Thursday, February 16, 2012

Too much travel

At one time I loved traveling for pleasure or even work; conferences are usually not so bad. Since I moved back to Toronto at the beginning of December, I've relied on the kindness of friends to indulge my role as couch surfer extraordinaire. I have at least 95% of my belongings in rubbermaid bins in a friend's garage and only three bins of books, one suitcase, and a backpack that are with me in my current temporary digs.

Thus far I've treated my transience as a bit of a lark. I am getting to know my friends better while also trying to minimize the negative impact on the friend equation. I'd rather not become the guest that, after three days, stinks like fish. As it happens, this couch surfing thing is fine when one is younger and is not as concerned about establishing a sense of permanence. Making this transition was pretty tough, especially after being in my London apartment for three (!) whole years--the longest I've lived in any place since I moved out of my folks' place in 1997. Learning to meld into the background, fit into the strictures of others' schedules and routines, and, ugh, not being able to control the goings on in the kitchen. The intrepid grad student will come to grief upon the rocks of processed food without a well-equipped kitchen at his/her disposal.

Despite this my productivity is strong. Not having all my things to distract me has been a great boon for my writing. It ensures that I wake up, make my lunch, leave the apartment, and get to the library to work. If anything, my schedule is more tightly regulated. The last chapter I sent to my supervisor was outlined and written in three weeks (!!). Mind you, I let all that stuff ferment and congeal in my mind before I ever start outlining. Last night I returned from an unscheduled trip to Montreal when my subtenant decided to not pay his rent for a couple of months. It was a time and energy suck and yet my chapter got done and sent in. Two days later I started working on my next chapter. And, unlike other ABDs at this stage in their dissertation, I'm not yet sick of my topic. Yes, that's right, I am still very interested and enthusiastic about its future and my future.

What has changed are my energy levels. Since returning to Toronto I've noticed a moderate lethargy has set in. I know this is largely in part because I've not been running on a regular basis (or at all), my diet hasn't been the best (see above comment about kitchens), and I'm just tired of moving from couch to couch. I am a little bit worried about losing steam before the dissertation is done, not for the lack of conviction in the integrity or relevance of my research but just because of physical fatigue. I've had two colds in the last month and that has never happened before. I hope this is not a harbinger of worse things.

I remain optimistic that being unemployed and transient will propel me to finish the dissertation quickly so I can still be Dr. Cushing at the Fall 2012 convocation.

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