March 24, 2012

Rugby tonight!

Guess what? I am going to my first super rugby game tonight!!! No, it's not All Blacks but some of the players also play for the All Blacks. Do I know how the game works? Nope. Does it matter? NOPE! Hehehe.  I really don't know what to expect but I reckon it's going to be loud and electric! 

So what team am I rooting for? Team Canterbury of course! Go go go Crusaders!! Destroy the Cheetahs! I know I'm a bit over the top with this whole-rugby thingy but after weeks of thesis-induced hypertension, some excitement is what I need.

By the way, tonight's game is highly anticipated not only because it's the first game of the season but it's also the first one being played in Christchurch after the big quake. The turnout is going to be massive 'cos the tickets are all sold out. I'll try taking some photos at the game to give you an idea of how it looks like okay? For now, let me just leave you with this awesome clip of the ABs performing the Haka. This war dance is one of the things I love most when it comes to watching a NZ rugby game. Don't you just love it?

March 20, 2012

Story of a wimpy kid

I think the biggest challenge for a thesis writer is to focus consistently on her writing no matter what happens around her. This is something I have yet to master. Like yesterday morning for example, I had this crazy urge to shut my colleague's mouth with a mop simply 'cos he was chatting with another colleague. I got so distracted by their conversation, I couldn't focus on anything else.

Before I go on, let me spill the 411 about this guy. Let's call him L. L is new in his PhD journey and is currently in the process of writing his proposal. Last month, he went through a hard time deciding what topic to do as he was torn between his own choice and the one recommended by his supervisor. The problem was, he couldn't say NO to his supervisor. Since I was the only one around, he came to me to spill his guts out.

After 2 weeks of counselling, I turned into a wreck myself. The more L talked, the less focused I became and the more frustrated I felt with myself. In an attempt to end his and my misery, I decided  to be blunt. I told him "If you don't think you can handle this topic now, what makes you think you can handle it in the next 3 years? This isn't a short-term commitment." I told him that and a few other things along those lines. The advice was given in response to his many complaints: I have no background in X, I've never done a qualititative study, this topic is too difficult, bla bla bla bla bla. When I was done talking, he nodded and said "yeah, you're right". I was relieved. No more counselling session! Yay!

The next morning, he came to the office, looking all chirpy and bubbly. He said "Hey Alice, I've  told J what I want to do and she seems okay with it!" Good on him, I thought.

A few days later, I attended a friend's barbecue party where I met L's supervisor. When she saw me, she marched slowly toward me, patted my shoulder and started this conversation:

J: So I heard that you have led one of our PhD students astray.

As you might have guessed, I went all PUCAT. 

Me: No I didn't.

J: Well, a few days ago, L came to tell me that he didn't want to change his topic. When I asked him why, he said you told him not to.

Me: Me?? He said that??

J: He specifically said "Alice told me to choose a topic that I'm interested in".

Sot kan si L? I began to feel hot in the face 'cos our conversation got some of my colleagues' attention.

Me: It's not like that. He came to me for advise. I never told him to do anything. I mean, I was just trying to help...

J: That's not what L said (she smiled). He said "ALICE told me to choose my own topic".

Me: NO NO NO. I said "If you don't think you can handle this topic now, what makes you think you can handle it in the next three years?". That's all.

I was about to string another paragraph of explanation but J didn't let me finish.

J: Oh well, don't worry about it (still smiling). I think you're right...and I told L "Alice is right. You should follow your heart".

She said a few other things to make light of the situation but I never recovered from my shock. I was so pissed at L. I mean, taken out of context, it sounded as if I was a nosy-parker, meddling into his business. Why didn't he just tell her the truth?! Babun!

As I lay in bed that night, I imagined myself confronting him in the office. I wanted to tell him how unprofessional he had been and how serious the matter was. But that wasn't enough. I was so angry, I wanted to take him by the neck and choke-slam  him like Kane in WWE. You know what WWE is right? Okay. Just picture Kane vs. Mr Bean. Begitula my imagination.

The next morning, I went to the office, ready for action.  I waited and waited at my desk but he never showed up. Not the next day or the day after. In fact, he went MIA for one whole week. When he did show up, which was eons later, I have lost all the Kane-rage in me. I was like "Ahhh...Biarlah dia. Bikin kesian juga muka dia ni." 

So. That brings us to yesterday morning and the part where I wanted to shut him up with a mop. When I heard him talking to another colleague (loudly), asking for advice on proposal guidelines, I suddenly felt sick inside. There he goes again, playing that clueless-guy-in-distress act. He's confused because the topic is too difficult, bla bla bla. He's not sure how long the lit review should be, bla bla bla. He has so much to read bla bla bla. He's lost, bla bla bla. When I heard my new colleague comforting and guiding him like a good therapist, I was so tempted to say: He is TROUBLE! I almost spewed some word vomit but the voice in my head told me to shut up.

She's right.

I have bigger things to worry about: thesis, kids, wrinkles, eye bags, house chores, chipped nails, how to ship my stuff to KK etc etc. In the end, I decided to keep quiet, put on my imaginary ear muffs and ignore the wimp for the rest of the day. Let him be. If he continues misquoting people, sooner or later someone will give him the choke-slam he so deserves.

March 8, 2012

Crawling to the light at the end of the tunnel

source: google images
I am currently in the miserable stage of finishing my thesis. After coming back from KK last Saturday, I have lost all momentum in writing. I am aware of  what needs to be done but every part of my thesis seems too overwhelming right now. I know you're like, WAIT, you're going to talk about your thesis AGAIN?! That's it! I'm outta here. I completely understand your disgust. Believe me, I am sick of it myself but no matter how hard I try, I just can't stop thinking about it. Since I cannot see your digusted look, I am going to continue typing and give myself the much needed therapy.

Let's start the session. Now what would a shrink ask me if I were in one's office? I think the first question would be "What upsets you?" My answer: My f****** thesis!

Next question, "What's wrong with your thesis?"

My long-winded answer:

Everything. You see, my thesis consists of 6 chapters. So far, I have only written three and none of them has been edited by Yoda. He has promised to give me some feedbacks a while ago but until now he hasn't delivered. Ever since he was promoted as the Head of the Jedi High Council, he's been slow in giving feedbacks. Changed, he has.

Anyway, I have started writing Chapter 6, which is the BIG discussion chapter that weaves all the findings together, and it is totally draining me. For this chapter, Yoda tells me to write an overview of all the three studies I've done and  summarize the findings in one section. Easier said than done of course. Once I've written that part, I need to proceed with the research implication section, which is divided into two categories; practical/pedagogical and theoretical.

The practical bit is manageable. It's the theoretical part that cripples me. I find it hard to make a decision on which theory to focus on as I have 3 different studies with various findings. Yoda tells me to come up with a theoretical framework of some sort based on the findings I've gathered. He has obviously overestimated my capability! He said he has a vision of what this framework looks like but he hasn't showed it to me. In writing this chapter, Yoda has warned me not to make flimsy suggestions or come up with implications which are not backed up by strong findings. In other words, the theoretical implications I present must transparently reflect the outcomes of my three studies. Do you understand my dilemma?

We're role-playing now. Just nod like a shrink, will you? Thanks.

How about the rest of the chapters? Well, I am not that worried about Chapter 1 'cos I think I can write it up in a week (I'm puffing hot air).  It's Chapter 2 I'm worried about. Paraphrasing tons of literature is a daunting task and I hate having to remember the rules that go with it. My game plan is to consume an enormous amount of caffeine for a week and write the Lit Review as if my life depended on it. Pretty ambitious eh? If I can pull this off  and tidy up the rest of the chapters, I can potentially submit my thesis in April!! You know, the moment I finished typing that, I asked myself "What? You seriously think that's possible?". Not even the voice in my head is convinced. Sometimes I wish she'd shut up.

For the next few weeks, I know I am going to be a mess. When I get too caught up with work, there will be lots of episodes of disorientation and clumsiness. Like yesterday for example, Alden's teacher pointed out that I was wearing my cardigan inside out. I wasn't even bothered by it. I was like oh, my baju terbalik pula. Bagus bili jackpot ni ari!

Now back to the topic. My thesis. I know I must complete it, no matter what. There are some issues that I need to sort out like getting Yoda's feedback and doing more reading on the literature. That's not a problem. I think the thing that stops me from getting ahead is myself, particularly my lack of focus and consistency. If I can just snap out of this self-made rut, I should be fine. At the end of the day, it's not the mountain I need to conquer, it's myself.

I guess that wraps up our session. Thanks for being a great shrink.

March 5, 2012


Sadly, on the 20th of February my mom in law passed away. We flew back home on the 21st of February to attend her funeral and be with hubby's family members in Papar. Although we were all saddened by her loss, it was comforting to know that she did not suffer in her death. My sister-in-law, Lily, who was with her at the time of her passing said that she fainted while they were sitting in the lounge watching TV. She never regained consciousness  after that and was announced dead at the hospital.

I am glad that hubby managed to talk to her a day before she died. As usual, Mama asked hubby when we were coming home and when hubby told her "2 bulan lagi Ma", she said "Ohh..". Little did we know that Mama couldn't wait for our return.

Hubby is handling her passing remarkably well, even better than I could ever imagined. During the funeral, he held back his tears and even consoled other mourners who were too upset by her loss. I know that it is his own faith, knowing that Mama is in a better place, that gives him the strength to be strong. 

Mama was a lovely, talkative person who had a generous, kind heart and she always had the utmost faith in God. That is how she will be remembered and that is what I will tell Alden and Alva when they grow up. Rest in peace Mama. You will always be in our hearts.