I was giving Phoebe her last nursing session before bed when Andrew came to see if she was ready for her bedtime walkabout with Daddy (because that's a thing for her).
"I have nothing to do," I remarked.
Not that I was complaining. I was more...relishing the moment.
"You can work on your thesis proposal," he suggested. "Or blog."
I have a meeting with my advisor about my thesis on Monday. And another meeting with a potential committee member on Thursday.
And I also emailed some co-authors from a group project last year that we were planning on getting ready for publication and simply haven't yet, to see if they would still like to revise that. Because I'm, apparently, a glutton for punishment.
The "revise and resubmit" that I did this semester was not fun. But part of that was just that two of my co-authors decided they didn't want to work on the paper anymore (which...fine) and I had a strange dynamic with the third co-author, who was the principal investigator. She at once wanted me to do too much (in my opinion, which I think is why the other authors had the...courage...to bow out) but also wouldn't let me do enough. It was weird. And stressful.
One quick example (poor Andrew listened to hours of me agonizing over this process) is that once the PI added a quote to the paper that included the line "when we fail to rest the limits of our knowing." The quote goes on to talk about "a willingness to declare publicly that we might not, or cannot, know anything with certainty" (that's from page 31 of Thinking with theory in qualitative research: Viewing data across multiple perspectives by Jackson & Mazzei, 2012).
Failing to "rest" the limits of our knowledge didn't quite make sense to me, but I didn't have access to this book. My PI, however, did.
So I suggested that perhaps it was really supposed to read "test."
She responded, "Nancy, this is a direct quote."
Every time she addressed me she used my name and it was a little bit much for me. My brain would read it in a very condescending voice that I'm sure she did not intend (because I know she's a lovely person, but also my brain is a swirly-twirly spiral of self-doubt and -deprecation so that's simply how my brain insisted on interpreting things in spite of other parts of me telling my brain to hush).
"I think the authors mean that we should be open to admitting that there are limits to what we can know for certain," she continued. "Does that make sense??"
And like, it does. It totally does. And I get that's what the authors meant.
But also "resting limits" makes no sense.
It really should be testing.
So I asked if "perhaps this was a typo," because typos can even happen when one is transcribing a direct quote (and, I mean, QWERTY—that R is right next door to that T). Could it possibly have been just a slip of the ol' index finger?
Take a moment to savour the irony when I tell you that she responded..."no"...and directed me to leave the quotation as it stands so we could be true to the authors' intent and meaning.
Like, oh, please, let's not fail to rest the limits of our knowledge! We cannot know anything with certainty!
I could scream those lines from the rooftop. Not to brag, but...being unsure of things is basically my theme song!
Instead I cried about it to Andrew and he helped me find a bootleg preview of the book and I found the quote and sent my PI a screenshot of the quote, which really is "test the limits," not "rest the limits."
It took me hours of agonizing (read: crying in Andrew's office) and stealthily searching the internet before I was able to verify this quote when it would have taken my PI all of thirty seconds.
All she would have had to do was open the book that she owns to page 31 and say to herself, "Ah, yup. Slip of the fingertip."
So perhaps now you understand how hard I had to fight for every little change in the paper.
But at the same time she'd be like, "Here—rewrite this entire section," and then would (probably justifiably) shred whatever I wrote into tiny ribbons without seeming to care about how I felt about my words.
Which, also...fair. Sometimes my words deserve to be turned into ribbons.
Ribbons can be quite lovely.
Let's just say, I got through the process without developing an eye twitch (unlike this summer when we were initially working on it), so that was a triumph.
Anyway, I'm hoping this other team works a bit smoother.
In this case all the co-authors are peers. So, maybe that will help level the playing field?
Speaking of the playing field, we set up the badminton net after dinner and had a little tournament (something Benjamin has been wanting to do for ages).
Here we have Andrew and Benjamin playing against Rachel and Miriam:
Little Zoey and Big Zoë are sitting on the bench with Phoebe, playing the role of announcers/judges/spectators. Alexander was practicing riding his bike because he thinks that he'll get to go on a bike ride with Grandpa tomorrow (spoiler: he will not be going on a bike ride with Grandpa tomorrow (sorry, little dude, but we'll only be sending The Big Kids)).
Here's Benjamin lunging for the birdie after Miriam made a great return: