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November 02, 2008

What shall it be?

November 2. Day 125.

I'll be honest with you: I'm still trying to decide what I asked for today. I have a few options, but nothing that was established in advance. Nothing that shouts, "Asked!"

Sometimes I set out with an asking in mind. I start a conversation, or approach a scenario or event, with a clear goal. Other evenings, I look back and start thinking. If I don't have something satisfactory, I head out to find a worthwhile opportunity. This option has also worked fine, leading to adventures with sororities, Segways and New Yorkers. Fate has its way of rewarding my procrastination. When it comes to this blog, at least.

But today, gentle reader, I invite you to be part of the process. I could say I asked for a cooking lesson. I went to lunch at my mother's house, and there I got a chance to speak to her new tenant, a PhD student from Italy. We got around to chatting about tiramisu, and when she said it's an easy dish she loves making, I chimed in to request a cooking lesson. I offered a briefing on American cuisine in exchange -- hamburgers, for example -- and everyone laughed. (I was only half kidding, but anyway. Come on. A tender, juicy patty smothered by gooey cheddar and meaty mushrooms, or a portuguese bun smooshing together some caramelized onions, a thin patty and brie? There are so many worthy variations on that theme!)

Later, I had coffee with a friend and colleague, a former grad student in my department who survived the dissertation. We talked about departmental politics, job searching, writing schedules, and for an hour I drilled the poor man about how he managed to finish, what strategies he used to stay motivated, how he managed to concentrate, all that. That could definitely count as an asking.

Both of my questions seemed, well, inconsequential. Not irrelevant or uninteresting -- quite the contrary -- but nothing I would have been shy to try before July. So maybe today was a failure, in terms of this project. Yet, it doesn't entirely feel that way...

Hmm... What do you think?

Did any of these catch your eye? And should I aim for every day's question to be outstanding, or is that too much to ask for?

Gained: Perhaps a cooking lesson. Definitely, motivation to get cracking on the thesis.
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