Reflections on finishing my PhD

Unlike my usual self, I’ve been lost for words lately. Many of my posts about my PhD experience have been word vomits – chucking all my strong feelings at the page and just letting it all out in the hopes that it begins to make sense to me, and that I can calm myself in the process. Writing here has been a vital safety valve, both for the virtues of the process itself and the support you my readers have given me.

The thing is, at the moment, life is pretty cushty. I’m settled in with Squisher, our house looks like a proper grown-up house, we get to chill out in each others’ company of an evening and at weekends. My PhD is finally, completely, utterly finished. My corrections have been accepted and I will be graduating on the 22nd July which is only a few weeks away. Soon, very soon, I will never have to interact with my wretched supervisor again. Once I have his reference, and have handed my lab boooks and laptop back to the lab, I am done. With him and with it.

The approaching freedom is so close I can taste it. Continue reading

Still here! Also, Sailing Trip Review.

Just a quick one to say “hi”.

We’ve finally had our internet fixed. Four days without internet is hard, y’all! Some bugger had nicked the coppper cable between the exchange box and the telephone pole. *sigh*.

I’m finishing off my thesis corrections, as I need to hand them in this week if I want to graduate in July!

Last week was also thesis corrections.

The week before was a sailing trip from Southampton to Cardiff. I got promoted to Watch Leader from Deckhand, which resulted in one hell of an experience. I loved it, but oh god, such hard work!

Mainly becuase the ship only had 15 voyage crew where the usual number is 12-16 *per watch*, with *three* watches. So we had two watches and both myself and the other watchleader had never been watch leaders before! Also, it was only the second voyage ever for the other WL! To further complicate matters, of our tiny crew, half were Saudi Arabian Naval Cadets in their first year of naval college. Never mind the language barrier, but bloody hell, I have NEVER encountered a group with SUCH TIME KEEPING DIFFICULTIES. We counted it as a win if they were ONLY FIFTEEN MINUTES LATE on watch. Fucking hell.

Getting them out of bed was worse than getting a teenage boy (little brother, I’m looking at you) up in time for school. So when they had to be on watch for 00.00 hours, we had to start getting them up 45 min before they were due on deck. Usually you need 15 min to get a Watch up on deck, AND you don’t need to supervise them during that time.

ANYWAY, aside from that PITA, it was a great trip. We were out in a Force 9 gale (mostly by mistake), had two overnight anchorages, a lovely stop in Weymouth, and a fantastic night out in Cardiff.

Sunset Clouds Continue reading

Unexpected Feels: Safety, Failure, and Loss

Let’s start with the good news.

First, I have completely unpacked all my belongings and found homes for everything. The dining room is no longer a mountain of boxes and it has a dining table which is doubling up as my desk at the moment. I also found curtains for the living room. Second, with the help of Mum, I’ve finished digging up the weeds in the garden and sown my flower seeds. She also identified all the mystery shrubs. There’s a Weigela, a Ceanothus and a Hydrangea. There’s also a Himalayan Honeysuckle which is in bud. Very exciting!

In the interesting news category, this coming week is my last at the RCN. I am sad to be leaving but also grateful as I had reached the limits of the interesting bits of the job and have spent the last two weeks bored out of my skull with not quite enough to do. I am however going to miss my paycheck, especially as I don’t have anything lined up for when I get back from sailing.

Speaking of which, I’m going sailing on the Stavros in a week’s time! Much Excite! Southampton to Cardiff with a sea shanty group! Hopefully the weather will have the correct amount of wind, in the right direction. The bad news is that we are currently lacking enough Watch Leaders and Deckhands. I hope to Neptune they fill the volunteer crew positions in time else I am going to be VERY busy.

Pink weigela flowers

Flowering Weigela – very pretty!

In between all the things I’ve been doing lately, I’ve been having some interesting emotional outbursts. I’ll just start feeling sad for what seems like no reason and then tears follow. Continue reading

Settling In to my New Home

This weekend was our first proper weekend in mine and Squishy’s new house! i.e. we were actually at home and not galivanting off to other parts of the country. We’re cohabiting for the first time so this is a major life milestone for us both. We got things done! For example, replacing the overflow pipe for the bath, replacing the shower head and doing all the laundry. Well, all my laundry at any rate.

We arranged the living room furniture so we have a sofa to sit on, a TV to watch and a HiFi to listen to. All our DVDs, computer games and CDs are on the shelves. We haven’t merged CD or book collections because I have OPINIONS on how they should be ordered, as does he. He thinks they MUST be alphabetical whereas I like mine to be ordered thematically and then by artist/author. In the case of books it’s doubly complicated because they must also be pleasing to the eye, and that means accounting for spine height. Srsly, nothing gets me more than having books in the same series by the same author from different print editions. Who thought changing the book dimensions was a good idea?!! The Terry Pratchett (may he find what he hopes for across the desert) books are particularly bad for this, especially once you start mixing hardback and paperback. ANYWAY. Continue reading

Still alive!

Just a quick post to say Hi!

I’m moving house today – moving in with Squishy for the first time! No more long distance for us! Finally!

I’ve been busy with work and packing and that sort of thing. I should also be starting on my corrections next week and I really, really need to sort out my CV/resumé.

I will also admit that I’m at a bit of a loss as to what to write about here. I’ve spent two long years hating on the PhD process and what it’s done to my mental health but it’s not actively an issue right now. The sources of pressure are significantly reduced and at a distance. I’m still a bit anxious about working through my corrections and working on the paper with my collaborators but these tasks feel eminently achieveable. Finding the time to focus on them while also job hunting and moving house has been difficult but I’m sure I can figure it out.

Red dahlia against a brick wall

Red Dahlia – CC NessieMonster

I’m burned out on the whole feminist ranting about sexism thing too. I haven’t read anything recently that’s shattered my world view and it all seems a bit samey topic-wise. Reading about how women get screwed over in career advancement, in the home, in politics and in health matters is just depressing. Yes, I am well aware the world is full of shocking, hurtful things and that many people really suffer from it, thanks. Just reading the word “r*pe” in a headline is enough to make my stomach sink and frankly, I don’t need to put myself through that anymore. I’m much more at peace with my own trauma history than I was a few years ago. It still affects me from time to time but I mostly know where those tripwires are and for the most part I can talk it through with Squishy if it’s actively affecting our sex life in the moment. Continue reading

Please Welcome… Dr Nessie Monster! aka Post-Viva Feelings

Hello my dears, how are you?

I am exhausted but relieved. I passed my viva, emerging with minor corrections, so you may now address me as Dr Nessie Monster!

;-)

I slept for 11 hours straight last night and feel somewhat more human today, although I am yet to get out of my pajamas and red fluffy dressing-gown.

I can’t believe the viva is over and went so smoothly. It was difficult at first and there was a bit of scrabbling for answers to the more general questions at the beginning but once we got into the specifics of my text and experiments, it was fine. The first thing they did was congratulate me on producing one of the best written theses they’d read in years, that was also clearly structured, which is high praise from such experienced examiners. Their biggest criticism was a lack of illustrative diagrams for the signalling pathways and cross-talk mechanisms, and that, as with many students, I hadn’t spent enough time in “fantasy land” in the Discussion Chapter. I could have been far more explicit and specific about what I would do next if I had all the money, resources and time in the world, and if I had the opportunity to start over, what I would do differently. However, as I was able to talk about that at length in the viva, it wasn’t a major stumbling block. Continue reading

Adrienne Rich, Power

Living in the earth-deposits of our history

Today a backhoe divulged out of a crumbling flank of earth
one bottle amber perfect a hundred-year-old
cure for fever or melancholy a tonic
for living on this earth in the winters of this climate

Today I was reading about Marie Curie:
she must have known she suffered from radiation sickness
her body bombarded for years by the element
she had purified
It seems she denied to the end
the source of the cataracts on her eyes
the cracked and suppurating skin of her finger-ends
till she could no longer hold a test-tube or a pencil

She died a famous woman denying
her wounds
denying
her wounds came from the same source as her power

– Adriene Rich, Power