When you have family, or are coming to PhD with a long personal history, sometimes life gets in the way and you just have to accommodate that. It’s hard sometimes to provide space for yourself to undertake serious study when you have other demands and commitments; but you won’t get the end result without finding that space somewhere, somehow. This week has been a bit like that, difficult, demanding in other areas of my life. I’ve had some worrying family news midweek that I won’t go into but it’s been in the back of my mind since Thursday; however, I have found some space and time for the PhD and I have made some progress.
The first ‘other’ priority at the start of the week was the saga of Jimbobs the Cat. The quest for a urine sample continued. On Sunday I made sure he had only access to the litter tray with the vet’s waterproof litter in. For twenty four hours I kept him separate from Rosie Parker, provided water, food, company; and waterproof litter. For twenty four hours he refused to pee. He must have had a knot in his little winky, because he was stubbornly not forthcoming. So on Monday morning I prepared to take him to the vet for a second shot at cystocentesis (extracting urine from the bladder with the aid of a needle). As we were surreptitiously getting the pet carrier out, Rosie Parker slid past me like mercury, as is her wont when there’s a recently opened door. She headed straight for his special litter tray, got in and peed; while Jimbobs sat by and watched her. So, off to the vet, where they did manage at last to get a sample; and it was clear, so in a sense all that angst was for nothing! But it’s good to know he’s healthy. And the medication is working on the arthritis in his hip, so he’s back to jumping and running like an Olympian. He loves that medicine: I think he’s becoming a bit of a junkie.
Tuesday provided space to do some PhD work. I meant to start writing; but I spent time placing various psychoanalytic and feminist theories into my writing plan. I accept that this is a sophisticated form of prevarication, but it will be helpful none-the-less. I had to face the fact that I am actually quite nervous about starting writing again: if I don’t come up with an acceptable level of acadamese this time, there isn’t any sense in carrying on. I’m half way through the time commitment. I have to knock on; but I’m a little bit scared of starting, even though the thoughts of it fill my head 24/7. I’ve never been scared of writing before, it’s a new experience for me; but I suspect I’m not alone in this, so I prevaricated some more on Tuesday by revisiting and revising some of my theoretical reading to clarify what would fit the tenor of the Selima Hill analysis most appropriately. It was a good day’s work, even though I didn’t actually write any words.
In the evening on Tuesday I got out the new accounts laptop to see if it had changed its mind about installing the software. I hadn’t heard back from the accountant with any advice, and I really needed it for work on Wednesday. I noticed that the laptop had had itself an update session so the install window had disappeared! I clicked the download icon and the download started all over again. It was much slower than Penny’s fibre optic session at the weekend, but it did download successfully. I clicked install and, yes, it did install. Huzzah! I put the two numeric security keys into the relevant spaces and a second window appeared asking for the account number to complete registration. I didn’t have an account number. So I emailed the accountant again. I knew it would be difficult to get a reply because it’s the end of the VAT quarter and the accountants are all out and about preparing VAT submissions for businesses. But on Wednesday morning I had an e-reply from Claire who didn’t know the account number and would ask when Emma came into the office later. And so it goes. So in the morning I rang the office and asked for the account number from the young man who answered the phone. He promised to get back to me; and he did, very quickly with an account number beginning with the letter H. The software didn’t recognise letters, and the remaining numbers without the H weren’t correct either. ‘I’ll have to ask Emma when she comes into the office this afternoon,’ he said. Well thank heaven for Emma, they should look after her, eh? Anyway, it was obvious I wasn’t going to have the software to use at the restaurant on Wednesday, so I went into work to do as much as I could to get the paperwork ready to input into Sage if I ever managed to get it up and running before I died! Later in the afternoon I had an email from Emma with an account number that was recognised, and installation was completed at last. I restored my backed-up files and we were good to go.
On Wednesday evening, a little light relief. We went to the live streaming of the RSC’s production of The Tempest from Stratford-upon-Avon. Wow, how good was that? The play is interesting anyway, slightly surreal and different in lots of ways from much of Shakespeare’s work; although there are similarities with Midsummer Night’s Dream, the belief in magic and fairies/sprites etc. But the RSC production of The Tempest was one of the most exciting productions of a Shakespeare play I have ever seen. Ever. It was beautiful. The use of computer technology for special effects was worthy of Hollywood, so that Ariel was there in person, but also had a larger than life avatar projection that gave the impression of flight. The storm scene was also portrayed by technology so that the sea was an electronic projection and very, very real. It was just the best stage play I’ve seen in my life. I would love to see it in real life in the theatre to see what a different perspective that would give to it; but if you ever have the chance to see it, go. You won’t be disappointed.
The computer issue meant I had to give up Thursday to the restaurant books as well: it is that time of month (VAT!) so I had about three weeks’ worth of paperwork to input to make sure the figures were correct. On Thursday I got to the restaurant about 10.45. It was beginning to snow, but quite sleety and not really the threatening kind of snow. But my office is below street level and I can’t really see much out of the high window. So I’m working away when Amie arrives. We chatted for a while then got back to our various work. She came in about an hour later and said ‘Have you seen the weather? I think you should go home.’ Big snow; serious snow; snow lying on the roads and looking hazardous. So I packed up the work and took it home to do. That drive was difficult, my poor little Corsa hardly got out of first gear and the downhill slope to the junction with Oldham Road was a skid hazard; but I made it home, although I didn’t try to take the car down our little lane, I left it up on the top road. We hunkered down in front of the fire and I got the books up to date in the afternoon in the comfort of my own sofa.
On Friday we were snowed in. We didn’t need to go anywhere, so we didn’t bother to dig ourselves out; we hugged the fire and felt blessed. In the afternoon the sun had worked hard to clear the lane without any input from us so we did go into Uppermill for the bank and to collect a prescription. I had to have a medication review with the pharmacist as I’ve been on prescribed medication for Polymyalgia Rheumatica and its ugly sister, Giant Cell Arteritis, for more than three years now. He was asking me if I had any side effects from the medication. That’s a hard question to answer because if you don’t know what the side effects are you can’t know if you’ve got them; and if you ask and he tells you what they are, the old family medical encyclopaedia syndrome clicks in and of course you have them all. So I just answered in the negative; except for the Prednisolone, the corticosteroid I have to take. It makes me very shaky, some days worse than others. I told him he doesn’t want to be sitting at the next table as me when I’m eating soup, it’s a messy business! He was surprised I could laugh about it; but what you gonna do? I have to take the Pred, so I have to deal with the shake. I’m working hard to get the dose reduced, but you can’t just stop taking corticosteroids, you have to reduce the dose gradually and come off them slowly: a sudden stop would cause organ damage. Keep taking the tablets, Rach, order bruschetta instead of soup!
Saturday: PhD, you can have all my time. I had a good five hours of working. Yes, I grasped the nettle and started writing the Selima Hill chapter. I have almost 1400 words of the chapter which is a terrific start. It definitely needs revisiting and editing/redrafting; but it is a start. And that is the hard part. It used to be called ‘white paper syndrome’; but of course now it’s ’empty screen syndrome’. Well, my screen isn’t empty any more. I have made a start; I’m on my way. It’ll be easier from now on, she says hopefully!
And amid all this I’ve been mentally composing a new poem for the collection. I’ve made a very early draft, but I won’t post it yet, I’m not happy enough with it yet. You may have it in a week or two, when it grows up a bit.
See you next week.