I am working on my dissertation. By this last sentence, what I mean to say is, my house is perfectly cleaned and sparkling. I am a master at procrastination and avoiding my computer is my new spiritual gift. I live alone, so the only mess I have in my house is my own, no one else to blame but me. At this moment, every bit of laundry has been washed, dried, folded, hung, or placed neatly in the drawers. All the dishes are clean, the floors mopped, and the mail sorted with all bills paid. I can usually live with some dust as long as things are picked up, but currently, a lover would not be able to write poetry to me on my wood surfaces because I have even cleaned the dust and their friends the dust bunnies away. All of this cleaning aside, when people ask how the writing is going I tell them what they want to hear, “Great!”
I’m about halfway through, and my chapters are in my chair’s hands, and then will go to my committee for feedback. I am currently in the waiting game they didn’t tell us about when trying to prepare us for dissertation season. I don’t think that my chair is sitting by the computer waiting for my drafts like I am waiting for his responses. I circle my computer waiting for his reply emails, and now that emails find us on every device we have sometimes I am caught off guard getting ice cream or teaching a class when I have to stop everything to hang on his every word.
Speaking of word choices, I have learned to let some of them go. I wrote a beautiful sentence, “Without art, the banality of everyday realities would be unbearable.” You probably guessed that the sentence was a little heavy-handed and got cut. I have tossed whole pages. Apparently, there is not a prize for the longest dissertation when you trattled on for four pages in what your chair calls, “confusing and unclear writing.” I’m working on that logical stream of thinking that seems to come so easily to others.
This process is not the time-oriented structure I have had in my academic career up to this point. Even in the classes I teach students have noted that they enjoy the quick pace of the class. This dissertation process means that weeks or even months can go by before having something new to show my chair. Why does every email I send begin with, “I am sorry I took so long.”? So far, I have not put off writing that email for fear that he would be upset with me, but as I said earlier, I have a long winter to go, and that might be coming. My chair does write back, a fact that I am so grateful. I don’t think he is up late at night with the same anxiety I am, but his replies give the illusion that he cares. A few friends haven’t heard back from their chairs in a while and are stewing. Hello Professors, just email us back!
I am discovering many things about myself in this process. I am discovering myself as a scholar, and discovering that I am more of a whiskey drinker than a wine drinker, but that is for another post.
This blog chronicles my research in activist art and my life as a woman in academia.