damned if i do, damned if i don’t

27Jun08

So last night I had a terrifying thought. What if I just leave London?

I’m to the point now where I’m concerned about my ability to salvage this trip. It’s become all too easy for me to not go to the archives; it doesn’t help that decision-making is made in the first few minutes after I wake up, where inevitably I feel like I’ve been hit by a tractor trailor. I’m not yet convinced it’s because I’m not meant to do history. After all, up until mid-May, I was working away diligently without any of this angst. All of this trouble was lurking but I was able to ignore it. My research trip to Global South Country was extremely productive. But once I got back, things began to fall apart. First, the turnaround time between GSC and London was probably too short but that wasn’t my choice. I had an unpleasant meeting with my adviser that made it impossible for me to ignore any longer just how bad our working relationship is. I was unable to take care of some important health issues because certain appointments couldn’t be scheduled. I trusted a guy who had already proven himself to be unreliable and, when he stood me up the Saturday before I left, screened my call that Sunday, and then acted like I wasn’t walking right past him on Monday, I fell apart, even though I had anticipated this event.

All that in the space of ten days.

I need to regroup and I don’t think that can happen over a weekend or even over a week or two. I’ve been in school since I was 4. I need significant time off. Leaving London might be the only way to do that. At any rate, the research schedule that I had planned doesn’t seem workable at the moment: returning to GSC in January for two months, then back here in March or April for four-plus months.

But of course ending this research trip early and taking time off isn’t really feasible. Where would I go? I have no housing at the university. Home is not an option for any lengthy stays. I have no furniture of my own so I can’t move into an apartment. If I take months off but still remain enrolled, that’s months of funding wasted and I’m quickly running out of funded time. Not to mention, that would wreck the adviser relationship that is already a disaster. If I take a leave of absence, I lose my paycheck and my current finances are not good enough to get me set up anywhere to find a job; and isn’t taking time off to regroup about not working myself into the ground?

I can’t seem to find any solutions here but I feel I’m at a crisis point.

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2 Responses to “damned if i do, damned if i don’t”

  1. I am so sorry that you are struggling with this. Maybe make up a pro-con list and see whether you should stay or go?

    Maybe there is a way to change your morning routine so that you feel more rejuvenated in the mornings. I often feel like a tractor trailer hit me in the mornings–and only caffeine makes that go away–but perhaps there is something else that you can do to get up and at ’em. Have you tried going to bed early and waking up earlier? Maybe you need to get more sleep at night in order to feel rested.

    I hope that things work out.

  2. I agree with history enthusiast–try to break up the decision making. I do this a lot when I wake up and know I have something I am dreading on the schedule. I say to myself, “you just have to get up and go to the bathroom and sit upright for fifteen minutes–if you can’t manage that, you can go to bed…” and so on, i.e., don’t make the decision to go to the archive the huge crucial decision of every day, but one that you work up to.

    another option if you really think you have to go: take the money that you would have spent on living in London for that time and throw it instead at a big documents reproduction order so you can take stuff back with you.

    however, and frankly: if you have document series that are so large that you have idea of when the end is in sight on a particular task, I would guess that your dissertation topic is too large.


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