Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Breaking up is hard to do

I said in my post yesterday that I finished my PhD recently. Well, that's true and not true. (See, you can say complicated things like that when you're a doctor of philosophy.) I have successfully defended my thesis, and I have (sort of) started a postdoctoral fellowship. I have not yet submitted the final draft of my thesis to the dissertation office, and therefore my thesis committee has not yet signed off on the paperwork, and I have not yet graduated. It's the graduate school version of limbo.

You would think that I would have made tracks to finish the damn thesis ASAP and get this degree over with. You certainly wouldn't think that I would let it drag on until the end of January. And yet, here we are.

The problem is that my former advisor has to actually read and approve my thesis. He read the middle three chapters once, back before my defense, and made a few small comments about those. He read a very early version of the first and last chapters, but they've changed dramatically since then, and he knows that. He's had several versions, but has yet to read or comment on any of them. I do not know how to get him to read the damn thing and give it the ok. I may have to camp out in front of his office. Which would be extremely weird, since talking to him, even via email, is very awkward.

It turns out that finishing a PhD, especially when you don't get along with your advisor but probably even under the best of circumstances, is remarkably like breaking up with a boyfriend. We've had the thundering fights, ending with me in tears and him furious. We've given each other the silent treatment, we've done the insincere "it's not you, it's me" bit, and the well-known "let's stay friends" thing. We're done. But he still has my favorite sweatshirt, and we have to get together in some neutral location to swap belongings. In the language of advice columnists everywhere, I lack closure.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Revisiting the Possibilities

It's been a while since I wrote a blog post. A long while. In the intervening time, I managed to get engaged, buy a condo, move twice, and finish my PhD. You'd think writing a couple of paragraphs about any one of these events wouldn't have been beyond me.

And yet... and yet, there's something about the last stretch of a PhD that narrows the range of things one can manage to do. Getting dressed and out of the house is actually a reasonable goal to set for the morning; if a lunch is packed, that's a sign of an overachiever.

I always thought it was just me, and that I'm a particularly slothful and incapable person. But then I graduated, and while I didn't have the huge tidal wave of feeling I had expected, there was a definite sense of possibilities unfolding. I can start to do other things. I can, in fact, get on with the rest of my life.

Now, I acknowledge that it's the 26th of January and so far, "getting on with the rest of my life" has largely consisted of recovering from the 'flu and managing to vacuum the entire apartment in one weekend. That may not seem like a huge expansion to the casual reader. It is, though, and just to make sure the whole world grasps my tiny forays into the rest of my life, the blog is back.