Category Archives: PhD-Story

Changing Online Presence

Over the next few days, I’ll be scaling down my online output. I’m going to put the blog on hold and, once I’ve done that, will in the coming weeks/months be updating my ‘main’ website (the one hosting my PhD) to be a static, search engine optimised, half decent representation of my online identity (all in one place. Most other stuff will be gotten rid of).

I own my main website’s domain name, but all the files are hosted on webspace the ex owns – not ideal! So either way I’ll need to host it myself. It’ll just be a process to get back to a manageable online presence that I’m comfortable with. I may even keep my twitter and integrate it, and e.g. use the wordpress platform to publish my personal website and PhD (but not as a blog, i.e. not updated).

We’ll see. It’s good to keep moving with these kinds of things, and it’s not as if I completely want to erase everything. I just want to get back to a decent static representation of myself, with no additional effort required! And forget all the stuff about personal branding and the importance of online visibility – I see myself staying in my current job for years and years to come (it’s public sector so I don’t exactly need to be worried about losing my job…).

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Time Flies

Time flies. It’s nearly been a month since I started my new job. Unbelievable! It still feels very relaxed, but it’s not just the job that’s a bit more gentle – it’s living here in general.

The other exciting thing is that I’m learning an awful lot, but it’s mostly practical stuff, rather than making it up as I go along (= PhD). I continue to see a lot of holes and keep getting irritated, and still have little struggles with IT who continue to amaze me with their poor communication and general project management skills.

Next Monday, a colleague is leaving, and I’ve got my eyes set on her laptop. It’s slightly better than mine (mine = the 256MB – crutch) so I need to set things into motion to get my greedy fingers on it. I need to construct a ‘business case’ and argue the obvious – otherwise IT will just take it away and probably allocate it somewhere else, or store it in a cupboard somewhere.
Alternatively, I could just keep my mouth shut and stick with my crutch, continuing to work happily and relaxed, at a very slow pace 😛

One Year Ago Today

One year ago today, my PhD Viva (oral exam) took place. I’m trying to recall how the day went, but can’t really remember much at all. All I remember is counting down to it via my blog, and being in a strange mental place (somewhat detached, excited, fully pressurised, elated, a vacuum), and going to Morrisons on the way back to buy some smoked Bavarian cheese.

Roundabout the same time, my good friend A. split up with his missus (actually it was a few weeks after – just after the New Year I think) and, meeting up with him yesterday, here’s some real, solid proof how quickly life can change and turn its tables:

A. one year ago (roughly):

  • quite fat (well, big, overweight, but tall. Fat face though 😛 )
  • just about to be left by his missus of over 2 years
  • stuck in a hateful, despicable, exploitative job (working for Lidl 😐 )
  • stuck in a flat he was unlikely to afford much longer / on his own

A. now (roughly):

  • quite skinny (thin bordering on junkie)
  • in a happy, successful relationship since roughly August
  • in a great job with prospects, about to be promoted
  • living with his new missus and just bought a house

Thus, what initially looked like a devastating blow, able to fuck up his life and his dreams (missus leaving him), has turned out to be just the thing he needed to move his life on to the next level. A bit like a kick-start, or a punch in the face, that leaves you more beautiful after.

Lessons to be learned:

  • bad things aren’t really essentially bad – they can become something really positive, given time
  • do not fear devastation
  • do not kill yourself

My Ex-BF does everything that I do

Just had a quick chat with my ex-BF (from years and years ago – we were together when I was 19 and he was 15 lmfao, so basically nearly 15 years ago) who I’ve been helping with his PhD-studentship application.

I just found out that he got his studentship and is off to New Zealand – he’ll be sending me an email soon.

Anyway, L. (that’s his name’s initial) is a funny one. I have had quite an influence on a number of people in my time, especially, younger men/boys when I was younger. With L., I did the following:

  • convinced him to drop his apprenticeship (German: ‘Lehre’) and go back to school to do his A-levels (German: ‘Abitur’) – to his parents’ complete horror! At the time, his parents had just built their own house and needed every penny, so they were not impressed when he told them he’d stop work and go back to school. They hated me as ‘bad influence’ and we always had to sneak in at night. At one point, we even ran away for the week-end (lmfao). How romantic and how very naive!
  • influenced him politically (to be a left-wing vegetarian – he’s still very anti-capitalist, much more than what I am – I’m a money slut these days)
  • sent him ‘Die Ordnung des Diskurses’ (Foucault‘s Order of Discourse), thus influencing his choice of BA/MA subject (Media Studies, Politics, Sociology): He tried reading it when I first sent it to him but he didn’t understand any of it. Through his studies he’s learnt to grasp the concept, naturally
  • encouraged him to use the Internet/technology (though to this day he is still very much in the online stone age. He only installed Skype today, and uses the Internet mainly to ‘check his emails’ (w00t – that’s so 1996).
  • set an example with my PhD studentship and helped him with his own PhD studentship application (he will now be doing a PhD in – you have guessed it – Media Studies, just like me).

I’m sure it’s not a conscious thing, but it’s quite creepy really. I mean he doesn’t try to emulate me or fancy me or anything like that – I haven’t seen him in about 8 years and he’s in a very long-term relationship. He just seems to see me as some kind of good example to follow, in terms of ‘going your own way’, escaping from the fucking German countryside, wanting better for himself than rotting in a village working in a factory or whatever.

And it is true: If he hadn’t met me, he would NOT have done his A-levels, and he would therefore NEVER have gone to University (in Germany, there is no such thing as ‘mature student’ where A-levels aren’t required to study. You’ll ALWAYS need A-levels – Abitur or Fachabitur. There’s no way round it).

It all would have been very very different, and his mind and his way of thinking would be very different too. His life, from the age of 15 onwards, took a different route than the one his parents, his village life, his social surroundings, and his upbringing had planned.

My convincing him to do his Abitur (A-levels) really was the starting point.

916.86 Words Per Day

I’m currently writing a report for a consultancy project as part of my new job, and it’s really good for a variety of reasons.

Best of all, though, I seem to be able to produce a lot of high-quality writing each day. I’ve done over 6000 words so far, and that’s in 7 days. It’s ridiculous if you think that 10000 words or so would be enough for an MA thesis (over here in the UK, that is). I.e. I could write a thesis in just under 2 weeks! The stuff I’m writing about involves a lot of research and is about web 2.0, and it’s at times quite theoretical. I’m really quite enjoying it though, but I am surprised at my rate and ability to produce good stuff quickly.

I enjoy using my brain so much – this is something that wasn’t really required in my previous job (though over-required in my PhD of course). I feel even more positive now about my idea of retiring at 40 and starting to write fiction then. If I can write anything between 500 and 1000 words a day, it should be easy.

Writing used to be a bit of a fight sometimes, and hard work. Lately, it just seems to come out very quickly and productively so!

I think it’s just the bl00dy PhD that was killing my joy of writing.