Thursday, June 5, 2008

We Interrupt this Rock-Pushing for A Short Commercial Break

Argh! I hate dissertations, and deadlines, and chapters, and mid-afternoon slumps, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, I hate how intensity of work seems to have no effect on the amount left to do. You push the rock up a hill for a couple hours, it rolls over your foot to flomp back down to the bottom, and you call it a day. You get up extra early and really throw your back into heaving that rock up the hill and slave at it and slave at it for hours and put your heart in it, and it slips out of your hands and flomps back down to the bottom. Gah.

In other words, when I devote a couple hours before lecture to the chapter, I can turn a lump of crap into about a paragraph before I quit. When I spend the whole entire day at it ---- working, not even the midafternoon-dazed-stare thing! ---- I produce about a paragraph from a lump of crap. At a page a day, I'll need a time machine to go back and enlist my high school self into starting in on this project. Luckily she had lots of free time and slacked off, playing cards in class.

In other news, complaining about the camera repair people appears to be like blogging the lost --- I came home and there was a box! With my camera in it! Excellent. So I will be able to take pictures of people sitting there, looking bored in our funny suits and hats. Good times.

In other other news, I need to get this chapter into acceptable shape before my advisor flees the country ---- damn migratory academics! They flock to all the cool European cities and archives and conferences for molting season, where they converge in large flocks to preen and say "grawk!" I don't know what grad students did before radio tracking collars ---- how would you know it's even your advisor coming back in the rainy season? They say a grad can pick out the call of their advisor from a flock of thousands ---- "Where's your chapter, grawk!" ---- but I am suspicious of such easy biological explanations. I prefer to ascribe it to aliens. Or sunspots.

So yeah: the deadline. It's immediate, if not sooner. I am just expecting a miracle to happen, or perhaps a rift in the space-time continuum. Either or. I'm not picky.

Complicating this problem even more (if you could say me procrastinating an immediate deadline is complicated; really it's not.) is the fact that party season is upon us. No, I'm not going to avoid going to a PhD graduation party for someone (including me) just for the silly reason that I haven't actually finished writing the dissertation yet! So I've got a couple this weekend, and then some in the middle of next week, and then a lot more. What? I only graduate once. Maybe we can make finishing my chapter part of a drinking game of some sort. I'm thinking a cross between "threeman" and "exquisite corpse," the game where the Surrealists passed around a poem and everyone wrote a piece without seeing the other pieces. Plus, my students' final projects are due at the very end of finals week. And graduation itself is right between their papers and when grades are due. I don't know how that will work itself out either. Maybe I'll just make my high school self grade them while she's at it.

Ok, great! I have everything all planned out for between now and graduation! The sunspots will call the aliens, who will rip open the space-time continuum and allow me to capture and enslave my high school self, pressing her into service on finishing my dissertation and doing all my grading. Easy peasy. Thanks people ---- talking to you-all always straightens things out.


Earnest English said...

Here's to you finding an even newer version of yourself who writes paragraphs and doesn't care about them being perfect or decent or anything but passable. This REALLY helped me.

I've also been thinking about what a dissertation does for you. Besides graduating (which unfortunately entails the downside of both being out of work and not being able to get anymore student loans -- they even expect one to pay them back!!!) and being called doctor (which is nothing to sneeze at, I can tell you, Almost-Doctor Cog), getting a dissertation done is a major milestone because forever ever you can remind yourself that no matter how procrastinatory and scattered, no matter how many projects you've started that have never gone anywhere, you did start and complete that book, that giant dissertation. This reminds me that I really have done something with my life so far. Being able to remind myself that I've done something this big and seemingly impossible makes it worth doing, for me. You're next. So do what you have to do to cross the finish line. When you do, we're all here to pour alcohol on you.

Sisyphus said...

EE, you rock!

But can we pour water or something on me and save the alcohol for drinking instead? It might get kinda sticky otherwise.

Earnest English said...

Oh, I suppose! But it's not as fun!