I have not realised how purposeless the past couple of years (really, years) have been until now--that is, now that I am setting actual goals and pushing myself to achieve them. Call me perverse, but I find it exhilarating, being up against a deadline and doing all that I can to complete the task...well, more or less, anyway.
Case in point: Chapter 5 of the thesis, also known as the Final Chapter. I began writing it last Friday, then took the weekend off to work on other things, then barely wrote it on Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, found myself with about 2,000-ish words on Thursday when I told myself to finish it by Friday. At 9pm on Friday, I found myself with almost 10,000 words. When I got to the library at 3pm on Friday and started writing at about 3.20pm, I had about 3,500 words. So I wrote almost 4,000 words in six hours.
I would celebrate and pat myself on the back for finishing what I set out to do, but the truth is, it is not finished. Not only does it not have a conclusion, but more egregiously, I left one sub-section and argument unwritten because I couldn't figure out the argument. I didn't know how to apply my theory to Chee Siok Chin v Minister for Home Affairs. And so instead of wasting time trying to figure out it, I skipped it and wrote about the death penalty cases.
So it is a bit annoying that I didn't achieve the goal completely (does it make it not achieved then? Can something be half-achieved?), but having a more or less complete draft, albeit a very rough one, of my final chapter FINALLY yanks this monkey off my back, and I finally feel like I can breathe a little bit easier and not stress about having the final chapter unwritten for months.
The point is, though, that I like pressure; I like semi-tight deadlines; I like pushing myself to finish what I tell myself to do. Was I dying on Friday, sitting in the library for six hours? Hell yes I was. I even had a headache for some reason. But I knew that I couldn't let the chapter spill over into the weekend because I have shitload of things to do: apply for a job at a Hong Kong university with a 31 August deadline (which is also the day I am moving), apply for a post-doc at All Souls Oxford just for fun (deadline 7 September), PAID editing/research assistance work for a Swiss professor, going through four articles for the Journal, pack the million things in my room for my big move to London...and I want to get all these things done before I go to Nice on 2 September. Well, clearly I have to pack my stuff in time to move next Friday, and I also have to meet the deadline for the HK job opening, so what I mean is that I want to get all the other stuff done before 2 September.
Wait, I just realised that the HK job opening is for associate professors, which means I'm definitely under-qualified. In that case...not sure I can be bothered; it'll just be a waste of time. So I shall focus my attention on the Journal work and the Oxford application. Great, one less thing to worry about!
Anyway, here's the point I was trying to make before I got distracted: so even though I was dying in the library on Friday and even had a headache, I forced myself to more or less complete the rough arguments because I simply don't have time to mollycoddle myself. When I got home at 9.30pm, I saw that I received a voice mail from the Swiss professor who wanted to know how I was getting on with the work. So I emailed him to say that I will give him the work by Sunday--which means that I have to get it done by tomorrow, no matter what.
Having languished in my angst and lack of purpose and direction for the past couple of years, I am liking this new-found focus and determination very much. (Oh, and I have to look for something interesting to write an article on because I need to boost my publication list--which currently stands at zero--before applying to NUS for a job.) I love having goals, setting my sight on them and focusing my mind to achieve them. It's fantastic.
Also fantastic: I earned 100 quid recently by designing a law syllabus for a summer school. Not only did I actually have fun designing it (well, the Tort Law part wasn't the most fun but it was all right), but the client was pleased! She said the syllabus is perfect (her word, not mine), that it was more detailed than she'd expected, and that my work was 'exemplary' (again, her word). Reading her email made me very happy. And of course, having an extra 100 quid is pretty sweet, too.
I think Elijah has been a really good influence on me. Apart from his go-getter and positive attitude, he convinced me over dinner today not to drop GBP105 on an all-season John Lewis duvet (I have to buy one because the new place doesn't come with a duvet...wtf right?). He has a cheap one from Amazon which I nearly bought when I got home after dinner, but eventually decided to pay a little bit more to feel like I'm sleeping under a blanket of clouds; by 'a bit more' I mean I paid GBP40 for a microfibre duvet (no shitty cruelty-laden duck/goose down duvets for me please) instead of GBP17 for a hollowfibre one. BUT HEY! Still less than the John Lewis equivalent, which is probably double the price!
He was very amused by my 'dilemma'. A few minutes after he convinced me not to spend that kind of money, he started laughing, said, 'You're really spoiled.'
'That's...not untrue,' I said.
'It's very funny.'
This is not about what Elijah said, which I didn't mind (why would I mind someone stating the obvious?), but just in general: I mean, I'm not going to apologise for being the way that I am, or that I have been brought up a certain way. There are worse things in the world than being used to a certain standard of living and wanting to sustain it. In fact, living in Cambridge for the past three years has been a bit of a downgrade in that regard, but it's been fine; I have adjusted. In any case, it's not like I have bought myself a car, or demanded that my parents bought me a place, or that I take taxis everywhere (just to the train station when I'm running late, as I'm usually wont to). But why should I pretend that living in Cambridge is something that I'm used to when it's...well, not? (I would quantify this with examples but I can't be arsed right now.) Similarly, am I glad and relieved that I don't have to work for money? Yes, of course. I mentioned to my mom that I'm doing ad-hoc things that pay, and she said, 'Are you working for the money? I'll send some money to you soon.'
I have great parents; I've never had to worry about not having money. That said, I feel incredibly guilty for being so old and still depending on them financially. But that's a different sort of worry; it's the sort that allows me to be comfortable while having that worry. It's the worry I would rather have between the two.
Having said all that, I think my spoiled nature needs to be contextualised and qualified. Sometimes, certain people make it sound like I would pay 200 pounds for a shitty Ryanair/Easyjet flight because I am 'loaded' (I am not and neither are my parents! John needs to stop perpetuating this myth!) when the whole reason I hate booking trips less than a month before the trip is slated to happen is because I hate paying more than what I need to pay for the same thing, when this extra cost could have been avoided by some smart, advanced planning. Granted, I could have booked my beach holiday as early as the start of the year when I knew for sure that I will need a beach holiday (since swimming in the open sea is one of my top 5 favourite things to do ever, and probably the only time when I feel TRULY relaxed and free; not even writing gives me that feeling because I stress over the words not flowing); but let's not exaggerate my ability to plan. I procrastinate, I put things off; but still, not until it's almost less than four weeks before I want to go somewhere and I still haven't booked anything, and when I sit down to book something, I find out that I have to pay 200 pounds to fly to Sicily with bloody Ryanair. No thank you. (As such, I am going to Nice again because it's only 68 pounds to fly with British Airways, albeit with a 10-pound discount from my points; but British Airways means no fucking stupid visa check at the fucking baggage drop counter which forces me to join the long-ass bag drop queue when I don't have a bag, and no fucking shitty delays like the last three times I flew with shit-ass Ryanair. I HATE RYANAIR SO MUCH. Flying back from Nice last year was such a nightmare; I got out of Stansted and to the National Express station with literally minutes until the last bus to Cambridge was due to depart because the stupid 21:00-ish flight was delayed.)
It is for this very reason that, oh my god, why is SX being so slow about Berlin?! We're talking about going on 20 September and it's already 26 August and she said she'll get back to me two or three days ago...and still nothing. If the flights are too expensive (i.e. more than 150 pounds return), then I'm not going anymore; the price to pay for procrastination would be unacceptable. Now that it's pretty much three weeks to our intended travel date and nothing is booked, I am getting anxious.
It's so much easier travelling by myself. I book things when I want to and I love this freedom. If Berlin doesn't happen, I may just go to Paris (...okay, maybe somewhere new) at the start of October. In any case, I'm thinking of visiting Raffie in the fake Cambridge (i.e. Harvard in Cambridge, MA, USA) sometime in end October/early November...and go to New York! Oh my god, would be amazing!!!!!!
This 'quick note' has turned into a rather long entry. It's now 12.14am and I have not showered. I don't know how I'm going to wake up for tennis at 9.30am!