Sunday, December 25, 2011

and then?

We enjoyed a nice Christmas with my in-laws, and are on our way to enjoy another with the other side of their family. We will leave directly from there for a 3 hour drive to our hotel, where we'll be flying out early tomorrow morning.

We're headed to my grandma's funeral, because she passed away on December 19th.

This has been quite a crummy fall. At least I get to see my parents this December, after all, even though not at graduation, eh?

I hope 2012 offers a fresh start. I will try to match it with a fresh perspective.

Friday, December 16, 2011

bear with me

I guess I'm not really over it. Not done dwelling.

I'm about to spew a lot of melodramatic thoughts that've been clouding up my head for a couple of weeks now.

I think I'm a little depressed. I don't like using that word, just so you know. I know there are people who are actually depressed. For whom it is a crippling, awful issue. So I'm probably not actually depressed and I don't want to make light of anyone who is.

But I am definitely 'off.' Or 'down,' with a bad case of 'the supposedtas.'

For one thing, all I want to do is sleep, but when I get in bed at night I can't. So that's nice.

For another thing, I have no motivation left. No drive. I'm just ANGRY every time I look at the revisions I need to do. They aren't even revisions, they're a complete overhaul. It makes me sick. It also makes me feel stupid. I think back to silly Optimistic Me of Two Months Ago, going around spouting drivel like "Oh, well if I don't graduate, I know I'll be close so at least I'll be done with the dissertation by the new year!"

Yeah no.

Just slap some sense into that girl. I'll be lucky if we're close to done with the revised OUTLINE of how the practically unrecognizable new paper will look. You know, the one we (I mean my advisor, who has the unfortunate job of dragging me by the hair and kicking me in the behind) are "revising" so heavily because we have so much time to do it now!

I don't even feel like I'll be happy when I finish. Relieved? Yes. Happy? I just don't know. I realize what a childish thing that is to say, but I'm not feeling it right now. Nothing makes me happy now, in fact. I can't even do anything else that I want to do (because I am riddled with the little head-voices telling me I need to work on my revisionary document). But when I open said document up, I basically just look at it for hours and hours, resentfully thinking about how I was supposed to be prepping for family visits and merrily floating about humming Christmas songs and sipping cider and getting ready to graduate.

I'm supposed to be having a relaxing Christmas.
I'm supposed to be cheerful and joyous and thankful and full of gleeful happiness.
I"m supposed to be adjusting to being called 'Dr.'
I'm supposed to be taking a celebratory nearly-two-weeks off from work to reward myself.
That two weeks was supposed to start two days ago. (I have it written brightly in marker on my calendar at work, so I get to look at it all month.)
I was supposed to walk the stage TODAY. Today at 10 am.

Instead I'm working through the holidays. And I'm not done with my degree. I'm not happy and I'm not relaxed and I'm just really resentful and angry. I also feel numb. Like I said, I don't enjoy doing anything. On the weekend--when I've made sure my only to-do-list item is my dissertation--I mostly just stare at my open Word Doc, and alternate that activity with milling around folding laundry and cleaning things that don't need to be cleaned.

I don't feel like having Christmas spirit. Good thing I put up our lights back in November...or we'd have none. I don't care about the big interior home improvement project I was so excited about a few months ago (a kitchen facelift). That project is about 15% done with no plans to move forward. Hope my Bookclub holiday party friends like the look of lots of unsanded spackle and painted-on swatches of paint colors. I will tell them it's all the rage on Pinterest.

Seriously though, for the first time I can remember, I will time to pass faster. I hate that I do this. I always swore I never would. (Life is short, and I am busy. I need MORE time, not less.) But from the moment I wake up and take inventory of my day (is it Friday? No? Arrgh. Thursday? Dammit. It's TUESDAY? Ooh MAN.), all I think about it how I can't wait to get home, put on sweatpants, stare at my Word document for a while, maybe have a nice strong drink, and go to bed. Where... I lie there awake. Yay.

The issue is that for one thing, I don't care right now. I know I'm supposed to care, but I don't. Like I said, I feel numb. I'm supposed to be DONE you guys. (But I'm not done. So I need to suck it up and start to care and GET DONE. I know this.) But in my head, I'm so done. I'm over it. Checked out. The only activities I actually enjoy are the ones I don't have to think about. Spending time with a friend, watching something on Netflix, reading an easy-to-read fiction book, that type of thing. But I don't even really enjoy those activities. I just don't feel as restless or angry when I'm doing them. I wouldn't call myself relaxed, that's for sure.

I can't even emotionally eat because my defense suit pants don't quite fit (after quite the...gluttonous month/semester/year), and I'm going to need them to because buying new pants is a nightmare for me. Happy holidays!

And I'm MAD that my paper seemed SO close to being out the door. And I received the changes from the committee and they weren't even bad. THEY WERENT EVEN BAD. But now I am going to redo a lot of it just because we have time to make it better? Ugh. Because 'if it was written this way in the first place, the committee would not have had those concerns?' Ugh ugh ugh. I know this is true. But sometimes you don't want to buy a new car, you just need a few new parts. I've been told 'it'll be a better paper when we're done with it.' Awesome. I mean really, that's good. Just tell me when it is good enough because I am sick of making it better. I told one of my committee members what I was up to and this person was pretty horrified at the amount of work I'm being asked to redo. Hmm. And no I haven't talked to my advisor about any of this. He'll tell me (again) it'll be a better paper when we're done. And I know that. But again. I don't care. I hope I don't ever have to read it again.

Mr. N thinks I should take time off from working on it until January 1, but I think that'll only stress me out worse and cause me to lose more momentum. So instead I'm stuck in this rut.

I used to think it was hilarious that professors I met couldn't tell me the titles of their dissertations. How could they forget something that was so important in their life? I think I now know why. They blocked it out of their memory. I don't blame them one bit.

Did I mention that I think I'm developing carpel tunnel in my dominant hand? Dr. Google diagnosed me, so take that with a grain of salt. But my wrist/lower arm/side of hand really hurts with shooting pains sometimes, and I find it hard to grip things. So that's some great timing, right there.

I spent the entire year focused on one goal, and only one goal: to finish my dissertation and graduate in August, and then, as consolation, December of 2011. And I didn't make that goal. There are a lot of people and circumstances I can blame, include me/my own actions or in-actions. I wrote about them on this blog. But I'm still going. Slowly, and as you just read, not happily. But I continue to go.

Also, I surprised even myself with my poise--at least publicly--in handling this crippling disappointment. During the days after I found out, I can't tell you how often I heard "well, you're handling it really well."

Well, what else is there to do, but handle it? Really. Insult people? Anger the very people I need to like me and my work? Stomp my feet and quit? Given that I found out on a Tuesday, I didn't even have time to 'mourn' it. I had to go to work the next day (since, you know, I used all my vacation time trying to finish my dissertation on time). I had to carry on because life keeps carrying on. And in the grand scheme of problems, I do know this really isn't even a blip (as was solidified a few days after this major disappointment, when my in-laws were in that car accident).

So I trudge onward. I'm not persevering quite yet...but I will.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

let's tear it up because we have the time

I met with my advisor last week and we created a pretty impressive crazy-looking chart on a whiteboard in a classroom. This chart essentially ripped apart my entire framework for my dissertation (chapter 1 and 2, basically) and attempted to put it back together. He also provided me with a paper copy of my chapters 1 and 2, all horribly marked up with bright red ink.

In the evening after the meeting (which lasted over 2 hours), I translated the whiteboard (which he and I both took a photo of with our phones) to an outline, integrated the changes he had written on the paper copy, and emailed the outline to him. He then looked at it and sent it back to me with suggestions, which I implemented along with some questions and suggestions of my own, and sent back to him again. That's where we're at right now.

But.... the changes the committee had were minor. Important, but still fairly minor. Would have taken me a few days working pretty hard--or a week working at a slower pace--to finish them. Yet instead, we are ripping the whole thing apart and re-doing it. Because it's FUN! Or something. My only sanity-saving notion is that I have absolute confidence that this rewrite of these chapters will really lead to a better paper. But I am also overwhelmed. I've worked on it SO MUCH and this isn't just a few more revisions.

The committee's revisions have been taken into account, but this is a rewrite. Of the whole thing. (Well, a lot of reorganization. But it is NOT minor.) So instead of my previous worst-case-scenario of "oh well, I didn't make my deadline, but at least I'm almost done.." I'm not almost done. Well, relatively I am. In the Grand Scheme.

But in the short-term, I won't be done with this by the end of 2011, and probably not even by the end of January. I thought the deficiency was rock bottom for me, for this process. Then the floor opened up and my worst-case-scenario of "oh well, revisions and done in December anyway!" became a nostalgic "oh I wish."