Thoughts on a Dissertation

I have been, of late, really trying to decide if finishing my PhD is an exercise in futility, or actually something I want to do. Yes, yes, there is that small matter of the student loans, and dragging my child to California, the dissolution of my marriage, and all of that.

And of course, there is the simple fact that indeed, I do love teaching. I love teaching in all its messy, frustrating, and wonderful glory. I love watching a student’s eyes light up when they finally ‘get’ something, when something sparks their interest and they’re off and running. I love telling stories about the past that connect, in real ways, to the lives we live today.

But then there’s the other side, the side that doesn’t care what the dimensions of a manuscript are, or how many archives it’s in, or what the marginalia tells us about it. The one that feels like a failure every time I don’t turn out the perfect paragraph on the first try, the best chapter ever, the dissertation that changes the face of my field. The person who doesn’t want to disappoint my mother, my daughter, myself, but at this point, doesn’t care if it’s a good dissertation, just a done one (and yes, the old saw is true, but apparently, there’s a level of ‘good’ which I have yet to attain).

And then there’s the reality that there’s a shortage of jobs, and at the end of June, I don’t know where I am going to live for a month while I teach summer session. Where the cats will be — because we all know The D will never forgive me if Oxy and Lucky aren’t part of our family anymore. And the sheer fear there, well, I have to acknowledge it. But at the same time, I am well aware of the fact that I’ve been ignoring all these things, stymied by fear so much that I’m not doing what I need to be doing to get out of here, to get this thing done, and to get myself, and my family, into a good space.

Published in: on March 1, 2010 at 9:27 pm  Leave a Comment  

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