October 2: Never underestimate the power of a good listening-to.
October 3: The ceiling at the dentist’s, during root canal work.
October 4: Getting lost whilst trying to write a methodological framework.
October 5: I popped up to Aberdeenshire to see a good friend – a 300 mile drive. Glorious autumn colours in the fields outside her village.
October 6: The steps at Robert Gordon University’s swimming pool. I almost had the pool to myself – one of life’s great pleasures.
October 7: By Loch Muick, looking north-east on a very blustery day.
October 8: I received confirmation of ethical approval for my fieldwork. Nothing stopping me now!
October 9: Simple stitching for some complex thoughts, on being a square peg in a round hole, the dangers of people pleasing, and university. My research doesn’t have a particularly obvious fit within my department – it could be located in one of several departments at Leeds. I’m very glad I’m in my department (Performance and Cultural Industries) not least for its friendly and supportive atmosphere, but sometimes I feel a bit discordant.
October 10: This entry marks six months of the stitch journal. It’s also where my head was at, with computer issues, household challenges, and mental health issues.
October 11: This one’s about thinking about the range of experience and ability amongst participants sharing a space. As with the open access craft spaces in which I’m locating my research, where one person might be hugely experienced whilst another is a novice, so with my yoga class.
October 12: Friday night glass of wine. Enough said.
October 13: That cliche about putting on one’s own oxygen mask before helping others, felt very appropriate.
October 14: The curious pleasures of insomnia – I got some useful thinking and reading done, but spent the rest of the day in a daze.
October 15: Back when I was doing my A-levels, my wonderful English teacher Mr Robinson suggested these as three qualities to aspire to throughout life, and I thought that sounded about right. Today I was reminded that the last one is in conspicuously short supply in some quarters.
October 16: The noble German shorthaired pointer, bred to be the perfect ‘hunt point retrieve’ dog… or, as happened today, ‘bother, bark, hurtle’. Her love-hate relationship with our particularly patient window cleaner pretty much wrote off my morning’s work.
October 17: This one was stitched as a bit of an afterthought, but it felt surprisingly appropriate – I have a terrible tendency to think there’ll be time to figure things out a bit further down the line, and whilst I’m thinking that, time races by.
October 18: A celebratory sort of entry, for my fifth wedding anniversary, in homage to Charles Demuth’s 1928 painting ‘I saw the Figure 5 in Gold‘. I was working on – and presenting this stitch journal at – a conference, so I stitched this the night before. It took an unnecessarily long time…
October 19: An expression of total confusion about what’s going on politically, on both domestic and global levels. I can’t remember a time in my lifetime when things have been quite this conclusively messed up.
October 20: Mountain biking in Kielder forest, Northumberland. I’ve only been out on my bike a couple of times this year, so the afternoon involved some swearing and gnashing of teeth (and some getting off and pushing – I have no pride/shame).
October 21: Big skies at Alnmouth.
October 22: Writing an abstract for a research poster forced me to reflect upon what it is I’m doing in the name of research.
October 23: Some days place a pile of necessary demands on a person – or, the perils of being a home-worker. Days like these always seem to happen at the least useful of times.
October 24: Confirmation that all my fieldwork sites are sorted. A huge relief.
October 25: Full of cold and feeling like my head was wrapped in a blanket.
October 26: Today’s observation was that if people are always talking, they can’t be listening. This suggests a more sociable ratio – or, as my stepdad pointed out, “two ears, one mouth.”
October 27: I made a particularly glorious new dress, an Assembly Line Box Pleat Dress in Robert Kaufman Shetland Flannel. Perfect for the autumn – like secret pyjamas. I’ve been making clothes for over twenty years now, but have never felt comfortable recording them in photographs, as many other makers do.
October 28: I went to life drawing for the first time in a few years. It was an all-day session, so we could get properly stuck in. Six hours of drawing is great for clearing a person’s head of relentless brain-chatter.
October 29: A dreadful day of anxiety and gloom.
October 30: Despite useful conversations about matters personal, professional and academic, I chose to record the moment where I jumped onto a wall, and on jumping off it, misjudged the floor’s location and ended up falling on my backside into a large pile of leaves. The analogy with PhD life and the leap into the void wasn’t lost on me.
October 31: My WRoCAH scholarship requires me to undertake a month-long placement in the name of post-doctoral employability. It’s an amazing opportunity, with potential for global travel. I just have to work out my thoughts on post-PhD employment, and the scale of my anxiety at any given time.