Monday, September 8, 2008

Report from Prospectus-Burg



Okay. So I don't want to sound grouchy or anything, but how come none of you elders ever gave me a heads-up about the ugly truth that dissertations are completely insane? Oh, this is going to be a wonderful year. Oh, Human Subjects, indeed!

Also, there's the deep obligation I feel to treat my next year of living with all the respect that "going into the field" deserves, even though on the surface it almost seems like I'm not "going" anywhere. I'm going to see a lot of Oregon (and probably a lot of my own twenty-nine year-old self) in the course of listening to workers from the public/service sector talk about who they think they are and what the hell it is they think they are doing. What do they think elections are? What do they think unions are?

That is, if I can pull it off like I want to - and it seems like these things never, ever go as planned. And, lurking underneath my entire ethnographic program is the self-centered Lex Dexter question, wouldn't you rather work as an educator within unions than as an educator who teaches about unions? I'm not really sure I've the professional bona fides to qualify for either choice, of course. And that makes me wonder, shucks, if I shouldn't just try to figure out a way to flip houses or do freelance record reviewing or join the marines or publish an incoherent novel on a vanity press funded by my ebay revenues won when i hock my copy of Neu 2!

9 comments:

dave3544 said...

I have some materials for you, including a newsletter from the NEA-GOP organization from the last AFT-NEA higher ed meeting.

wobblie said...

Dude - dave and I bailed on grad school before we got to Ph.D land. What did you need from us, a treatise on what a waste of time/pain in the ass we thought the whole process would be? Our actions were your heads-up!

I knew it was over when I saw what a pain in the ass the IRB was going to be. I will go ahead, however, and let you know that your diss. advisors will never, ever meet with you or give you feedback in a timely fashion.

My work here is done.

ash said...

Sadly, the lack of heads-up from this group is probably good training for what is to come. The good news/bad news is that you are largely on your own from here on out. It can be lonely and confusing (and mental illness-inducing, although those tendencies likely already have manifested themselves by this point if they exist; I don't think a diss has ever driven anyone crazy who wasn't part way down that path to begin with) and wobs is right--you'll never get timely feedback....but it's also more freedom than you'll probably ever have again in this lifetime, so try to enjoy it if possible.

Like most people who were stubborn or foolish enough to stick it out and finish, I've blocked out much of the experience. But a few things I think are worth passing along: Go ahead and let go of any perfectionist fantasies you might be harboring right now. It will never be perfect. Never. And, sadly, no one will notice or care if it is. Set reasonable standards for yourself. I used to scoff at people who said "the best dissertation is a finished dissertation." But there's something to that. Balance your need to make this the end-all and be-all of your existence with the need to get this thing done and move on to the next phase of your life. And along those lines: You are not your dissertation; it is in no way a measure of your worth. It's hard to accept this when you're in the midst of the process and it has taken over your life, but it is just a hoop. Nothing more. (Which reminds me: be prepared for the post-diss let down when that reality sinks in. It's just a document. It's not your life--at least not anymore once you hand it over to the graduate school). In short, try to keep it in perspective. It. Fucking. Sucks. But it's temporary--once it's over, it's over and you move on.

minkum said...

Don't get rid of Neu 2 on ebay, man. I'll take it.

chad said...

I gave up before I made it as far as you have, so I don't have much advice about the road ahead, but I can speak to one of your alternative paths.

I can recommend, without hesitation, against joining the marines. I tried that, and on the first day of boot camp (and many of the days of the subsequent four years) all I could think was "Jesus Christ, I should have gone to college." In your case, that would put you right back at square one, heading for this same dilemma. Better luck with the record reviewing and house flipping.

gabbagabbahey said...

academic emo - like that!

I just started my final year of my history/politics undergrad degree and a lot of that last paragraph makes sense to me... even though it probably shouldn't yet.

btw, what's the Lurid Traversal framed thingy exactly? I mean, where does it come from? Like it anyway.

coincidentally, that album has been keeping me alive through rainy-day first-week-back commutes. but of course.

wobblie said...

Neu! is excellent commuting music!

Chaz said...

i feel ya, dawg. ain't much better in cancer biology land ...

Jennifer Erickson said...

You are not alone and we need to meet regularly about these things. Regularly.