New Years Resolutions for 2017

I’ll echo what everyone else is saying, that 2016 was a trying year for many reasons, including personal ones. Tied up with all that difficulty though is a lot of personal growth. Even though a lot of bad stuff happened in the past year, I have learned from every part of it.

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Amsterdam, October 3, 2016

I’m going to continue this lemons-into-lemonade kind of approach into 2017. To that end I’ve come up with a few resolutions for myself.

Really important and big resolutions:

  • Maintain a daily meditation and/or yoga practice. In May of the past year I got an injury in yoga class, where I pulled my left hip adductor (basically, groin). I was ordered to quit going to yoga until it was fully healed. This really bummed me out, because I felt I had benefitted a lot from the mindfulness practice that my yoga teacher incorporates into her classes. Luckily I realized that I could practice mindfulness without yoga, and I got my toes wet with meditation. I’ve been meditating more and more since then, and it’s helped me quite a lot with taking a breather from my work and with sleeping better. In 2017 I want to do this basically every day. You can meditate for as little as 5 minutes, so there is no excuse for not meditating besides “It’s not important to me.”
  • Get back into writing 5 days a week. I’m on the job market this year and it’s very time consuming. Luckily, I think the most time-consuming parts are behind me. I’ve gotten much faster at writing my cover letters, and all my materials have been created at this point. With that, I am re-committing myself to writing 5 days a week, if not my dissertation, then some kind of blog post. I have previously noted on this blog that writing 5 days a week is essential to being a prolific scholar.

Even though these are big goals, they can be broken down into tiny ones, since they’re both every-day activities. Each day, I just have to do a little bit—at least 5 minutes of meditation, and at least 250 words. Come on, I can do that! My Facebook password is changed to something I don’t know now, so that I can’t log on and waste time there. I’m hoping this leads to more productive activity, even if that productive activity is a game or knitting, two things that are relaxing but not as pointless as browsing Facebook.

I also want to briefly reflect on things I’ve achieved in 2016, because I personally struggle with giving myself enough credit for what I’ve done.

  • I started this blog in March 2016, and I’ve written 24 posts—not a great number, but nothing to sneeze at either!
  • I submitted my first manuscript to a journal, after spending a lot of time doing archival research (another first).
  • I started singing professionally, including securing my job singing High Mass in Latin at a Catholic church, and taking voice lessons.
  • I designed and taught a course on Analysis of Popular Music that I think was a big success.
  • I went on a short vacation with my cousin, who is my oldest friend, and reconnected with her.
  • As a co-chair, I put on a successful graduate student conference, and wrote up a thorough manual on the process for future chairs.
  • I started doing the household budget and really sticking to it! I hate numbers so this is a big achievement for me.
  • I applied for 25 tenure-track jobs in music theory, and even had my first on-campus interview.
  • I spent two weeks in Europe.
  • I started meditating.
  • I started a new job at the Writing Center at Medgar Evers College and have learned a lot about effective feedback on written work.
  • I started volunteering with CUNY Citizenship Now! and joined a group of politically active women.
  • I made a resolution to read 6 books, and almost did it. Maybe next year.
  • I knitted a fluffy cowl, a little doll of Smudge, some gauntlets, and a large portion of a sweater.

I forgot about a lot of these things until I went back through my calendar and looked at my appointments. I see a lot of firsts and a lot of change in there.

So, here’s to keeping up this level of achievement and self-improvement in 2017!

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Blogging and the writing process

Writing a dissertation is an isolating endeavor. The majority of my work is done when I’m alone. I have stopped trying to write my dissertation in my apartment, where my two cats and the temptations of games, TV, chores, and snacking are too easy to fall for; I instead always go to the public library, the Graduate Center, or a cafe instead. But even when surrounded by other people in a public place, to do the work, I have to put in my headphones and tune out the rest of the world. Complicating this is the protectiveness that I feel about my research. My dissertation is not finished, so it’s not perfect, so I don’t want to share it for fear of people getting the wrong idea about my work. When people ask “what’s your dissertation about?”, I tend to give my elevator pitch but change the subject at the next organic opportunity; when people ask how the writing is going, I’ll say “it’s going!” or “fine!” without boring them with details.

This is sort of a confession of problems I have in the writing process—problems I hope to alleviate with this blog. I want to have a place to share my ideas in a more conversational tone, to ask questions and think “out loud”, to link to on my Twitter and get feedback from those who are interested. I am also looking forward to putting my writing process on display. For History of Theory class early in my Ph.D., I translated part of a treatise by  a 19th-century German, Johann Christian Lobe. He wrote “Even the greatest and most learned geniuses don’t have roasted doves flying into their mouths.” This isn’t a humble-brag or a name drop—this charming and ever-so-19th-century-German quote truly has stuck in my mind ever since I read it. The point is, of course, that everyone has rough drafts, revisions, and junk ideas. It’s not a new idea, but writing-as-a-process could always use more emphasis in academic life. I want to contribute to that with this blog. (It won’t hurt that I’ll also be getting my work on the internet, just a google away from curious eyes…)

I intend to share snippets of dissertation work, as well as passing thoughts on other musical or academic topics. Enjoy!