Well. Here it is. The day of my defense.  A day I’ve been dreading for 13 years.  And I have to say, I’m not dreading it any less now that it is finally here.

I wish I could say that I was calm, relaxed, happy and/or prepared. I’m pretty sure I’m none of those things.  

I’m utterly convinced at this moment that I know absolutely nothing.  That everything I’ve written is total shit.  And that the minute I get into that room, all of my clothes will fall off, I’ll trip and land on my face, and then be attacked by flying monkeys.  At which point my committee will all sadly shake their heads and say to each other “We should have seen this coming.  Who else but a humiliated naked clumsy freak with such strange companions could have written such utter tripe?”  And then they’ll all laugh.   Either that or I’ll walk into the room and it won’t actually be my defense — instead they’ll ask me to start singing and then ridicule my abilities, outfit, personality, and lifestyle choices and then suddenly I’ll realize it was all being televised nationally.  (God, wouldn’t that be a new twist on a reality show, not American Idol, but American Academic… watch the terrified graduate students attempt to prove they’re actually smart and knowledgable! Maybe on the History Channel. Or PBS. But I digress…)

I’m a leeetle panicked right now because I’ve only read through 180 pages of the 320 page dissertation.  I thought that since it has been a while, I probably should be familiar with what I’m actually arguing.  Well, at least I’ll be familiar with half of what I’m actually arguing.  

Also, I have to prep some answers to the questions my chair said they’d ask: project’s trajectory, intellectual history of the project, where I see it fitting in the literature.  What I want to do with it.  That last one is a bit of a sticking point for me.  What do I want to do with it?  Put it in a strong box, lock it with a padlock, dip it in cement, and drop it off the nearest pier.  That’s what I want to do with it.  Somehow, though, I don’t think that’s what they’re looking for as an answer to that question. 

I’m hoping that this will be a lot like childbirth — I’ll be scared until the moment of, but once it starts happening I’ll just go with it and somehow manage to survive.  Although I do hope there’ll be a lot less screaming and far fewer stitches.  

Well, I’m gonna go shower, bake some of Stewgad’s famous cookies on the principle that nobody can be mean if they have a cookie in their hand, try to skim through the rest of the dissertation and sketch out some answers to those questions they’re going to ask for sure. 

And can I just say, thanks in advance to all of you for your overwhelming positive presence and good wishes over the last few years as I’ve chronicled this journey.  You all have picked me up in bad moments, reassured me in times of crisis, and helped me laugh at myself when I desperately needed to. Your comments have been invaluable and have touched me more than you can know.  So, thanks, guys!


8 responses to “D-Day

  1. Good luck, Stewgad! You will be fabulous! I’m very sure of it. You are so smart, so eloquent, so witty! I know because I’ve been reading your blog for a long time. Walk into that room saying to yourself, I am awesome! Because you are!!

  2. Good luck! I am trying to finish my reader’s draft by March 15th so I can defend my diss. in mid-May, and you are inspiring to me. People do finish, and you are the living proof that those of us still struggling (sometimes desperately!) need to see.

  3. Good luck today! I am sure that you will do great though. I have read your blog for a while – I don’t think I have ever left a comment. But I felt compelled to do so today – just to let you know that one random internet stranger that you don’t even know or care about believes in you.

  4. I don’t know how to feel about this, Stewgad. I’ve enjoyed this blog so much for so long, and now it will be over when you are done with this defense (and the occasionally interminable process of revisions and paperwork that may follow…maybe that will give me a chance to enter a 12-step program and reduce my dependency.) I hope you’ll still post once in a while.

  5. Good luck today! Big hugs to you.

    And if American Academic ever makes it to PBS. I imagine it would be a drama, not a comedy. I can never laugh at grad students, having gone through the process myself. I’m guessing your committee will feel the same way, too.

    Big hugs.

  6. Hope to hear the good news soon!

  7. Whoo hoo! Congrats, Dr. Stew. (got some intel from another source!)

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