Friday, November 6, 2009

Friday Night Plights

This week (6, if you're counting) began the start of my "reading week." Trust me, it's in quotes for a reason. The idea is that you can catch up on all the reading you've been slacking on over the past few weeks, and work on the hundreds of papers and group projects that will be due in the subsequent ones. Clearly they didn't consult me when coming up with this brilliant idea.

After long nights last Friday and Saturday, Sunday promised to be a day of reflection (ha!) and reading. Not so much. Turns out my body likes this thing called "sleep" and focusing on anything longer than a blog post turned out to be a complete hassle. I did, however, manage to write about 4 paragraphs for a group project, though. That roughly works out to 1 paragraph for every 4 hours I was awake. I'm a rock star.

Between the responsibilities of group projects, plus my unenviable ability to distract myself with shiny things, reading week has turned more into research week. I mean, I guess I cursorly read a few dozen articles, but did any of it stick? Guess.

Aside from the group meetings, the big project this week was writing a 2,500 word essay on the extent to which "the business case" can promote sustainable business practice. Let me tell you: the ideas I had...and then realized were dumb. Sure I can tell you why a business case is good. I can tell you how it should be used, but that question "to what extent" has tripped me up for most of my academic career. Give me a "how?" and I'm solid. "why?" even better. But "to what extent" causes me to inevitably throw up my hands and say "it just does, OKAY!?!?" Not an effective argument in a paper, apparently. So here I sit on Friday night, paper started, but without any direction. Yep, I've got sources. Yep, I've got points, but I cant seem to make them all go together. Unfortunately, my penchant for extended metaphor keeps getting in the way, and I end up with a bunch of really good points but no academic support. This kind of writing, it appears, is not my forte (pronounced FORT...get it right).

Speaking of my inability to write, I got back my first essay. And I did, well, alright. Mediocre really. I figured it wasn't going to be stellar (1500 words on "What is sustainable development?" Really?) but I assumed that the feedback would be good and give me areas to improve upon. I was wrong. Much of the commentary was contradictory and the parts that could have been good advice were so vague I really don't have any takeaways other than I need to define things better (note to professor: so do you). I'm actually not as upset with the grade as I am with the fact that I have no idea what to do with the comments. Hopefully talking them through will give me more insight, but I doubt it. When I talked to him today he seemed just as confused by them as I was. Good signs.

On the upside, I'm going climbing this weekend, so it should be a nice getaway from my seemingly endless ability to dwell on arbitrary judgments.

Also of note, though semi-unrelated, I've been thinking a lot about what I want to do when I graduate. For a while I was thinking of maybe exploring a PhD. Then maybe a consultant (again). I think what I really want to do is talk a lot (shocking) and think, plus play around on the internet a lot. So I'm thinking now that the way forward may be something in publishing field. I'm not a stellar writer, and I have no portfolio to speak of so this task may be a bit more difficult than I want it to be, but right now, I'm thinking that maybe something in the vein of an online magazine/blog/site about sustainability could be a good career move. We shall see though. All I know is I have to do something more creative than making PowerPoints and work-plans all day. Thirty more years of that, and I'll end up a depressed, philandering alcoholic whose sole respite is the occasional phone call from a long-lost friend. Anyway, happy weekend!