Thresholds

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.

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6 responses to “Thresholds

  1. Congrats!! Glad you’re prepped ahead of time. I am, of course, checking out blogs when I should be preparing for my own class in 25 minutes, but I can talk about Birth of a Nation, blah, blah, blah without much prep.

    You’ll see from a recent post of mine that most of my chapters took 6 months to a year to write, so 3 weeks is INSANE. I have an (annoying) psychology colleague who keeps telling me he wrote his (supposedly award winning) dissertation in a weekend. Yeah, right. See, I have DOCUMENTS. They take time to read, organize, analyze, cite, etc.

    Okay, enough avoidance…time to actually prep. Enjoy your day of work!

  2. I had noticed that you hadn’t really mentioned the big “D” in a while. I figured it was because of the new job. And I think I was subconsciously using you as an “excuse” for why I haven’t been working on my diss. lately (classes just started last week here)!

    But I’m glad to see you’re going to get some time to work on it now. I hope I will get to work on mine this week, too.

  3. Some pieces of writing appear to go quickly, but there are YEARS of work supporting that process. How do we “count” the amount of time spent working on a document, anyhow? Do we count the time spent completing a chapter from the day we start our proposals? Or the day we stop analyzing data? Or the day we actually get the paper published? Depending on how you count it, I’ve either been working on this 30 page article I’ve been in the middle of for about… either 3 and a half years (start of data collection) or 9 months (when I first started outlining the actual article) or 6 weeks (when I first started composing pages). I’m far from done with it… but I don’t know how to “count” how long it’s taken me to write it.

    I’m glad to hear about your threshold yesterday. What a good feeling that must have been!!

  4. I like the evil alien botulism theory!

    You know, I don’t think it had ever dawned on me that part of my dissertation avoidance might have to do with fear of the next step, but I read that and was like, “D’oh! Of course! How could I have missed that!” I mean, I’m a college professor too, but not in the same way I’ll be a professor when I’m, you know, a doctor with a TT job.

    So thanks for that.

  5. Woo-hoo! On getting your prep done in advanced. I know that is a good feeling.

    3 weeks to write a chapter…I wouldn’t say that is unreasonable. I guess it depends on your field. I find that I get on writing binges and I get a lot done in short amount of time. Then again, other times it seems to take me forever to write 3 pages.

  6. Sorry for the late reply to your comments – I’ve been swamped.

    Scriv – glad that my neuroses are shared, and that in the sharing of them, I’ve helped someone else!

    Ragey – I think I’m just such a slow writer — mainly because of the time I put into avoiding the writing, that I get frustrated when I see people doing it quickly and doing it well. Plus, it is a lot easier to be jealous of someone else’s good work habits than to improve your own bad ones!

    B* – I’ve even had to give up on thinking about how long things have been taking — It’s just too darned depressing.

    And that Threshold Crossing was Temporary — it hasn’t happened again since. But, it did feel good while it lasted!

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