This month has been one of the oddest in a while. Since returning to Washington, it took over three weeks for me to be assigned someone to research with (as I ended up not having to teach to get my stipend for another six weeks :), which left me with spare time very much focused on one little task: the dissertation proposal. I’m not so much of a one-task kind of girl; it kind of turns me a bit obsessive. Plus, turning the dissertation exam into a real bonified chapter-by-chapter sketch of the dissertation turned out to be a much bigger job than expected. Despite the shiny ‘distinction’ from the exam, I found it hard to refocus and map out how I’d like to carry out the project at large.
As one moves from undergrad to grad, grad to instructor, instructor to abd (all but dissertation) and one no longer has classes or guidance, more and more of the academic legwork is done alone. Yes, you might have advisors, but they don’t hold your hand as they once might have. I’ve found that one of the most difficult challenges to ascending the ranks in Ph.D. life is the autonomy and independence required of your thought process. Basically you have no courses, maybe teach or research with someone but not on your work but theirs, and you are meant to be an expert in something that your committee may not be. Some advisors are more hands on than others, but I’ve found mine to be very laissez faire– HANDS OFF. Whenever I come to them with questions, they simply tell me not to worry. Maybe I should trust my own capacities a bit more at this point, but I still see myself as a grad student and not an ‘independent researcher.’ Perhaps my time in Brazil will push me towards that title a bit more- talk about independent.
Speaking of Brazil, we have about three-ish weeks until it all goes down. I defend on the 15th of February, we move out on the 20th of February, and we fly out of the States on the 24th of February. Insanity!! It’s coming sooo soon. Until the 15th, I will continue my steady path of research, my own and a prof’s (they’ve assigned me someone now so my days are a bit more structured). I feel a touch of melancholy with regard to leaving our lovely steal-of-a one bedroom and at times wish that we could just stay put here and nestle in even more than we already have. I like our location, like our friends, like the convenience of gym/bank/Whole Foods/post office all within a very short walking distance. As I may have pondered about here earlier, my feelings about flying the coup have altered significantly as I’ve transitioned to 30+; I’m just not as gung-ho about it as I once was. sigh.
There are moments, however, when I think of passing my defense and then fast-forwarding mentally through the move—-ziiiiip!— with me then sitting on the plane with a glass of champagne in my hand. I know then that it’ll feel huge. HUGE. to be there. So, in my weak moments, when I’m tired of reading or translating or going over my proposal for the 10000 time, I imagine how that cold glass of champagne will feel against my three fingers. Then I imagine the bubbles rising up rapidly and the golden hue in which the entire glass is enveloped. I breathe a sigh of relief and think- We’ll get there kiddos, we always do.
With love from a late January Miss C