Tuesday, 3 April 2018

PhDNess Part 8 - Positive Procrastination, Prevarication, Preparation and Post Exercise Rubbery-ness

Comfort In Sorrow (2018)
mixed media, including material soaked in solution of graveyard dirt for three days, embroidery hoops filled with images of St George's Field printed on coffin lining material (generously donated by Luke Howgate and Sons) and dried roses - as seen at the Living with Dying Conference at the Live Arts Bistro 27-28 March 2018 
this months post it note/s and the pad my keyboard sits on top of that I can make notes on as I'm typing...

It's been a mix of really busy times and consciously taking time out to rest times - but I have another busy few weeks in front of me with conferences, talks, presentations and such like and it'll be a while til I can have a proper long rest. But at least I've had  an Easter weekend filled with lovely old black and white film watching including Esther Waters (1948) based on the book with the same name published in 1894 by George Moore. Esther Waters is the tale of a woman who goes into service, has a child out of wedlock and via various twists and turns ends up back in service, though judging from the wikipedia entry about the book the twists and turns are much simplified in the film. I've also done a lot of cleaning and tidying.

The tidying and cleaning part of things is what I mean by positive procrastination - as in though I wasn't working on the things that have deadlines coming up - like my PhD progression monitoring or conference presentations I have been working on the things that will help with those tasks - like tidying and sorting my workroom and my notes and the files on the computer. My workroom is still less than ideal (currently using the sofabed as a bookcase) but it is in a much tidier and neater state than it was which means I can find the things I'm looking for much more easily and it is much pleasanter to work in. Plus whilst I am tidying I am thinking and marshalling my thoughts, getting my head round what it is I need to be writing about and doing next.

However there is also an element of fear in my procrastination (as in all procrastination)  - fear of elements of the tasks I am putting off (no matter how useful and necessary the tidying is) ie fear that I can't do them, that I don't really understand what it is I am doing or rather trying to do but I find I can face that fear by a) thinking about it whilst tidying b)recognising that it is a feeling as opposed to reality about the things and c) making a list and d)just getting on with it.

This blog is of course also useful in its own right as a record of where I'm up to and what I've been doing and a way of marshalling my thoughts but it is also procrastination of sorts - unlike my MA where I used my blog as my research journal and it was used for examination purposes. The way I'm going to be examined PhD-wise is by way of a document outlining my research so far and plan as to where it goes next, a presentation to two examiners and fingers crossed that goes okay.

That document is the main thing I'm thinking about at the moment and I need to progress from thinking to writing on it asap, and at least one of the other big things I've been working on - the installation of artwork at the very marvellous Living with Dying conference is now done and dusted. It was such a brilliant conference - one that was truly interdisciplinary as opposed to the art being an add on and the display needs of participating artists fully taken into consideration and time built in for the appreciation of the art the same as the traditional style presentations. There were films , interactive pieces as well as more traditional academic style presentations. One of the films - Rosalind UnCut by Claire Blundell Jones I found particularly affecting as it was about her mothers suicide, partly because it was a beautiful film but also as it coincided with the anniversary of the death of a friend. I don't miss him or our daft chats any less any other time but anniversaries make things more intense somehow, anyway I passed on the conference dinner and instead had wine and takeaway with my ever lovely and supportive husband as that was the way I needed to regain my equilibrium.

I've also been looking at material in the archives - namely founding documents for Leeds Photographic Society (founded in 1852 it is the oldest photographic society in the world) to see what if any involvement women had in it. In short not much at first though ladies could be members, and by the 1920's subscription rates for gentleman members was 7 shillings and sixpence and 5 shillings for lady members. One of the oldest photographs using indoor flash taken of the members in the 1880's does have a woman pictured in it though. A copy of the magazine 'Amateur Photographer' from October 1884 'welcomes contributions from either sex' and had an essay in it (no pictures) written by a woman getting her childs photograph taken.

Along with material in the archive, a friend has given me a very wonderful collection of mourning cards she found amongst her mothers belongings, the oldest is from the 1880's and the newest from the 1930's and all from her family. Some are really beautiful and it is fascinating to see how fashions and contents of them changed over the years, one is still in the original envelope from the funeral directors. It was very generous indeed of her to give them to me and I hope to use some elements of their design and some of the verses used on them to make new artwork.

I've been trying to read fiction that is not set or written in the nineteenth century in an attempt to properly switch off and distract myself of an evening/during a journey and I have mostly succeeded but over the weekend I finally (it has been on my list of things to read for months) succumbed to the glory that is The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (1848) by Anne Bronte and very marvellous it is too. I'm only a quarter in but I am already very fond of the very marvellous narrator and the reserved mourning wearing Mrs Graham living in comparative seclusion in a big old draughty house.

Post exercise rubberyness is a feeling I've been getting in my arms and legs recently as I have started with a new personal trainer, I'm mostly doing weight training type exercise so the impact is somewhat lessened on my dodgy knees as I am not running. I am getting out of breath though as it's really bloody hard. But I am feeling the benefits already - fifth session today and pull ups are slightly easier in that I can do more of them before my arms feel like they're going to break, and I am lifting more weight, more quickly and more often. Feel so much better as a result and got a new target of being able to do at least one chin pull up at some point. 
Right that's enough procrastination....best crack on with rest of my to do list.....but first I'll check on the washing and make a cup of tea....

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