Sunday, June 08, 2008

Not living up to my name very well

It's going to shock you when I tell you that I haven't been posting because I've been too busy doing actual work. Like, making actual progress on things that I've put off for a long time. (This post runs long, but it's full of news, and so those who know me might want to hang on and keep reading.)

I know: it's stunning. I'll give you a moment to collect yourselves.

I was getting really stressed out because I had planned on applying for a Big Fancy Travel Fellowship by the end of June, which meant that by the end of June I would have had to:
a.) have found a Doktorvater (essentially a supervisor) in Germany
b.) have become fluent in German, or some good-enough equivalent.

Unfortunately, I had made these plans when I thought I'd be done my comps by the end of January. And all of these plans hinged on me being able to go to Germany by next January, which gave me a single semester (plus whatever I could get done while in Saskatchewan this summer) to do, uh, all of my dissertation research. Absolutely everything, so that I could go to Germany and plug whatever holes were left by my secondary sources and cultural sources (my novels, movies, artworks...).

So, for the month of May I mistakenly thought that the reason why I felt so freaked out and frozen by my plans was because I had problems with anxiety. Finally this week I sat down and tried to plan everything out and realised: I'm not frozen by anxiety problems; I'm anxious because I've given myself an impossible task.

And so I started re-adjusting my plans. First, I found out that I really ought to be applying to Big Fancy Travel Fellowship in November instead of this summer (the foundation added a bunch of new deadlines for short-term travel fellowships since the last time I'd checked their site). If I applied now, I'd have to use the funding by next winter. If I wait to apply in November, I could wait until the following autumn to go to Germany.

It's official: my big trip has now been postponed from January to September 2009.

After I made that decision, I realised that if I didn't start preparing for the Big Fellowship right now, summer would disappear and it would be September and I'd be freaking out saying, "I only have a month to learn German and find a Doktorvater!" (Again.) I had to be proactive this time. This meant that I needed to find something that would force me to immerse myself in German learning right now (and I don't have time to take a German course by November, since I'll be in Saskatchewan in July and August). And so I bought a 12-month subscription to Rosetta Stone. That way, it was cheaper than buying the CD-ROM collection, and would force me to get to work right away, so that I could get my money's worth.

Seriously? Rosetta Stone is the best thing ever. I love it so much. It works like my brain does, which means that I want to work on my German every day. I finished an entire unit this week, because I was having so much fun. I remember words and grammar without trying to memorize them. And, since it has speech recognition, I get feedback that tells me when I'm saying things wrong.

So, that's where I've been this week: feverishly working away at everything that I've been avoiding for a month. Suddenly, I'm making progress on my language learning, and I have a solid plan for how I can get my dissertation done in a timely fashion. And I'm actually enjoying myself.

What? First I start running and now I'm not procrastinating?

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