Wednesday, November 17, 2010

European PhD opportunities

I'm finishing up my PhD, but I thought I'd share a link that I had been passed a little while ago.

"It provides a structured overview of Europe's PhD programmes, so students can find and compare studies across Europe. The website already receives 35,000 visitors each month, rendering it the perfect way to promote your doctoral positions or programmes."

I know there are similar post-doc repositories as well.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Just a few more days

I fly out to see my honey on Saturday afternoon. I'll be with him until December 1. That's quite a chunk of time together. I am glad that my schedule can accommodate it. I hope that I will be just as lucky for Christmas and sometime in the spring. However, I am starting to fear that this may be the big trip until I finish   :(

In the first weeks that my honey started his new job, we were still able to chat via IM, email, and video chat several times per day. This last week or so has been less so. He's adjusting his schedule to that he becomes a morning person which is better for me. I get sleepy towards midnight and feel bad when we don't get to talk because I'm in bed.

I know it's silly, but I really miss being with him all day long. I know most people don't get to be with their significant other at work. That's been an essential piece of who we first were as a couple. I am saddened to think that I will likely never have that again since I want to go into academia and he does not, and even if he did, it would be extremely unlikely that a department would hire both of us.

I just want to feel more connected. I really miss the everyday.

On another note, I am seriously contemplating getting a home cleaning service while I finish my PhD. It was much easier to keep house when there were two of us. Plus my honey is much more of a neat-nick than I am (lucky me, but unlucky him!).

Tuesday, November 9, 2010


I feel a bit better after yesterday's meltdown. My Honey pointed me to Focus by Leo Babauta. The take home messages there are to simplify and streamline. Get rid of distractions.

Yesterday, I cleared my Reader -- as in I have no more RSS subscriptions. I'm not particularly good with self control.

Today, I disabled audio notifications of email on my phone and set everyone aside from my immediate family and co-workers to "never show" in GChat.

I also installed LeechBlock by James Anderson into my Firefox. I created a "NoEmail" task in which I will only have 15 minutes of access to GMail every hour between 9am and 5pm. This starts tomorrow and we'll see how I do. (Yes, I will have access on my Android phone as well, which is why it was imperative for me to disable notifications. If I absolutely need to deal with email, I can always fire up Safari.)

I've taken over my Honey's former office. It is an empty office while my department conducts its job hunt. According to Focus, it's the best place for me to go since there are no distractions. Given the past two days, I would agree with that. However, I am not a morning person and now that I am alone, I don't like waiting for the bus or walking to my car late night, which means that I don't like to stay too late.

I have given considerable thought now to rearranging my apartment so that the central focus is my writing space. It would be a bit of a task to rearrange, but I think it would help me focus to have the desk in the center of the space. Perhaps this weekend.

Monday, November 8, 2010

First meltdown

It's been about a month since my Honey left and tonight was my first meltdown. I vowed to write everyday and push through this PhD. But I have so many other academic commitments that cannot be neglected that my time is quickly eaten up. I've written maybe a page total in the last month. I am very frustrated.

I was reading a book about how to write your dissertation in 15 minutes today. Emphasis on the WAS. It has done nothing but distressed me and frustrated me further. Tonight to tears. I've not been writing, and I've spent the last three weekends with my sister. I just feel like I am falling behind. The book says I don't have time for a puppy, or to have lengthy social visits, or keep a semi-clean house by myself and that all rings true with me.

I feel like I don't have the support structure I need. I don't have someone who can help me academically like I helped my Honey. I felt resentful tonight of that and I resented that my Honey isn't here to help me through the dissertation process. At the same time, I know that he is the catalyst for speeding up this process.

There is no closure to this post. Just venting my frustration, crying my eyes out, and falling asleep now because I am over-tired.

Friday, October 29, 2010

In need of a writing habit

Recently, I've discovered that my mind is clearer first thing in the morning.

I'm listening to "Writing Your Dissertation in 15 Minutes A Day." I've listened to a 25% of the book and it does resonate with me. I do feel that I've been putting off my dissertation because I can't focus on any one topic. There are several that are interesting to me. I am choosing the one that will get me done the fastest. What resonated with me in the book was hitting on the gamble that the topic may not work out at all. A null result is not really what I want to go out into the job market like that.

I also feel right now that my topic still feels quite vague. I need to do some preliminary work now that I have my meetings from last week gave me a go. I have a population and equipment, which is decent forward progress.

Next week, I will write each morning at home. I've tried writing at school but there are just too many distractions.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Major packing and relationship advice

I visited with my parents yesterday. My dad proceeded to give me relationship advice now that my sweetie and I are now bi-coastal. Without knowing the term, he talked about the trickiness about the "two body" problem. My dad was concerned about the distance over a long period of time and has urged me to finish as quickly as possible. My thoughts exactly!

But, the next part was a bit unexpected. He also talked about me watching out for my job opportunities and not necessarily to go to the top, highest earning place. My dad talked about relationships needing compromise. None of this is a surprise to me, but coming from my dad was.

Interestingly, my sister has also said something similar years ago about either my sweetie or I needing to choose whose career path to follow. My sweetie and I are both very strong researchers, so that will be a tough call to make. As he finished first, we are following his now until I finish. My sweetie is shaking the trees to find me opportunities as well.

I can picture myself at a top tier research institution. But! Is that what I want? I've recently learned that the lifestyle I envision for us and raising a family doesn't work well with that crazy workload. Anyways, that's another thread to follow up on later.

Since Friday, I have been majorly packing for my sweetie. We'd already done quite a bit, but this move is different since it is across the country and all through FedEx! I'll say this: it is much easier to sweep everything into moving boxes than actually take the time to prioritize to ship the important things. Nineteen boxes later and I have my living room back.

With all of the boxes gone and the server gone, the apartment feels quite a bit empty. I can reach my bed without tripping, but I miss the hum of my sweetie's computer and the lights from it that I've seen for the last four years.

No major insights today. Just me putting my thoughts out into the world.

Saturday, October 23, 2010


I had a sleep over at my sister's this weekend. It's my first weekend without my sweetie asleep beside me. It was a little strange to be sleeping at my sister's. I fell asleep fine, but waking up in the morning was odd. Strange place (well not strange, but not my own) when I woke up.

I worry that people worry about me. I did tell my sister about my concerns about depressing and about the options for getting help and talking with people. I know though that I need to work out a few things for myself as best I can before that path comes up.

What I worry about is that people will worry me too much and want to keep me entertained. I need to balance seeing people (being socially active) with getting finished. My sister actively entertained me while I was with her for 24 hours. Sleep over pig out and movies. And then retail therapy today too.

I don't want to wear out my welcome in other people's lives keeping me entertained.

Thursday, October 21, 2010

A better day

I'm not a morning person, so when given the chance to sleep in, I jump at it. Even weekday mornings. Especially this week. But not today... My body decided it was ready to get up when the alarm went off which put the rest of my day earlier than planned by almost 90 minutes. A good thing I think.

I got an article today from my advisor who suggested to use a similar technique to start my dissertation proposal. I felt like it was a nudge in the right direction. I have two important meetings next week which will decide if this project is the one is my dissertation topic. Turns out that there is also a college wide research grant for students due next week. All the material I am working on translates over to the application too. Bonus! It'd make for a nice score for my CV.

Today, I am feeling more hopeful. I read an article by Penelope Trunk about confidence and being in control as a solution for curing insomnia. She wrote about doing her research in taking sleeping pills to aid with insomnia. She wrote about how when she was younger and in a mental hospital for her eating disorder, she was told about how people's problems can cause problems and make their problems larger. For example, being anxious about failing at your job can cause failure at your job. You can become so locked in to the fear that it consumes you.

A dark story, yes, but she continued on about how once you set your mind to it, you can affect your outcome. Like a placebo actually. The difference is confidence and the belief in something.

Yesterday, I was contemplating putting myself back into therapy, but it's not helped me very much as I am already a self motivated person. The next step would be to go on an anti-anxiety medication for the next year but who knows what that will do to my body and mind. Today, I just tried to be confident and in the moment. It helped.

And I went to yoga.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Day 3

My sweetie left this past Monday early morning. This is Day 3. I'm already having a hard time. The worst parts for me are falling asleep at night and first thing in the morning.

For our 4 years together, we've spent almost every day and night together with the exception of business trips and family travel. We've each done opposite coast summer internships (3 months) and that was the longest apart. I get antsy after 4 weeks and go insane after 8 weeks. The only way I know how to deal with having a bi-coastal relationship while I finish my PhD is for us to see each other in person every 4 to 6 weeks. I'm going out for Thanksgiving and staying a week.

I have an extremely hard time with change, even when the direction of the change is positive. Part of what scares me is how deeply lonely I feel and how much I miss him. I know that this is a temporary phase in life and I am trying to deal with it as best I can. As a natural workaholic, I am keeping myself busy with work. But... there are moments when it is quite and my head clears, and I feel so alone.

My sweetie tells me over and over again that we are just a text, email, phone call, or plane ride apart. I do know this to be true. I think being with him every day and night and working with him makes this even harder. There are no more random hugs during the workday when no one else is looking. No pats on my head walking in and out of the door to check on things.

The deep loneliness is a clear indication that my depression looms strongly. For me, my depression has never gone away, but the opportunities for it to raise its head in the last 4 years has been few and far between. For the past two mornings and nights, I feel it there.

This distance is the strongest motivator I had to finish and finish quickly. I've drafted two proposals on previous dissertation topics, and started my third and hopefully final on Monday. I am trying to write every day. By next week, I want to have the motivation chapter complete as I have several important meetings which will decide if this is indeed the topic I will defend. *fingers crossed*

PS. While writing this tonight, my sweetie called. I do feel much better, but during the call, I recognized the possibility of my depression relapsing. I am fighting as best I can. I think I will starting going to the gym again; it helps me relieve stress, clear my mind, and sleep more soundly at night. Does anyone have any other ideas for fending off a relapse?

Hello World


Thanks for stopping by. This is an anonymous space to clear my head. I have a lot going on with life right now and I don't really feel like I can tell anyone about it.

Briefly about me. I'm a doctoral candidate in now my fifth year. Yikes. My sweetie of 4 years just defended his dissertation and moved across the country to start his dream job. Lastly, I've struggled with depression in the past.

This blog is going to be about my journey finishing my dissertation (well, actually proposing first and then doing the work). I'm going to talk about my now bi-coastal relationship and the two body problem that we face.