What I’m Loving Lately

books, daily life, food, music

After what felt like a long hiatus, this week I have been hitting the dissertation hard. I have been waking up at four in the morning, so that I can start writing close to five to try to get anywhere between one and half hours (if I run in the morning) to three hours (if I don’t) of writing in before I get ready to go to work in the archives for the day. Evenings are spent reading and taking notes. I’m hoping to turn chapter four in by Monday, which also happens to be the day after my one year anniversary. We’ll see.

It has not been all work, excuse me, I mean leisure. Aside for Rousseau, there are a few things that have piqued my interest.

Watching : I haven’t really watched much tv lately, but Sunday night Bruno and I watched the first two episodes of A Very English Scandal on Amazon prime. We haven’t yet been able to watch the third and final episode, but it is well done.

Listening : My current writing music is Pixies DoolittleGouge Away might be the perfect editing song. While at work, I’ve been listening to Bad Blood : Secrets and Lies of a Silicon Valley Start-Up by John Carreyrou on audible. Holy shit. I am obsessed. I am trying to avoid going down an Elizabeth Holmes and Theranos google rabbit hole. I am only a couple hours into it, but I’m already sure it will be a five star book. Also, it is the reason why this song (not Taylor Swift!) has been in my head all day.

Reading : I’m still making may way through the Odyssey. I’m almost done. I started reading Sarah Perry’s The Essex Serpent. As Bruno bluntly put it when he opened the book and started read a few pages, “Sarah Perry can write.” I have two history books I am working through. The first is Daniel Walker Howe’s tome What Hath God Wrought : The Transformation of America, 1815-1848 and the second, Jon Meacham’s American Lion : Andrew Jackson in the White House. I’m loving the first a little more than the second. For whatever reason, I find Meacham biography kind of tedious, although it is interesting to compare Meacham and Howe on Jackson. I was hoping for more on his political thought, particularly on nullification, and less on scandals involving “wanton” women. I’m half-way through Howe’s book and I love every page, even during the long discussions of internal improvements and the bank.

Eating : Chocolate Vega powder and cherry smoothies. I do not like fruit. I do not like cherries. But for whatever reason, when they are mixed with some protein powder, almond milk, and some ice, magic happens. Also, I restarted my sour dough bread starter this week (is it weird to name your sour dough starter? mine is named Sebastian), so definitely looking forward to eating some of that.

What are you loving lately?

xo, Ali

 

 

Gonna Take Some To Do The Things We Never Had, or Why the Music Video for Toto’s Africa Exemplifies Life in Graduate School

books, daily life, graduate school, music

IMG_4754

This post brought you by the greatest song in the world: Toto’s Africa

And now for something completely unserious.

Toto’s Africa has experienced a renaissance. From its use in Stranger Things (don’t do it, Nance!), ubiquitous club hit, to being the internet’s favorite song, it is going to take a lot to drag us away from Africa.

But what much of the commentary has failed to recognize is the deep similarities the music video has with life in graduate school. As far as I know, none of the members of Toto have ever attended graduate school, but alas, I think the music video certainly characterizes the several years some of spend between undergrad and (hopefully) getting a real job.

Before you begin, watch the video here. Watch it twice, because of its greatness.

  1. The amount of time spent in a library. This one is probably the most obvious. I know my college library now more than I ever did as an undergrad. The only difference here is that where the library in the music video is themed “African safari,” the one for mine is themed “America.”
  2. Constantly looking through books for information. I just need that one quote…now where was it? Looking, looking, looking…oh, maybe it was a different scholar who said that. Like the lead dude in the video, if you are in graduate school, you are constantly trying to put the pieces together. That means a lot of book scanning.
  3. Looking for books. How much time do graduate students spend looking for books in the library? How much time do I spent looking for books in the library? An inordinate amount, most likely. Not included are the times when you are just distracted by books on shelves unrelated to research topic. I cannot be the only graduate student who falls into the shelf abyss.
  4. That feeling of being hunted. Is it fear of failure? Imposter syndrome? Or is it chasing time? Deadlines? Too much to do in too little time? I’m not sure I know what causes all the books and bookshelves to fall over in the music video, but I think I understand it.
  5. What does it all mean? After watching Africa’s music video, one might be left thinking, “Huh? What just happened?” One of the google results that pop up when you begin searching Toto Africa is “what does it mean?” The same question can come up on particularly tough days of graduate school or even certain difficult texts (I’m looking at you, G.W.F. Hegel!).

And there you have it. Five reasons why the music video for Africa by Toto is like graduate school. Am I Buzzfeed worthy yet?

xo, Ali

Throwback Thursday Tunes : The Dissertation Process Edition

dissertation, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, music, throw-back thursday tunes

ledzeppelin

Keeping with my theme yesterday, I was thinking about the songs that get me through the different parts of dissertation writing. I am not one of those people who can write without music. I need to tune out the other world and drop into dissertation-land if anything is going to get typed out or edited. Usually this is Bob Dylan or the Velvet Underground. Television’s Marquee Moon and Patti Smith’s Horses have been on repeat lately. Other times I’ll just see what Spotify has in store for me. The first 60 seconds of the Avett Brothers’ Talk on Indolence describes the dissertating experience better than any song I’ve ever heard. It captures that frantic writing that comes with the first draft. If I am really trying to concentrate I’ll put on Tchaikovsky’s Symphony No. 6 “Pathetique” (my absolute favorite) and just listen to it over and over again.

Here I Go Again, beginning with the nerve-wrecking and hopeful beginnings. You happily take the plunge Into The Great Wide Open.

And then the hurdles come. When you feel like you just Couldn’t Get It Right and you just can’t see the light. You want to take a Mudshovel to your chapter. You tell Jean-Jacques Rousseau, “Babe, I’m Gonna Leave You.” Just me? Ok, then.

But you Carry On.

And eventually you start Beginning to See the Light. The argument makes sense (hopefully). You start to make sure every Oxford Comma has its place.

And then. Finally. The Beautiful Day. You turn the chapter in. And all you have to do is another round or two of edits until it is approved and soon enough, you’ll be Grazing in the Grass. Baby, can you dig it?

You can find the whole Dissertation Edition playlist here.

xo, Ali

P.S. The playlist is 1 hour and 30 minutes, the same amount of time I use as dissertation writing blocks.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Throw-back Thursday Tunes : February 15, 2018

music, throw-back thursday tunes

the-mamas-and-the-papas-monday-monday-stateside-dunhill-s

Do you have a favorite day of the week? I am a big fan of Monday’s and Saturday’s. I like the beginning freshness of the first and then the guiltless finality of the second. On Monday’s it is a new start. My motivation is high and the possibilities are there. But as the Mama’s and the Papa’s say Monday morning couldn’t guarantee by Monday evening that motivation would still be here with me. Ok, I did took some artistic liberties with the song, but you really can’t trust that day.

And for whatever reason, no matter how little or how much I got done during the week, Saturday is the day I can relax. I am usually exhausted from my run. I do not feel bad about that cheeseburger. Or that ice cream I have afterwards. Whatever is left to be done, well, that can always happen on Sunday.

I was listening to Tuesday Afternoon by the Moody Blues the other day, thus the inspiration for this playlist — the days of the of the week list. Not included: Manic Monday by the Bangles and Last Friday Night by Katy Perry. Nope. Hardest day of the week to find a song for: Thursday. I normally like David Bowie, but I could not even get through his song Thursday’s Child.

What is included? A little bit of the Rolling Stones, another visit from Simon & Garfunkel, a little bit of business time, and a little bit of a Louisiana Saturday Night.

I hope you enjoy!

Click here for the RSJ Throw-Back Thursday Tunes 8 Days a Week Edition!

 

 

 

Throw-Back Thursday Tunes : February 8, 2018

books, music
c73c49a652a6e6ce762bf70e4b884725

13th Floor Elevators

 

Confession: I’m a total ’60s music-lover. But I have zero music history knowledge. Even Bob Dylan, who is my favorite, I know basically nothing about. I just like listening to the music. The history does not interest me as much. We had a speaker come on campus to give a talk on ’60s music and while my heart swelled at every song he played, a lot of the history was unknown to me. And I thought, “I wish I knew more about that.”

Bruno bought me 1966: The Year the Decade Exploded by Jon Savage at Literati on Sunday as a birthday gift. I’m already in love, because not only am I learning some new favorites, but am actually learning about the history behind songs I have loved for years. I’m hoping that this will slowly develop into a moderate music buff-type knowledge.

But in the meantime, here are some throw-back tunes for this Thursday, heavily influenced by this book I’m reading. I love the dirty, grunge-y sound of the guitars in some of these songs, like The Groupies’ Primitive — a band and song I’ve never heard before and of course, I’ve loved 13th Floor Elevators’ You’re Gonna Miss Me for years. You can definitely hear the beginning of what would eventually become punk and later, even, grunge. I’m usually a total sucker for songs with attitude. I’m generally a happy person, but man I love some angry music.

On the not so angry side, having never listened to the original Paul Simon version of Sound of Silence, I have to admit it is so much better than the version I grew up with. It is both stark and haunting.

I’m about to express an unpopular opinion, at least among my conservative friends and acquaintances, thank God for the sixties.

Click here for the RSJ Throwback Thursday Tunes 1966 Edition.