It took me two and a half hours to open and close code the interview transcriptions from my conversations with my great aunt Alice. While I did it, I used my TA's suggestion of semantic fields to help me organize certain categories on which I wish to focus for my 5-8 page thesis/ethnography. My thesis paragraph and concept paragraph are both due on Friday. This procedure was totally worth it. No matter what thesis I choose (and I have not yet found the right words to frame my thesis), I have all of the data I need to back up the claims I might make. This is huge to me. I feel very reflective of my own values and views of myself in this light--like I'm more aware of why I have this view of myself that I'm not good at constructing sound arguments, and it stems from Rockie's constant demands to know where I came up with certain ideas, this need for me to always cite my sources, even in casual conversations. Now I have all of my sources cited for this paper, and all I need to do is construct an argument and fill in the pieces with the data I collected. I've never really felt I could do such a thing competently. Even my paper on Sunday, while I had reems of notes on my readings, didn't feel very sound, in part because I didn't give myself enough time to reflect.
Ana's teacher and I had our conference yesterday afternoon and discussed Ana's lack of reflection in her reading. I realized I did something similar, for although I can glean quite a bit of information from a reading, I don't usually dig very deeply into it. I've gotten by most of my life on being able to write bullshit and getting an A on it, because even my casual perusal was usually analytical enough for the average human. Now I have a chance to prove to myself that with a combination of passion, reflection, and serious delving into the data provided, I can create a valid, deep, structure argument. A sound one. Just this morning, I ran into Marco, one of the dads at Giddens and he mentioned needing to write today. I inquired into his project, and he said his "fall project" was looking at the food consumed during year 1 BC. I had a mock conversation with him in my head about how I'd never be able to handle writing non-fiction because I'm not good at backing up my arguments and I didn't want to publish three hundred pages of bullshit. At least with fiction, I can create a universe in which my arguments are always sound and everything works to my rules--and let's not forget the use of poetic language that is often found lacking in historical non-fiction. Anyway ...( I've been rather stressed... )
And the funniest part is, I now have the budding skills of an ethnographer and could print out all that I just wrote about my experiences today, open code each line, create semantic fields, and go back to close code everything in search of points to back up any themes I might wish to focus on. I could gain greater insight into my own views of self, health/sickness, values, and cultural beliefs. Ha! No matter the grades I get, this is the type of learning I was looking for when I returned to college. Gaining more of the skills I feel I need to be a whole, well-rounded human being. I could even manage to analyze my language for patterns in use and how they might connect to cultural contexts.
Oh, and did I mention that my attempts at begging worked? The prof for the BIO-ANTH 477 class, which requires a pre-req in BIO A 201, which I don't yet have, gave me the add codes anyway. I'll get to take a class on viewing human gender evolution in a variety of cultures. Yippee!
Also, yesterday, I sat down and brainstormed the ideas of what my values are for education on becoming a whole human being. I told Ana what I was about, and backed it up by saying, "and you know that these are my values
, mommy doesn't actually possess all of these ... yet."
I began with the quote:
A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.
-Robert A. Heinlein
Emphasis mine for all things I have thus accomplished. I would add a few things to that (e.g. birth a baby), but the concept is what interested me most. That to be whole, one must have exposure to and experience in the basics of a broad range of topics. I told Ana I would type up my ideas later and formulate them into something more eloquent. I asked her if she'd like to read it when I was finished, and she nodded her head adamantly. (I know I did take a look at educational goals I would have for a school if I designed one, but they looked more at classes, and I realized that what I really should like at for my expectations of self, daughter, and future projects, is not a range of classes, but a range of values that could be achieved by a combination of classes, experiences, and other elements.)
At some point I also need to take another look at the recent death and death-related experiences I've had in the last year. I think Ana needs more coping skills offered to her as well, since her main one currently seems to be to ignore the world and plunge into computers and video games. But that's an entirely different post.
I'm out of time now. I need to go get Ana. With my short amount of time left, I could read more of the Hmong book, write up notes for the bio-med timeline I have due on Friday, or write notes for preparing my thesis. I think I've already ruled out reading, because I can do that any time. Note writing seems like a good idea, since I'm so clear and organized in my thoughts right now.
Whatever you take from this, please remember to always take breaks when you feel yourself overwhelmed. Real breaks aren't escapist, they are the exact opposite. Real breaks bring you back into your body and recenter your being on all levels. Find your path to achieving this when you need to. Love to all. Be well.