The Re-emergence Of A Man Who Claims To Proclaim

James Proclaims (4)

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It’s been almost three full months since I last elected to post on these pages, over five months since the post that preceded that and, aside from a flurry of activity over the Christmas period, it’s been a little over a year since I can claim to have been producing content regularly, so you might be forgiven for thinking that I had given up on this blogging malarkey for good.

But, with literally tens of followers the world over, I was never going to disappear from the blogosphere forever. The world needs James to proclaim. And by James I mean me. I probably should clarify that, because James is not an especially uncommon name. And, if we’re going to be technical about this, it isn’t really my name. It is the second name that appears on my birth certificate, and it’s the name that everyone who knows me uses to refer to me, so I feel I have a justifiable claim in using it for the purposes of the witty appellation of this blog, but the point could be contended. Proclaims isn’t really my last name either, but that feels marginally less fraudulent.

Anyway, I haven’t posted much recently, but regular readers will know that I’ve had some valid excuses, not least the arrival of my eleven-month-old daughter. Approximately eleven months ago. In truth, had I been blogging regularly for the last year, it would have been hard not to make the majority of my prose solely about her. Because I don’t really ever have time to do anything that doesn’t largely involve her in some way.

Then again, my posts have never really been about anything, so to devote most of my writing to the trials and tribulations of being a first-time parent would be out of character for me. Other people do that sort of thing far better than I do. Plus, if I were to write about the feelings my daughter makes me feel then I might inadvertently bring some sincerity to these pages and we could all do without that.

Needless to say, she is an endless source of joy and sleep deprivation. I love her profoundly, but I am very tired.

She is asleep as I write this though, as is Mrs Proclaims (for I wrote this last night). I am watching footage of the Glastonbury festival , which I have been doing for much of this weekend, often while keeping an eye on my, now very mobile, offspring to ensure that she doesn’t put anything in her mouth that might do her some harm, which she seems intent on doing all of the time.

When last I posted I was in the process of not celebrating my 40th birthday. This was less because I was bothered by the landmark birthday and more because my birthday fell on a workday and several days before the dissertation for my MA was due to be handed in. My dissertation was, of course, the other reason why blogging has been hard to find time for in recent months. My lack of posts subsequent to my hand-in date might lead you to believe that I either missed the deadline or that I failed to achieve a passing grade. Neither is true. Although I was very much still writing the first (and as it turns out only) draft in the early hours of the morning of the deadline day, I did submit it on time and not only did I pass, but I did rather well. Which is a little uncharacteristic of me really, as I tend to specialise in underachievement and mediocrity when it comes to academia. Indeed, I did so well that I am, probably unwisely, considering pursuing a doctorate in the not-too distant future. This may be partly inspired by Mrs Proclaims’ academic endeavours, for alongside being the primary care-giver to our small-person, she is also pursuing a PhD. But then she is rather clever. She often gets questions right when we watch University Challenge. Indeed, she is the only reason I even deign to watch University Challenge, which might as well be broadcast in Swahili for all I understand the questions. But while I may not be as academically able as my wife, who actually seems to enjoy studying, I am, I think, capable of dragging myself through the rigours of a qualification that will allow me to call myself Doctor Proclaims. And it’s all about the title really.

But that’s for the future. For now, I am enjoying not having any deadlines. I still have to go to work unfortunately but working in education means that in a few weeks I will have a glorious six weeks of holiday to enjoy.

Which could well mean that I have time to start writing posts for this site on a more regular basis.

Whether I use the time for that purpose is anyone’s guess.

 

Mind Over Body

James Proclaims (4)

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As I’ve mentioned in one or more of my previous ponderous posts, I’m currently in the process of attempting (but not really succeeding) to write the dissertation bit of my MA.

In truth it’s not actually my MA.

Not yet.

I need to write a dissertation first.

I also have a full-time job, because I haven’t yet worked out a way of not having a job and still being able to pay my mortgage.

Even for someone who is motivated and academically inclined, writing a dissertation alongside having a full-time job is quite hard.

And it would certainly be a stretch to describe me as either motivated or academically inclined.

I’m not stupid (or possibly I’m so stupid that I don’t realise that I’m stupid) but academia and I have never really gotten on too well.

Occasionally I have shown the potential to be an academic. Throughout school, my undergrad days and even at times on this MA course, I have demonstrated that, when I put my mind to it, I can achieve grades at the more impressive end of the scale. However, these flashes of brilliance are all too often followed by mediocrity and in truth I’m far more likely to flirt with grades at the less impressive end of the scale. I normally do enough to pass, but quite often I do ‘just enough’.

Throw in a new(ish) baby (not literally obviously – I’m still a relative novice at this parenting malarkey but I’m given to understand that throwing a baby is not generally considered wise. Especially if bathwater is involved apparently) and time is a commodity I don’t have much of.

I do enjoy looking after my daughter. She can be a little demanding, often in the early hours of the morning, but she’s mostly delightful and for someone who hasn’t actually mastered the art of speaking, she has quite a lot to say, and she says it with such feeling and passion that I’m not sure actual words would add much to her soliloquies.

In order to be able to do my job to an acceptable (but rarely  exceptional) level and to be able to grind out a dissertation (that will achieve the minimum pass mark) by April, and to be able to enjoy the company of my daughter (and sometimes my wife, although in truth Mrs Proclaims are currently operating on a shift pattern with regards childcare and are rarely conscious and in each other’s company. We do enjoy a regular verbal exchange at around 3am when debating over who gets the honour of listening to our offspring’s latest early-morning orations) something has had to give.

And that has very much been exercise.

Not that I’ve ever been any more athletically inclined than I am academically inclined. But I generally do try and keep fit enough that my tendency to indulge in foods that might be considered insalubrious do as little damage to my long-term health as possible.

I’m not sure, even at my fittest, that I’ve ever really managed to get the balance of diet and exercise entirely geared towards optimum wellbeing, but in normal times I do enough good to at least mitigate the bad.

At the moment, though, the balance is swaying very much towards the bad. In attempting to secure a qualification that I don’t really need (and at this point I’m not even sure I want) I am sacrificing the short-term health of my body for the long-term benefits of my mind.

Although it’s not really clear that having an MA will bring any benefits to my mind.

Other than the fact that, assuming all goes well, from April onwards I’ll able to smugly boast to anyone that will listen that I have an MA.

When all is said and done, it’s not actually that much of a boast.

Nonetheless, and in spite of a total lack of comprehension as to what it is I’m bragging about, I’m sure that my daughter will greet the news with her usual infectious enthusiasm.

 

 

 

Time Mismanagement

James Proclaims (4)

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Sometimes I wonder if I am the personification of procrastination. If I were to look up the definition for procrastination in a dictionary, I would genuinely not be surprised to see my own face grinning back at me.

If procrastination were an Olympic sport, I would probably win the gold medal. If I ever got around to competing of course. Which I wouldn’t because I’d be too busy re-organising my sock drawer. I’m just that good.

If it were possible to make a living from procrastinating, I’d certainly consider getting around to one day applying for a role doing just that. I’d be a ‘pro’ crastinator.

Today (or rather yesterday, for that is when I wrote this) is absolutely a case in point. I have spent the last year or so avoiding writing the dissertation which will finally see me complete a MA course, which I have been doing for longer than is remotely reasonable. Because I’ve been doing it part time, I’ve been able to take my time, but I actually completed most of the modules several years ago and have been delaying the dissertation for as long as I could. Mostly because I didn’t want to do it.

But I couldn’t put it off forever and so, a year ago, I committed to starting it.

And then I ignored it.

Until it was really too late to complete it by the deadline.

I did have some mitigating circumstances – not least the arrival of my beloved (but very distracting) daughter.

There were other things too. Nothing massively interesting, but quite a few things happened last year to create a perfect storm, which prevented me from being able to give the dissertation the time it deserved.

The university agreed that I had a quite a few extenuating circumstances going against me and so they granted me an extension.

Which was nice of them.

But really, since December, I’ve had plenty of time to look at it.

And I haven’t.

And it’s getting a bit embarrassing now.

Thanks to the extension I still have ample time left to get it done, but my lack of progress is starting to get more than a little worrying.

My daughter remains the primary distraction. She’s genuinely adorable, but she’s quite loud, which can make focussing on academic literature quite difficult. Academic literature is rarely a compelling read and I can think of lots of things I’d rather be doing than ploughing my way through reams of journal articles on a subject I’m only claiming to care about for the purposes of getting a qualification that might help my career (but in all honesty might not). In contrast spending time with my offspring currently ranks as my absolute favourite thing in the world to do. It would take a lot of willpower to sit in my makeshift home office (aka the spare room) and ignore her if I couldn’t hear her, but if’s she awake, she’s generally making some kind of noise.

Mrs Proclaims, sympathetic to my plight, did take her out today.

Which left the house nice and quiet and gave me the time and space I needed to finally make a start on pulling some of my incoherent thoughts and ideas together and maybe write the few thousand words that I need to convince my supervisor that I might actually pull this off (he’s been remarkably patient thus far but I think he’s pretty much given up on me).

Instead I did lots of other things.

None of which needed to be done.

One of them was writing this.