That thinking time of year again

This time last year I blogged a number of resolutions and as it always does the turning of the year is making me contemplative. I thought I’d think out loud into the void for a while, so, dear readers, I beg your indulgence for what might be a bit of a long waffle, without much archaeology or academic fun.

Introspection isn’t always good so I’m at least trying to direct mine towards positive thoughts and preparedness. Next year is the last year of my PhD and is mighty scary. It is going to take all of my will and resolve. Sometimes I think that is what a PhD is actually about; a test of sheer bloody mindedness. I figured I’d start with my resolutions from last year and reflect on how they went, then make some new ones.

2008 was supposed to go as follows:

1) Keep on track with my PhD timetable, using all the tricks I know to do so

Well I passed my Transfer on schedule, and got a number of the reports and such dealt with over the summer, ahead of time, but I have one lot of fieldwork left to do and a hell of a lot of lab, stats and data processing to get through. Not to mention writing the basterd thing up. I think I did OK though, in all honesty.

2) Keep a proper diary (which will help with the above!)

The longest stretch I went without writing daily was ten days, and that was in the last couple of weeks while I was home for Christmas. It’s a lot harder to follow a routine when I’m home and with all of the seasonal shenanigans, so considering I’ve not kept a diary before, this went pretty well and I’m going to continue it for next year. It has helped me keep track of tasks, appointments, and to process and deal with ideas and stress. It has also been a useful tool for reflecting back over periods when things haven’t gone so well and trying to pin point exactly why.

3) Keep things good between me and the not-spouse-creature- work hard at always being pleased to see each other, and enjoying the time we spend together fully

We had a couple of hiccups this year, but nothing like the preceding twelve months. Every relationship has its ups and downs and parts of this year have been incredibly hard, so I think we did pretty well. We make an awesome team and there have been parts of this year that I feel are some of the best times we’ve had together. I know I’ve made the effort to adapt a bit more to being away during the week, and to try to make sure the time we do get together is for us, and he’s worked so hard on the same things for me. All in all a resounding success, go team!

4) Get fitter and stronger (and hopefully thinner as a side effect)

I have lost almost 4 stone, since September 2007. Had one bike stolen, was given another by very kind friends then moved even further from uni and fell off the wagon a bit. All in all I think I did pretty well on this count in the last year, but I’m disappointed that I didn’t quite loose the last 5lb I set myself, and don’t seem to be able to shift them. I think that is due to not biking enough, and unsurprisingly this is going to feature on the new list! I do feel a lot healthier and happier for it, but a little put out about how much effort I seem to need to maintain it. Oh well, lifestyle changes and all that; you can’t just diet and then go back to ‘normal’; you need a new normal…

5) Stay in touch with the important people in my life

I’ve been being a hermit lately, you can tell this by the very small amount of blogging that has gone on in the last six months. I struggle to find the mental energy for other humans at the moment. I have not lost touch with anyone, but I also regret not seeing Jess before she headed to the states, or H more than I did.

6) Explore the creativity that is waking up

I have had a lot of fun with this resolution, I certainly did explore, and some of it I’ve shared. The rest is just for me, I’m afraid, but it has been good.

7) Blog more often! I’m going to aim for once a week, with a full once a month round up!

I think I blogged less this year than last, so I really didn’t live up to this one. I think it is partly an issue of audience. I know prospective employers read this, so I try not to blog too much about my social life, for example, or personal issues. I have always written my way round problems in my life, but I don’t feel I can do that here. I can share things with my journal, but not with the internets at large, and certainly not with someone who might have to decide whether I get my PhD or the job I want! But I’m not confident enough about my academic voice just yet to blog about archaeology in the way I want to. I’d like to talk about conferences, give reviews, talk about ideas I have, dilemmas…. But again, I’m not sure that should be all out in the public domain! There needs to be a handbook for PhD students about how to blog about your research and still pass, damn it! Maybe dana should write it; I wish I could write with as much authority, passion and conviction as her. I know that workplace bloggers have written them… So this is going to have to stay a slightly confused melange of archaeology, random geekage and news from the world of Neko for now, ‘till I get a bit more sure of my place in the world.

Not that there are too many people, out there in the void paying attention anyways! All the paranoia about audience is probably utterly unjustified by my diminutive readership 😉

So, new resolutions?

1) Tackle the PhD head on. Two people I really respect recently said to me that it might be scary as hell, and yes, I might not make it and it might go wrong, but I’m never going to know if I stitch myself up by not doing it in the first place. So deep breath, be a Brave Small Animal, and GET ON WITH IT!

2) The above will require being willing to plan my time, and then sticking to the plan (but not doggedly- sometimes plans change and that’s OK), so I resolve to plan each week and month and do my very best to meet the plan.

3) Keep some time for me and himself, the not-spouse. Yes, the PhD comes first, but nowhere on the instructions does it say I have to sacrifice my relationships upon its altar. It should be possible to be happy and get it done.

4) Loose that pesky 5lb before the end of February, and stick to the plan for the rest of the year and see what else I can loose and accomplish. The routine and fitness will help manage stress too, which is going to be important.

5) See Jess and Helen, properly, and try to see Nix, Ish, Tom, Ben W and Mr Keith too. There are some people I need to say thank you to, and some people it’s important to have in my life.

6) Learn at least one new poi trick a month, and play with the fire poi again and loose my fear of them (well there has to be a fun one in here!).

7) Start saving for when I’m finished, and by March have started looking at post-doc projects, funding or jobs.

By this time next year if I’ve not posted up that it’s with the supervisors and almost done, please can you all come and royally kick my arse?

Neko out, Happy 2009 people!

Greenham in British Archaeology and The Guardian!

So, I’ve mentioned a couple of times recently that the project I worked with for my MSc was gearing up to a few publications. The Common Ground Project, a joint effort between English Heritage, Southampton University and various other academics, artists and activists was set up to look at the material remains of the women’s peace camps at Greenham Common. I helped with the pilot surveys at Turquoise gate in 2006 and based my dissertation on the spatial analysis of what we had found, and what this could contribute to our understanding of the material record.

The most recent issue of the CBA’s magazine, British Archaeology has a six page spread on the project written by John Schofield, of EH, and the Guardian picked up on the story yesterday and we made page 9… exciting stuff!

There are more articles to come, hopefully, we’re working away on them; I’ll keep you all posted.

The great thing about British Archaeology is that when the next print issue comes out in February, our issue (and article) will be available free online; I’ll make sure to link to it!