|I was on campus for most of the day yesterday, since I had to drop the car off at the dealer to get my whistling windshield fixed. I did some reading on interviewing techniques (yes, it IS as exciting as it sounds) and had a nice meeting with one of my advisors, Prof. G. Since we have our official TA training session today, there were a lot of people on campus yesterday who I hadn't seen since the beginning of May. After talking with them, I found myself depressed and relieved all at the same time.
One of my colleagues has had a rough go of it. We have to take three comprehensive exams before defending a prospectus, and for the third exam we can choose to either take an actual, written exam or produce a publication-quality paper. (I chose the exam, incidentally. No sense writing an involved paper on a topic I'm only marginally interested in.) Anyway, my colleague chose the paper, and his review committee failed him on it. He has to make revisions in the next week or so, and if he fails those revisions, he has to choose another exam field. In addition, this poor guy hasn't been allowed to defend his prospectus, which he claims he's already written and can defend "standing on his head." (I don't totally believe him on that; actually, I don't totally believe that he's written the prospectus, but that's another story.) Another blow is that he has been told that he will NOT have any funding next year, and that this year his teaching appointment has been reduced to the status of "grader." That means no in-classroom teaching at all, just mindless grading of exams and compiling stats. Finally, he was hired as an RA over the summer, and hasn't completed even half of the projects he was assigned to do during that time. Not a good situation.
Hearing his tales of woe is what made me -- selfishly -- think about my own progress. And I suppose I feel pretty good about it. I feel relieved that I'm not in my friend's shoes, although his nasty world is of his own making. I'm glad that my dissertation is almost at the halfway point, that I'm going on the job market, and that I'm undertaking my own research and not worrying about the administrivia of the department. I'm relieved that my funding is secure until June 2006, and that my dissertation will be defended by then. In short, my life is pretty OK right now.
Except for one thing, I guess: everyone I really love is gone. All of my good friends, the people I hung out with since I started graduate school, people who were a year or two ahead of me, are all starting tenure-track jobs this month. These are the people who made coming to campus really worthwhile, and they're the reason I always looked forward to these inane TA training sessions in late August. There is quite frankly NO ONE I'm looking forward to seeing today. No one. It is a lonely academic time for me, and that's what really stinks. I am very happy for my friends, and I still keep in contact, but it's just not the same. That comfortable graduate school cameraderie has vanished. I mourn for it a little every time I open my office door and see my one of my dearest friend's desk, empty, and look on my desk to see the silly framed photo of Ira Glass he gave me for my birthday. Sigh.
In other news, however, I ran a mile and a half today, running two minutes and walking one. I didn't go as far as I would have liked, simply because I was so hot I started to feel like I was going to throw up. I literally started to dry retch, and I figured that wasn't a good sign so I stopped. Weighed myself, and now I'm 150lbs. Hmmm. Either that's solid running muscle (doubtful) or funnel cake weight (more likely). At any rate, I ran today (didn't go yesterday because T got home too late and I had no one to watch ST), and I'm proud of that.
To do today:
1.) Clean up the house after a whirlwind morning.
2.) Take a shower after vomit-inducing run (yes, I'm blogging with sweaty, stinky hands).
3.) Get passport photo taken.
4.) Mail passport renewal application before it's too late and the fee goes up.
5.) Speak at dull TA meeting.
6.) Pick up ST (my favorite time of day, since he runs to me and nearly knocks me over with his hugs, usually shouting something like "I missed you today, Mom!" or "I drew a new picture for you today, Mom!" or "Let's go get a snack, Mom!"