Wednesday, 29 February 2012

Diary of an Honours Student: Week Two

If you missed out on me explaining what my Honours Thesis is, click here.

Well, folks, things are looking up.  While the sun is still shining, it's no longer sweltering out and I was even able to bring my pink jeans out of retirement this week.  People are smiling, cupcakes are being eaten, and I haven't spent a single lecture this week reading the Unit Guide as slow as humanly possible while a lecturer laughs self consciously and says things like "Don't get too overwhelmed now."

That being said, this week started off pretty strangely.

On Monday, after a lecture on HOW TO USE THE LIBRARY (As if I haven't been at the University for three years already... well, actually, no some of the stuff she said was new to me...) I went home.  I said to myself, "Self, today you are going to knuckle down and just get on with it."  I even wrote myself a little list; Track down articles that I identified as possibly useful from the bibliography of another article, transfer all Honours documents to a portable hard drive, get my laptop talking to the printer, and read at least 100 pages of Richard Nile's The Making of the Australian Literary Imagination.  So, I came in, and I sat down at my desk, and I opened the lid of my computer, opened a browser and I actually got on the AusLit database and started looking for those articles.  And I didn't stop until I found them.  All the while I was thinking, "Self, this is too good to be true, last week you spent a heap of time procrastinating and stuff.  Well done, Self."  Anyway, it turned out one of the articles I had on my list wasn't an article at all.  It was a book.  So I skipped merrily over to the Uni Library website (of course I mean this figuratively, you can't skip on the internet unless you, you know, scan yourself into the computer and become an avatar.  Duh.) and I typed in the name of the book and... it was out.  It wasn't just out on loan, either, it was out on long term loan until the end of semester.  It was out until June.  This told me two things.

 1) It told me that the person who had it out was either staff, or doing a postgrad/ research degree like myself.
2)  It told me that if I was really serious about needing this book, I was going to have to toughen up, be a bit of a bitch, and recall the book.

So, I took a deep breath, and I recalled it.  And if I recalled it from you, dear reader, I'm really sorry and I hope we can still be friends.  By the way, your hair looks fantastic.

I started to get a bit of an eerie feeling then, but I ignored it.  Later, I decided I'd plug one of the names of the authors I'm writing on into the Library Website, just to see what came up.  To my horror, the Library's copy of the book I was doing my thesis on was also out.  No big deal, really, because I have my own copy (signed, thank you very much) except that this book was ALSO out until the end of semester.

"Self," I said, "I think someone is doing the same topic as you."

This just made me determined to work harder.  Once I find this person, I will probably have to duel them.  This means it is time for a montage, in which I study surrounded by large piles of books and fall asleep in my notebook with my glasses askew (yes, I did borrow this analogy from Buffy.)

A few hours later, my neighbour decided to mow his lawn.

How boring, you say.  Lawn mowing.  You yawn, to illustrate how very bored you are.

But wait, there's more.  My neighbour owns the Barry White of all lawnmowers.  He drags it over the bricks at about 5 at night when the sun is just starting to get lower in the sky and the fading light is making me sleepy.  Scraaaaaaaape go the bricks.  And Barry White the lawnmower begins to sing.

My hands go to my ears.  My palms begin to sweat.  I grab great chunks of my own hair and have to stop myself from pulling them out.  It is like nails on a blackboard, the sound of Barry White the lawnmower munching on lawn.  Doesn't he know I am trying to study in here?!

My mother comes home.  "Mum!" I wail.  "John is mowing the lawn again!"  She looks at me oddly.  "So?"  I abandon this thread of conversation, not getting the sympathy that I want.  After about forty minutes, the mowing stops but I am in full sensory overload by that point.  I am fit to explode, all my nerve endings tingling, and I lie on my bed in a half foetal position.  I speak to History Boy on the phone, and he tells me to "Toughen up, Princess."  He is right.  Mum is right.  BUT THE THESIS MONSTER HAS ME IN ITS TALONS AND MUST BE OBEYED.  I shower, wash the stress down the drain, and then use this interesting little mental breakdown of mine to write a paranoid thriller set in the suburbs about a neighbour who tortures people by mowing the lawn at midnight.

Tuesday was not so eventful.  (And gosh, I hope you're still reading... this is turning into a looooong post.)  I made a list again.  Laundry, finish book, transfer notes to exegesis plan (no, I don't know what that word really means either), read articles.  In the morning, I began one of my assignments, then I went to the Library where it is literally only 10 degrees at the moment to make up for the fact that the aircon has been on the fritz all summer long.  I found (most) of the books I needed, checked them out, and then went to writing club.  (If you don't know about my writing group, you should click here.)  I met with my supervisor.  We discussed many things, chief among them relevant things, but also movies from the 1970s I should watch, student reactions to controversial books, and what I should do with my lawnmower tale.  I came home.  I finished the rest of my list... er... mostly... and then I went for a walk.

On this walk, I spent a fair bit of time with my bare feet in the river, looking at the city, because I was feeling sentimental.

And then, there was Wednesday.  Today.

This was the class I was dreading.  Imagine this.  A tiny class with an extremely high functioning, newly-become-a-Doctor running it, with energetic, intelligent drama students in it, plus one older woman who is doing a literature thesis and talks like a teacher, plus me in a T-shirt with a turtle on it, talking about Frederic Jameson's the Culture of Late Capitalism and Postmodernism.

Did your imagination look anything like this?

Well gee, thanks a lot, your faith in me is heart warming.

Lost my train of thought while I was drawing that... OH YEAH.  So, I got into the class.  And we started the lecture and I KNEW WHAT THEY WERE TALKING ABOUT.   In fact, I had an opinion on it.  And I shared that opinion.  And people agreed with me!

I started thinking to myself... "Self, you are actually pretty smart."

And I ended the class feeling like I'd learned something.  Plus, in the hall, one of the other class members told me to have a nice day.  :)

So, on the whole, I think things are looking up.

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