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.

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