Column Archives:

August 28, 2013

Slow Posts

I know I've been slow to post since I got to graduate school. I appreciate all the people that have written me to inquire why it's been so slow. In the past, when posts got slow, I was typically bogged down with work or life, stuff that had to be done. The biggest difference in graduate school is that my slow posts result from fun distractions; there are so many things to do here and so many people to do them with that writing a web post seems boring. That really never happened to me before. I enjoy writing posts, but apparently I enjoy hanging out more.

What’s life like that it distracts so completely? First and foremost, life here is about self-improvement (and that’s about the most positive spin I can give it). I spend a lot of time riding my bicycle, swimming, working out, reading, playing guitar, learning languages, dating, drinking, and meeting new people. Perhaps I do some of these to excess. Whatever the case, these are all unscheduled leisure time activities; I don’t get paid or graded, I just do them because they are fun. It’s really selfish, I think, to spend some 80% of your time on yourself.

The other way I spend my time is on school. I’m either researching, attending class, or as of this semester, grading. I’ve always said that I wanted a job that didn’t have required office hours, because it felt like the prison philosophy of putting in your time. I really didn’t understand the life balance issue because I’d never worked less than 40 hours a week. When work is about getting things done, I function really well, at least until the work takes less than 40 hours per week to finish. In this case, such as now, I sort of devolve into a selfish epicurean.

I don’t see my situation changing in the next year. I have 9 months left on my second Master’s and until then my lifestyle is unlikely to revert back to the pre-graduate school consistency. I might spontaneously find discipline, but since I’ve had three years to find it without success, I don’t expect an epiphany.

I’ve learned that I require external motivation for personal discipline. I need a supervisor, mission, team of co-workers, and/or employees to serve as incentives for my work. I really like to work, which means this isn’t a huge problem, but I worry that some careers are just too independent for me to succeed. For example, I’d like to be a writer, but I’m afraid that I’d never sit down to write without some form of external motivation.

I furthermore think this idea overlaps with the introvert/extrovert personality trait. It’s rare for an extrovert to be internally disciplined. For example, while an introvert might sit down to practice an instrument, an extrovert would get bored without a band or audience there to share the experience.

I’ve always thought of myself as an introvert. More Sal than Dean, but perhaps that has changed or maybe I was always Dean. I like to be alone, but strictly in terms of productivity, I don’t function well outside of an organization. It may sound weird, but I think my sweet spot is middle management. I need to have the company mission to drive me, a supervisor for accountability, and employees to complete a sufficient body of work for fulfillment. It’s asking a lot.

Graduation is in May. I hope I can find a career in my sweet spot. Until then, and possibly forevermore, expect slow posts. I might just shift the direction of this site towards photographs since I take a lot of those these days. Unfortunately taking photos and processing photos suffer from similar distractions as web postings…

Song of the Season (or longer)

I fell in love with these lyrics after perusing my album collection searching for the deeper cuts to learn to cover on guitar. As I mentioned above, I’ve been playing a lot of guitar lately. While I can’t play this song the way the Ataris play it, I worked up my own acoustic ballad version. These lyrics are slightly modified from how they do it because when you’re singing slowly, the lyrics become more important than when you’re thrashing through a 3-minute punk song. No offense meant to the Ataris, but I do consider my modifications to be an improvement. This is "Lately" by the Ataris (without the chorus)

     Lately I've been feeling a little bit neglected
     When it comes to your ex-boyfriends, well I guess I'm over protective
     It's nothing personal
     I just wanted you to tell me that you care
     Lately I've been thinking about bathing with a toaster
     I never asked to take a ride on this emotional roller coaster
     It's you that I want
     But lately it just feels like you're not there
     Lately I've been contemplating drowning in the ocean
     Sometimes even Spock would show the tiniest emotion
     Do you love me now?
     As much as you loved me yesterday?
     Lately I've been hoping for a little bit of affection
     Sometimes I wish you had come with a written set of directions
     I guess it's not that easy
     but I hope that you still love me anyway
     Lately I've been planning on taking a vow of silence
     I never saw monk resort to any acts of violence
     Or maybe I'll just cry
     And hope you come around again today.