But I thought, what the hell; I'll just send in my first year paper and see what happens. So I sent in my application on the day of deadline, expecting absolutely nothing to come out of it...
...and so it was with some palpable degree of pleasure, joy and satisfaction that I checked my email this morning and saw that I'd been accepted.
Yay! This is amazing for three reasons: 1) They're offering so much money in terms of funding that it's pretty much fully funded; 2) it's one more line on my CV, and it's a pretty impressive one to boot; and 3) it's an intensive session dedicated to just one presenter, so all the focus will be on my work and my presentation style. It's basically an amazing opportunity not just to get feedback on my PhD, but advice on how to apply for academic jobs. I really would like to get a job when I'm done with my PhD so this aspect of the workshop is extra enticing, I think.
Needless to say, I will be networking like mad. I need to know the people in Asia. People need to know who I am. Have I already mentioned that I would like a job after the PhD? I should also clarify that I don't just want a job; I want a good job in a good university. This is why I'm trying to do as much as I can to enhance my CV, add to the inherent advantage of NUS + LSE + Cambridge, make myself as attractive as possible to the top universities.
I do worry at times, however, that my PhD is too parochial. Clearly the focus of the research is very local, it being Singapore. But it's also very theoretical and light on the law, so there's no reason why I can't position myself as more than someone doing constitutional rights in Singapore. But I will think about this as the PhD progresses; small steps, right?
Sometimes, I forget just how ambitious I am, especially when I get distracted by trivial shit like, well, guys. I think the problem that I've always had is that I am not single-minded enough; I get distracted by other things and am pulled away from my aims. No, that's not entirely accurate. What's more accurate is that I make up my aims as I muddle through life, and it's perhaps because I haven't always wanted to be where I currently am that I take it for granted and don't do enough to further my own ambitions. At the same time, the general outline of the ambition has always been more or less the same, and entirely informed by the grades-driven nature of Singapore society. If it's about academia, it's always about the best grades and the best institutions for me. If I hadn't got into the PhD programme at Cambrige, I wouldn't do a PhD. Between an academic position in Oxbridge that pays crap and an academic position in an unknown university that pays loads, I would choose Oxbridge.
So I am ambitious in this sense. But John is also right to say that the brand name isn't the end, but a mere means to an end - and the end should be the quality of one's work, the intellectual rigour that one pours into one's work, not settling for good but always striving for better. I am already ambitious in this way, but only by default: I am extremely self-critical, also a perfectionist, so I always think that my work isn't good enough. But I am also extremely un-ambitious in this regard for doing too little to deepen my understanding and knowledge of the issues that I work with.
In other words, I need to read more. Didn't I write an entry about not being distracted by useless things like men and dating anymore? Whatever happened to that? My journal of late has been so horridly one-note and dull; who really cares about random men that don't mean a thing, who are merely the object of a momentary fixation? It is so boring.
I've finally sent out a draft of my 377A/common good paper to Dr P and John. I will put it aside for today and get back to my PhD; think about what I need to read to write my chapters. Also sort out travel arrangements to Essex. Have I mentioned that I'm presenting this paper at Essex next Saturday? I am riding on such a confidence high right this second that I don't even feel nervous about speaking in front of people.
That will not last, of course. I'll be back to freaking out in a few days' time. But it will be fun, and hey, it's another line on my CV!
Also: Played a league match this morning with a very nice Turkish lady at her club. Brilliant indoor court, loved the carpet. Lost 6-0, 6-0, but such a good experience. One of the few rare times I really felt like I was beaten, that I didn't beat myself. She's been playing only 3 years but her consistency and resilience put me to shame. She got all the balls back; I would hit a forehand up the line, thinking I'd won the point, but the ball came back. The ball kept coming back. And it wasn't like she was fluking them over the net; she was hitting them, hitting them back with interest. Sometimes I would be in an offensive position, trying to hit a winner, but the ball came back. At times I would wrestle the offensive from her; got a floaty ball from her after playing a few defensive shots, tried to kill it, would've killed it against other players, but...the ball came back.
I really respected her play. Very dogged player. Later, I asked what goes through her mind when she plays, and she said that she tries to suss out her opponent's stance to guess where the opponent will hit the ball. So it's obvious why she won: she was thinking.
I don't think when I play. I just hit the ball and hope for the best. I have no tactics except go for my shots, but that's not even a real tactic. I made a few unforced errors but many of the points I lost was because she forced me into error.
So yeah. Well done to her. It was fun.