Thursday, December 15, 2011

A Welcome Winter Break

Ah, at last! My last (and only) final exam is done for the semester. All my papers are in. My proposal is written. And the Christmas shopping is complete. I think it's time to relax. And what, you may ask, does a PhD student do to relax? You may think that it involves catching up on reading those journals that have piled up over the past few months tagged with "interesting articles that I'll get to later." Or maybe it has something to do with reading that fascinating text on research methodology. Oh wait, I've got it! Nothing says relaxing like sifting through PubMed to update a literature review for your dissertation project.

My research assistant evaluates my proposed reading list.
No, no, no. Silly reader. I am actually going to be nestled somewhere in the (hopefully snowy) northeast, away from wi-fi connectivity (that means no online journal databases). The only articles I'll be reading are from US Weekly (yes, it's true...). And the only book-like materials that are making the trip with me are from NPR's list of top fiction books of the year (sorry Polit & Beck and Cooper, et al.). It will probably be strange to be disconnected from something I've been living and breathing for the last year and a half. But, all I have to do is remind myself that although for ten days I'll be without those school-y things that happily haunt me here at home, they'll be waiting for me when I get back...still in their dusty piles marked "things to do" and muttering so only I can hear: "Oh, how we've missed you...."

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Riding the Scholarly Pain Train

The semester is coming to a close. With only two weeks left before the end, I've found myself scrambling to get everything done and focusing on that distant light at the end of the tunnel. Of course, the light only signals the exit from one area of darkness. Sure there is a brief gasp of fresh air, sunlight, and the freedom to read best-selling fiction again. But another ominous tunnel looms before me: Spring semester. And who knows what horrors lie in those shadows.  

The good news: I will be done with a majority of my coursework by the end of that semester. Yay! Oh wait….that means I'll have to sit for my comps next. And then, I'll be working on my dissertation. And then, oh no, I'll have to defend after that. Then I have to get *gasp* a job? Or maybe hold off and find a post-doc? A scholar's work is never done. That is, if one considers oneself a scholar. And just when I've decided that, hey, this scholarly stuff isn't so bad as long as you break it down into baby steps, I realize that I'll be baby stepping it for a long time - from tunnel to tunnel through an introspective fog of confidence-crushing, doubt-inducing darkness each time. So probably it's best to just keep heading towards the light, no matter how fleeting those bright and shiny moments may be.