For my qualitative research project, I’ve been talking to physics students. Although I have a big pile of transcribing to do (2.5 hours of recorded goodness), I’ve begun noticing a pattern through the interviews. The pattern is a lack of confidence from the people I talked to. In my experience with physics, the culture lends itself to feeling doubtful about one’s ability; a popular phrase is “it is obvious” or “it is trivial” when it comes to things that well- aren’t obvious or trivial. My personal opinion is that statements like that are frequently covering that person’s lack of confidence in explaining the topic and/or their lack of knowledge, but I digress.

I found this article today called “The importance of stupidity in science.” Very good thoughts to keep in mind when doing research, regardless of whether it is science. Even though the article was written by someone who is likely a cell biologist, I related to it, especially the part about seeking new things to be challenged at (hence, doing dance).

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By sort of, I mean I’m going to try to maintain a constant practice. Keeping myself motivated to practice that much daily was difficult. I skirted it a few times (practicing mudras instead of really dancing), but I think I overall did a good job of maintaining a practice.

I discovered that I can’t be terribly structured with my practice, like plan it out weeks in advance. I do best when I make decisions that day.

My body is physically stronger and a bit more flexible. I feel less stress after practicing, despite having to find a summer job, and I have managed to stave off some illnesses with exercise. All good things.

What would be most helpful in maintaining my practice would be having something to work towards, like a performance. While I don’t believe performance is the end all, be all purpose for dancing, I realize I was practicing diligently before the Halfi for Haiti or that I practice the choreography for Bharatanatyam because there will be a performance.

Dedicating myself to dance definitely helped improve my dance and gain further insight into where I am and what I need to work on.

Yesterday we sat around talking about how awesome a snow day would be. We didn’t think it would happen, but sure enough, Boston Public canceled classes. Since we follow whatever Boston Public does, we had off too. The cancellation is hilarious, because the weather wasn’t nice but we weren’t pounded with snow the way a lot of the Northeast was. Actually, I’m not sure if it snowed a full inch today.

Even though I had plenty to make up from being sick/taking care of my cat, I had a rather relaxing day off. I still have some work to do, but I’m glad to have the leisure time to get caught up rather than just feel like I’m treading water. Being sick sucks. Having a sick cat sucks even more. If you were wondering, he is eating bit but mostly being force-fed. He still have jaundice, but they don’t anticipate seeing that go away any sooner than tomorrow. He’s obviously not in good condition, but the vet says that he’s not doing terribly, all things considered.

I’ve been sick, my flash drive died and now I have to make up working on calc problem writing that I lost on the dead flash drive, and one of my cats (the one in my icon on WordPress) has liver problems. Without being too dramatic, right now, I’m not sure if he’s going to live. The information I’ve been looking for instead of working (I’m very worried about him) isn’t helpful, and all I know is that treatments are expensive.

Good vibes or any other help is always welcome.

Moving and working means I’ve been quite busy. Last week, I was keeping myself afloat best I can in life. I luckily have been able to keep myself ahead of the game with the students, but I’ve also had a mound of grading to do. Then I come home to clean, figure out how I’m getting certain items I don’t have (pots, pans, whatever) from Craig’s List or otherwise. My cats have been adjusting, as well, which has been some work; my one cat was having a hissing fit with the other two.

Last week, besides the moving stress, was a bit stressful because students like to argue grades. I’m not sure if it’s the nature of the beast, being female, or being young (or a combination), but a handful of students have mindblowingly crazy attitudes. It varies from telling me that I’m not fair for holding their grades to the syllabus, which they not only received prior to me but also we talked about when I did arrive, to being mad at me when they don’t understand what’s going on in class because they were absent and refuse to visit me during my tutoring hours. I’m not trying to be mean or harsh, but sometimes I’m astounded with the lack of accountability on the students’ behalf. I understand life is hard, but you have to take control of things. Thank goodness it’s only a handful, but they can sour things fast. I luckily have some fantastic students who may not totally understand physics, but they’re willing to work at it and not become accusative.

I’m also trying to make decisions on the rest of my life. Do I go to grad school next year (or rather, try to)? What kind of job do I want? And so on. Our work schedules for the next semester have not come out yet, which is stressful. While everyone at work insists that they keep people on as long as they can, there is no guarantee. I’m not trying to be negative or think for the worst, but the reality is I have a contract for so long. So in addition to trying to make long term plans, I am trying to keep my options open for the shorter term.

During my spare moments last week, I’ve also been exploring dance options. I discovered that the studio I used to attend offers a work-study program for dance classes, so I applied to there. I’m also looking at taking a drop-in ballet class. Once I have a feel for my job situation, I’ll likely return to Odissi classes here (or possibly Bharatanatyam). I would love to find a Flamenco class, but I a) don’t want to overextend myself and b) don’t know where one is.

A good part of me is interested in establishing a social life here of sorts; the last time I lived in the area, a bunch of my friends were here. They have either moved away, or we’ve gone very separate life paths at this point. I don’t want to go out all the time, but it’d be nice to hang out with some other people.

So that’s me in a nutshell for now. I think that I should be able to update more frequently next week, but who knows?

I wrote yesterday in a paper journal that it’s hard to remain optimistic when your future is so uncertain. I also decided, after this weekend, that it’s almost impossible when you are obsessing. I took time away from Craig’s List and the other job search places I’ve used to take a break. I didn’t job search for half a day Saturday, and I needed it more than I realized. I saw a movie and hung out with my significant other.

Yesterday, I called my undergraduate career development office; I chose them, seeing as how they’re more local than my graduate one. The person unfortunately wasn’t too helpful; while he did re-affirm what I’m doing is correct (custom cover letters, not being picky, good interview answers, etc.), his best solutions is keep up the work and wait it out. Essentially, “it’s not you, it’s the economy.” In principle, that is a relief. In practice, when you have bills to pay and no one to support you, you want something better. I almost hoped that he would say, “Aleksie, you are certainly qualified and will get a job if you do x, y, and z.” I wanted a viable solution that was guaranteed.

I have been getting interviews, but I honestly don’t meet their exact criteria. I learn quickly, though, and I can learn almost anything I put my mind to; I taught my 4’10 self in one afternoon how to shoot a basketball from the foul line for 7th grade gym. I was tired of not getting it at all, so I took time to teach myself. I take pride in my work and can enjoy most tasks for a job. Even if I’m not the real life version of their ad, I think I definitely have qualities going for me.

Weathering the unemployment market seems to be the only solution. But man, it’s hard out there.

During my time of unemployment, I’ve been simultaneously working on my thesis, getting a job, and trying to get back into dance. I’ve been moderately successful on the thesis, questionably successful on the job stuff (I made my goal to apply to at least 2 jobs per day, unless there is a holiday) since that’s really up to others, and I’ve been failing miserably on the dance stuff.

The latter is a bit frustrating. I know some people who have been unemployed for misc. reasons (laid off, mostly) and have flourished in the unemployment life for a bit. They dance and seem to to make the best of a bad situation. That’s not me, unfortunately. I’ve tried working on some combos (making my own), and I’ve been okay with it. Not great but not terrible. However, I don’t feel like dancing. I am a big believer in giving oneself a break when needed; however, I feel like I’ve been on a hiatus from dance for a while. I don’t think I’ve practiced much since the end of July, writing my thesis got in the way of attending classes, and I haven’t had time for any other fun dance stuff.

I don’t feel inspired to dance. I think I’m depressed about the uncertainty of getting a job. I hear horror stories left and right about people who have been unemployed for massive amounts of time. I know people who have been unemployed for at least a year. While I don’t know how hard they’ve job searched or how expansive they’ve made their searching grounds, I assume that these people did a fair job and still, aren’t getting hired. I worry about money; I am so lucky to have friends willing to help me through this, but I still have bills to pay and need to be on my own.

How do you find inspiration in a bad situation? How do you manage to let creativity in, instead of all the worries from life?