The Summertime Shoulds

I haven’t had a summer off in five years. In my “old” life, summer was one of the busiest times, filled with application processing, promotions, and general paper bull shit.

But in this new academic life, summer is freedom. There are no classes, no tests, no assignments, no responsibilities… except for all the “shoulds.” The shoulds of summer are killer. They are the lists of things you should do, that you could do, to make life easier in the fall, to get a head start on life, but none of the things you have to do. The have tos save themselves for Septemeber. June through August are just filled with Tuesday happy hours, sunny day time hikes and the ever-nagging guilt that you should definitely NOT be having this much fun.

I’ve been told the guilt eventually should subside over the summer but to be honest, mine did not. All summer, I felt I should be reading more, doing more research, getting a jump start on my thesis. And yet I did what I needed to do and took Sunday afternoon trips to Bingo, Wednesday night bon fires on the lake, Friday canoe trips.

I read books I’ve been meaning to read. Skimmed new interesting journal articles. I talked to collegues about their projects. I explained my thesis to random townspeople at House Bar. I let academics ruminate around me instead of trying to tackle it down and consume it.

Until this week I felt guilty about how little I had accomplished. And then I was describing my thesis to my family on a trip home and I suddenly had this clarity about what I wanted to discover and how I wanted to frame it. I hadn’t “worked” on my thesis all summer. But in letting is sit there and warm in the sun, it had risen and is now ready to be baked.

I’m not saying this is always the method to employ during summer but this summer, letting go of the shoulds for the wants of summer gave me a sense of clarity and energy pushing me into my second year of grad school.

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Porn Study Two Months In: Taking an unsanctioned break from coding to sample

I haven’t done any coding for the past two weeks. Not that there isn’t coding to do. Not that I shouldn’t have been coding. Not that I won’t have a backlog of two weeks of coding to binge on over break. It was just that I couldn’t. I needed a break. I needed to unpixalize sex.

Not that I wasn’t watching porn. I had to sample the 400 LGBT videos from Pornhub for the next phase of the study. In order to sample you have to figure out first how many videos you need to have enough power in your sample. Once you find your magic sample number X, then you need to find the total amount of videos in that category, divide that number by your magic number X to find your sampling nth number and finally sample random video 1,2,3,4, etc on each nth page. I did not explain that well but just trust me; it is all pretty basic math-y and not fun. Not fun at all.

All that translated to about five hours of simultaneously sampling videos while trying to not actually watch the videos. I ended up putting Battlestar Galetica on my little Chromebook, putting on my headphones and pretending that wasn’t an image of a young man wet humping a soccer ball on my Acer.

Let’s just say I had some weird dreams about Starbuck and some kinky cylons. Unfortunately this means I have to do two weeks’ worth of coding over break. Lord help me, I may never be able to watch porn for fun again.

My First Lecture

I gave my first official lecture today called “Sex and the Internet: Let’s talk about Porn!” I was so freaking nervous but it went miraculously well. It makes me excited to do this more and to one day have my own course! yay for the future of teaching porn!

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Am I irrelevant?

Nicholas Kristoff had a little ditty in the NYT about the relevancy of academics in society today, basically suggesting that we, aka academics, are making ourselves irrelevant with all our big words and confusing stats. And I kind of agree. Especially because it doesn’t have to be this way. We are relevant; we just need to do a better job communicating our usefulness. Check out the article here.

The Porn Study: Two Weeks In, How do you explain pubic hair?

In science you have to do this thing called “explicating,” which is basically creating an exhaustive definition of every single concept you are studying. For the porn study we are researching a bunch of shit which translates to a bunch of flipping explicating.

Here are some things my adviser and I explicated this week:

Consent

“passed out”

Physical vs. verbal aggression

Gay for pay

Pubic hair

Mutilation

Docking vs frotting

MTF and FTM

Sounding

Private Area

Penetration

There were a few other explication debates but these are the ones that stuck with me. We honestly had at least a 5 minutes conversation about whether or not a man’s chest should be included in “private area.” We had to explain just what consent in porn looked like. And I personally created a six-sentence description of what pubic hair is and how to code.

This may not look like it to most people but for me this week was #success.

And thus men’s chests are private areas……