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Done ... sort of.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

I've been AWOL the last week, but for a very good reason. As of yesterday morning, my dissertation is DONE and sent to my Ph.D. committee.

OK, "done" is a relative term. I still have to defend it on March 24th, make whatever changes my committee wants me to make after the defense, format it to the Graduate School's specifications and submit it by April 16th. Mostly, though, it's finished.

My sweetheart and I used to have a little exchange we'd do on the phone. He'd say, "When are you going to be done with that @#$% dissertation???" And I'd reply, "Oh, tomorrow, probably." To which he'd grumble, "Well ... OK then. Just get it done." We've been doing this for months, years now.

So ... now it's done. To paraphrase Inigo Montoya from "The Princess Bride": "Is very strange. I have been in the dissertation business so long, now that it's over, I don't know what to do with the rest of my life."

Yeah, I know sort of what to do ... keep researching, keep writing, look for a post-graduation job. But it's still an odd feeling for something that's been looming on the horizon for so many years suddenly be receding in my rear-view mirror.

I'd thought I'd feel like partying. I'd thought I'd want to shout from the rooftops, hang from the chandelier, dance on the bar. But really it's still just starting to sink in ... and I have some conflicting feelings. Some of what I feel is cautious relief - like when you've just survived a near-miss on the freeway, and your heart is still pounding but you start to dare to breathe again, still not quite sure it's OK yet. Some of what I feel is unexpected sadness - like when summer camp is over and you know you'll never be in just that place with just those people again, even though you got stung by a bee and some of the older kids teased you and you called your mom and told her you hated it there. A lot of it is bewilderment - finishing something that, despite its unpleasantness, was comfortably familiar, and now facing a giant question mark of a future. Lots of feelings that haven't had time to mellow and resolve yet.

But I really AM happy and proud to finally be able to point to this concrete, real THING that has been so nebulous and uncertain for so long. Now it really exists. I did it. What happens next is anybody's guess.
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