Tuesday, January 18, 2005

What I Am Afraid Of

Well, I'm not sure there's a precise answer to that question, or at the very least it is a convoluted mess of an answer, but I'll give it a stab.

Although it's not just fear. There's plenty of disgust and laziness in there too. Lack of discipline. BUT...I have been getting up between 8 and 9AM, exercising for 30 minutes to an hour, and then cleaning the house like mad. I'm getting ahead on my Spring cleaning. And it's not just procrastination...I really could not live with how dirty the house had gotten. And as soon as I'm done getting things to a livable level (I'm very affected by my surroundings, they need to be orderly and clean for me to feel right), the time I spend in the mornings doing that I'll spend writing. That's the plan, right?
But something inside me resists.

OK...so there's fear of WHAT NEXT? I finish this stage of my life, and then there is THE REST OF IT. This might be a shitty place, but it's really familiar, and there's some comfort in that. And I have a very open schedule. It always seems like I have too much to do...just living seems to take up an inordinate amount of time (I'm talking about maintenance activities like eating and sleeping)...but I don't have to be anywhere 9 to 5. I TA, and at the beginning of the semester it's not too much work, less than 10 hours per week. I should take advantage, because that changes to up to 40-60 hrs a week later in the semester. Which would be fine if it were the only thing I had to do. But I digress....
I'm afraid.... Am I afraid it will suck?
Man, I think I'm past that. I don't give a shit how it comes out. But then my committee seems to. I don't want to write it how they'd like me to write it. That's another wall. We agree on some things. But goddamnit, this is something I fucking hate about grad school. A certain term is NO LONGER "IN." I'm not supposed to use it. Mind you, I had used it with a footnote saying that I was using it provisionally while I tried questioning it and approaching it in a more useful manner. But they didn't care. It just set off the little alarm bell. It's not my concept they have a problem with, it's the word itself. I'm wanting to make it mean something else, just because there really isn't a better damn word for it unless I made one up. In fact, when I ask them what term they would use they don't have a clue. Because it doesn't exist. They want me to come up with one, I guess. Well, that's what I am working up towards with the whole dissertation. But you can't go expecting to cross the bridge before it's built. Whatever they want from me, it feels like some kind of damn koan. Fuck, it would be COOL if what they wanted from me was a koan sorta exercise. But it's not like they have some kind of wisdom I'm just not seeing. I know their fucking game, I know exactly what they are thinking (I've been in grad school waaaaaaay too long), and it's STUPID. They seem excited about the things I think everyone is getting wrong, but the only way I can express them is to go my own way about it. I'm not that great of a writer. I have these ideas, and I think I can get them out, but I need them to make some room for me and give me the benefit of the doubt before jumping on ONE TERM. They don't see that the language is just a stepping stool...it's not THE THING ITSELF. All I can do is approximate, approach slowly. When I finished one chapter, they dug it. They had been against a lot of what I was trying to do with it, but they admitted when they saw the result that it came together. If they were just better listeners they could see that I know what the fuck I'm doing, I just need some freedom to do it how I want to. Which is not the ideal "academic writing" I guess.
It's that complex mix of feeling completely inadequate and yet like I know my shit all at the same time. I hate their world. I don't want to be a part of it. But I want my damned degree. It could help me get a job. And I deserve some sort of badge for the blood, sweat, and tears that I've put into this so far. I'm not talking about the blood, sweat, and tears of any of the actual school work. I'm talking about the emotional cost of being treated like you're worth nothing, the backstabbing, the general disgustingness of the high stakes academic career. Makes me wish I had gone to a small state school. Or is it the same as the big name private university?

I should never have started this PhD. I just did it as a safety. And now it's swallowed over 11 years of my life.

I haven't talked much about fear, have I? Right now I mostly feel hate.


Blogger pecheur said...

Great place for anyone to stop by and let off some steam about school. I LOVE IT (your blog that is). Sounds like my world, except I know you have 100 X the stress I have, and I am only doing a short Master's Thesis. This may confirm it for me. I don't need to even think about PhD work.

Hang in there and continue to be you.

9:37 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

just stop messing about in your head and finish it. once it is done, you will do other things, until it is done, do what you need to survive, and spend everything else getting it done. then... you can cope with other parts of life.

that's my advice, i'm going to take it myself starting next week.

11:18 PM  
Blogger pecheur said...

Thanks. I am inspired to get this darn thing done.

I need a good in the pants right now. I found out that my next due date is Feb. 1. I thought it was Feb 15. Oh well so goes life.

2:02 PM  
Blogger Porkorama said...

Thanks for the comments and encouragement!
Pecheur, how long does your thesis have to be? Ha ha...I had a year to write my Master's thesis and I did it in one week! But it only had to be 30 to 40 pages long. I need lots and lots of impending deadlines to get me going. Good luck to you and may they be calling you Master shortly.
Anonymous...you are so, so right. What else can I say?

10:41 PM  

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