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Following on from my last post: I did, indeed, forego the irritating semi-security of an ongoing p/t customer service job in order to take on an exciting short-term fractional research contract. Quitting felt great, even though the youth theatre tried to make me feel bad for leaving. The additional bit of research has been an extraordinary opportunity, and a great chance to do really unexpected things, but it’s too soon to tell whether any more work is going to happen.


I’ve also been advocating for myself - meeting with higher-ups and the university and asking for work, basically - and going along to research meetings and being visible. I’m being treated as if I’m going to be around long-term, but nothing’s materialised. (Academics is an incredibly silly industry.)


No regrets yet on deciding to go all-in on the academic thing. The youth theatre was an emotionally-draining place to work; I’ve heard from a now-ex-coworker that apparently the longer someone stays working for them, the ‘messier’ it is when they quit. Ugh, no thanks. (My exit was strange enough.) There was a lot of Emotion at that place, and the relief of being free from all that hasn’t been overwhelmed by the angst of having no continuing income in the new year.


I also haven’t lost the feeling that I’m building up some momentum on the academic side of things. I’ve got a couple of mid-career mentors (who offer overlapping and not contradictory advice), and a management-level professor willing to advocate for me. I’ve got an ambitious writing plan and a meeting later today to ask what kind of funding is available to achieve that. Hell, I’ve even said I’m willing to take on PhD students to (co-)supervise, which is something apparently they desperately need in this research centre.

So now, I'm in a position of piecing things together at one university, still teaching a bit at another university, working on developing the discipline to productively work from home, and gearing up for another round of job applications at other universities. I figure since I've got four years left on my UK visa (as of the end of this week), that's as good a deadline as I'm likely to get for seeing if I'm just treading water or if this is actually building to something. (I can't even start to consider what it'll be like to be an immigrant in the UK after another four years of this festering xenophobia and isolationism, or what state the university sector might be in...)


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I've got an (exciting?) problem, career-wise. This probably will get long, soz )

ETA: Extra work was offered, and I've accepted. This is the riskiest thing I've ever done. Currently drafting resignation letter to the arts org. Reminding myself I shouldn't stay at a place just because I know they'll have to scramble to hire someone else and struggle to cover all the shifts. (Reminding myself that I want to move beyond working a kind of job where "covering all the shifts" is a factor.)  <3 all.


Jul. 30th, 2016 10:09 am
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Hello! Back in May, I went to Romania (specifically: Transylvania; even more specifically: Sighisoara, the fortified town where Vlad the Impaler was born).

That yellow house? That's apparently where Vlad was born. For a small fee you can go into the very rooms! The rooms are dressed with a coffin, lots of drapes, and a large dining table. I'm sure it's very authentic.

More pics! )

Otherwise, I've been up to lots of things. Very busy. In June I started three new jobs almost simultaneously (WOW, STRESSFUL), and I'm currently in a few free days in between hosting my mother for two weeks (she left on Wednesday morning) and a friend who's mostly disappeared from the internet so I can't tag her here (who arrives tomorrow night).

Two of the three jobs are fractional limited-term post-doc contracts that pay almost enough for subsistence. The third is a reception/box office/occasional House Manager job at a small local theatre company; part-time hours there covers the rest of my costs. The general director there is like a chilled-out young granddad Darren Nichols, it's great. However, the quest for one (1) full-time job continues. Tonight I'll bash out another job application.

(I'm also being a bit willfully self-destructive and am still casual staff at my old theatre job. I probably shouldn't agree to take on shifts there, and instead should prioritise my academic development. Write a book proposal, develop a five-year research plan, apply for more jobs.)

So - I've been busy! Too busy to watch things. Seriously, it's ridiculous how little time I've allowed for watching things. I miss things! I've got a list, though, a list and ~hope for some mythical free time. :D
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Hello to anyone still reading! I've been working full-on for about 14 weeks, between long days pre-Christmas working children's theatre, and - excitingly - working as an adjunct prof across two universities.

Now that it's almost Easter, I'm happy to say the Xmas shows are far behind me (yay!), one of the university terms is over, and the other is on break for another couple weeks. I also got a book chapter off to the editors of a collection, somehow in all that time. This week I've been able to unset my alarm in the mornings, take it slow for a while, and pretend I don't have assignments to mark.

I've been teaching two very different subjects at two very different universities, and it's been a fascinating/exhausting experience. Throughout the whole thing I've also been keeping up with theatre work, because none of these jobs pay very well or are at all permanent.

What I've really been enjoying about the lecturing, is having to stand in front of students and be responsible for teaching stuff, every week (except reading week, blessed, lovely reading week). I've been lucky enough not to have to create a couple dozen lectures from scratch, and am adapting existing material, but it still means I have to learn enough of each specific topic each week to know what's going on. Unlike research/writing, lecture deadlines are absolute (for the prof, anyway): have to be ready to go at the start of class, can't ask for a week's extension. It feels great.

Between all the various jobs I haven't had time for much of anything else, which has been another interesting experience. I've been too busy for job applications, but also too busy to worry about job applications. Now, I'm much less busy and can start to worry again - but it was a great feeling to be doing new stuff each week.

Weirdly, it also means I've been watching more films in theatres - either picking up stewarding shifts at the theatre job, or doing a pint+movie with colleagues after our week's teaching is done. Less television, but more movies. I actually saw most of the Oscar films this year, which I don't think I've done since maybe 2008.

Also! I found time in all that to get an abstract into a vampire-focused symposium happening in Transylvania in May. It's so ridiculous, I can't wait. Next year I should be better about planning to get myself talking at higher-profile conferences, but for this year, this is enough.

So that's me. Dec, Jan, Feb, March = busy, so busy. April, May, future = desperate for paid work, bashing out a book proposal, hanging around Europe for maybe another year? I've got travelling and hosting set up for this summer, and have been doing my damnedest to ingratiate myself in one particular uni department with an active research culture and a need for research assistants... and who knows, maybe I'll finally make a dent in that to-watch list.
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I've fallen out of watching much TV of late - while I was away from the UK I didn't have any days (barring AU VVC in August <3) where I felt able to sit down and catch up on things, and now that I'm back I've taken on a lot of hourly-paid work because paying rent is fun.

(Plus, getting settled back in and working out post-PhD life is exhausting. Looking at ads for academic jobs, non-academic jobs, chatting with established academics about research funding, following up on academic things from July and earlier, getting off my ass to send abstracts to conferences, finishing a paper I owe for publication, learning the curriculum I'm teaching next term... exhausting.)

HOWEVER I have been watching the first season of The Man From UNCLE because Robert Vaughn makes great faces.

Then I started screengrabbing those great faces (and other things that made me laugh). Since that kind of delight shouldn't be limited to my hard drive or DMs, I started a sideblog. I haven't done fandom this way before. I'm enjoying it.

It's been fascinating. In all my time in fandom, I've tiptoed around the edges, not really making anything. So this creating-content thing is new to me. I'd tagged the first few posts because that felt like what I was supposed to do, and I'm surprised that the sideblog has followers now. It's been followed by a pair (...? trio?) of Russian MUNCLE fans on tumblr, which is neat.

I'm also learning the thrill of reading others' comments as fans I don't know reblog my posts. (I solemnly swear to leave more comments on fic.) Occasionally someone's comment describes the context of the shot, which is fun because I'm only including the episode title in each post. I feel I'm learning a lot about the MUNCLE fandom on tumblr, and how well-known some shots (apparently) are.

Also fascinating is how much management/curation I'm letting myself do. I've queued posts (trying to limit myself to three caps per episode!), and I'm making an effort to have a variety of posts (not just two-shots), and just shuffled my queue so that I won't have a week of kinda-similar shots all in a row. I've got enough posts queued to take me through mid-December, but I'll probably watch/cap more every couple days, and be able to walk away and let the queue do its thing.

So yeah - haven't tried to do fandom this way before! Also, after watching pretty closely I can thoroughly recommend the first-season episode 'The Fiddlesticks Affair' (1.16) as a starting point for anyone interested in the MUNCLE series who wants to jump right in and skip the Illya-light series start.
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Apologies for not posting much recently - I've been (*ahem*) in Australia. :D :D :D

Some pics )
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1. The Graduate School confirms they have received my hard-bound final thesis (+ copy on CD!) and that now my name gets put on a list for admin to happen in a meeting, after which they'll confer the degree.

2. The student loans website now shows my amount owing at $0.00. Thank you to funding packages slightly in excess of subsistence, permission to work as an international student, and having minimal taste for luxury goods. Also, student discounts on rail travel. And savings accounts.

3. I'm flying to Australia in nine days.
3b. Happy realisation: can pay back student loans, paying minimal interest, and have enough left over to travel. Hence: Australia.

4. So now, I find a job? Doing something? Hmm.

5. I predict I'll be busy enough in November/December when I'm back in the UK, prepping to teach in January, so I'm not going to look at taking on anything else. Promise! :D
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I got the PhD!

After all the drama, the external has (presumably grudgingly) agreed to pass the thesis. No adjudicator, no even-more-drawn-out waiting around, just: done.

I got the official confirmation a few hours before flying out to Vancouver Island (gorgeous scenery, way too much of an aunt-I-barely-know-but-alas-know-much-better-now), so my time's been split between spending time with the aunt, and taking nice long (8-10k) walks with Mum to kind of avoid her sister. Family, eh.

So I haven't had time to enjoy myself re: having a PhD, but gosh I've been getting a lot more exercise than usual.

And I got the PhD!
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I am no longer waiting! Well, not for all the things.

Since posting yesterday, I received my health card in the mail (like three hours after). AND THEN this evening I got the YOUR VISA HAS BEEN ISSUED email from the UK visa people.

So now I can trade nonspecific anxiety about the future for vaguely defined "try having an academic career in the UK" anxiety.

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I am... waiting! Read more... )

Aside from tedious life admin, I'm also eagerly awaiting publication of a short essay I wrote about Wonder Woman and feminism - should be online at the end of the month and in print come September.

Ooh and I'm also waiting for TIFF to announce what actually will be a part of its Primetime programming stream.

Instead of going to VVC, this year I went to Montreal to hang out with [personal profile] emef. It was an excellent long weekend! Good food, good company, and - ahem - a rigorous exploration of multiple masculinities. E.g. Elementary, Magic Mike XXL, four of the Fast & Furious films... :D Good times, good times.
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Dizzying couple of months ahead:

- 29 July: flying to Toronto, leaving my flat in the hands of colleagues who'll be subletting/housesitting

August in Ontario will be a flurry of administrivia: applying for a visa to return to the UK, not having a passport because of applying for a visa, not going to VVC because of not having a passport... Also various other bitty life admin things. Possibly proofreading a friend's thesis, writing an article for a book (not contracted, but mooted and agreed), definitely finishing off a lit review and discussing the journal article that might come out of it...

And sleeping. Probably sleeping. Ontario ppl who read here - let me know what's good for you, let's have coffee when I'm not sleeping.

- 28 Aug-10 Sept: Nanaimo

Faaaaaaaaaaaaamily visit! Family-in-BC make it out to Ontario every so often, but I've never visited them out there. Apparently we'll hit the troika of Nanaimo, Victoria, and Vancouver.

- 10-20 Sept: TIFF

Stewarding! Probably checking tickets. Going to try picking up shifts in the TV programming stream, it's new this year.

- 20 Sept-20 Oct: Australia [edit for accuracy: 20 Sept leave TO, 22 Sept arr Australia; 19 Oct leave Australia, 19 Oct arr TO]

Road trip to Tasmania! And possibly other stuff. Trying to work out if I can afford to see the Outback, but golly it's expensive.

- ?: UK, I hope

Fingers crossed. I've booked a flight for 2 Nov, and I hope I can take it. Fingers crossed.
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Monday and yesterday I was at a very interesting conference on campus, and today I watched a bunch of interview presentations for a teaching fellowship in the department* before scooting over to Theatre Job. Sunday I spent all day writing a job application (it was a very long job application, with lots of fiddly parts), and Saturday/Friday before that I spent both days at Theatre Job.

*Not a great position (crappy hours/pay), super-competitive, on the whole an intense and dispiriting start to the day.

*whines* Tired. I've also got a notification thingie from Research Assistant Job to register as "Research Active" and therefore qualify for some unspecified but potentially lucrative research funding. On the last round, a friend/colleague got 6mos of funding to cover three days/week of research. Next step: work out some kind of research project to bid for. First part of next step: work out areas likely to get funding.

Tomorrow I'll chat with my supervisor about shaping a project, but I'll also be expecting a call from Research Assistant Boss who'd been out of contact for a couple weeks - he mass-texted a bunch of us yesterday to say he'd be back in touch soon. Potentially ominous. Hopefully good. Tomorrow I also need to step it up massively on Research Job, with only a couple weeks left to go, and the last report to write. And then more Theatre Job over the weekend. My next day off might be next Monday.

(Still no update on thesis: we're still at the "escalated to management" stage, waiting to see what the Graduate School has accomplished on my behalf and what they'll do next. I've come around to the idea that nothing will be resolved before the fall by this point. *hands*)
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I keep getting wonderfully distracted by - it aggregates a number of digital microfilm collections, all of which seem to be freely available to anyone who's interested.

(I am so interested.)

After getting distracted by NWMP telegrams from 1888 (amusing, until the reflexive racism of a colonising police force revealed itself), I thought maybe the site could help me with Actual Research that I'm getting paid to do.

I'm mostly researching the life/works of a BBC guy, but he also co-produced a film in the 70s with the NFB. While I'm waiting on the NFB to get back to me (do they have any archived material about the production? the BBC... doesn't seem to), I figured I could see if there's anything in a LAC database that could be interesting/useful.

Answer: probably not? The only direct mention was in a question to Parliament asking a) how many films the NFB made in 1976, b) how long each film was, and c) the average cost of each film. If anyone knows if this was a routine question, or how that information could possibly be useful*, I'm all ears.

*104 films. Longest: 131min. Shortest 4min. Average cost: $99 640. *shrug* Best is the list includes a passive-aggressive annotation on each film made at the behest of a gov't department.

Rather than doing the smart thing (leaving it there, moving on to my next task) I thought, "But what happens if I search for National Film Board or BBC in the relevant date range?" And lo, much reading of Foreign Affairs reports ensued. History history, so interesting.

(Fact: before I fell down a film/tv studies hole, I was certain I was going to study history. I'm tiptoeing closer and closer to becoming a television historian, so I'm pretty pleased.)

OTHER UPDATES: bathroom = done, thesis = still pending (so much stress), VidUKon = totally fun with great premieres and shows. Four-and-a-bit weeks left in the UK. New Florence + The Machine album = stuck on repeat.

Oh oh oh over the weekend I watched all of Constantine and after an awkward first episode, it burrowed its way into my heart as the Hellblazer adaptation I've been waiting for. Sucks it won't have a second season (especially after they included John boasting that he doesn't have lung cancer... oh the possibilities with that arc, especially with Rockne S. O'Bannon as 'consulting producer'), but what they did was definitely worth watching. *thumbs up*
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Today is the start of VidUKon, which is exciting! I'm heading down/over to Cardiff in a few hours, but first I have to finish an article that I'd agreed to have done by yesterday.

The week has been long already (so long, and another week has passed since the last thesis update, which was: external examiner out of the hospital, but persists in being a dick). I'm in the annoying headspace of not being able to face the article (because it makes me feel dumb when I can't get the words out, eh) but knowing I'd feel even worse if I hid from it this morning and tried to finish it on the train or this evening.

but yesterday I did something cool )
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Saga updates:

Bathroom: half-painted yesterday (yay!). I hope today he'll be back to a) sand things down and do a second coat, because yikes, b) re-hang all the things he took down.

Today was supposed to be the rescheduled installation of the new floor, but who knows when that'll happen, if the previous stuff isn't done.

Thesis: still in limbo. True to his word, the examiner got in touch! Unfortunately it was to say he's still stuck in bed, hasn't finished reading my thesis yet, but will have more of an update in a few days.

(I wish he'd tip his hand a bit - is he going to pass it? Is he going to reject the corrections and render the last five years of my life null and void? Ditto the other examiner. Does she accept the changes? She was careful not to say anything when I ran into her last week.)
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Hello internet!

Nothing has changed on my last two sagas (no info on examiner's state of health*, maybe today something will be done to my bathroom...?), and technically I've been working four jobs, if you count being - on paper - a full-time student as a full-time job**.

*We're assuming he's still alive because we haven't heard anything different! *lolsob*

**student, multiple roles at the theatre (counting each separately, idk, it's like eight jobs), research assistant, STILL TEACHING BECAUSE HELLO EXAMS TO MARK...

I saw Mad Max: Fury Road and liked it. I'd like to see it again, because I know my response was a bit lukewarm (because of exhaustion).

VidUKon is next month and some of the vidshows made me squeak with anticipation.

I need to book a bunch of flights and do a stack of life admin stuff this weekend, but tomorrow I'm away all day at a conference. My to-do list is extensive, and I've got a spinning-wheels sensation this month, like I'm really really busy but not getting anywhere.

Later this afternoon I'm practising a conference paper I'll be giving next Wednesday, which means I need to use the afternoon to write the presentation. I know the material really well, but I need to focus long enough to organise my thoughts.
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Saga one (bathroom): I still have no complete bathroom floor, and the holes in the walls are still there. Someone has been by to offer a quote on the work, and apparently they're going to replace the living room floor while they're at it. Nooooo, I want to say, Please noooo. Just finish the bathroom please. (Update: just got an email to say that someone is going to come by tomorrow to quote for the bathroom floor. ARGH.)

Saga two (education): this morning I learned that the external examiner of my thesis is in the middle of [serious urgent medical situation]. Understandably that means I probably won't have a response (positive or otherwise) to the resubmission within the usual two months' time frame (eg. within the next couple weeks). That means it's really highly unlikely that I'll be graduating this summer. We might have to find an alternative examiner if this one isn't able to complete the examination, but at this point it's just... wait until the end of the month like I'd originally expected, and work from there.
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Day 29 of no working shower, and... my bathroom is slowly being transformed! There's been tiling, and a new sink, and yesterday a new toilet (installed at a slightly different angle, why.), so it's about 50% nice new shiny white clean yes nice and 50% beige/tan/lime green dusty dirty manky slightly rotten.

I still haven't seen the work order, so every day is a bit of a surprise. (There's a new shelf behind the new toilet! okay then.) I was told the work would take a week, but it looks like there's slightly more than two days' work left. Possibly. What else will get replaced or painted? Will the weird dent in the wall behind the ancient extendo-arm shaving mirror be fixed? What's going to happen with the floor (currently three kinds of flooring visible, including the big ol' Victorian floorboards)?

*ANTICIPATES*, basically.

And - I know you're all super-interested in this - turns out it wasn't a soft toilet seat, but one of those annoying slow-close ones. RELIEF.

Thrill-a-minute, my life.

I'm mostly looking forward to being able to shower at home. It's been 29 days, people. TWENTY-NINE.

IN OTHER NEWS I've been pushing myself to finish a draft of a very short bit of academic writing (in my head, I'm calling it a micro-paper) to be shared w/ colleagues for feedback this afternoon. I am exhausted.

Tomorrow though, tomorrow I've had enough of getting up a bit too early to get out of the flat because it's weird being home when dudes are working in the bathroom. Tomorrow I'm going to sit on my couch, play the fuck out of Mass Effect, and maybe put on my slightly less sloppy pjs on account of there being strangers around.
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Day 25* of no-working-shower; day 3 of nothing-in-the-bathroom-but-a-toilet. Dudes are in today (Sunday!) plastering the recently-exposed brickwork, so I've taken myself to campus to print a few things, upload yesterday's Adventures With Microfilm**, and use the shower in the Theatre Studies changing rooms.

*I counted! My, how time flies.
**Living in the future: the new microform readers are hooked up to widescreen PC monitors and you can scan (basically screengrab) all you want. Magical.

Shower update aka #plumbingsaga )

One weird thing: with every Shower Update I've been tweeting, I'd get at least one reply saying like "how dare they expect you to pay full rent through this". I got the impression that it would be kind of normal to expect some kind of rebate, or not unusual to ask for one. And yet, the responses to my "I have asked for some kind of rebate" got replies that seemed surprised/impressed that I'd asked. Twitter, you confuse me. (I have been promised some money back.)

In other news, after last weekend's "I watched all 50+ eps of Steven Universe" adventure, I only have the "giant woman" song in my head like 10% of the time. (Highly recommended.)

Also I have apparently become my RL social circle's accidental Fast and Furious series evangelist. It's weird (but cool!) to find my opinion respected such that a surprising number of friends have gone off to watch all six (and now seven) films, based on saying "You'll be pleasantly surprised by the series". *hands*

Professionally, I've got a super-exciting chance at a short-but-very-visible publication derived from my thesis and I've been enjoying getting into my New Research Job. However, this week's plan is to watch at least one of the things on my to-watch list. This might even mean not staying on campus through dinner and having evenings. Exciting!
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Good news! After 3+ weeks of broken shower fun times, this morning (at 8am!) guys turned up to start tearing out my bathroom. (Somehow a leak into the flat below has turned into NEW BATHROOM, idk.) It's still going to likely be a full month (17 March to 17 April) of showering elsewhere and taking far too long to wash my hair at home.

Bad news! After 10 days of post- thesis resubmission running around (WHAT DO I DO WITH THIS MENTAL ENERGY?!) today I wanted to continue yesterday afternoon's excellent plan of sleeping in a sunbeam and doing nothing. But alas: there's a dude tearing out my bathroom. Hibernation: denied.

The guy this morning was like, I am taking all the bathroom! And I was like, really all of it? And he was like, yes! And I was like, even the toilet? And he was like, I will call my boss!
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