One of the truths about grad school is that it eats away at your time. They do warn you about this before you enroll, and they keep reminding you of it as they pile on reading after reading, hour of added study time before you can even set foot in your classroom. They advise you to limit your courses, especially if you have a job, and never cease to remind you that this isn’t undergrad study, so you’d best buckle down if you hope to survive. Speaking from the point of view of an anthropology grad student, it can be hell on you, and my navigation of my field hasn’t even been that grating. Of course, for half of my tenure in the grad program, I haven’t been working full time, so I’ve had more than enough hours in the day to devote to study and research. But nothing I had ever done could have prepared me for what happened last year.
Those who are regular readers on here already know that I spent the latter half of 2009, from Memorial Day Weekend until the end of November traveling. My goal was to get as many replies to my thesis questionnaire as possible, which in turn led me to travel to as many cons as possible. Between the end of May and the beginning of August, I had spent a total of 5 weeks on the road traveling between cons, sometimes with a week of downtime, sometimes continually, all in the name of science. And as I have said before, in the end it got me over 550 surveys filled out, 9 interview with attendees, guests and vendors, and over 200 pages of material gathered from hours spent pouring through internet forums. This was coupled with a horrendous lack of sleep, money being drained from my bank account before I even knew it was there, many hours spent negotiating with hotels and vendors, and a diet so horrible it took me a full month to recover. And that was the easy part.
I apologize in advance if my ramblings stray all over the place. I also apologize for not giving enough time to the site of late. Last year, when the thesis was still far in the distance, I was guilty of slacking with my data, comfortable that Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years stood between me and the grind of academic writing. Now those holidays are over. Indeed, all of 2009 flew past in a blur, and now I stare down the barrel of a cannon known as a deadline, knowing full well that I need to manage my time meticulously or else I will never graduate by June. Six months may be a long time to many of you, but not when you spend your days entering data and setting up for the next con, knowing that now more than ever interviews and networking are one of the most important aspects of your life, alongside the monster of a paper you are preparing to write. I know some people share my burden, and to others it sounds like a self administered torture in the name of a piece of paper, but when you feel so strongly about something, you tend to jump in and make sure it gets done. That’s why I spend 7 hours a day staring at a computer, that’s why I limit my extracurricular activities, that’s why I don’t sleep. But when this is all done, I know I will have accomplished something, and that something will make my life that much more richer.
So, without further ado, welcome to my series called “Reflections on the Con Year.” I know I said January would be Mythology Month, but sometimes other things can’t be summed up in just one or two entries.