Monday, May 16, 2011

Yes, I'm Alive & Writing this MRP - Is Grad School Over Yet?

I was camped out here for most of last week. My study/research/MRP writing spot by Lake Ontario when the weather was cooperating. Now you see why I get distracted?

I haven't been blogging much lately, friends. Sorry about that. Because, well, as per the explanation on one of my recent posts, I've been trying to write the last thing keeping me from this Masters degree: my MRP.

This is just an update to let all of you know that I haven't dropped off the face of the earth. Well, yet, anyway. And that I'll return your calls, messages, etc., once I sort out my life a.k.a. my MRP. And that a regular blogging schedule will resume once a draft of this MRP is completed about two weeks from now. But, erm, my progress? Let's just say that it's going slowly. Very slowly. And, I'm starting to panic, given that I have about two and a half weeks until my first draft is due. Cue panic, shortness of breath, etcetera.

Also, I'll be in New York for four days next weekend. I'm assuming I'll be editing my draft on our flight there. Great. Now that's what I call a vacation.

But, I'll stop complaining. I'll survive. Thankfully, one of my case studies is a country I know inside and out: the one I was born and raised in. So, hopefully, the next couple of weeks won't be too much of a nightmare.

However, if there are two things writing this MRP has taught me (well, grad school in general has taught me), its the following:

ONE. We need to maintain some sort of balance. For the sake of our social lives and our sanity. Writing this MRP is important. But, you know, it's still kind of important to also have some sort of, well, life. My friend Diana pointed out on a Facebook comment earlier that, uh, our lives have pretty much revolved around this MRP. She's right. I'm pretty guilty of eating, sleeping, and breathing campaign finance reform.

It wasn't until I actually got some fresh air today that I realized how cooped up I've been the last couple of weeks. Erm. Not. Healthy. I didn't step outside my house all weekend (partly due to the rain, partly due to camping out in my room writing my MRP). And it wasn't until I went for sushi lunch and shopping with Belinda and Janice today that I, well, realized how long I went without face to face contact with other breathing human beings.

Fail on my part.

I come back to Toronto on Thursday, and I can't wait to do something about this non-existent social life of mine. And I promise you, friends, I won't bring a book with me when we roam downtown and go out on Saturday. I'm so excited for this weekend! Thank god I have most of my MRP somewhat written. Now I can finally sort of relax.

Balance. Your work and your life. It's key. To your health and your sanity.

It's okay to tear yourself away from your laptop, you know.

TWO. I've also learned that I perpetually need some sort of structure and schedule to my life. Otherwise, I'll procrastinate my life away like you wouldn't believe. And, basically, screw myself over until I realize my deadline is coming up.

It's been about four weeks since classes have ended. Meaning, like, we're pretty much not doing anything in Kingston other than writing our MRP. How we spend our time is our own responsibility. There are no schedules, very few meetings. Your time is your own time. And you choose what you do with it.

This is dangerous for me, friends. I have no discipline when structure isn't involved. Because then, I get dangerously close to procrastination territory. Am I the only one with this problem? I feel like all of you have much more discipline than I. I came back to Kingston last week and found a fellow MA in his office telling me he had written 50 pages of his MRP already. And he doesn't have to be done until August. Oh, boy.

This whole "independent work" thing is great and all, but I need to make sure some sort of structure is involved so I don't procrastinate enough that I end up pulling an all nighter everyday for a week. Thankfully, I wrote out an MRP schedule at the beginning of May to make sure I don't fall off track.

I'm pretty sure that Excel spreadsheet with my MRP research and writing schedule saved my life. I have it taped to the walls of my room to remind myself not to spend my day watching episodes of How I Met Your Mother.

Because, you know, I'm tempted. I'm always tempted. Structure and schedule. Grad school has taught me that I always need it.

Anyway, that's all for now. Grad school lessons for the day.

I head back to Toronto for two weeks on Thursday, it should be a great time at home! Cross your fingers I get my work done in time! I'm currently alive, my friends. And I hope I get through this MRP writing situation in one piece.

P.S. Thank you to all of you who responded to my previous post regarding information on campaign finance in the United States! I appreciated all your emails and messages, I found all of your suggestions incredibly helpful! Good luck on your MRPs, everyone!

“Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.”

“You have to learn the rules of the game. And then you have to play better than anyone else.”
- Albert Einstein

“Little by little one walks far.”
- Peruvian Proverb

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