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Archive for August, 2006

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Now, that is what I want to do when I finish this freaking paper. A fiver well-spent, I think.

Progress today has been slow. Super slow. But, I’m trying to be optimistic by thinking that the night is young……

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The other night while walking around (yes I actually left – not only the flat – but the building!) with Emily and Jen, the sky looked really cool, but made the normally happy-looking carousel look kinda eerie.

Hmmm…. have you noticed a trend? Lots more posting than I should these final days before the dissertation is turned in. I’m justifying it as a coping mechanism though, along with my crazy eating habits. Lets just say that I need to exercise a LOT after Sept 1st to make up for all of this eating chocolate and being sedentary at my desk.

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Dissertation Update

18,000 words down, one conclusion and LOTS (and I mean LOTS) of editing to go.

Cannot wait to be done!

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Calling all He-man Fans

Yes, I know. Two posts in one day while working on my dissertation? For shame…..

I blame this one on Alvaro. But, if you’re like me and have fond memories of watching He-man every day after coming home from kindergarten (plus, have a fondness for Queen), you’ll love this video.  It’s worth watching until the end.

BoHe-Man Rhapsody.

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A Room with a View

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Yes, I will be happy to finish my dissertation.  Yes I am excited about moving to Oxford to live with Thad, his friends, and Phoenix.  Yes, I am looking forward to working in London.  Yes, I am looking forward to a(nother) break from academic work.

But, I am really, really, really going to miss the view from my window.

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The dissertation is slowly but surely growing, and I’m finally approaching the 15,000 word mark (which I will hopefully surpass tomorrow).  For the past couple of weeks my routine has primarily consisted of waking up early, showering, breakfast, putting on pajamas (my dissertation uniform), and writing (or trying to write) all day.  Sometimes I may exit the building to buy groceries or shampoo, or simply to escape for a bit.  I will be so excited when I am finished, because it means I will be able to work out, get my hair cut, cook healthy food, and generally take care of myself more than I have been able to lately.  Right now I feel like this paper is a huge elephant in my room, constantly looking over my shoulder to see if I’m being productive, and glaring harshly (making me feel guilty) for every minute I’m not.  My current cold is not helping matters, but making the process of writing more like extracting teeth.

But, there is some good news.  Firstly, my dissertation supervisor is meeting me on Thursday to give me some final suggestions, which is good.  I just hope that she doesn’t say the whole thing is ridiculous and scare the crap out of me.

Good news #2: I got an internship in London working with Plan UK!  I’ll be working in the supporter relations department, helping to contact and manage sponsors while also helping with ‘phase outs,’ when they pull out of a community after establishing schools, infrastructure, etc. that communities can then sustain (ideally).  So, starting Sept. 12th I will be commuting to London three days a week, and bringing home the bacon by working part-time at Starbucks.

Oh, and I could not end this entry without mentioning the joy that is the Zippo circus advertisements.  Apparently this circus decided the most effective way to advertise its services (just realized that I used the British ‘s’ in my spellings – that is starting to confuse me) is to ride around Brigton on a huge truck, with a band and loads of people in leotards on it.  I am a fan of it because it gives me an excuse to abandon my dissertation, if only momentarily, to take a look out my window and laugh.  The advert itself is not that exciting, however, but I think some flame-throwers or a tiger could liven it up a bit….

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Feeling Inspired

Well, at least a little. My goal for today was writing at least 2,000 words, but that has not begun to happen yet. Instead, I have spent most of today thinking about the organization of my dissertation, looking back over my fall term’s course notes, and pondering my master’s program in general. The sad thing is, I think I just now get what it was all about. I’m starting to delve into the more theoretical section of my dissertation, which is normally the part I hate most about writing papers, but for some reason it’s actually made me feel more inspired and excited about what I’m writing about.

I guess I haven’t really talked much about my dissertation on here, mostly because it’s been taking over my life this summer, and usually I prefer to use this blog to update friends and family on my doings and whereabouts, not for theoretical musings. I finally am satisfied with my title, which actually sounds a little catchy because of the alliteration. My word count indicates that I’m a little more than halfway through – so approximately 10,000 words left. Two weeks. A lot more writing. I keep going back and forth, from being insanely crazy about it (no time to eat, must write!), to being relaxed and enjoying procrastinating with the flatmates.

This year has gone by so fast. I absolutely cannot believe it. A year ago, I was in the midst of quitting my job at Duke, living out of my car or on the floors of good friends (thanks Katie!), helping mom and Dave move to Richmond, and bumming around for a few weeks, getting everything organized to move here.

This year has been great, though I’m starting to wonder if going into debt this much was worth it. I’ve managed to double the number of countries I’ve visited, learned a lot about the postmodern critique of development, made many new friends from many different places, rediscovered my inner socialite, attended fancy dinners with Thad at Oxford, gained a new appreciation for good beer, and lived in a tiny room with an ocean view. I’m really going to miss that – my view, being able to cross the street and swim in the sea, and hearing the ocean (and drunk Brits singing – I won’t miss that as much) as I fall asleep.

Also, this year was the first time since I was fifteen that I have not had a job. On one level, it’s been amazing – having all my free time to hang out with friends, read, study, wander around Brighton. On another level it’s been crap – having no income sucks! I also don’t feel like a “productive member of society,” whatever that is. And, don’t ask about jobs – the situation here is not looking so good. I should find out Monday whether I get an unpaid internship in London. If not, my job prospects are making Starbucks coffee. Not what I imagined myself doing at 25 with a masters degree!

Today I started reading Amartya Sen’s Development as Freedom, and I think I’m going to really like it (and incorporate it into my dissertation). I admire him greatly, as someone who worked for the World Bank, yet still seems optimistic about development and its potential to create positive change. I’m beginning to question my desire to work in this field – it means that in the next few years I will probably be working for free or PAYING to volunteer abroad. People in development always say not to “do it for the money,” – I don’t think there’s any danger of that happening! It’s not just the money issue though – even the most well-intentioned projects seem to have a tint of imperialism in them, and I don’t want to be part of something that increases external power over people’s lives under the guise of “development.”

Which brings me back to my dissertation. It’s about how conservation projects that have supposedly become “community-based” actually increase external power over people’s lives, and enable NGOs, multilaterals, and the state to criminalize actions vital to the livelihoods of rural people. So, I’m dealing with issues of governance, “participation,” how power is upheld through narratives and discourse, and how people have agency to subvert these external mechanisms of control. Does it sound boring? To me it sounds exciting, as does my title.

Anyway, I should stop writing here, stop my theoretical ponderings of development, and actually write. If only writing my dissertation came as easy as this…..

PS – I just got back from spending two days doing some research in the British Library (after my second interview with Plan), and spending a night in Oxford with Thad and Phoenix. It was a great “break,” especially buying nice truffles and chocolate at Hotel Chocolat, my new favorite place to go in London (hurray for free samples)! It was nice to spend some time with both of the boys, and chances are that they next time I see them I’ll be finished with writing my dissertation (all 80 or so pages of it). Can’t wait!

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