a few random thoughts

06Jun08

Just a collection of a few random thoughts.

I’m currently living quite the nomadic life at the moment. I left the bed and breakfast a few days ago and moved into a friend’s apartment for a few days until I move into another friend’s apartment. Given London taxi fees, all of this moving around with two suitcases and three bags is costing me quite a bit. The housing search hasn’t turned up much, in part because of my severe budget limitations as well as my picky tastes.  I could find a lot of stuff within my price range east of King’s Cross.  I could also likely find things in Clapham, which I’ve heard is quite nice. The eastern part of Greater London is a no go for me because I don’t want to have a extended commute.  Given my motivation levels have been low lately, it would prove all too easy for me to skip the archives a few times a week if the archives were an hour or more away via a combination of bus, tube, and foot.  I’ve had a lot of bad luck lately; I need to put myself in a good situation to get this work done, which means I need to be within 30-45 minutes of the archives, preferably closer.  That’s why I started to look for rooms in Kew and the surrounding areas.  I found a perfect place; however, I was outbid by somebody who wanted to rent the room for a longer period of time.  What made this particularly difficult was that I had to wait a week to get a yea or a nay, in effect slowing down my property search.  A friend of mine offered me a small room in her flat and, for now, I’ve decided to take her up on this.  She’s a little further away but, with great transit links, the place fits my needs; it’s basically 30-35 minutes away.  This is only a temporary solution; the room fills up again in September (yet more taxi trips, made more complicated by the fact that I’ll be having stuff shipped to me).  All of this moving around and constant real estate searches has made it difficult to concentrate on work; and now I’m sick. I haven’t been to the archives since Monday; I’m moving into my friend’s place this weekend so next week I must get onto a good schedule.

I want to get into a habit of writing, although I’m at a point where I actually can’t write dissertation-related things.  Does blogging and journaling count?

I didn’t have cable at the bed and breakfast so today is the first day I’ve been able to watch the French Open.  I’ve made it a goal of mine to watch Rafael Nadal play at Roland Garros when he’s in his prime and I wish I had done it this year.  I’ve already seen him play life at the US Open, not his best tournament.  The thing I loved about the US Open though is that you can walk around the grounds and, if you’re lucky, you can get a good view of the practice courts.  Look for people in one stadium who are paying no attention to the game on their own court but are peering over to the next row of courts that have no seating.  The number of people clustered there will let you know how big the players there are.  I went up there and saw Nadal (a major highlight) practicing with some Spanish players, Andy Roddick, and, even though I didn’t go there to see him, Andre Agassi showed up right at the end of Rafa’s practice.  Anyway, while I can go to Flushing Meadows pretty easily, I want to see Rafa play where he’s best so I’ll have to save my pennies and do it next year.

How much does it cost to catch up on historiography that you could have read free of charge during exams?  £85 for a six-month pass with borrowing privileges at the Senate House Library.

Finally, I’m thinking about tweaking the focus of this blog, picking up more clearly on the title: “lines ever more unclear.” As I’m sure it’s become clear to the eight people who read my blog, I am wavering a bit in my resolve about academia. The past three years have been inordinately difficult for me, personally and professionally, and I’m beginning to wonder if the struggle is worth it for me. I’m virtually positive that I’ll make no decisions before I finish the PhD.  I need to know I can do it before I make any drastic changes. But I need to start asking myself questions. It might turn out that this is the career for me:  maybe I will be able to get caught up and maybe my dissertation can get me a great job. If that’s what happens, that’s fine but I need to know that it’s a mindful decision and not just something I’ve fallen into lazily. So I think I’m going to be blogging a little bit more, though not exclusively, about why I’m doing what I do, why I like it and why I don’t, and where I think I can go from here.

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