Following this weekend’s trend of lethargy, I didn’t actually leave my apartment today. I slept in, felt sluggish and tired, but then eventually put myself together and spent a few hours working on my Internal Review Boards. The IRBs involve a procedure for vetting the ethics of your research if you work on human subjects. This means, of course, pretty much my entire project needs to be scrutinized by a panel of ethicists.
While noble and necessary, the IRBs at U of C suffer from the same problems that similar processes do everywhere. They are tedious and time-consuming; IRB boards are soothed by details, so they demand to know what you will do to mitigate the damage of every possible eventuality, short of perhaps the apocalypse. The format of the application is geared towards medical and psychological studies; most of the questions asked presume that you’re doing to do something invasive to the person’s body or subject them to distressing situations—and yet I can’t simply say, “Come on, I just want people to tell me their stories!” The IRBs presume a private, quiet, controlled environment for conducting your studies; if you’re going to be speaking to people in noisy clubs where courtship and intoxicant-use are taking place, the burden is on you to explain why it might not be a good idea to be enacting the rituals of formalized written consent. What would you do if someone walked up to you in your place of leisure/play and whipped out a contract? How likely would you be to sign a contract from a guy you just met, when the musical community you belong to has a long history of being vilified in the press and victimized by the state?
Anyway, the process is in no way fun, but I finally just sat myself down and forced myself to get it done. Now my advisor (*ahem*) just needs to sign off on the protocols and I will hopefully get a green light for my work.
Another piece of news: I have a mouse in my apartment.
Actually, this isn’t completely news for me. I knew he was there, but we had an understanding. He’s normally quite considerate. He stays away when I’m around, and when he needs to do his business, he climbs into the bathtub and does it right next to the drain. A quick blast of water from the shower head every morning ensures that I don’t accidentally step in mouse poop. I keep my food in my (thankfully large) fridge or in a hanging basket that can’t be reached “on foot,” so I’m sure that he’s not getting into my food. I presume that he’s hanging around because one of my floormates doesn’t keep his/her kitchen clean. It could always be worse: it could be cockroaches.
However, we had something of a gentleman’s agreement: don’t let me see you. I could tolerate the occasional traces of his travels through my apartment, but if I was forced to see him in the flesh, I would feel compelled to do something about it.
Well, tonight he finally made a fatal miscalculation. He scampered out from under the fridge as I was sitting on my couch, only a few feet away. I don’t know what he was thinking; the lights and the TV were on in the apartment. Anyway, he dashed out and, reflexively, I jumped up and chased him back into his hiding place.
In the moment afterwards, I actually felt a sort of sad resignation. I don’t much like to kill things gratuitously, but I was aware that his appearance tonight meant that I would be shopping for mousetraps tomorrow.