A New Year is Born

(Thursday, January 12, 2006, 10:42 p.m.)

copied from Myspace blog

Some of you maybe have seen pictures of an Ouroboros. It’s a picture of a serpent or a dragon curled into a circle and swallowing its own tail. That’s me digesting the previous year of my life hoping it nourishes me well for the following year.

Last year was largely unpleasant, but it is done and I am strangely refreshed. This despite the fact that I received my evaluations for my teaching today. Half of my students hated my class and thought it was mind-numbingly boring, and half of them thought I did a reasonably passable job; the results were neither better or worse than I was really expecting. Now that it is over, I am neither discouraged nor encouraged regarding my thoughts on pursuing an academic career. I am not encouraged because teaching was mostly an unpleasant experience for me, but I am not discouraged because I recognize that the circumstances under which I taught were unusually terrible and I think having done this once, I will under less terror of doing it again should the need arise.

This semester, I’m hoping to both relax somewhat and get some research done. Another round of hard decisions and soul-searching is approaching because I need to start thinking more seriously about the next step. My advisor Olaf would like to see me graduate in summer of 2007, and this seems pretty reasonable to me. I am taking one last class this semester and then I’m done with everything, save my dissertation. Well and truly A.B.D. It’s hard to believe I’ve been here a whole 4 years of my life; it doesn’t seem like that long.

In one sense, January is just another month and January 1st is just another day: the day after December 31st and before January 2nd. But with the ending of last semester and the beginning of this one, I really do feel like there is a change and a sense of hope even. Over Christmas break, I went home and did little except read and think and visit with my parents. No deadlines. No papers to grade. No students harassing me with complaints. Complete freedom to slack, and I think I made good use of it. Now, I’m needing to get back into research and academic mode. My paper I had accepted for publication should be out next month and I have another paper I need to make a final polish on and submit. Then, my focus will be dissertation work and a computational neuroscience class. I’m not yet into my stride, but I’m hoping that when I am, it will be a good year this year. (Last year started off well enough, but soured in the early spring.) I could wish that some of my unmet needs might suddenly be fulfilled and that I might resolve some of the questions that I’ve been wrestling with lately, but right now I’m content to just work on what I have some control over, namely my research.

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