Archive for the ‘Dissertation’ Category


P.S. I’m now unemployed.

May 20, 2009

I don’t know if its the dope or the therapy or the sunshine or the what, but last week, I was able to squeeze out the first bit of academic writing I’ve done in…an embarrassingly long time.

It was only a 250 word abstract, and it was primarily because the conference for which I wrote it is being held in Puerto Rico, but still!  It was directly related to my dissertation, and it might have a whisper of a hint of a notion of a seed of an idea that would be useful to the larger project.

Which I have decided that I have to finish.  Again.  Because…well, because this is all I really ever wanted to do.  Sick and stupid, perhaps, but completely true.  (Well, except for that period of time around the age of 7 where I was committed to both marine biology and primatology.)  I don’t know how I’m going to do it, since I feel like I’m standing in the middle of minefield:  safe for the moment, but afraid to take a step in any direction for fear that I’ll get my “legs” blown off (again).

The “good part” is that I have another project to practice on, so to speak:  an essay for an edited collection that has nothing whatsoever to do with my diss.  Baby steps, training wheels, et cetera.  I am not terribly interested in this project any longer, but there are more reasons to do it than not, and so…check in next week to see if I still have legs.


People Need to Chill the Fuck Out about Swine Flu.

April 27, 2009

This post has nothing to do with flu, I’m just already sick to death about the fear-mongering going on the MSM and it was either type that here, or yell it out the window of my apartment.


Monday is therapy day, which is yet another reason to dislike it.  If you needed one.  The last two weeks have been especially bad, as I’m realizing that several months into this, I don’t feel one whit closer to feeling more hopeful about my prospects or abilities, neither do I think that I’ve really figured out what it is that I’m afraid of, or concerned about, or whatever it is that puts me on the edge of tears nearly any time I think too much about it, or dare to sit down and look through files.

I do feel like I’ve managed to wall off my school/diss work into a little corner of my life, and mostly ignore it, in favor of the things that are pretty good.  However, that crammed little corner, which is black and bloated with poison, keeps bleeding over into the rest of my life.  Weekly therapy is where I drain that emotional abcess, so to speak, but it hasn’t been healing.  While that is a graphic and gross metaphor, it feels spot on.

I’d rather have swine flu.


Blue Monday

April 20, 2009

Today is a grey, crappy, rainy, blustery day.  As if my internal life were reflected in the atmosphere, you might say.

Had myself a blustery chat with Ye Olde Therapiste, wherein I talked about:

1.  Robot Boy’s grandmother, who has taken quite a decline recently, prompting him to schedule a quick trip to visit with her this coming weekend,

2.  Which has also put any vacation plans–to Costa Rica or anywhere else–on hold until we know what’s up with Grandma.

3.  My post today at Harpyness on not being sorry, and yet how I’m completely consumed with guilt and remorse and constantly feel sorry both for and about what seem like my unending failures, and

4.  Needing to meet both with my dissertation director, so as to more-or-less “come clean;” and the placement officer/career counselor dude, so as to be assured that the best I will be able to do for the fall is tape together a number of adjunct positions and thus earn a subsistence wage; and not feeling confident that I could do either of those things without having a humiliating meltdown.

It was not pleasant.

Afterwards, I went up to school for a quick errand, and saw that my diss director was in his office, and although 49% of me was thinking “Fly, you fool! Flyyyyyyyy!”, 51% said “Good god, woman, get in there and get it over with!”  So I went in there and said really all I trusted myself to say: “Well, the long and short of it is I’m burned out, and I don’t know how to get un-burned out.” I didn’t get into details of how long I’ve been struggling, how little I’ve produced in recent months, or the therapy and meds, but the cat was out of the bag.

I think I kind of shocked him (to the extent that he can be shocked), although I can’t be sure.  He paused, expressed sympathy (“I’m sorry,” and “it happens to all writers”) and then advised me to:

1.  Keep a scheduled, dedicated writing time (just an hour), even if I don’t write a thing, just to sit and think is necessary;

2. Try a different angle–a new section or chapter, a new and weird idea, just to see what happens;

3. Take a break–but not too long, as not-writing tends to breed more not-writing (and my life is a testament to that bit of wisdom); and

4. Take care not to strangle it (which is what I’m doing when I’m not ignoring its ensuing gasps for breath).

Nothing revolutionary, but true all the same.  He encouraged me to keep with it, that struggle is part of the process, that even if you’re not cranking out pages, or only cranking out shite, if you sit with it, work is happening in your brain, and if you can get out of its way, so to speak, it will come.  We talked about the undeniable crapulence of the job market, and he said that “slowing down a bit” (HA!  HA HA HAHAHHHHHAAAAAA!) wasn’t a terrible idea.  He assured me of my ability (or rather, he tried to, I can’t say I’m sold on that) and the worthiness of my subject matter, and asked me to set a time to meet with him next month and see how things are going.

I’m not sure what I’m going to do.


Be Careful What You Wish For

February 12, 2009

I went to my last session and pretty much said what I wrote last time about not knowing what I was there for, and I hate that going totally ruins my whole fucking day, and just wanting something concrete to do, and I can’t believe I’m paying so much, and blah-blee-bloo.  It wasn’t confrontational, but it was pretty naked.

The result:  I have an assignment to write the therapist a 3-page “letter” to her describing what Chapter 3  is going to be about (I have written nothing apart from my prospectus and some random production notes on it), and my fee was adjusted.  Still expensive, but slightly less-so.  I am appreciative of her offer.

I haven’t started this letter.  I don’t know if I will.  Or rather, if I can.  I sit down with pen and paper and just stare.  I don’t know what to do.


What is Therapy FOR?

February 5, 2009

I’ve been to this therapist person three times now, and I’ve never been sure why I’m there.  I’ve talked/cried endlessly, but it feels displaced.  I go in, puke (emotionally speaking), walk out, and everything stays the same.  I don’t have any new insights. I don’t feel better.  I don’t write. 

She has said, a number of times now, that she doesn’t want to “focus too closely” on the disseration/writing issue, but I thought that was THE issue.  I didn’t decide to go because I need to individuate from my parents, or overcome my childhood habit of food-hoarding (done and done), I went because I NEED TO WRITE THIS GODFORFUCKINGSAKEN DISSERTATION.

If there is a bigger problem “behind” the dissertation issue, it’s that I’ve always felt like my worth is based on my accomplishments, and that nothing I accomplish is ever sufficient.  That’s a problem, sho nuff, so help me fix that.  Give me something constructive to do that is different from what I’ve been doing.

I have been feeling a little better, but that’s more about the response I/we’ve been getting to the new blog, and sense that something I do/think/write might matter to someone in any way at all.  Therapy just has me feeling baffled.

So how long do I go on?  When do I draw the line?  Maybe the point is to find therapy so unhelpful and frustratingly time- and money-wasting (and god, the money–would it be better to put that towards weekly massages, or a vacation fund, or this?) that I finally just say “fuck it, just writing the diss is better than dealing with this bullshit.”



January 31, 2009

So, The Pursuit of Harpyness is up, and is drawing quite a bit of attention; it’s gotten more hits/comments/kerfuffle in less than 2 days than anything else I’ve ever written, ever, I imagine.  (Not that my stuff is specifically what’s driving traffic, but you get the point.)

The good news is that it has me writing, however unsatisfactory that writing may be to me.  Some is better than none, right?

The bad news is that it is taking time from my writing here (which might be just as well, as this has–particularly recently–been mostly whining), as more importantly, from whatever mental/emotional energy I might turn towards writing the diss.

Which, if I’m going to pick up again (still TBD), I’ve realized I’ll have to abandon the mess that is Zombie Chapter 4 and start afresh with New Chapter 2:  on “history” and nostalgia.  Which means I will have spent months with pretty much nothing to show (to my committee or myself) for it.  No completion, no satis-fak-shon.  And I need some goddamn satis-fak-shon. 

So, what to do?  Thoughts?


Signs from the Cosmos?

January 21, 2009

In the last few days, I’ve happened across two articles that have just about put the final nail in the coffin of my academic aspirations.  You might have read Stanley Fish’s NYT editorial “The Last Professor” already, but there was a short but nauseating article published in yesterday’s Villiage Voice by Stacy Cowley that you probably didn’t catch.

If I weren’t already doubting my chances, my choices, my self, these might bruise me a little.  As it is:  why haven’t I quit yet?