A Virtual Stack

Remember Future Me? He’s that guy that’s really awesome – eats well, works out, gets his shit done. That dude is a rockstar – unfortunately, he never seems to exist. He’s always just over the horizon, like the waterfalls at the end of the Earth. Well, for a while he’s had another stack on his shoulders for a while, and since he never comes into existence, this stack just seems to grow and grow and grow and grow.

Academic/research reading.

I’m not one of those people who dislikes academic reading – in fact, I learn a lot of great stuff and find it extremely interesting. Does eating a peach before you play flute cause you to be sharp? I don’t fucking know! Let’s find out! If you were born within 20 miles of a nuclear power plant, does the third thumb you’ll inevitably grow make you more accurate on bassoon (#notintendedtobeafactualstatement)? To the research! Music education, as a research field, is this wonderful combination of a wide array of research all tied to learning and music, two of my favorite things. I do enjoy reading the research.

That pile (both virtual and physical) doesn’t ever seem to be attacked, though. I pimped a book early on in writing this blog that often helps me schedule my academic time, but unfortunately, a lot of times my schedule turns into a game of “Put Out The Fires,” wherein I just try to keep everything from exploding for another 24 hours. That doesn’t leave me a lot of time to dig through that stack of research with a clean brain.

It’s not like picking up a copy of “The Boxcar Children” or “Harry Potter.” If I don’t have a clean brain, I find myself reading the same sentence 20 times to try to glean any sort of meaning from it. It would be like trying to read “Infinite Jest” on 3 hours of sleep.

So the stack grows and grows and grows. I have no problems adding to the stack. Saving a PDF into a folder for later reading is about as easy as tagging a self-help article for later reading, and honestly, I’m not sure which one has a greater chance of being read. Though I’ve purged a lot of the should-read from my self-help/organize-your-life/you-lazy-bastard folder, I’m hesitant to apply the same heavy axe to my academic reading. This is stuff that I will need at some point, but I just haven’t gotten to yet.

I’ve talked at length about my grand gestures – today, I will save the world, do the dishes, and stop being such a fuck up. I do that with my academic reading as well – I’ll read 2 articles a day, starting today! But oh man, I didn’t finish my lesson for class… and I need to finish up that paper… and I have to write this one paragraph… and I should find something for… and then it just slowly melts off of my list.

It’s just like practicing, something I still have problems doing every day. It’s about getting into a habit, setting aside time for it, and being completely unreasonable about allowing anything else to invade that time. I know what I should do, but I also know that I shouldn’t consider a Taco Bueno “Nacho Salad” to be a healthy serving of vegetables for a day. That doesn’t mean that I actually listen to my shoulds.

This is part of my academic growth. I need to read these articles so I can come up with parameters for a few small studies, do them, get published, and get some experience before I try to take on a monstrous dissertation. I always feel like if I ever got enough motion going, momentum would carry me to the end on it, and that’s basically what happened with my Master’s work. This boulder just seems even harder, and every time it starts to creek, I see another bush catch on fire, so I stop bushing and start pouring water on whatever needs it. Unfortunately, before too long, this giant boulder is going to catch on fire as well.

God, that’s an awful metaphor.

So here it is – if I can just read 1 article a day, in a month, I could have 30 sources, which is a good start for a small study. I proclaim (always a proclamation) that by Monday, May 16, I’ll have 30 articles read, summarized, and put into my handy-dandy analysis chart (and I’ll post a link on my blog to prove it). Mark your calendars.

Now to start wading through the pile…

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