Thursday, 14 February 2013

Status Report and Homework.

Love What You Do

Thank you to Trystan for this topic! Visit her blog and take part here

(warning this post is a lengthy ramble, because I found it very hard to write. Feel free to skip down to the tl;dr section at the end!)

Paid work; I'm a web-monkey, a very chilly one!

The paid job I have now was obtained simply to provide the necessary funds to allow me to complete my PhD, I think I was unbelievably lucky to find it too. I love working for a small company, I love that I work in IT and Photography despite having no qualifications at all in either, I love that very little of my work involves dealing with the public, I love that my bosses are understanding about my PhD and thus my hours are very flexible, they don't care how I dress either.

 If the office wasn't so cold in winter I would happily stay working there for the next 3 or 4 years while I finish my PhD. I know that the temperature of an office is a silly thing to change jobs over but the days of not feeling my feet and typing in my mittens have really taken their toll on me this winter. I think my health is suffering and I worry about the long term impact. So unless they heat the office better; which I doubt (the big boss doesn't feel the cold, but does see the electricity bill). I will be looking for a new job before next winter.

Volunteering; history nerds paradise

 My unpaid job, volunteering for the Moseley Society Local History Group is fantastic, I'm getting involved in local history, finding out about fascinating people, discovering the transferable nature of the skills from my paid job to the field I really love. It's really helping me be inspired again too. Also I'm making connections with people who could offer me a job one day in the future if my ultimate academia dream doesn't come to fruition.

PhD of doom; you don't have to be mad or morbid to do this but it helps!

I've been really struggling with my PhD the past few months, I'm working on a very theory dense chapter which means fighting my way through other people's confusingly and often pretentiously written textbooks in order to decipher their theories about landscape, ritual, monuments or power, try to get my brain around them and apply them to my vastly different case studies. It's hard and it makes me feel stupid. Feeling stupid is not good for a researcher; it makes me feel as though I'm not worthy of my PhD. I'm still slogging away though, slowly, oh so slowly and I'm sure I'll get there in the end. In fact I wrote 2,000 words yesterday so hopefully I can keep that up, If I do that another 3 days in the next week, I'll have the chapter done in time to meet my supervisor!

The fact my university is closing my department and my supervisor might leave is really not helping my motivation. I couldn't even bring myself to apply for funding this year because I would have had to lie on the form. One of the sections was '100 words on why the University of Birmingham is the best place for you to study'. The truth is it’s not, I wanted to put;

 ‘I have dedicated 5 years of my life to this university already and I'll be damned if you closing the department and my supervisor threatening to leave is enough to make me uproot my whole life to another city. I've been working to pay for this PhD myself including all my fieldwork trips and a Human Osteology course because you cut that from my masters without the courtesy of telling me. Please just give me a break and hand me some money so I can live like a decent human being for a year whilst I write up my findings?' (100 words)

I didn't think that would go down too well though!

I also have things to look forward to though; fieldwork, which I am good at, which I do enjoy. I love finding a headstone that has faded through weathering, tracing the faint letters with my finger or looking at a memorial with missing lead lettering to play connect the dots and work out the inscription (lead lettering is held in with tiny pegs so when it's missing the holes from the pegs are left behind in the shapes of the letters). I love the peace and tranquility of the cemeteries and being surrounded with such beauty.

I need to spend one more day at Cathays in Cardiff, hopefully during March, then in May I finally get to go to Highgate and do my recording in the West cemetery! I'm so excited! The new CEO has been in communication with me to resolve the insurance issues and I can go ahead with my work! The photographs I take whilst I'm there will have to be for research purposes only, but I'll take some when I'm volunteering and share those with you instead =]

 I also have my Human Osteology course in April, a 3 day intensive course in Bournemouth, where I will hopefully pick up some of the knowledge I missed during my masters when the module was cancelled.

The tl;dr version:

My paid job has it's advantages but it's too damn cold there, at least I've lumped my hours into 3 days now to make time for volunteering at the Local History group which I really enjoy.

Sometimes it's hard to remember why I love my research but I do love it and I know it will be worth it in the end. I know more about the topic that anyone at my university, probably more than all but a handful of people in the world. My research, like my attire, is a way of making the fact I will never fit in work for me.

One day I hope to be the eccentric professor in the top hat, lecturing in a slightly over-excitable way about death and burial!

Homework: Date Night

Instead of turning in my Homework, this is an IOU Professor Z!

Me and Ash are celebrating Valentine's day late this year (combining it with his birthday celebrations) and going to London for a few days of wandering around museums, going to The Making of Harry Potter and generally being soppy romantics!

We don't go on 'dates' very often, especially not now we are living together, so It'll be really nice to spend 'quality time' together! Also I'm sure i'll find some excuse to get all dressed-up!

I'll certainly be taking this hat:

Let's hope I don't leave this one at Euston station!

Top Hat: From the Rag Market for £25, it's their children's size and I had to get it ordered in specially, decorated with ribbon and lace from another market stall!

I need to clean my camera lens!

I promise lot's of gooey, romantic pictures on the by the 2nd of March! Or at least pictures of us pretending to play Quiddich =P


  1. Too bad about the cold office - it's true, environment plays a big part in making a job good or bad. The volunteer gig sounds like great fun tho, & I hope you can finish your degree to become that wacky prof in a top hat ;-) Thanks for sharing your status report.

    1. Thank you for choosing the topic, it really got me thinking!

  2. some of us here in the office bring space heaters and keep them under their desks...maybe you can bring one?

    1. I'd be using there electricity and I think the cost is why they don't provide more heaters =[

  3. You're doing your PhD on death and burial rituals? That is so cool. Did I mention how cool that is? Wow. So cool. :D

    1. hehe, glad someone thinks it's cool. A lot of people think I'm just morbid. I'm looknig at the landscape and monuments in Victorian cemeteries.

  4. I know what you mean, over air conditioning can make you sick! and if work is making you sick, then you need to change it! That is not making you happy in the end!

    Your PhD and study sounds fascinating! It sucks that your university is so unsopportive. I have had a few issues with my uni too, I think they all have their problems! Hang in there, because what you are doing sounds absolutely amazing! I would love to hear more sometime!

    I can't wait to visit Highgate one day!

    Your volunteer job sounds great! I want to try and find something like that now!

    The hat looks great! The trip sounds awesome! As young people with not much money, my boyfriend and I don't get to go on trips much, so it is so exciting to do so! I can't wait 'til I have a job and can save up! You guys have loads of fun!

    1. I wish It was air conditioning that makes it cold! It's just the weather and the lack of heating! The walls and windows are thin and there's no insulation.

      I know, all Uni's seem to be as bad as each other! I'll do some more posts about my research at some point! When I have some results!

      Highgate is wonderful indeed, I hope you get to visit!

      Thanks, looks like we can't actual afford it though (this month was unexpectedly expensive!)

  5. I pretty much ditto what lady Insomniac said; very, very cool!

    The cold is very draining, as much as being very hot can be agitating... it's important to be comfortable while you're working, and it's quite irresponsible of the boss to ignore the health ramifications! I hope that gets fixed soon, for the sake of your health!

    1. Thanks!

      Yes it is very draining! I think that my bosses just don't have the time or money to fix anything!

  6. WTF girl...I hate you! I wanna go a HP studio tour too! :P You ust post about it!!! :D

    Anyway...I have read your whole post, but your tl;dr version is too funny. ^^

    Once I left a job because it was too warm in the office. No, I didn't leave because of the warmth, but when it came to leaving or staying, that was the deciding factor. And cold is even worse, I'd leave too...but, to be honest, I never really got attached to any of my jobs, so it's been always easy for me to quit or change jobs. I hope you'll find another one company you'll like to work for and where you'll be comfy. ^^

    As for your thesis; one of my friends has had to face the same problem, his department was gonna get closed at the end of the semester and his supervisor didn't help finishing his thesis at all...he ended up having to travel to another city every weekend until he could finally get it done...It would be such a shame, your studies sound so exciting! ^^

    1. Oh no! I'm sorry! I hope you get to go one day, it was really interesting!

      I'm glad I'm not the only one that sees temperature as a job change worthy issue! I'm not all that attached to my job, I will miss my colleagues though.

      I'm sorry your friend had such a hard time with his thesis, I might end up having to do the exact same thing, we'll see! I'm not holding out much hope though at the moment,