Friday, December 02, 2005


Thanks for your many congratulations for reaching this point. Alas, all is not finished. I'm in quite a stressful limbo at the moment... mostly finished, pretty darn sure I'll pass my defense, yet dreading the defense and not sure how to best prepare for it. I'm worried that years of talking to undergrads about the basics of U.S. History have turned me into a drooling idiot when it comes to Big Ideas and Talking Scholarship. I spent a few hours on Wednesday morning reading some monographs and it gave me quite a headache.

So I'm working on the bibliography and organizational chart (Good Lord, are both tasks tedious) and also trying to fit in some reading and thinking. I've got to print out the whole dissertation again and read it again -- I need to refresh my memory about the minutiae even if I fear the defense will focus on those pesky Big Ideas. And I should add again that I HATE oral defense/argument situations so this is not something I relish in any circumstance.

So I'm in limbo. This limbo is also complicated by the fact that I've recently started a week-long course of the "gold standard" of antibiotics for some minor infection. No big deal. I've taken plenty of antibiotics here and there. But for some reason the warnings on the bottle seem to be coming true! So I am plagued by nausea and headaches. The bottle's suggestion? "Frequent mouth care and sugar-free hard candy." Okay, I can see that. I feel like a mangy rodent has died in my mouth. (yes, that combined with my current "uniform" -- sweatpants that could probably walk to my defense on their own -- makes me quite a pleasant companion these days.)

So I've fallen back on a tried-and-true strategy from one of my many self-help attempts over the years. I'm trying to visualize what my world will be like Afterwards. I'm still having trouble with big picture kind of things (complicated by my natural superstitious nature... if I think about passing I'll jinx myself) so I find myself focusing on little things that are bugging me. When I was studying for my oral doctoral exams (we had no written component, just three hours in the hot seat) I became obsessed with the cup of pens on my desk. I knew it was full of pens that didn't work. But which ones?? I felt I couldn't take the two minutes to sort through the pens until after my orals were over.

This time I've got bigger fish to fry. Like the two crates full of old cooking magazines that are begging to be clipped and organized and recycled. The stack of photos that need to live in albums. The digital photos that need to be emancipated from the camera. And oh yeah, we're hoping to buy a new car in December. That takes a bit of effort. And my 6 year old desktop will not allow me to turn it off anymore... I'm voting to pull the plug and get an upgrade. It will take me days to move everything over and reinstall my wireless network. (she said, confidently, knowing this will likely be impossible.) And my cellphone is also about 6 years old and the battery lasts about 10 minutes. Time to call Sprint and threaten to quit. And I've gotten an inkling that some major holiday might be on the horizon, so that might require some time and effort. So I guess I'll be busy Afterwards. And in the poorhouse...

But for now, I'm in limbo.


At 1:15 PM, Blogger timna said...

take lots of deep breaths.
At this point, assume everybody in the room wants you to shine. One of my advisors says it's like a dinner party; encourage the others to talk, too, but mostly it's your show.

(my defense was actually on a Friday night [the 13th!] with Chinese dinner brought in).

At 1:16 AM, Blogger Porkorama said...

Ha ha ha...I was just going to post that my defense is on Friday the 13th (January). I'm glad I'm not superstitious!

You know what I'm afraid of about Afterwards? I'll have to relearn all those little things like being social and eating at a table with silverware. And actually cleaning up and doing the million things I've postponed because the dissertation is more important. I think I'm going to be thrilled but also feel kind of lost, not knowing what to do with myself...and then there is the whole getting a job thing.

But for now, I just picture the Rest of My Life as this golden glowing light from the horrible burden of this damn degree.

We're almost there!

At 12:53 AM, Blogger Unsane said...

bon chance.

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