2 down, 70 to go!

Well, today I’m diving into week three here. After a long and highly unproductive holiday weekend (unless you count catching up on sleep as being productive), I’m ready to get on with it. I have a few observations, and of course my recap of the things I’ve learned this past week.

First, I love being at an institution where the numerous practice room hallways ooze musical sounds at 8:15 in the morning.  It’s almost a shock as I stumble to the music library through several quiet hallways and then, by clearing one heavy door, the cacophony of the ground floor begins.

I’m not sure why I ever thought I could stay ahead in my course work. Staying alongside it is hard enough. The excellent news is that I increased my productivity last week by 17% (yes, I track it hour by hour. I’m semi-OCD about time management). That number includes 51.5 hours of sleep for the week, which I’m quite proud of compared to the 41 I managed to get the week prior. I’ve found that I have to include sleep in my productivity hours, or it just won’t get done.

My real issue over the weekend was anxiety. My partner attributes it to my mother’s constant spew of “you’re so lazy!” throughout my childhood. She noticed that I have Goliath panic attacks every time I stop being productive and try to relax, specifically when I have things to do.  My attacks aren’t “crescendo-peak-decrescendo” attacks that last an hour or two. They’re “have-sweaty-night-panic-for-eight-hours-then-wake-up-dizzy-and-lightheaded-and-feel-like-your-heart-is-about-to-explode-for-12-hrs-straight” kind of attacks. When they happen, all I can do is lay there, surround my head with pillows, and perform some kind of OCD-related distraction task – like reading fiction, going through a musical score in my head, or even counting backwards. Yeah I know… a therapist would get a kick out of all this.

That brings me to Kabul Beauty School by Deborah Rodriguez. I managed to finish the book this weekend.  It’s about an American beautician who spends 5 years in Afghanistan trying to enhance the lives of women there by creating the Kabul Beauty School (with the help of donations/sponsors). Admittedly, it made me angry at times.  On the other hand, I’m happy to read books centered on the Middle East because it’s the area of the world I know the least about, and I enjoy learning tidbits of Middle Eastern culture this way.

So, what did I learn last week? Let’s find out:

  1. Refworks is an amazing online citation management tool.  I like it better than Endnote. If you do any kind of research online and would like to save your sources all in one places rather than bookmark them on your browser, this is fantastic. You can choose from 450 style manuals if you want to create a bibliography, and you can categorize sources.
  2. Gamelan is so much more fun when you understand it. The first few days of rehearsals, I felt as if I were thrown in to a world of unknowns. Notably, this is how it works in Balinese culture. You sit in, you watch, you pick up bits and pieces until you get it all. My puny Western mind needs to make sense of it with some kind of notation. I sat with a wonderful grad student doing dissertation work on Balinese Gamelan, and in an hour ‘lesson’ my understanding multiplied. I’m grateful. She gave me the tools I needed to practice on my own (in my head), and to listen to recordings productively.
  3. Just because students are in a 3000-level class, I can’t assume they have writing skills.
  4. Just because students don’t have writing skills, I can’t assume they are ESL students.
  5. Even if someone’s told you how to run the tech in a classroom, figure out things like touch-screen lighting systems before the class begins!
  6. Early ethnomusicological concerns include racial issues justified by social Darwinism, and some of this thinking has not been squashed yet.
  7. One of the biggest issues we face as ethnomusicologists is to siphon our informants’ fear of culture loss as we study them (will post on this later).
  8. I was introduced to several Steve Reich/John Cage pieces I haven’t previously looked at.  Aside from Reich & Cage, I’ve been learning about several new musical artists each day. By subscribing to the ‘music’ tag on Google Reader, I get a couple hundred WordPress posts sent to me every day. While I love the option to get rid of them by clicking “Mark all as Read”, it’s a lot of fun scrolling through what people are posting and I’ve been trying to read a few each day.
  9. I was also introduced to Thoth, and today I’ll leave you with a bit of him:


  1. Do you like RefWorks as opposed to Zotero? I’m switching my research life over to the latter at the moment as it seems to be what the kids are doing these days.

    1. I haven’t used it. Our libraries have that handy-dandy RefWorks link on each citation – for databases as well as textual items on e-Reserve. It’s just one step less for me to use it. On the other hand, if/when I leave this institution, I wonder if I’ll be able to carry my RefWorks account with me. Will check it out…

  2. Ah well, I believe sleep is productive – or rather, it helps you to be more productive. Oh yes, I remember Thoth from 9 years ago in New York – September 2001. All memories from those few weeks are etched in our brains forever I think. We watched him in Central Park and were mesmerized!

  3. If you are really stuck for distraction I can recommend the following reading:

    “The Everywhen Angels” (novel)

    “Naked in the Sea” (poetry book)

    Unless you have already read them, of course.


    Being unselfish for a mo, though, I’d much rather you didn’t need the distraction under the circumstances you describe.

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