Sunday, July 05, 2009

Freedom on the 4th of July

Entry for 4 July 2009:

It’s been a long week of sitting around my hotel room waiting for my 7-day quarantine to run out. The Tamiflu did away with most of the flu that I’d been so miserable with when I first came down with it. After the first day on it, all I had left was a bit of a cough. As the days passed, we developed a routine: We’d get up about 8am, after 8 hours of sleep. Diane would go down for breakfast, and bring me back a bowl with a bit of fruit at the bottom, to which I’d add granola and yoghurt. After breakfast, I’d do email for a couple of hours, trying to staunch for great gouts of messages that assailed me once I started answering people. (In spite of having a lot of time to do email, I barely managed to hold my own for the week, still a bit over 1000 messages in my inbox.) Then, we’d have lunch, cobbled to together with bits from breakfast and that Diane picked up at the grocery store. After that, I’d write for 4 or 5 hours, with a nap somewhere in the middle, until about 8pm, when we’d stop for dinner. Finally, we’d watch In Treatment on Spanish-language HBO, the hit psychotherapy drama that the US graduate students at the SPR conference were raving about as their main source of information about what really goes on in therapy. (A rather troubling thought, but that’s the subject for another blog…)

As I said, after lunch each day, I’d work on my Distinguished Career Award paper for Psychotherapy Research, now a month overdue. Paulo Machado has been nagging me about it for a year, since I got the award in Barcelona, and once against reminded me about how much he needed it when I saw him last week at the conference. I’d spent months trying to figure out what to do it on. It felts like I had to write something important, summing up the accumulated wisdom of decades of doing psychotherapy research. A tall order!, especially when I don’t feel particularly wise… Finally, I hit upon “Psychotherapy Change Process Research” as a suitable topic. Building off my 2007 paper for the German-language Person-Centred journal, Person, six weeks of 15 min per day plus several hours on the plane coming to Chile got me about 2/3 of the way through the paper. It’s not clear how many more weeks it would have taken if I hadn’t come done with the flu, but a week’s enforced bed-rest was enough to buy me the time to finish the paper, which I finally submitted last night. It was a challenging paper to write, an appraisal of what I see as the main methodological approaches to studying what makes therapy work, really a methodological tour de force. I spent a day at the end just filling in and checking my references. I hope that it will inspire others to use a broader range of methods more effectively.

I decided that I would count today, the 4th of July, as the end of my 7-day quarantine and proposed that we go out to dinner to celebrate. I spent the afternoon checking the proofs for the Adjudicated HSCED paper, which I’d finally manage to get revised last January. Then, a bit after 8pm tonight, I put on my shoes and jacket for the first time since last Sunday, and went down stairs. It felt strange to be outside of my room.

I’d passed a Mexican restaurant on Avenida Manuel Montt, around the corner from Gloria’s flat, so I dragged Diane there. Mexican food is what I miss most in Scotland. They’d toned the spiciness way down for Chilean tastes, but it was close enough to remind me of home, and we celebrated freedom, both personal and national. As Diane noted, it was much nicer than having to worry about the neighbors burning the place down with illegal fireworks. A man and a woman were playing Mariachi music, also toned down for Chilean tastes but still colourful and entertaining. I miss the US, I miss Scotland, I miss my Northern hemisphere summer, but it felt very good to finally get out for a few hours, to resume what will have to do for a normal life until we can get back to Scotland.

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