Wednesday, June 29, 2011

what graduate school taught me

I thought the next time I would post on here would be after I had submitted everything. But even I need a break. I have things to do tomorrow and Thursday that will keep me from my thesis. But then Friday night after work, I have three things left to do on it: fix my citations (there are seven left that I need to confirm), add my "figures" (the photos), add page numbers, and format the whole thing. Then I will send along my final draft with a big sigh.

In the meantime, I have been thinking about graduate school, about what it has cost me and what I gained. This idea was prompted by a $30 parking ticket I received while I was at the university, taking care of some of my graduation details. Eh, at this point $30 is nothing compared to the entire degree (not just the money spent on classes, nor the time spent schooling/reading/writing/studying when in theory I could have been working, nor the hours of my time devoted to the work). I did realize there have been a few things I have learned, thanks to graduate school:

1. An advanced degree does not automatically make you smart.
2. Bureaucracy is everywhere; universities just happen to provide excellent examples of them.
3. There is a point when the amount of coffee you drink will not counter the effects of your lack of sleep.
4. You don't think you like coffee? Wrong.
5. "Good enough" generally happens when a paper is due within the half-hour and you still have to find a way to get to campus... and park.
6. Showers are over-rated. Just don't sit too close to classmates (but that time you saved not showering gave you a few extra minutes of sleep, reducing your required coffee intake).
7. Procrastination is inevitable so incorporate it into your plans.
8. Three-point ellipses serve a different purpose in writing than four-point ellipses.
9. Question people with letters after their name, unless they are actively saving your life. After you are stable, go ahead and question them, too.
10. The Academe is one microcosm within this entire universe. I survived it. And now plan to live my life to its fullest, pocketing the knowledge I gained in grad school, but knowing that is not what defines me. Unfortunately, it took nearly four years of schooling (eight, if you count undergraduate work) to gain that invaluable piece of knowledge.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Please Stand By

I have not fallen off of the planet entirely. Not yet, anyway. I am days away from completing my thesis, jumping over this hurdle, washing my hands of all things researching and writing (for a while, anyway). I am moving forward and every day provides so many ups and downs, sometimes it takes everything I've got to not just sit down and stop. Stop thinking, moving, working, smiling, breathing, everything. But I have overcome each of those temptations so far. I am so close! Hopefully, the next time I post, it will be a "yipee!" or "woo hoo!"


Monday, June 13, 2011

pressing on

"Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus." Phil. 3:13-14

I very easily get consumed by my "now" and forget my life. My stress levels in recent weeks (well, months) have broken the stress-level-meters several times. I take on too much (always), don't ask for help, and can't figure out why I struggle so. But I have a choice in attitude. I have a choice in what I do, too.

This morning I woke to an email from my thesis advisor that told me I am very close, but not quite finished. She let me know that unless I had a solid 3-4 days-worth of writing within the next week, I probably won't meet the filing deadline. She will look into getting an extension, but is leaving on vacation next week and won't be back until the middle of July, hence why "time is a critical factor." Good Morning, Monday! I am happy to greet you, too!

While the email disappointed me, it shook me up a little, too. "Time is a critical factor." I had made it such a critical factor, it has literally made me sick, wiped out, run down, and barely functioning. That is not how this works! I am trying to find balance. A 3-4 day stretch devoted to writing would be a luxury. It is a luxury that, unfortunately, I do not have. I have today off, but between cleaning my old house, dropping stuff off at the recycling place and the goodwill, throwing on a few more layers of paint, and doing this in a fashion that I don't hurt my back any more than it already is, I might be lucky if I am finished by 9 o'clock tonight. But I press on.

This thing will get done. And maybe it won't be in the arbitrary deadline I set for myself to meet an August graduation date. But I still plan on having the writing portion complete by the end of June (essentially a few days after the deadline). Grad school will officially be over but the school won't acknowledge it until December. And you know what? Life will continue, time will march on.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

I have easily killed three whole trees

With the amount of paper I have printed my revisions on, over and over again, I have knocked out several trees. And ink plants.*

But I can't stop now. I keep writing, tidying up, revising, printing, reading, and writing some more. I am still doing all of the annoying, tedious work of fixing citation notes and pagination. I just want to lie down, fall asleep, and NOT WAKE UP FOR EIGHT DAYS. Then eat a snack SO I CAN SLEEP FOR EIGHT MORE DAYS.

My stress level and exhaustion are also tied into moving into a new place (by next weekend) and implementing seasonal training at work (today was Day 1; I have 3 more energy-filled days to pump into the classroom). So, basically, if I live through the next two weeks, I will have conquered three of my most major things I will face this year (conceivably). I just have to make it through the next two weeks! Alive! Ahhhhhhhh!

P.S. I still have no guarantee that my professor will actually sign off on all of my hard work. But I sure am going to try.

*Don't worry, I recycle.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

my carrots

I have an hour and a half of my self-made goal to finish the rewrites of my last chapter. This does not mean that I will be completely finished with my thesis. Indeed, I will still have to finish my citation work, bibliography, and all of the front matter. And expect one more set of revisions for two chapters from my professor (hopefully, minor changes). But I have told myself that if I submit this chapter in time, I can watch a movie tonight.

Ultimately, I look forward to having free time. I think that is why I am trying so hard to finish this right now. I have had lots of borrowed free time these past few years (not that I regret it, I have just exceeded my limit). My current biggest carrot: running whenever I want. I am running Ragnar this year and cannot wait. So a movie is my small, dangling carrot. A race is my ginormous one, waiting for me to be completely complete.

I also look forward to guilt-free naps.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

this is my everest

My favorite whiteboard helps me think:

I am currently staring at a blank Word document. I realized that a lot of the advice that my advisor gave me required me opening brand new research. I don't have time! I have more than enough research! I have been researching for years! It does not take this long.

So I made a very specific outline of my last chapter, clarifying my scope. I have made notes of said outline and must finesse what I have written to fit that outline. That means deleting some paragraphs (pages-worth of writing at times) and getting more specific about what I want to say. I don't have time to do more research. I need to have this finished in T-minus 20 days.

Now I am just trying to motivate myself to do this again. It is hard for me to not just break down in tears and cry "I give up! This is dumb!" But I started this journey with every intention to finish what I started. I will make it to the top, I will summit my Everest. Just promise me that you will shed a tear of joy when you hear that I actually graduated, OK? It will make up for all of the other types of tears I shed over the course of my last four years in graduate school.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011


"We are not interested in the possibilities of defeat; they do not exist." -Queen Victoria

I submitted my "Intent to Graduate" form today. That required paying for my thesis copies AND getting my thesis advisor signing the form. I am not fooling around, I will graduate. That document sealed the deal. I revised my second chapter yesterday. I have a few more revisions to make on the chapter and will resubmit for MORE revisions. Then will finish that third chapter by this weekend. Then more revising revising revising.

I also have to remember that there is no crying in baseball; I will just take what ever comments I receive back and keep going until the very end (June 24th). I will graduate in August.

I will



Watch me.