fersakyn: (Up-Close)
Yes, it's a play on Waiting for Godot. Hopefully, my wait won't be in futility as it was in that play. I'm waiting on the last hold-out on my dissertation committee to sign the damn approval forms. Sigh. Everyone else has signed (whether or not they read all -- or any! -- of the dissertation is up for debate, but meh). But this guy... Geez. He replaced the troubling-troublesome previous committee member, and now he's causing trouble -- or at least inconvenience. And money if I have to file during the summer!

I tried to "nudge" him by alluding to applying for tenure-track positions with deadlines in the middle of June -- just a few short days after the final submission deadline for Spring '09. No joy. He said that submitting later shouldn't impact my job applications. What. The. Hell. Where has he been??? Having a degree in hand when applying to t-t jobs always looks much better than not having it. I'm pretty sure that the first cut on competitive jobs is based on whether the candidate has the degree yet or not, especially in today's market where budgets for schools are being slashed right and left. Argh.

In other news, I've internalized the realization that I am a total bitch when I'm as stressed as I was only just a week ago. Now, even with this lone hold-out on my committee, I'm feeling less likely to commit homicide if anyone asks about my dissertation progress. I'm very mean to my poor mom when I'm that stressed out. Of course, her weirdly inappropriate light-heartedness whenever she asked me about my dissertation provoked bitchier responses than would be normal -- i.e., ratcheting up from a stink-eye to a tantrum.
fersakyn: (sad kitty)
Sigh. I'm sooo tired. I finished chapter 4 last night -- it's the shortest of my four chapters so far. Only 25 pages double-spaced. Blah. Hopefully my committee is similarly tired, and they'll just pass me without too many needed revisions. The deadline for submission is Friday, June 5.

I'm taking the weekend to relax a bit and finally sleep -- hopefully. I haven't been sleeping or eating well. I either wake up with my jaw sore from clenching my teeth all night, wake up periodically throughout the night, or just wake up feeling like I haven't slept at all. Then, I get stomach cramps and faint nausea when I think too much about my dissertation. Well, on the plus side, everyone's noticed that I've lost weight! Of course, either that means my clothes fit better or they don't fit that well anymore. Eh.

Anyway, a few days after the road trip to San Francisco, my mother casually remarks to me that I'm going to be done soon, right? That the dissertation only needs a few more pages? I lost it. I was so angry.
fersakyn: (Oops)
So... In January, my troublesome (and troubling) committee member offered to step down if I so wanted - after she excluded me from a meeting to discuss my progress. And where she kind of badmouthed me (I heard later from my adviser). Nice. I replaced her with someone my adviser found amenable, who is not in my field at all, and who has not met with me in the last four months despite several requests on my part. Whatever. As long as he doesn't pull the same shit that the previous member did, I'm fine.

Well, I finished revising chapter 2 and submitted that to my adviser in February, and I just finished chapter 3 at the end of April. Now chapter 4 is on the table, and I'm sooo tired of this. I really don't have a clear plan for chapter 4 - not like I did for chapter 3.

I attended two conferences in the last few weeks, presenting the same paper - which just happened to be excerpted from the chapter which started that committee member on her demand that I start my project from scratch. Nice to be validated. I met up with several people I hadn't seen in a long while from grad school who were a few years ahead of me in the program. Everyone agreed that the last chapters of their dissertations were totally thrown together, and so I shouldn't stress over chapter 4. One of my friends confessed that her chapter 4 was approximately 20 unpolished pages.

Right after I emailed chapter 3 to my adviser, my mom dragged me off to San Francisco despite the fact that my filing date is June 4 and I needed to start chapter 4. Nice, eh? She has a pattern of doing really inconsiderate shit during the milestones of my grad career. When I was taking my qualifying exams, which were spread out over three days, she called me to have me arrange a graduation party for a friend of a family. So considerate. One of my other friends in the program had her mother over, volunteering to take care of her during her quals. My mother wanted me to put together a party FOR SOMEONE ELSE during my exams. Now, during the last leg of my PhD program, she wanted to carpool six hours to San Francisco to see another friend of the family. Said friend confessed to me after our mothers were asleep (her mother came up with us) that she didn't even want to host us since her newly purchased condo wasn't ready for guests, but of course my mother INSISTED and the rest of us gave way. God.

In other news, since I'm so stressed out, I've been indulging (too much!) in retail therapy. So, so bad. I really shouldn't be buying things, draining my savings account. I'm currently unemployed. This economy is kicking my butt since I can't apply for full-time positions while I'm under the gun to finish in a month, and there aren't very many good part-time positions, particularly in the education field.
fersakyn: (Incognito)
I'm feeling... Blah. Blah. Blah. And, sadly, I have this unfortunate idea that even if my dissertation woes were resolved, I would still feel "Blah. Blah. Blah."

Physically, I need to exercise. I think many of my physical symptoms of depression (diminished appetite, alternating insomnia/inability to get out of bed, constant exhaustion) could be mitigated by working out, as well as some of the mental/psychological ones (easily distracted, difficulty concentrating, memory problems). But that "Blah. Blah. Blah" also means that I can't get my ass to do something physical.

There's no local gym nearby -- by that, I mean within walking distance. I fear that membership in a gym that I have to drive to would = money wasted since I would be very unlikely to go. I need a fitness buddy.

And that's the last thing: I feel very needy, socially I mean. I used to go to the gym near grad housing at least once a week just 'cuz it was only three blocks away, but somehow that lack of accessibility here at my mom's house means that I need a buddy to get my ass to the gym. I also feel very lonely. Working on my diss (when I can get up the concentration) is very isolating. I try to work at local cafes, but it's been more and more difficult to get myself out of the house on the days that I don't work.

I am a lazy, needy blob. Blah. Blah. Blah.

Argh!

Dec. 7th, 2008 09:55 pm
fersakyn: (WTF?)
Well, I found out recently that this prof doesn't seem to play well with others. She seems to have a bad record with mentoring ABD students. Well, at least it's not me. I'm not being singled out. She just has horrible people skills. But now what to do, what to do...

I want to find someone who will actually mentor me instead of telling to start over but when I ask for specific instructions on what she would like to see in a new project ignores me. Hey, I'm being responsible here by asking what her expectations are and how to meet them. How is it being a good mentor if she ignores me when I ask that???

Yet, replacing her won't be/isn't easy either. I have to be careful of the political fallout. I don't want her to blackball me or anything like that. I also need to find someone who will be a good reader, write me a good letter, and generally be supportive while I finish and afterwards. And, of course, someone who'll look good on my committee. Sounds like an impossible wishlist... Geez.

Well, someone else who worked with this prof had such a horrible experience with her that she doesn't even want to use the letter of rec the prof finally wrote for her, no matter that the prof made her sweat and scramble for it. Why? Because when she was on the job market, someone pulled her quietly aside to say that the letter hurt her chances for the job. *shudder of atavistic fear* The whole thing makes me wonder if it's worth trying to placate this prof if in the end I don't get a good letter from her. So what if her name is on my diss if she doesn't write a good letter? I won't have anything tangible to show for it and help me on the job market, which would be a large part of why I would keep her on my committee in the first place.

I think I need a miracle.
fersakyn: (Incognito)
I had a good conversation with a friend who's been done with his Ph.D. for a number of years, so he has some perspective on the whole writing-a-dissertation process. He reminded me that whatever happens with the political fall-out of the mess that is my dissertation committee, I need to keep in mind, however counter-intuitive it seems right now in the hierarchized world of being ABD, that I need to OWN my dissertation. In other words, I have to draw the line in the sand somewhere. I have to make a decision about how valuable I find this prof's input, and how far I'm willing to bend over backwards to meet her expectations. If those expectations are too much, then I need to cut her loose.

I heard a slightly less assertive version of this from my chair. She pointed out that though I was badly blindsided by how very negative and personal that prof got in our "conversation," I need to remember that I'm working my way up to being colleagues with her soon. That is to say, I need to be able to "woman up" and defend my project.

However, there is still a power imbalance. After all, my dissertation needs the approval of all three of the committee members. I suppose if that prof is willing to compromise, then what might happen is that she will sign off on the diss but not write a letter of rec for me if she still disagrees with my project. However, that situation will most likely sink my chances of getting a tenure-track job at a research university. Right now, I'm not sure I care if that ends up the case. I just want to get this dismal cloud of rain and gloom that's my diss to blow over!
fersakyn: (Not-Happy)
Well, I had a meeting with the chair of my dissertation committee on Wednesday. It was good to hear that she supports me and my project. She doesn't think that I need to start over, but that I should (and need to) consider some revisions.

However, when I was having my meltdown because of the other professor who rained doom and gloom on me, I didn't consider that it would also impact my chair. Turns out, since my chair has been in touch and reading my work, she feels fairly insulted that this other prof thinks I should start over (or at least implied it) since it reflects on her ability to mentor and guide me. It's become a bit of a mess. My chair not only wants me to do a short write-up on my project to take to the other committee members to clarify what everyone's position and expectations are, but she also wants me to consider who we might ask to replace this particular prof. What a sticky situation!

In the meantime, other than the short precis, I can't really work on anything until I get clarification or replace that prof, whichever ends up most expedient. If her expectations are too far afield of what my project is doing and she's unwilling to compromise, then either my dissertation is sunk ('cuz then she won't sign off on it even if I finish writing) or I'll (or my chair will) have to ask her to step down and find someone else. The problem with that situation of finding a replacement is that there is no obvious person for me to turn to. And, again, politically it's messy to go hat in hand to someone at basically the eleventh hour to ask such a thing. It'll look bad for everyone involved.

Well, I am very, VERY thankful for my chair's support. If she hadn't been, then that most likely would've been the end of it.
fersakyn: (Nightmare)
Well, I have had a pretty terrible last few weeks. I was rear-ended the last Sunday of October, and the guy's insurance company played phone-tag with me for a week before letting me know that the guy's insurance policy expired just before he hit me!

My body's in disrepair along with my no-longer shiny new car. The slight whiplash effect has resulted in the right side of my upper body feeling knotted and sore and pretty much horrible for more than a week now. It also means that I haven't been sleeping very well since my body hurts.

Besides those sticky issues, I had a horrific "talk" with a professor on my dissertation committee. It was more like an hour-long berating. And, as I tell other people when I recount what happened, it's not that I disagree with her points or criticism. I just felt brutalized by the way that she said it. It got waaaay too personal. Instead of being constructive with "here, you should think of x, y, and z when you revise," it was more like "what the hell were you thinking writing this sh*t you call your dissertation," etc. I walked away from the meeting in tears and thinking "I never want to make ANYONE feel the way that she just made me feel." It was that bad.

So, I'm (re)reading the books that she mentioned during the "talk," but feeling rather confused and lost. One of the books she wrote, by the way. She has a very interdisciplinary, Foucauldian view of "look at how the disciplines are all artificial and constructed," blah, blah. Again, not that I disagree with her, but I'm working very much INSIDE my discipline of English literary studies. Am I supposed to interrogate the discipline as I analyze the books and poetry I chose to discuss??? I hadn't thought that it was a requirement, but she seems to think that it's fundamental and so I'm an idiot for not realizing that. So confused...

Hopefully, a meeting next week with the chair of my dissertation committee will clear things up. She could agree with that prof; she could somewhat agree; she could disagree; she could recommend that I get someone else to replace that prof on my committee; she could recommend that I just focus on finishing and not on getting a job in academia; she could recommend that I quit. I have no idea what will happen, but those are some scenarios. I'm not even sure which is most likely. It's all up in the air right now.

Boy, what a way to make a body feel like both a failure and that her life is full of horrible incidents, one on top of the next.
fersakyn: (Incognito)
Well, it's been over a month since my last posting. I've finally finished moving and unpacking. It took longer than it might have because I convinced my mom to remodel the closet in the room that used to be my brother's. She had had him do some light renovations that ended up making everything worse: no closet rod, doors that fell off or wouldn't move, etc. It was also FULL of crap that she put in there. Why does she need to have four memory foam pillows still in their boxes???

So, it took about a week to find a competent handyman and then to get the work done. After that, it took me a few days to figure out which books to unpack and how to organize them since in Verano I had four bookcases, and in my "new" room I only have two bookcases. There's also no TV in the family or living room, so I ended up splurging on a new computer/TV monitor. Yikes, it was expensive! And I still haven't gotten cable yet for it. That's another fiasco involving many, many bees.

All in all, it took me about four days to pack the majority of my crap, move it, and unload it. Then two to three weeks of unpacking and settling in. I also still had to make a few runs down to Irvine to get the last of my stuff and return the keys.

All this hassle on top of starting a new job and applying to faculty positions. It's not been fun. But now I finally feel like I can start working on the dissertation again. I was only able to work on revising Chapter 1 while all this was going on since I didn't have all of my books, and I didn't label every box exactly so I didn't know where all of my files were. Well, it sure surprised one of my committee members when I sent her the revised chapter less than three weeks after we had discussed revisions. I guess that's a fast turn-around. I'm not sure. It's not like I've ever written and revised a dissertation before.

I've also had a few adjustment issues at work, and one really snotty kid who I ended up telling the manager to find a new teacher for. I have compassion for ESL students, but not for ones that disrespect me. I really don't have the personality to get through to an angry, bratty kid. I can teach a confused and timid one, but not one that's going to act out, and against me. Perhaps that's my shortcoming, but I'm also not trained nor paid to deal with that. I feel a bit guilty, and I do feel sorry for the kid, but I'm no counselor or psychologist, which I feel he needs.
fersakyn: (sad kitty)
It's been a few months since I've added anything to this journal. I've started a Facebook account. It's pretty fun when you're bored.

So... I have to move. AGAIN. Graduate housing is kicking me out. The lease is under someone else's name, and even though I asked her to let housing know that I and a domestic partner are willing to take over the lease (since it's family housing), she just asked if I alone could take over the lease. We'd already tried to add me to the lease contract a few months ago, and they said no. Why would asking the same exact thing change their answer??? I didn't ask her to inconvenience herself. But no, she couldn't just add "...and domestic partner" to her request. Thanks so much. Of course they said no. I'm not saying that I would've had a guarantee of staying if she had added that clause, but it would've raised the chances from zero at the very least.

Ya know, I didn't know her very well when I first moved in, but now I just dislike her. She was annoying moving out: she took my things without asking me first even though I was home at the time she arbitrarily decided to take my stuff. It's not like I would've denied her the boxes, packing tape, and packing materials, but she should've asked first. Instead, I came out of my bedroom one day, and half of my packing materials are just gone, which I could tell from the open door to the storage room. Thanks so much for your consideration. And now this latest fiasco.

Of course, I'm still writing my diss, and that's a source of stress in and of itself. But added to the "normal" stress of that process, I don't have funding for this year, and so I have to take out a student loan for the first time. It's rather unnerving to know that you're going to owe several thousand dollars to the government. *shudder* It's good that it'll be the first time I take out financial aid, but it sucks that I have to do it at all.

And finally, the last cause of stress on top of the moving, taking out a loan, and, did I mention, not having a stable job, is that the job market totally sucks. I checked out a few websites for faculty full-time positions, and there are virtually none in California. I knew it was going to be long-shot, but no positions even in Oregon or Washington State, nor Arizona or Nevada. Looks like I might be moving across the country. Scary! No seriously, my network and family are in California. I'd be totally on my own. It's friggin' terrifying.

Well... that's the end of the whine-fest. For now.
fersakyn: (Toilet-trained)
Well, as Mike pointedly reminded me (several times!), it's time to post something new to this little ol' journal of mine.

I am currently in Panera's in the newly-opened The District. I had to get out of the apartment. My god, it got hot in there! Not quite intolerable, but definitely edging into unbearable. I try to wait for intolerable before I break open the portable air conditioning unit. It's kind of a pain to lug out and fix up to a window, and it takes up a freakin' lot of space. Well, that time might be soon approaching. We'll see.

Let's see, I've finished altering a few pairs of pants and capri shorts. I've cut the material to make two new capri shorts, but the directions to put them together had me scratching my head. I'm going to let that simmer for a while in the back of my mind. Hopefully, the instructions will make more sense with some more brooding. Who knows.

I've sewn (and resewn) two shoulder bags--and a matching computer bag! Padded, even! *buffs nails proudly* A medium-ish purse is in the works. Probably won't get to it until after June.

Redid a pair of black leather Mary Jane flats. They were so plain-Jane. I hardly ever wore them. Then I found some shoes by Bobbi Blu that I loved, but couldn't afford. Took a couple of pix with my camera-phone, and thought, why not? So I put together my own version of the Bobbi Blu style. They're pretty cute! I think I did a damn good job.

As for the dissertation, I'm still waiting on comments (from everyone! Including my chair! *grits teeth*), and in the meantime I'm working on the next chapter. I reread Chang-rae Lee's novel, am in the process of finishing Claire Kim's work on the Red Apple Boycott in NYC, and am (constantly!) letting the ideas percolate in the back of my mind. It'll be interesting. Something about Lee's protagonist being in a liminal position both socially and culturally as an Asian American, and how that predisposes him for work in cultural espionage. This demonstrates a intersection of the model minority myth and the yellow peril fears against a backdrop of rising racial tensions between urban Blacks and Korean merchants in the inner-city, blah, blah, blah. We'll see.

That's all for now.
fersakyn: (Toilet-trained)
This is why, as I told my friend Mike, I have problems with the research but not the writing of my dissertation. I just finished (reading!) another article last night, and I went through the Works Cited to see which, if any, sources I should peruse for my dissertation. I wrote down the titles of five books. I'm going to have to do this with EVERY article.

Yes, I'm whining. I know. Don't read if you find it annoying.

God, I wish I was a graduate student when New Criticism was still in vogue. Then I could write without having to do all this contextual research. And I find it especially sucky that my undergraduate education emphasized a New Critical approach, rather than a New Historicist approach (which is now what everyone and what I HAVE to do).

On another note, it's hot as hell in my apartment. I am contemplating breaking out the portable air conditioner. The heat is exacerbating my healing itchy skin. I still don't know what caused the itchy skin in the first place, but I bet that the heat was a contributing factor. Ugh.

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