Saturday, April 28, 2007
So this is how it's going to be.
The year without a spring, or even much of a summer. It's warm and sunny outside, but I've been on my butt on the couch since about 9:30 this morning, reading and writing and studying. Every time I consider taking a break, today's date announces itself loudly in my brain and I feverishly return to work.
My preliminary exam, sort of a halfway point in the PhD program, is July 2. Between now and then, I need to 1) write a research proposal that is innovative and well thought out, justifies my work's value to the larger world, and describes a project that can actually be done in the next 3 years or so; 2) prepare an hour-long talk on same; 3) do enough sequencing in the lab to demonstrate that my species complex shows variability, for without variability there's no story and no project and I might as well drop out; and 4) read and study and be intimately familiar with all the major areas of biology and statistics that relate to my field. Lucky me, my field is one that is just now being defined, at the intersection of systematics and population genetics known as phylogeography. None of my committee members are phylogeographers, but each represents one of its aspects. I must therefore be familiar with all the contributing fields, and be able to explain how they intersect. On the plus side, maybe my committee will be so confused they won't be able to ask me anything difficult.
I go back and forth between blind panic and a feeling of calm capability, generally on a weekly cycle with the low point coming the evening before my meetings with my advisor and the high point coming the evening after (which I take off if I can). Weekends pretty much just suck. All I can do is look towards July 3, work my butt off, and hope I study the right things.
If I can just get the proposal drafted, I will feel *so* much better. I'm taking some time off tomorrow, though, to get the garden ready for the growing season. It's already growing out of control and needs some tender loving pruning. That may be the only serious gardening I do this year :/
Took Libby to the vet this morning for her vaccinations. It was the first time we'd been in that exam room since the day we left Jazzy there. I felt a little stab of horrible memory when I walked in, but choked it back and focused on today. It's been almost three months and I still miss him every single day. And I miss that interaction between two dogs; that's the other happy goal at the end of my crappy summer: another dog to keep Libby, and us, company.