so long 2010…don’t let the door hit you in the ass on the way out

2010 is ending, and none too soon for so many people I know, myself included.  It seemed to be a year filled with change, and while some of that change may turn out to be for the best (trite, perhaps, but true), it was not easy.  Medical emergencies, surprising and hurtful news, the end of several long term relationships…rapid changes were everywhere.

For myself, I moved from the place I had called home for over 8 years, two jobs I loved, and a plethora of friends who were close not only emotionally, but physically (in one case, right next door) to a place …well, let’s put it this way:  I spend a hell of a lot of time with my parents and go days without phone calls, and the nearest Trader Joe’s is over an hour’s drive away.  And yet…it’s not been all bad.  I have  job that I love more every day, a boss I would wish on everyone I love, and most importantly, not only am I once again living with my daughter after 2 years of living apart, but I am close to my grandfather, whom I adore.  And my parents, who aren’t getting any younger, are also close by.  I like having family around.

The change was hard, and I still have trouble reconciling myself with living in a congressional district which elected someone endorsed by Sarah Palin.  My savings are gone, and I’ve had to humble myself to the point of accepting food stamps to feed us.    But in some ways, I’ve become a better person.  I’m much more patient with my daughter, and myself, and I’m much more self-reliant than I thought I was.  In fact, I feel like I’ve been given something of a new start, however rudely and abruptly it happened.  Maybe I needed the kick in the ass.  And maybe, just maybe, there’s still a little piece of me who resents the way in which it happened.  But water under the bridge, right?

I look forward to 2011 with some hope, some trepidation, and the knowledge that yes, I do need to buy some long underwear.

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Published in: on December 31, 2010 at 11:43 pm  Leave a Comment  

why I am seriously considering not finishing my dissertation

So, I am seriously considering not finishing my dissertation.  And here’s why.

My advisor, whom I adore and respect greatly, has decided that my language skills are not up to the task.  I had a friend help me translate a document, and have checked my translations against other translations when available, but they are still not good enough.  He also wants me to track down obscure texts and journal articles to support a single sentence which is truly tangential to the main point of my argument.  For instance, I note that one of the documents is a compilation of three others, all of which I mention, but now he wants me to go find all of those (one of which is only available from a library in France) and read them.  All for one sentence.

Money.  I am dead broke, adjuncting, and trying to raise a kid on half the money I used to make TA’ing.  I would have to beg, borrow, or sell almost everything I have of value to come up with the money for this next quarter.  As per the above, why bother?  It would be money that would just go to waste.  I already owe thousands in student loan debt, and I would not take the last 8 years back for anything, but frankly, do I want to be this broke?  I adjunct and work on my dissertation.  The jobs here are sparse enough, but most are full time.  Two classes, plus a full time job, plus a teenager equals no time for dissertating.  So it’s either stress about money or stress about words.  In this world, sadly enough, it’s about money.

The whole idea of a monograph that will somehow become my first book is outdated, outmoded, and frankly, pointless.  No one other than someone else writing an equally pointless dissertation will EVER look at what I’ve written.  I’d rather go into a classroom and help a student learn something than slave over words that no one will ever read.  Is that vain?  Perhaps.  But it rings true to me.  The effort, time, and stress I put into this thing will never pay off.  My daughter’s childhood, my creativity…hell, dinner gets washed aside for something that will sit on a shelf for years collecting dust.  Does reading some obscure article in French make me a better teacher?  A better scholar?  I think not.  I have heard that dissertations are just a hoop.  But then why do we not only make the hoop so damned high and light it on fire, but set more and more and more and more flaming hoops in front of it.  Why do we perpetuate it?

Did I slack too much?  Perhaps.  Did I make mistakes along the way?  Absolutely.  Did I focus on teaching and neglect my research?  Oh, yes.  Very much so.  But teaching is what I do, it’s what I love, it’s what makes my heart sing.  Writing this dissertation?  It makes me grouchy, pissy, tense, stressed, and miserable.  It makes me cry on a regular basis.  It has made me throw up more than once.  It is the bane of my existence.  For a while there, I wanted to finish just to finish, just to put those fancy letters after my last name.  But in the end, is it worth the tears, the frustration, and the stress?  I really truly do not know.  I can’t imagine that it is.

Published in: on December 6, 2010 at 12:50 pm  Comments (3)