Acade(me)

The dissertation was only the beginning.

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T: Amazing Husband
ST: Three-year-old Wonder
Prof. G: Advisor I
Prof. C: Advisor II
Julie: Stylish Sister
Rob: Awesome Brother
Belle: Our Cat
Bill: Grumbling BIL
Rita: Uncomplicated SIL
SMU: Smallish Midwestern University
Doctoral University: where I got my Ph.D.
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Quote of the Day
Tuesday, July 26, 2005
On Rain, Blueberries and Sound Advice

RAIN: After countless, miserable days with the heat index above 100 degrees F, my Weather Channel desktop icon reads 65 degrees F. It is raining for the first (measurable) time since July 3, and it has been raining all day long. The radar picture shows a huge green blob over southeastern Iowa, so it looks like we're getting just what we've asked for: a full day of cool, steady rain. You can almost hear the plants and trees slurping up the fresh water, almost hear their collective sighs of relief in the pitter-patter of rain on the street. The Black-eyed Susans that I moved from the side of the house to the back of the house on Saturday actually look as though they might survive. Yesterday, I wasn't so sure!

The only downside to the rain is that poor N cannot play outside yet again. The poor boy wanted to be outside all weekend, but it was too dangerously hot to let him go. Last night, we promised him that he could go to the park today, not anticipating a full day's worth of rain, and so we'll have to break our promise. Maybe tomorrow. It's difficult to explain the intricacies of weather to a toddler.

BLUEBERRIES: My lunch this afternoon is blueberries and Cool Whip Free. (I cannot imagine a world without Cool Whip Free, quite frankly.) Blueberries are in season and are beautiful right now... and on sale for only $1.49/pint! I already have four pints in the freezer, to take out on a chilly winter day and remember the loveliness of our hot summer. If only I had some ripe nectarines, I would be in a state of fruit nirvana.

SOUND ADVICE: I have two dissertation advisors, two men who I respect immensely on both an academic and personal level. Two men who have done great political science, who are fantastic teachers, and who have full, interesting lives outside the walls of the University. They are my own personal Dream Team, Prof. C and Prof. G.

In some ways, the Dream Team are academic parents: they push me and encourage me to do well, they correct me when I'm wrong, they patiently listen to my emotional outburts (I am very prone to this since having N), and -- even though it drives me to the brink of insanity on a weekly basis -- they're critical. They're critical because they want me to be better, because they know I can be better. That's useful. It has been clear to me from the beginning that both of these men want me to to succeed.

Prof. G is a peerless editor, finding inconsistencies in my writing and suggesting new ways to organize my work. He is a treasure trove of sound advice on everything -- literally, everything. When he doesn't like my work, I feel sad, but confident that everything will work out. He's honest with me when my work is unsatisfactory, but doesn't make me feel like the last good idea left my brain in 2003. When he's unhappy with my work, I feel like a child who has disappointed a beloved parent. Children want to make their parents proud.

Prof. C is different. He will criticize my work, reading every sentence a million times, and finding something not-quite-right at every turn. My drafts are covered with questions from him, phrases like "let's talk about this" and "this is not clear" and "where are you going with this?" When Prof. C is unhappy with my work, I feel like a complete idiot. I feel like I cannot write another coherent sentence, and I feel like five years in graduate school have taught me nothing. Although he makes me feel absolutely brainless (and I get flustered when I talk to him because, for some reason, the "stupid-valve" on my mouth is WIDE open when we meet), I can't help but like him. Other colleagues have had similar experiences; our recurrent description of Prof. C is that "he'll make you feel like an idiot, but he'll do it in the nicest possible way."

So, it is to these two men that I submitted drafts of two chapters last week, and I am relieved to say that they both liked the chapters, overall. Prof. C, of course, has a million different suggestions (all of them good, naturally), but this time I DON'T feel like an idiot. I actually feel pretty good. And Prof. G's comments were, on the whole, positive -- just some reorganizational issues to attend to, which is not difficult. After I read their comments (shaking like a leaf the entire time, since I don't respond too well to criticism) I finally felt like this dissertation was going to be good, and most of all, that is was going to get done. That's a feeling I've been waiting for for several, several months.
Posted with care by Prof. Me @ 7/26/2005 01:41:00 PM  
1 Words of Wisdom:
  • At 10:53 PM, Blogger Lilian said…

    First time commenter here... I just started reading your blog (coming form a coment you left at ABD-mom), so I started from the beginning :)

    Right now I feel jealous of your dream team of advisors (If you feel so inclined you can check out what mine looks like in this post and my subsequent comment: http://mamaintranslation.blogspot.com/2005/10/getting-feedback-or-dissertatin-update.html
    )

    Well, I'll keep on reading, you write *really* well, too bad I'll have to take it slowly, because in need to work on my dissertation and not read blogs all the time as I'd like to do :)

     
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