Wednesday, October 11, 2017

On funminishing, part 1

Looking back, it seems I've become decreasingly funnier the last few years. As in, moving in the wrong direction. I used to be funny, or at the very least, funnier than I am now. One might say I am funminishing by the minute.

My empirical evidence for this claim is two-fold. First of all, this blog in itself serves as pretty hard-core data, with its stated intention of providing "attempts of recognizing both details and the big picture, while embracing a propensity for total randomness", which in itself is as ridiculous a sequence of words that it hardly can be interpreted as anything other than humour. The blog has, however, been fairly barren for a long while. Despite the occasional post here and there, their frequency and length (and topics) suggest that while I may still claim some propensity for randomness (in the most generous reading of the word, though in all fairness, even here I seem to fall into familiar patterns rather than my digressionist aspirations), I stand accused of not recognizing details nor the big picture, as I in fact am hardly providing any pictures (mental or otherwise) at all, since this blog mostly have been rendered empty for months, years, at the time. One might argue that this is humour in and of itself, but it would be a long stretch. Thus, I present the lack of humor due to lack of content as evidence A in this investigation and/or analysis.

Evidence B is more complex. While one might assume that you as a potential reader of this blog actually have access to this blog and therefore conceivably might be able to assess evidence A by means of peer review (though I by no means suggest you should -- I am after all asking you to backtrack my lack of posting here to confirm my claim that I have not been posting frequently, lengthy or topically in a humourous manner, which hardly stands to my credit, other than that I if nothing else can be said to be honest. Also, I realize you probably have better ways to spend your time) -- while one might assume that, you might not have the same privelege when it comes to evidence B.

I say "might", because, as will be clear in a moment, you might not have it, and you might have it.

Evidence B consists of a random selection (see, propensity for random) of Facebook statuses I have written over the past few years. If you are not in the category of the select few (or actually, quite average, I would guess) people who are on my friend's list on Facebook, you won't have access to evidence B. I'm sorry. I am sure the actual number of people who might stumble upon this who are not my friends on Facebook is actually quite limited, but given the possibility that it might happen, I am sorry. Not that we are not friends, because in this day and age it has come to a point where I no longer consider Facebookfriendiness a requirement for actually being friends, and while the more vague "being connected", via social media, is something I cherish, sure enough, occasionally, with some people, but let's be honest - it's 2017. You have "friends" on your Facebook-profile you only accepted because you didn't want them to tell your mom at the florist's in your hometown that you have become a snobbish elitist after moving to the big city. Not all Facebook-friends are friends, and amazingly, not all friends are particularly active on Facebook.

This was a long digression, of which I shall not apologize (digressions being something of a staple of this blog, after all. I don't know if you noticed the title...?), but it ended somewhere I'd like to pick it up from: "not all friends are particularly active on Facebook" (Great Digression, my mom's friend at the florist really has a point, I am quoting myself, FROM THE PREVIOUS PARAGRAPH now...)

Anyway. The "friend" I am talking about in this particular instance, is myself. Me, myself, and the person I just quoted.

Evidence B, my (let's admit it, not-so-)randomly selected Facebook-statuses (of which I shall not specify which ones I refer to, by the way, just to make the "evidence" even sketchier), are also far between, and not their former peaky, plump, juicy selves.

Not to brag, but I used to be funny (see opening statement of this blog post for reference). Funny-ish, at least. I used to make myself laugh, and seemingly others as well, as my posts occasionally would elicit comments that sometimes triggered avalances of great, old-fashioned Facebook-comedy. I used to be funny, people would be funny back, we would all do that creepy smirky-grinny-non-laugh people do when they read and write something funny on their Facebook during work hours. You know.

However, my examination of evidence B suggests a worrying trend also in this material. It is more funny the further from the present day we come, pointing at my hypothesis that I have become decreasingly funny, or as one might present it in layman's terms: I am less funny now than I was before. My funny appears to be running out (or, terrifyingly, may already have done so).

Why, then, is this happening?

I have a few theories, but I am going to do something utterly scandalous before presenting them. I am going to cliffhanger you (which, by the way, is probably not a word, as many of the words I like using, but it just struck me that this was a particularly abrasive wordsmithery of mine, as cliffhanger in itself is wordsmithed from "hanging from a cliff", I assume, meaning I just verbed ((yes, verbed)) a noun having been nouned (((yes, nouned))) from a verb ((((and then some)))). Ha!)

--I am going to cliffhanger you on this as a way of test, not yours, but mine, ability to stick to this. Yes. I am going to cliffhanger you, to see if that might motivate me, to keep writing the next section of this (otherwise insanely long) post, another day. The world is not fair. Sorry.


Friday, March 3, 2017

On dissertastelessness

A Non-At-All Comprehensive (But Nevertheless Somewhat Lengthy and Ambitious) List of Things I Shall Do Once I Finish My PhD Dissertation (Also, Haven't I Written This Post Before Only Then It Said MA Not PhD?)

(in no particular order)

(But numbered. For kicks)

  1. Sleep (Okay, that IS the proper order. I want to sleep a full night again, without waking up in the middle wondering if I should a. get back to work, b. try to get a few more minutes of restless zzz, or c. kill the zombie that surely has gotten a hold off my foot because aaaarghh why am I tossing and turning EVEN WHEN I'm asleep???)
  2. Sleep (for good measure)
  3. Bake something. I long for baking things. Bread. Cakes. Elaborate architectural miracle mysteries. Anything. 
  4. Spend time with people. People that are alive and well and who are not presidents of the United States (or anywhere else, really)
  5. Do laundry (possibly, I should consider doing this before #4. But hey, I *said* in no particular order...)
  6. Walk. Outside. 
  7. Read a book (and not one that is written by/about presidents of the United States. Or elsewhere)
  8. Observe spring. I hear it's on its way. 
  9. Try to break the terrible eating habits I have gotten used to these past weeks months years. 
  10. Succeed. 
  11. Learn how to breathe again. Think yoga breaths. In fact, maybe what I really mean is getting back into yoga. 
  12. Do yoga. 
  13. Continue swimming, The one good habit I've managed to hold onto (which in turn is the one thing which has maintain the sliver of sanity I have left). 
  14. Not sit down and stare at a screen 18 hours a day. 
  15. Learn how to reply to the question "How are you?" with something other than a. a lie, b. a grunt, or c. a truth so painfully true that people surely never will ask you that ever again
  16. Maybe blog more?
  17. Buy myself some nice things. I am thinking new phone and possible some shoes. I feel like I've earned it. 
  18. Get some order back into my economy.
  19. Figure out how I can combine # 17 and #18...
  20. Learn how to dance. Like, take a class. 
  21. Sleep. 
  22. Oh, and teach some classes. I need to pretend I know stuff about things before I start seeing students like two seconds after I finish. Gah. Maybe they will accept that I teach a class about something else than what the class is supposed to be about? I'm sure Baking 101 is pretty useful as a part of a history major. 
  23. Sleep.
  24. I think I should probably get started on # 23 right away...

Saturday, August 20, 2016

On not-deadness

I'm not dead.

But I am starting to wonder if I'm becoming a zombie.

I came back here hunting for an old post I remembered writing when I was working on my master's thesis, describing how I really didn't want to write it.

Now I really don't want to write my dissertation.

Just the thought of it makes me drag my feet and make splooshy grumbling noises like a zombie craving brains, only, instead of wanting brains I now wonder if I shouldn't want a little less of them. See, I've reached the conclusion that writing a doctoral dissertation doesn't necessarily require an abundance of brains - in fact - the less brains, (almost) the better. More brains just allow for more distracting thoughts and stray arguments you'll never be able to defend properly anyway. Less brains might solve that problem.

If zombieism doesn't kick in soon, I might consider a brief lobotomy (yes. I do realize lobotomies tend to be rather permanent and that there really is nothing "brief" about them. But I don't want to end up all vegetable either, just slightly zombie-ish, enough for me to be abel to release my "just do it"-juices much the same way I imagine new zombies do when they first encounter the lovely dish of human brains. Hence, "brief").

Also, yesterday I bought a zombie bowling set, just to fully prepare me for the apocalypse ahead (or, should I say "behead"? Hurr hurr).

So, undead, then. That's the new plan.

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

On Mrs P.

Sometimes I still think about Mrs P.

She used to be my neighbor where I grew up. She lived in the faded green house at the top of the steep road where my family lived. She lived with her husband. They had no children, and to my knowledge, no other close family or friends.

She had lived there longer than forever, or at least longer than the five-year-old's concept of forever. But also actually quite a long time. Probably somewhere in the neck of forty years, if I were to guess. They most likely built their house around the same time as my grandparents, who lived next door to us. The entire area was divided into lots in the 50s, transforming what previously had been a large farm into a small community of "working class upgrading to middle class" families. Self-made people. My grandfather built his house (and saved the lot next to it for whenever his son would build his - 30 years later, as it turned out), and I imagine Mr P. built his.

Actually, I don't imagine Mr P. built the faded green house. He worked in a bank, I think, or maybe an insurance company. Some job where he needed a brief case. Probably not the kind of job a man who would know how to build his own house would have. Or perhaps. People used to know things. I remember him as well, and I know he outlived her, but for some reason he isn't as vivid in my memory as she is, even though I technically remember how he looks whereas her image has forever transformed into a generic "old lady" shape.

She had old lady hair. White, or grey, and curly, short. Tidy.

She had old lady clothes. A neat coat, not shapely or pretty, but clean, and orderly, and proper, and tidy. An old lady hat, poofy but somehow still strict; a balancing act on top of her old lady curly gray-white hair.

She had an old lady purse. No explanation needed.

She had an old lady face, maybe. I cannot remember her face. But she was an old lady, so she probably had an old lady face.

She was an old lady, having lived in her house, alone with her husband who may or may not have built said house, since they got married, possibly, or at least since the house was new and the green color was clear and not faded.

Their garden was incredibly tidy. The grass was always cut, though I cannot remember that they ever cut it. There were always lawn mowers growling somewhere or other in the neighborhood, but it seems unlikely that any such intrusive sound would ever come from their garden. It would have been too noisy, too messy, too untidy.

She would spend winter mornings after the snowplow had been at work clearing up the road shoulder outside their picket fence, with a broom. Or people said she did. I remember her doing it, in her old lady shape, with her neat coat and her poofy hat, and maybe even her old lady purse, which seems odd, but then I don't know if I actually remember it or if it simply was repeated so many times that I pictured it in my five-year-old mind.

She was strictly opposed to anything untidy or fun or young. Like the teenage son of the neighbors across the road from her faded green house. Obviously he and his friends knew how much they annoyed her and found it amusing to tease her, by playing loud music or driving their mopeds at top speed up the steep road, spraying the fence and tidy shoulder on her side of the road with a fresh batch of brown snow to cover the neat white edges meticulously created by a broom.

She was the kind of neighbor that would complain. About loud music or mopeds, about lawn mowers late (or not so late) at night, about anything untidy or fun or young. And by complaining I mean yelling. Shouting.

Synonyms: scoldupbraidberaterevilevituperaterail 
These verbs mean to reprimand or criticize angrily or vehemently.

Or so I imagined it. I don't think I ever witnessed any of her complaints. But I knew of them.

I was deadly afraid of Mrs P.

I was not a child that strayed, but had I been - the short distance between her house and mine, maybe 50 meters garden to garden or perhaps as much as the double from house to house - that distance would have been too long. I don't know if I was impressed by the teenage boys provoking her or just worried they were poking a dragon. Either way I never would have dared doing so myself. Seeing her, even from across our hedge, her fence, with the protective 50 meters between our gardens, filled me with immense terror.

She spoke to me once.

My parents probably tried to install in me all the usual precautions; "don't talk to strangers" must have been one of them. However, either it did not work very well (later evidence suggests this, as I was once briefly kidnapped. But that's a different story), or I did not think of her as a stranger (she was a very familiar terror in my life, after all).

She had observed me in the playhouse in our garden. Alone. I often played alone. I don't think I minded, but also, I didn't necessarily have that much of a choice. As mentioned, the entire area had been populated at the same time, mainly with families. It had once been a community where children could run around and play with each other (my father having been one of those children). Thirty years later those children were all grown and only some of them had come back with children of their own (and these were all older than me - the teenage provocateur being the youngest besides me). So there were no other children around, and consequently I was mostly playing on my own.

She had seen me play on my own, she said. In the playhouse. She had a present for me. For the playhouse.

It was a picture of a cat. A cat, ready to hang on the wall inside the playhouse. A small gift, but a generous gesture.

I thanked her, I think. I was a reasonably well-behaved child, after all, and despite being afraid of her I had summoned the courage to let her speak to me in the first place. I probably thanked her. I hope I thanked her.

The cat still hangs in the playhouse, now proudly claimed by my niece as her own. (It isn't. It's still mine. But she doesn't have to know that.)

I never spoke to Mrs P. again. At least I cannot remember that I ever did. But I don't think I was as afraid of her after that. She may have been the neighborhood hag, but she had shown me a kindness and I did not forget that. It has taken me many years to realize that her gesture might have meant quite a lot. She was not usually one to show kindness, but she made an exception for me. From one loner to another, perhaps.

Today would have been her birthday. She told me. That one time I talked to her. When I was five. I don't remember what she looked like, I don't remember which of the things I know about her are true or imagined, or exaggerations of a small truth buried in a collective neighborly memory; but I do remember this. Today would have been her birthday.

Happy birthday. Mrs P.

Friday, August 28, 2015

On socwardness (part whatever it is by now - who keeps count anyway)

It is an old, much bespoken, and thus well-known problem for Norwegians when encountering Americans that we misstep on one particular (and very crucial) part of initial social codes: the greeting. Anyone having experienced the horrified look on their faces when we reply to their greeting "how are you?" with an actual answer to how we actually are doing. 30% hilarious, 60 % awkward, and, if you're lucky, 10% insight that this is not something you will ever do again.

Globalization and all that - Norwegians and Americans meet one another fairly frequently these days. Most of us have learned that the appropriate way to respond to this polite question is the equally polite "Fine, thanks. How are you?" or some version thereof.

However, globalization and all that - the custom of asking someone how they are doing is migrating. I've noticed this more and more the past few years - you can hardly run into someone, American or no, here in good ol'Norway, without them inquiring the dreaded faux-pas-in-the-making: "Hvordan går det?" (which actually sounds quite ridiculous, and directly translated means "How is it going", because even silly customs adapt somewhat and the direct-direct translation of "How are you?" would be "Hvordan er du?" and that sounds ridiculous-er still, though why we don't just use the formerly perfectly acceptable and proper Norwegian "Står til?" ("Stands to?" Yeah, I know...) or "Hvordan har du det?" ("How are you having it?") is beyond me. But I digress).

Faux-pas-in-the-making because even though we have learned not to burden Americans, who only meant to be polite when asking this (when you think about it really quite) intrusive question, with an honest answer, we still struggle with knowing how to deal when we're meeting the same issue among our own.

It's a fine balance. Because this migrated greeting is still new to us, we can't yet be entirely sure that the answer we have learned to provide when meeting the greeting in its original form is the correct one. If you reply "Joda, bra. Hva med deg?" (or some version thereof), you risk being met with suspicion. It sounds too much like a formula. We haven't internalized the greeting enough to have such a formula. Thus you need to provide some form of flesh. But how much?

"Hvordan går det?"

"Nja" (you don't need to know much Norwegian to realize that when someone starts their reply to that question with a contraction of the words for "yes" ("ja") and "no" ("nei"), it can't be good...) "[insert long rant about how you actually feel because it is autumn and we had a shitty summer and you have not slept well for weeks and you think you might be catching a cold and you are currently experiencing one of your periodical antisocial bouts which people are not actually respecting (probably because you only tell them through growling extra much before replying with a semi-honest answer to their question of how it is "going") and you secretly (and not so secretly) worry that you are setting yourself up for failure at work and you hate the fact that you have not cleaned the bathroom in two weeks which obviously makes it super disgusting but you also have absolutely no energy to actually clean it and if you could you would just stay at home all that and bake but you can't because pastries makes you fat(ter) and you have to go to yoga]".

Well, actually, you won't reply that. Because since you meet people, even here in good ol'Norway, who ask you this (when you think about it really quite) intrusive question on a daily basis, and thus you have experienced the formerly American-specific-but-now-globalized version of the face even here in good ol'Norway. You have told someone the brutal honest truth, and you've seen the blood drain from their face, their eyes blink slower than normal with that extra squeeze when the eyelid reached the bottom of their eye as if to buy them time before they have to open their eyes and look at you again. You have seen them heave seemingly insignificantly (but really quite visible when you look for it) tighter, longer, deeper than normal when they take a breath of air. You have seen the face of regret. ("Why did I even ask?")

You have seen that face before, and so you reply, instead: "Joda, bra. [insert customized comment about the weather] Hva med deg?"

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

On audio input

I've developed a new habit/addiction.

I used to listen to Spotify on my way to and from work, but as much as I love music, it would eventually get boring as music frequently works more as a way of shutting out the world than to entertain or otherwise engage me. I've tried reading - while listening to music, even - but it doesn't really work (and the music or lack thereof has nothing to do with it). If I take the bus I will get travel sick from looking down too much, and if I'm on the subway it's frequently so crowded that it is difficult to find a seat, and reading standing up isn't really my thing.

However, a while back a friend told me about "Serial". The podcast. As I'm sure everyone in the entire world has heard of it by now I won't go into details, but if there are anyone left out there who hasn't listened to "Serial" I think they should. Go find it online. It's free. Listen. Get hooked.

Anyway, "Serial" is over (or at least the first season), and I needed more. With little over half an hour travel time each direction, I need more than an hour per day to fill my needs. Hence, I would need a lot of podcasts. I've tried several, and while others such as "This American Life" or "Radiolab" are good, they don't hook me the way "Serial" did, and with all of them there is a quantity problem. I need more. (I really do sound like an addict...)

Thus, I discovered audiobooks. First, I got a free trial one from Audible (which turned out to be "free", as they automatically connected that to my Amazon account, took my credit card details from there and proceeded to charge me monthly without me being aware that I had signed up for any kind of membership... Bastards!). After that, I moved onto an app called "Storytel" [sic - not a typo - one L only].

Storytel doesn't have the greatest catalogue, but for now I am satisfied. I've been through quite a lot of memoirs, which are made infinitely better when the person having written them also is the one reading (so far, I've listened to Lena Dunham, Stephen Fry, Kaitlin Moran and more). Love that! I wish I could find such audiobooks from the politicians I am writing my dissertation on. Would be so interesting (I did buy another book from Amazon, since they had already charged me I might as well make use of my "credit" - but I'm not sure Jimmy Carter reading about something other than the topic I am researching will have the same effect, and at any rate there is no hope to find anything from Nixon or Ford, and I don't think Kissinger is the greatest audio performer - though he is unmatched when it comes to the written word).

I like thematically appropriate listens, so when I was meadering around on a U.S. university campus (specifically University of Michigan in Ann Arbor) this spring, I listened to Stoner by John Williams. The world of academia is more than a mere setting in this novel; it's almost a character of its own. Thus my circumstance made an already interesting book even more captivating, though I am sure I must have looked odd to the people around me - walking around with my ear plugs staring at campus buildings as though I saw them in 1915 rather than 2015.

When I came home I went back to podcasts for a while, having discovered Neil deGrasse Tyson's "Star Talk", where he enter into discussion about topics reaching far beyond the extent of his field of study (which is saying something, seeing as he basically is studying the universe...). Funny and interesting. After having gone through the entire backlog of this podcast, however, I went back to audiobooks. 

This time I've finally settled for something that will keep my addiction covered for a while. After the season finale of "Game of Thrones" a few weeks back I realized I craved more. Thus far I'd been staying far away from the books, or rather, I started reading them, but they did not appeal to me, This was way back when the first season aired, and the show was following the book closely enough for me to feel it redundant to read them. In addition, the books felt "wordy" to me, which is weird, because I normally really look big, fat, wordy books. 

Anyway. Now everything is different. First of all, it's been four years since I saw that first season. Even if the first book is following it closely, it doesn't matter, as I've forgotten a lot. A lot. 

Secondly, it's almost an advantage that the books are wordy. It means they last longer, and seeing as I listen to them during my commute where constant distractions might interfere, it isn't so problematic if I miss a detail here or there. 

Finally, I really like the guy who is reading (which is a BIG deal for audiobooks). He even does different voices, which I adore. I could listen to him forever (a good thing, seeing as each book is about 30 hours,,,) 

Yeah, that's right. Each book is about 30 hours. And there are five of them (with two more in the making, but as everyone knows by now the release dates of those are anyone's guess). 

I'm already halfway into book number two, though, so I'm wolfing them down a little faster than I'd planned. Somehow, my commute time tends to stretch out these days... The way it looks, I'll be hunting for more sustenance to feed my addiction come autumn. (Insert mandatory "Winter is coming") 

Any suggestions? 

Friday, May 8, 2015

On Good and Bad Bosses

Being a PhD student (especially in Norway, where it is paid employment) is in many ways a sweet deal. You get to spend time working on exactly the thing you're (supposed to be) most interested in. You get to have a narrow focus on a topic so specific (and often insignificant) that most people know next to nothing about it. You get to become an expert on this topic. You get to devote time, energy, intellectual capacity and whatever skills you've developed over time on working on just one, single issue that need not be of any particular interest or use to anyone else (though naturally you have learnt how to argue that indeed it is of particular interest and use to everyone else - you've gotten some kind of funding for this project, after all...). You get to do all this for a longer period of time, usually about three to four years, and in the meantime very few people are going to bother you in any significant way with meeting deadlines, making progress or doing any of the most basic things most employees are expected to do in their jobs: show up at a specific time, show up at all, actually work...

Of course this latter point isn't entirely true.

First of all, most universities will by now have instated some kind of checks and balances system to keep a little control of their PhD students. It will still vary greatly from institution to institution how rigid this system is, but I would guesstimate that you nowhere anymore can do what seems to have been the "norm" many places in the past - you show up at the start of your doctorate and then nobody sees you again for four (or more) years until you show up again for your defense with a 1000 page dissertation.

These days there are some requirements. You have to take some courses (here I know Norway is still on the lighter side. In many places it still is more than justified to call the PhD students students, as they do plenty of course work and have papers due and everything - our system is more flexible and it can be argued that it is just as correct to call me and my peers PhD fellows). You generally will have some deadlines along the way (we, for instance, have a halfway evaluation, which I will take sometime this summer or autumn). And technically I am supposed to show up for work during work hours at any time I don't have a justifiable reason not to do so (a conference, field work, those courses I talked about), but in reality I am fairly sure I could stay at home for several weeks at end and no one would notice (except my office mate, but she wouldn't tell on me, and a simple Facebook message saying "Working from home for a while" would put her at ease). And even if they did notice, it wouldn't have any consequences.*

Many of the requirements, then, are more for show than actually breathing down your neck like the proverbial distrusting boss would do.

However, I do have one of those bosses as well. The problem is that she is not always a good boss. And before you jump to conclusions about me slandering my boss in social media, I should clarify: I'm talking about myself. (My real boss is a man, so there.)

My Bad Boss - me - isn't always a bad boss. The not bad part is what makes her a boss at all. Because in a system where so little pressure is put on you for any day-to-day production (but HUGE pressure on the long haul production with the far-ahead deadline way out of your sight), you really need to pull yourself together and force yourself to do some work every now and then. You need to be your own boss. You need to tell yourself what your tasks are, and then you need to do them. Otherwise, you've already lost.

On occasion this works for me. I can have whole days and several days in a row, even, where I work like a normal person (one of those with real bosses), and get stuff done. My Good Boss manages to give me clear instructions and as a Good Employee (because I am, honestly, even if this post so far might suggest otherwise) I get it done.

This is improvement on my part.

I remember when I wrote my master's thesis I was absolutely horrid at getting stuff done. Every word came at an insufferable price - it felt like I had to pull them out of me like fingernails from a torture victim (you're welcome for that mental picture).

This is because then I only** had the Bad Boss. The Bad Boss still comes around too frequently for me to be particularly happy about it, though. The Bad Boss doesn't motivate me or give me instructions; the Bad Boss tells me that the final deadline is coming closer with every day (well, duh!). She tells me that I have a come nearly halfway in my PhD, but I have not produced half of the text for a PhD dissertation (and my objections that I have done plenty of other useful stuff that doesn't necessarily reflect the amount of output you can touch and feel but nevertheless contributes to the end result have no traction with her). My Bad Boss makes me feel insecure, worried, and generally pretty useless.

My Bad Boss most frequently visits when I am tired, hungry, stressed out, or that one week of the month where most women feel more insecure, worried and useless (if you're a man and you've no idea what I'm talking about, I envy you and I'm about to punch you in the face. Go away. Bring me chocolate before coming back).

Most annoying of all - my Bad Boss makes me a Bad Employee. And as I mentioned, I am not really a Bad Employee. I am a Good Employee. Whenever Good Boss is around it's pretty visible too, so you don't even have to take my word for it.

So. Like a terrible academic*** I have arrived at the problem far too long into the text I'm writing. In order for me to be a Good and Productive Employee, I need my Good Boss to speak louder and more frequently than my Bad Boss. But how do I do this?

Like an even more terrible academic I was very close to ending my text with a question. Because a question, at this point, is about as good as I can do. I don't really have an answer. I can't predict when the Bad Boss will show up, or how long she intend to stay (though I can of course try to avoid the situations I know she is most likely to appear, but even so - it's not like I can avoid work one week every month, no matter how relaxed the system might seem).

My best bet is on the realization that I have a Bad Boss, and that I have a Good Boss. I know there are two of them. So for the times when it feels like only the Bad Boss is the one showing her ugly face, I can try to tell myself that she will not linger forever. The Good Boss will show up eventually. In fact, if I manage to ignore the Bad Boss she sometimes tires of pestering me, and goes away all on her own. Sometimes, sometimes, even the Good Boss pops her head in directly after, just to check on me.****

So it boils down to this: I need to get rid of my Bad Boss but I should probably also be aware that she will never disappear completely, but rather keep in mind she will also never stay put for good.


*For the record, I also have a supervisor, and she is very active, and she probably would notice both my absence for longer stretches of time and definitely my failure to meet deadlines and produce text. So in my case the potential slacking off has a very real limit. But not every supervisor is as active or attentive, so it is not entirely impossible that you would find cases where not even he or she would know if the PhD student had stopped working altogether for a loooong while.

** This is a truth that needs some moderation. I did write the damn thesis, and it's not all bad, so at some point the Good Boss must have been around then as well. But it didn't feel like it - I suspect maybe the Good Boss simply was a deputy back then, and thus did not really dare to challenge the authority of the Bad Boss. At least that is my theory. I am glad that the Good Boss' career has taken an upward turn!

*** For some reason I really want to write "academidian" instead. But then my Bad Boss told me I could not justify a title clearly derived from a crossover between academic and comedian. As I am neither (can you see what this hag is doing to me? I need her to GO AWAY!!! And not come back - not even with chocolate).

**** Sometimes she brings chocolate! :)

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