Get this: it's not quite 11:30 p.m. on a Saturday night, and I'm thinking about going to bed.

Of course, last night was pretty wild; I was up till 2, crazy thing that I am, so I'm paying the price today. I've been kinda groggy most of the day, a little achey all over, avoiding bright light and easily startled by loud noises.

Lest you get the wrong idea, I'm not hung over or anything. Not from alcohol, anyway. No, my late holiday-season weekend nights (and days, and toss in the weekdays and nights as well while you're at it) are spent working on this research project. Oh, there are no words for how much I have come to loathe this assignment, more than any other.

Really, it shoulda been a snap. After all, I've had research methods and basic statistics already, and even been in charge (if you can believe it) of a few real-world research projects myself. I know how they're set up, what goes into them, where to start and what needs to be said in the proposal.

The difference--well, there are several differences from what I've done before and what I'm shouldered with now. For one thing, this project involves coordinating nine people. If you've ever worked on any kind of group project, you know that it would be easier to train an ant colony to do circus tricks than to get nine people to work together productively. Especially nine people who do not all have a background in research, or who have very different views on what said research entails.

To shake things up even more, try breaking up the proposal development into stages, and putting different people in charge of each stage. That way there is no one responsible overall for guiding the project through the rapids, no one who has a general sense of how it has grown and developed over time. Everyone has a kinda-sorta vague idea of what it's all about, but there is no central repository of wisdom. Or, well, authority.

What you get at the end of that process is a cocktail of badness. Bits that repeat over and over as though we had nothing else to say, big chunks that are missing and that everyone thought were someone else's responsibility, people still working from old drafts even though many new ones have been posted in the interim and clearly marked as such. People who persist in stating that methodology X or research question Y are central to the project when, in fact, they were discarded weeks ago (or possibly never existed except in the person's imagination).

Lucky me, I am in charge of the final segment. It's the end of the semester, all of our other classes have ended, most of my fellow students are in the midst of giving final exams and grading undergraduate papers. No one particularly wants to be working on this project. Myself included.

Some of them are really putting in a lot of effort. Others have more or less disappeared. I feel as though I keep doing the same meaningless work over and over as I reformat and reread and re-correct a hundred indecisions and revisions. I have been dutifully performing my role, though, putting in the hours and trying to make sense of that which often is distinctly on the non end of the spectrum.

Our deadline is tomorrow midnight. I have some more changes that have arrived via e-mail, and I have to rewrite that postmodern pastiche currently passing as a lit review, and write an introduction. But I think I have hit a wall, and will not be productive even if I continue sitting here for half the night.

I'm going to bed. The hell with leadership, I feel all subversive.

It feels good.