I'm still a bit out of sorts. I can't quite put a finger on it. The past few days, I've not really felt like reading blogs... I've not really felt like writing posts. Of course that feeling hasn't kept me from either.
I'm realizing that I've been coasting a bit since filing the dissertation. Unfortunately, some of that took place even before. 2004 was a rough year for me: I cut short my planned time overseas (okay, cut short isn't quite right... but I turned down a three-month extension to my Fulbright, so I could head stateside, to take care of my ailing father). That change in return date however meant that I had to cancel one invited university lecture in Central Europe, postpone indefinitely a trip encompassing three invited talks in Northern Europe, back out of a conference paper that had been accepted in the UK, and forego a possible talk in South-Eastern Europe.
Then, I took care of my father in his final months, wrote the dissertation, tended to my pregnant wife, then our second son, applied for jobs. That started the cycle of coasting. I chaired one conference panel and presented a paper in August 2004. But that's about the last the world has seen of me. 2005, I packed up and moved the household for my wife's job and my post-doc, played full-time stay-at-home dad for a few months, applied for more jobs. All the while, I kept expecting something to come along, some offer somewhere that would give me impetus and drive again. But here I sit. Direction from outside is not forthcoming.
So, I've got to find it once again within. That's what I'm working on now. I started a couple smaller projects this week, that hopefully I can turn into conference papers or articles within, say, the next month. I got an announcement for a conference today that sounded quite interesting, and which I knew would appeal to a friend of mine, who happens to be chair of a department in my second field. I forwarded the notice to him, about which he was excited. He wrote to say he was running out of town for a conference, and wondered whether I'd be submitting something for that conference. My reply was that I wasn't sure I had anything to present (on that topic). His advice: Do it!
Maybe that's what I need... to take some outside deadlines (like calls for papers) to simply work on something. Perhaps the more deadlines I have the less likely I'll be to stretch my projects out. I have to remember those thousand steps, rather than looking always for the giant leaps. And... I have to finally work up a real grant proposal for my planned longitudinal study. The idea has been in draft since last summer. It's a good idea. I simply have to follow through and make it a reality. I guess I've got work to do.