P.S. Just save yourself the time wasted and skip this post.
I apologi(s/z)e. I am doing all my thrashing around live-screen. I spend so much time in the average day thinking about how to think about ecosystems and ecological data, soil health, connections and relationships between trophic levels and organisms, and the individual organisms in our back yard, and the organisms I grew up with or have known across my lifetime, that I overlook picking something clear and cogent to write about.
I’m reading Fred Provenza’s Nourishment and really loving it. Yes, I’m also reading Massy’s work at the same time – because of my pelvic injury from the birth, I have an ‘upstairs’ book and a ‘downstairs’ book, so that if I’m set up downstairs, I have a good book to read, and same-wise for upstairs. Of course, now that (finally!) after 15 1/2 weeks I’m far less limited about getting up and down the stairs, my books have floated around a lot more – Nourishment is sitting immediately to my right and Call of the Reed Warbler is next to the rocking chair in the bedroom, i.e. they’re both upstairs. Meh. So many other things to think about, like what all these things mean for my research directions, and how likely it will be that I will do a pile of reading, pick a direction, and find out that if I had just read that one more paper then I would have figured out X without planning a whole research trajectory around it.
That’s the fear, right there: I found it. Fear of studying something already done. Going down a rabbit hole that comes up on the other side of the street. Digging myself a grave that’s already been filled. The metaphors abound, but the fear is real: at least now I’ve identified it.
But I need to write this manuscript by the end of spring. Originally, it was supposed to be the basis for research that I could present, or even host a small workshop, at this pretty well-known and respected gathering in the spring (not naming names). As it is, that’s not going to happen – but I’d still like to get a good start on the paper. That means reading a lot more than I have been, and that means getting a lot more interested than I have been. So this manuscript needs to be about soil carbon data and how it’s organized, who’s collecting what and why, what we need, where, and so on. Sort of a ‘state of the data’, but more interesting than that – such is the intention, anyway. Oh man do I have a lot of reading to catch up. Every day another paper comes out in the headlines and I think, That’s pretty important. Must read that. Could really change how I go about this. Usually, then, the baby cries or I remember that I forgot to start the laundry or I reali(s/z)e that I’m hungry and said paper doesn’t get read. So research has been hard this last 4 or 5 months. Gestating and then learning how to grow a human is hard. Not just, like, emotionally trying and all that: but physically exhausting, strength-sapping, cognitively draining work. When I get up in the middle of the night my hips, back, and knees feel like I’ve been beaten with blunt instruments. When I hold her for a little too long while standing, I can feel the tenuously healing seam between the left and right sides of my pelvis beginning to tear. If I’ve been on my feet too long in general, there’s an ominous feeling of muscles tearing away from bone in places that I didn’t really ever think about how the bones and muscles all worked and linked together. Prolapse. Seen it in sheep, cows, and pigs; and the prescription is pretty much always the same: stuff everything back in, sew it up, shot of antibiotics, mark for cull.
So on that happy note: it’s bedtime, and I’ve got more reading to do than I could do in months of Sundays, so bonne nuit.