Monday, August 17, 2009

Summer's ending

Wow, has it really been more than a month since my last update? Summer is waning fast - classes will start next Tuesday here at Notre Dame. I'm currently trying to prepare an abstract and presentation for a graduate student conference which my department holds at the end of the summer. Right now I have awful writer's block. I tried the old trick of just typing whatever comes to mind until I hit the required number of words - but I'm about a paragraph shy of the needed half-page. So I decided to write a blog entry to attempt to "unblock" the writing part of my brain.

Research has gone tolerably well this summer. I'm taking a former student's project in a completely new direction, so there's been a lot of "hurry up and wait" as I order the needed supplies and learn things by trial and error. Sadly I don't have a whole lot of actual data to present at our conference - but I do have a more definite sense of what I need to do and why I need to do it. That's a pretty important accomplishment in and of itself - and my advisor doesn't seem displeased by it, which is important.

I've decided that I need to start making semester plans with definite goals to accomplish each week. Our advisor had everyone in the group do that this summer and I liked it. I do best in a structured environment, but graduate school can be very unstructured compared to undergrad. It's been a bit of an adjustment realizing that nobody is going to tell me exactly what to do and when it should be done. This semester I have an abstract that needs to be submitted for a conference, as well as my qualifying exam to prepare for. I'm also thinking about applying for an external fellowship, what with money being so tight around our house. So, there are a lot of things on my radar that could sneak up on me if I'm not careful.

My husband is still looking for jobs, and becoming somewhat discouraged, I think. There just isn't much out there, even for someone with his skills and qualifications. The biggest setback is his lack of experience, since he only worked one year at The Place that Shall Not be Named. He was hoping to stay with his former employer until I'm done with my Ph.D. to get that required experience - but obviously that didn't work out. We've talked about him going to grad school here, but his particular area of interest isn't really researched here, and only Ph.D.s are funded. It is certainly an option, though, and I'm hoping he'll get to talk to some of my professors at our conference. I think it would be terrible if no one would give a brilliant, hardworking guy like him a chance.

Since my last post, I found out that my dad's older sister was diagnosed with a brain tumor after experiencing paralysis in her right leg. She has done a round of chemo but the tumor unfortunately is growing. I would appreciate it if you all would pray for her.