Thursday, May 26, 2011

agIsh: MOTHER RRRUSSIA!! (or: I guess I'm going to Vietnam)

As all things, it started with an idea. Really innocuous too...not that going to Vietnam is necessarily dangerous or anything. It started with extra credit. The students were to volunteer at least two hours of their time for 10 points of extra credit. Some students gave blood. Some students volunteered at a hospital. One dude even signed up to donate blood marrow! However, a couple of students said, "We technically haven't volunteered time yet, but we are going to Vietnam in July to help needy children."

Knowing that I'd be finished with my thesis by that point, I guess that's all it took. I went to a meeting and was introduced to the coordinator. I was immediately welcomed with, "Oh! That's so great! We have the perfect job for you!" That night I emailed copies of my passport and Visa application. My next step is to book my flight and get my immunizations. So, in a matter of a week, I went from not giving Vietnam a thought to volunteering for two weeks.

I gotta tell you that I'm really looking forward to this trip. It's going to be hot as hell, we're going to be worked to the bone, and I'm sure I'm going to experience extreme culture shock...but I am really optimistic about this trip. The foundation (Project Vietnam, aims to take people out of their comfort zone in the service of others and I can't wait.

I don't know why I didn't submit to my usual apprehensions on this one. Something about this...adventure, for the lack of a better term, clicked with me. And so, instead of mulling around and letting my fears wash the anticipation away, I acted. In retrospect, my reaction confuses me. Then again, I have no qualms about going. So, I guess it's all okay. Or maybe I've hit the too-old-to-care stage.



Saturday, May 21, 2011

agIsh: Aftermath

On this, the 21st day of May, 2011, a day on which none of us should be alive, I am bored out of my mind and love it.

Dear Past Me,

First of all, May 22nd exists. Second of all, I have taken your advice and am living up my boredom. The good news is that you successfully defended, the committee enjoyed your presentation, and required few revisions of you (which we sent today). Your advisor even gave you a bottle of wine and hugged you. Please resist the urge to push away. Rather, cordially accept it and move on.

I am currently considering a trip to Vietnam for charity work. Sounds like a lot of fun so you should keep this in mind when you're unable to sleep at night.

So, yes, things turn out well. However, embrace the fear and anxiety because it prepared you well.

Kind regards,
Future you

PS: Wear the blue shirt and red tie.


Friday, May 13, 2011

agIsh: The Next Milestone - Part XIII

Hawaiian music did not work.

In other news...

Thank you for reading.


Wednesday, May 11, 2011

agIsh: The Next Milestone - Part XII

The next couple of hours will be spent running through my presentation. Then comes the hard part: attempting to get some sleep tonight. I've set aside time for my usual eight hours of sleep but we'll see how it goes. Oddly, Hawaiian music calms me and knocks me out so I'll give that a try.

The next post will hopefully be a celebratory one.

agIsh: The Next Milestone - Part XI

As planned, I took some time away from the script and went over the basics: lab techniques, concepts, and background info. I have no idea what they're going to ask me but I'm trying to cover as much as I can in the next couple of days. If I were to guess, the committee's going to concentrate on the science (i.e., techniques) of my project and probably ask a little about the background info.

I've practiced my script enough that I think I'll be able to wing it if my mind trips up. I'll still go over it a couple of more times out loud tomorrow so that I get used to hearing those words come out of my mouth.

My anxiety started out as fear but is now, as Marge Simpson put it, "a state of catlike readiness".


Tuesday, May 10, 2011

agIsh: The Next Milestone - Part X

How bad can things really be if you have the love and support of your family and friends? I can only hope that I give them even a tenth of what they've given me. It's easy to forget the hundreds of things that are great in your life when one thing blinds you from them.

In three days, one way or another, things will be okay.


Monday, May 09, 2011

agIsh: The Next Milestone - Part IX

In good spirits today. Although, I did wake up a little nervous this morning. I'm comfortable enough with the script that I think I'm going to take some time away from it to read up on lab techniques and background material. My family has been wonderfully supportive and that buffers some of my anxiety. I have three prep days left; two of those days are eaten up by work. *shrug* Eh.


Sunday, May 08, 2011

agIsh: The Next Milestone - Part VIII

Awesome. I woke up nervous again and felt like shit the entire day. I pushed through, though, and finished the third draft of my presentation. It included all the changes she wanted and some others that I made for fear of her quiet judgement. I've printed out my script and will spend the next couple of days memorizing. I have tomorrow (my family did mother's day stuff today, which I regret having to skip out on), Monday and Tuesday after work, and all Wednesday. I have to fit in some time to brush up on lab concepts too in case.

I need a day to step back from it all. I'm getting bogged down in the details of it and I know that's going to hurt me. I'm always telling my students: "Don't get lost in the details. Take a step back every once in a while and take a look at the bigger picture." I need to follow my own advice.

Fuck man, I'm nervous. I've been reminding myself to breath all day.


Saturday, May 07, 2011

agIsh: The Next Milestone - Part VII

I hope you wake up in the morning and stare at the ceiling wondering why you just did that: why you just woke up. I hope you're bored. I hope you drag yourself out of bed, sit on your ass all day, and just Netflix it away. You should really get into all those obscure movies you've been meaning to add to your queue but didn't because you judged the entire movie by the cover. After you get bored of that, I hope you YouTube it for the next couple of hours until dinner. I hope that after dinner you jump back onto Netflix until 2am then go to sleep. I hope that this cycle continues until school starts up, in which case, you'll finally have something to do. But I bet you'll still complain about all the grading you have to do, and blah, blah, blah.

The worst is behind you!

Don't look back and wish for this time again. Don't forget how shitty that meeting was today. Don't forget that it realized all your fears. Don't forget that dropping out was actually an option you considered! Yes, she's a bitch, but you never have to see her again. Be happy for that! Be happy that you have a chance to be bored! I have about 5 days left until our defense and what I wouldn't fucking give to have your "problems". I'm looking forward to it! Things could be a lot worse...and, in fact, they were. So, for my sake, enjoy doing nothing, okay?

Well, I'm gonna go to sleep now and try not to wake up nervous again. No promises, though. I'll tell you how it went in 5 days.


Thursday, May 05, 2011

agIsh: The Next Milestone - Part VI

Exactly one week to go. I woke up nervous again. All this shit going through my head. I rehearsed my script - I don't know how many times yesterday - and memorized half of it. I have to memorize the other half today...which happens to be the more difficult half. I'm hoping to memorize it and still have at least 3 or 4 hours before I go to bed tonight to run through the presentation itself a couple times.

My advisor meeting's tomorrow. I hope it goes well.

I'm not looking forward to it anymore.


Wednesday, May 04, 2011

agIsh: The Next Milestone - Part V

Roller coast of emotion man. Yesterday I was cool but I woke up this morning short of having a panic attack. For some reason, I woke up and started thinking about questions I didn't have answers to. So for part of the day I was just in deep thought and looked for answers. I think I managed to find answers to most if not all of them. However, that anxiety hasn't left me entirely. I've been rehearsing my presentation all day today, scripting my words so I say just the right thing, and committing it to memory in spite of this looming fear.

My lab buddies gave me two pieces of advice: 1) your audience is the general public, not the professors so, 2) dumb it down. It's definitely much cleaner than it was last week and my slide transitions feel comfortable and natural, very much like an everyday conversation. My only concern really is that I've dumbed it down too much and will be asked to get into more detail. My script has room for a little wiggle room, but not much more. There are queues on screen and in my wording that lead me from one idea to the next. If I'm asked to incorporate more that orchestration might fall apart. I'll see though. No use worrying about a future that has yet to exist.

I just gotta plow through until Friday.


Tuesday, May 03, 2011

agIsh: The Next Milestone - Part IV

I feel strangely confident that my presentation will go well. This will undoubtedly lead to procrastination and ultimately failure on the day of my defense. Over the years I've found that I do my best when I'm a little nervous heading into something. I've been teaching for about four years now and I still find myself a little nervous before starting class. It's weird, I can't explain it. All I know is that little voice saying, "You know this is going to end up shit, don't you?" needs to be there. A couple of days ago this voice was unbearable. Tonight, a little over a week before my defense, that voice is a whisper.

Then again, I do have that meeting on Friday and my advisor always manages to make me nervous no matter what I'm doing.

I'm now looking forward this meeting.

agIsh: The Next Milestone - Part III

Damn it's hot. It's hard to think about anything else when this heat is just relentless. But, I can't afford to be anything less than on it. In 9 days, I make my final stand and in 9 days I'll be ready. Actually, I'll be ready in less time than that. I've been making pretty good progress. My first shitty version of my presentation took about a week to make. After some good feedback, I pumped out my better second version in about 24 hours. I think it's stronger because it sounds like me. I don't know who I was trying to be in my first version, maybe a pretentious graduate student, I don't know. But this version sounds like a conversation I'd have with some dude on the street.

Dude: "Aye, brotha, can you spare a dime?"
Me: "No, but I would love to talk to you about my research."

So, for the next couple of days I'll be committing my presentation to memory. On Friday I'll be meeting with my advisor and I'm sure there will be changes. Hopefully not enough to warrant a third version, though...cuz that shit would suck with less than a week to go.

Fortunately, no matter how bad I do, I'm pretty sure I'll pass. In the history of our program, only one student has failed so the odds are in my favor.

...I'd hate to be the second guy on that list though.


Sunday, May 01, 2011

agIsh: The Next Milestone - Part II

I managed to shorten my intro by about 10 slides last night. My first run-through of my presentation on Friday night with a couple of buddies of mine was pretty painful. I was being too wordy and I managed to bore myself while doing it. This second draft should be a lot cleaner and tighter. I have a meeting with my advisor on Friday and it should be even tighter after that. I still have two weeks to polish so I feel good about that.

I still managed to play about an hour and a half of Fallout: New Vegas in spite of how busy I am... *shrug*