Life Gets in the Way: Writing Gaps in April and May

I feel I have gotten very little writing done toward my doctoral thesis in the last few weeks, and after being asked about it again by a great encourager of me remaining focused on finishing my PhD, I decided I needed to write a brief check-in on my happenings. April and May have been quite troubling as I try to write my research and finish this degree.

Let’s see, where to start? I think I need to go back to the very beginning of April, when I was away at the Networked Learning Conference in the Netherlands. Fine, and well-planned. The jet-lag and cell-phone issues while there took a few days to overcome, though when I was finally getting back into a routine by the middle of the next week–it hit. We had a flood in the apartment on April 11.

The pipe displaced itself from the toilet, and while we were home and while we were able to get the super to turn off the water within 5-10 minutes or so, there was enough water that came out and spread into the apartment that the wood floor was ruined. Completely ruined. Even with the water extraction company sent by the insurance company 4 hours later setting up fans and a large dehumidifier that then ran for the next 6-7 days, the water under the wooden floor tiles loosened the glue holding them down (as well as causing many of them to buckle and split) so it would have to be replaced.

So, where does that leave my story that began with my conference on April 1? Yes, the equipment in the apartment was finally removed on April 17. What a mess.

With all of the rugs gone (sent to the rug cleaner to try to ultimately save them; at least the flood water was clean!!), and the wood now making noise wherever we step, we then had to navigate between our insurance and the building insurance, with their finally taking another two weeks to agree on who will pay for all this. You see, we also had to have 3 estimates in the process, with samples seen, while this all took place, with the decisions as to which color to switch to. We chose the one that is closest to what we have. You see, there was such extensive wood floor damage that tiles could not just be replaced as they would not match — it all has to go.

Just lovely, the entire floor has to go, which means we have to move a lot of things (even though, thankfully, the furniture was not damaged much). As one of the bookshelf / desktop units had some water get under it, and this piece really being a composite of 5 separate parts that had been built and added onto over the years (taking an entire wall and including two desks, a file cabinet, 3 cupboards, lots of bookshelves, and several lighting units), it would be removed. Alas, it could not be reassembled easily at all, so out it all went. Yes, that meant we needed to purchase new desks (both on order) and have new bookshelves designed (also currently beingĀ  built), which all takes time. And disruption . . . don’t forget about the disruption in routine (i.e., time for writing).

Lots of time.

Did I mention that 14 months ago I also bought tickets to see Wagner’s The Ring (16 hours of opera over 4 days) at the Metropolitan Opera, the week starting May 5 and ending May 12?

So here, a week later, the floor replacement is beginning tomorrow, and while that should be usable just after Memorial Day, the desks and shelves will arrive 1-2 weeks later. Yes, things should finally be back to normal around the first week of June.

First week of June, and here it is I am trying to write and finish my data analysis!

I think writing this post has helped me to better understand where all my time (and energy, emotional navigation, and money) has gone over the past 2 months. Suffice it to say I have had to take a few vacation days here and there to manage all this, for otherwise I work full-time, though thinking about it and sharing it a bit more widely here helps me to close one episode, if you will, and begin to again focus on another — my thesis.

Life does get in the way while engaging in the years of non-stop work toward a doctorate, though for me the lesson is that I only have so much energy, and sometimes it has to be directed toward immediate problems at hand. That is not bad, it is simply healthy. Of course, as the wheel turns, we do have to make our ways back to our other commitments, chiefly among them is my thesis.

With that said, I have this afternoon and several days in the coming week dedicated to my studies. In many ways, that is a welcome home.

5 thoughts on “Life Gets in the Way: Writing Gaps in April and May

  1. Jeffrey I feel for you!

    I guess one of the things so often not factored into thinking about the doctoral journey is real life stuff that gets in the way. In your case, your home virtually falling apart. In mine family matters. It is so important to recognise reality and let the thesis, or whatever else, move onto the back burner. It won’t go away and can be returned to in due course, probably with some fresh perspectives.

    I hope you soon have a semblance of normality in your life, and that your wallet recovers!

    1. Thanks, @lizit. Kudos about having the “life in the way” conversation one that should be raised early in the doctoral process, especially about how to handle, communicate around, and make sure the back-burner is not a permanent fixture. Hoping to now be getting back into the routine. Appreciate your encouragement!!

      Jeffrey

  2. Oh, I feel your pain! I’ve been going through some major family disruption since January, and while that’s finally settling down, it’s left me smack bang in the middle of our exam season feeling like I’ve not done enough proper research since the start of the year. But, as you say, the important thing is to take a breath and come back to it once your emotional energy isn’t committed elsewhere.

    1. @Liz, I suppose none of these are easy, and in many ways as my entire support network is online and distributed, then when I am precluded from that online contact, there is little else I am able to turn to.

      I hope your situation is resolving; these things are never easy or ever happen at the right time!

      Jeffrey

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