Friday, June 15, 2007

Leaving on a jet plane

I'm headed to the field! Time to get back to research, in an applied way, with someone else's money!

The last part is perhaps my favorite. As I have noted before, money is not growing on trees (or falling out of the sky or handed out in big gobs from NIH, CDC, DHHS, NEH) for queer research. The last big project had some (limited) intramural funding, but the proposals for external funds never went anywhere. Now I have some cashola from outside and it is FUN! Instead of staying with friends or driving my own car for hours to meet participants, I get to stay at a real hotel and use a rental car that I pick up at the airport to get around. I get to use the new digital audiorecorder, with which I can upload interviews to the new computer! Then I can load it into the free transcription software to make the computer into a transcription machine. (Yes, while I have funds to pay for transcription, I may play with the new software just because it seems fun. Friends tell me that that should last for only 2-3 interviews.)

As any extrovert who has done solo field-based research can tell you, even quick field trips like mine are both a blessing and a curse. I will get to meet and interview smart and creative people in different settings about topics in which I am interested (follow that??). I get to learn more about my research area. I can use what I learn to make a contribution to my discipline and, perhaps, to other LGBT people.

Yet, the downer for me is that I have to spend days alone. Eating alone. Sleeping alone. Watching TV alone. Exercising alone. Traveling alone. Not a good thing for me. I am already a little anxious about it. I have great respect for people like Tenured Radical and other historians who spend hours alone in archives in strange places. (I hate libraries and archives, for the most part, though I may go visit a famous lesbian's archive while on my trip. I dunno what I will do there--probably just root around and touch the materials lovingly and with the greatest respect?!)

You'd think I'd have given in and started doing more team-based research, but establishing a relationship with co-investigators seems as fraught as developing a love affair to me. (And students are as much trouble as they are helpful.) I have to trust someone a lot to share all the decisionmaking, data collection, and analysis. I haven't found the person to whom I can make that kind of commitment yet. The gf will tell you, though, that if I find the right person, I can jump in without reservation. (Actually, it may have been easier for me to make a love relationship than a research relationship!)

I learned a lot doing solitary field-based research for the diss. My plan this time is to make it a short trip (unlike the grad school experience), to have some fun, to do some work, and to use the cell phone a lot. (Hey, I may even blog a little more!) Good news (for me) is that I have a friend in one of the locations who has agreed to meet me for dinner late in the trip. So, that is one meal with a familiar face. For the rest of the time, I will focus on the project... and all the money, toys, and fun stuff that comes along with it!

More from the road...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

That's funny; the last fieldwork I did was intolerable to me because I was sharing a room with someone, and I'm a total introvert.