I don’t know what happened, but somehow, yesterday I crossed a threshold. I got up a little later than usual, and even though I wasn’t done writing my lecture, I wasn’t worried. I took a while reading some blogs, checking the news and weather, cuddling Spousal Unit. I took my time getting ready — I got to enjoy my shower and even ironed a shirt. As I drove to school the panic kicked in a little when I realized how much later I was getting there than usual, but I remained calm. When I got to my office, I printed out my slides, finished writing the lecture, made my photocopies, and went to class. The lecture went well, the students were responsive — but exhausted. They told me about their experiences writing the essay I had assigned. And then I was done for the day. The whole thing suddenly felt a just a little bit easier.
AND, get this — I spent the rest of the day getting ready for Wednesday. I stayed a little late and managed to finish my prep for Wednesday. So for the first time, I’m prepared for the next day’s class a whole day in advance. Wednesday, for the first time, I will not drive to work in a sweaty panic because of the last minute things I have to do. When I was driving home last night I was so high just at the thought that I was ready. I could hardly believe it. It seemed totally unreal. And it means that I have all day today to do my own work.
Which brings me to dum dum dum… ominous music … the dissertation.
Today, I get to jump back into the dissertation after at least a month away. (if I’m really honest with myself – it’s more like 2 or 3 months away). I’ve looked at it and talked about it since then, but I haven’t actually done anything with it. I’m a little anxious, but also a little excited. All this time away I’ve been reading other people’s dissertation blogs and am alternately depressed at how much progress they make in such little time and jealous that they have such good time management skills that they can juggle their own work with the rest of their lives so much better than I seem to be able to. Also, I must confess that there is a significant part of me that seriously doubts that these folk are real. Do you think they’re really telling the truth when they claim they have finished a chapter in 3 weeks? Inconceivable. And what about all those people out there who say they’re now “done.” Inconceivable. How is such a thing possible? It is completely, absolutely, and in all ways inconceivable. I totally believe that these oh-so-productive bloggers must be fronts for the evil dissertation alien botulism devils, (or perhaps flying monkeys) whose job it is to make the rest of us feel inadequate because of how little work we get done. Maybe inconceivable doesn’t mean what I think it means. Or maybe they aren’t using the same wind I am using.
Anyway, I digress with my evil dissertation alien botulism devil theory. The point is, is that today I get to do some of my own work.
Yesterday I came across a list that I had written down last year to help myself deal with my dissertation angst – it was a list of reasons why I didn’t want to finish. High on the list was that I didn’t know what else I would do — that I had been a graduate student my whole adult life. I didn’t know what came next for me and couldn’t envision myself in any other space than in the dissertating graduate student space. It was interesting to see that this thing that I was using to hold myself back is no longer there. I know what comes next — I am a college professor. I have a new space to be in – and within that space there is no room for an unfinished dissertation. It SO is time for me to move into the next step, without this burden holding me back.
So maybe, hopefully, today when I sit down to work, I will realize that I have crossed a dissertation threshold and that this time, I am ready to finish it.