succumbing to peer pressure

Saturday, September 13, 2008

A post that I will surely regret in the morning

Went out with a couple of female friends tonight. Received (of course) both wanted and unwanted attention from the opposite sex. One guy in particular was quite...dedicated. Not especially creepy or threatening, but definitely beyond the bounds of friendly or desired and certainly missing some pretty universal social signals. On the walk from the bar to the car one of the bar tenders happened to be leaving as well, and commented on how patient the three of us ladies were, in reference to this particular man. We thanked him, said good night, and continued on our way. In the process, we commented on how 'being patient' was really just part of the job description of being female and out at a bar on a Saturday night. Accepting unwanted attention seems to be par for the course for every female I know, and accepting it, and passing it off, with grace and compassion seems to be a skill worth acquiring. It really bothers me that it wasn't even a blip on the radar for any of us that we had to deflect this socially awkward and inappropriate attention. It bothers me more to know that I am partly to blame for it - I am quick to assume that someone is awkward rather than mal-intentioned. But regardless of the motivation behind the action, people who behave in socially unacceptable ways should be told so. Perhaps in forgiving and compassionate ways, but nevertheless, it should be suggested that they modify their behavior. Why should we (women) always be the accommodating ones? Why should it be my job, why should I acquire the skill, of gracefully deflecting and dodging some over-attentive guy at the bar when really I just went out to spend some time with my friends? Why is it assumed that I'm flattered that you sat down and want to know my name? And you know what? Now matter how clever and funny you think you are, and I pretend you are, suggesting that flashing my breasts will 'earn' me french fries is offensive. So fuck you. I should have said so to your face tonight.

What a difference a few hours makes!

Woo-hoo! Not only did I manage to think Big Thoughts about my dissertation, but I actually got that excited feeling about it again! You see, here's the thing. One of my questions involves comparing a traditional method to a new-ish method, to see how they each perform under a range of reasonable conditions. The new-ish method is becoming kind of trendy, and more and more people are using it, without necessarily fully understanding what it's doing and/or what its limitations are. So my comparison is actually really interesting, and, potentially, quite the contribution to the field (if I do say so myself). But I've spent that past month bogged down in getting my simulations to run, and then going blind transcribing the results of the simulations into tables, and then blinder trying to figure out how to organize the tables to look for any kind of pattern that might tell a story about the performance of the two methods. And none of that is really all that fun or interesting. And I had been putting off stepping back and looking at the whole thing for fear that it would just implode and I would discover that either a) my simulations were giving me nonsensical results, and I had made some fatal coding error somewhere (hello imposter syndrome!) or b) that there simply wasn't a nice coherent story to tell (there still may not be). But lo and behold, I finally did suck it up this afternoon and take that step back, and I do see something, and it's not only interesting but exciting! I could jump up and down and do the happy dance!

Just as I was telling AWB the other night - grad school is really just veering between feeling totally on top of things and sheer panic.

I'm supposed to be doing something!

but motivation is at an all-time low. Last week I blamed it on being all pms-y and hormonal, this week it was a particularly grueling therapy session that left me weepy for a day. But eventually I have to suck it up and just get shit done. Today is supposed to be that day. The morning started out promising, churning out a good two hours or so of prep for my class next week. But now it's time to change gears to dissertation mode and I'm seriously incapable of focusing. I'm slowly coming to the realization that I'm burning out on my topic, which is nearly good timing, as burn out is a pretty good motivator to finish the fuck up, but I need to eek out a bit more work to cross that finish line. And thinking Big Thoughts lately has been a painfully slow process. And my usual methods just aren't cutting it - stepping back for a day or two to come back with a fresh look at the problem, hitting the gym regularly - none seem to be sweeping the detritus from my brain. And when I think about actually getting all this done by xmas I get a sick fluttery feeling in my chest.