illness during that summer, returned to Alabama for more PhD work (basically starting over on paper...meaning more class time), taught two classes I have never taught before (exciting but time consuming and stressful due to all new lesson plans and angst), continued to take care of dad, presented at two conferences, began working at a new job part-time, and tried to read as much as possible for my reading list for comps (coming up this spring). I know that most of this is normal PhD business. But, I feel really down right now. I feel tired, unresponsive, and incapable of creativity. The thought of teaching makes me tired...even though the minute I get in there I love it. I think I am really close to hitting the wall. I don't think I am there just yet, and that is a sad thought. Anyway, I suppose I will wait for it to pass. I keep thinking about the 24-mile run...I did break through the was just torture waiting it out!

Saturday, August 23, 2008

Congrats to my super athletic cousin!

Congratulations, T! Although I still think it takes someone a bit crazy to swim in the Alcatraz Challenge, I admire you. For those who are wondering: my fabulous cousin, T. (Theron in the real world...but he will always be "t." to me) Wells, won 2nd place in the Alcatraz swim today!!! We are a fabulous family...even if you and Jeff are the only ones who are athletically inclined.

Julia London

Books-a-Million actually had an author signing today (though it wasn't very well advertised). Julia London, a fabulous historical romance author, came for a visit. It was great to meet her and I can't wait to read the new book!

Sunday, August 17, 2008

A secret...

I am coming clean. For about four years, I have been addicted to the following game:

In fact, I am addicted to "SuperArcade." Whenever I just need to zone out, it is perfect. Anyway, for all of you who like mind-numbing activities, try the game. It is fun!

Saturday, August 16, 2008

A link to my dad's song!!

Here it is:

He wrote it when he was 13/14 with his sister Jeanne! It is the second one, by the "Crazy Teens"!!

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The one day that I need the bus...

And it is not running! (The bus system on campus, I mean.) We can only park in our designated commuter zones (free for all commuter parking is no more). So, my zone is over near Ten Hoor....and I had to walk all the way to the Bryant Conference meet with someone who wasn't there....then walked all the way to Alabama sit for 45 walk all the way back to Bryant Conf. Center...and...well...who knows...because that is coming up in about fifteen minutes.

And it is very humid my hair looks like a freak show "do".

Friday, August 01, 2008

I am back!

Well, the trip is over! My plane was delayed last night in Atlanta due to bad weather. So, I didn't actually step foot in my house until around 1 a.m.

A mini run-down:

Day 1 (Thursday, July 24): Travel (BHM to ATL; ATL to London-Gatwick)

Day 2 (Friday, July 25):
Arrive in London around 8:30; long line at customs/passport check; take bus to Oxford; check in at Magdalen College...

Photo: Magdalen College (part of it, anyway!)

(my room was on the first floor and opened up to the deer park!):
Photo: Deer outside of my window at the deer park!

Attend beginning sessions; sleep!

Day 3 (Saturday, July 26): Breakfast in Magdalen's Great Hall (dining hall); attended one session; presented my paper at 11:15 in the Daubeny Laboratory; lunch with Sylvia from Germany; sessions in the afternoon; feast in the Great Hall (awesome!):

Photo: Me next to the phone booth prior to the great feast!

Rowling autographed copies auctioned; lots of wine; sleep.

Day 4 (Sunday, July 27): Overslept and missed breakfast (probably due to wine); sessions in the morning; lunch in the Great Hall; check out of Magdalen College (very sad); moved a block away to Eastgate Hotel (very nice...highly recommend...but no elevator); went wandering without a map...the best way; ended up at Christ Church college and decided there was no time like the present to walk in the footsteps of Snape:
Photo: Me in the dining hall at Christ Church...filming location in HP!

....went to the famous Alice and Wonderland shop; stopped for dinner; went back to the hotel and crashed...I think I watched some television!

Day 5 (Monday, July 28):
Woke up and went to a little used/antique book store on the High Street; dropped in at the internet cafe; went to the Botanical Gardens:
Photo: Flowers at the Botanical Gardens.

...begged to enter the Shelley monument at University College that is closed to visitors (granted permission!):
Photo: Shelley Monument

...walked to the top of the St. Mary tower and took photos (little stone medieval steps...not for those in bad shape); wandered down the High Street; shops; ate lunch at the covered market (very fun place); found the famous Blackwell's Book Store on Broad Street; shopped at Blackwell's (HP adult editions and other books); toured a few colleges; shopping; dinner; hotel and watched a crazy documentary on illiteracy in England and then a show on Charles and Camilla!

Day 6 (Tuesday, July 29): Woke up and wandered down the High Street; ended up at Blackwell's for coffee (spent a long time there!); Bodleian library tour (fantastic...old man David is the best tour guide!); the science museum (very interesting):
Photo: Navigation instruments at Science museum circa 1600s...I think.

...went to the Ashmolean museum (oldest); lunch in covered market:
Photo: Covered market.

...Trinity College; Christ Church meadow; sightseeing of lots of colleges from the outside; walking and wandering; dinner; hotel; packing.

Day 7 (Wednesday, July 30): Woke up and made one last trip to Blackwell's for coffee; wandered around; internet cafe; packed; checked out of Eastgate Hotel; caught bus to Hilton airport hotel at Gatwick; room service; sleep.

Day 8 (Thursday, July 31):
The day from hell. Woke up, checked out of Hilton; and spent three hours at Gatwick. Flight to ATL. Delay at ATL for 8 hours. Arrive in BHM at 11:45 p.m.

It was a great trip, but I am exhausted.