Saturday, April 19, 2008

You know what?

This has been a really, really tough week. I'm not sure I understand why--I should be happier than happy, and yet I've gone on two good crying jags in the past four days.

Take Tuesday, for instance.

I got out of bed tired and anxious because this was the day I was supposed to present my research in the doctoral colloquium (the day before my oral exams, what's that about?). Transitioned from anxious to irritated after checking my e-mail. Moved from irritated to relieved when I arrived on campus to find out that I had received a dissertation travel grant. Went into the colloquium feeling pretty confident, only to get into a ridiculously stupid argument with a member of the faculty. Spent three hours feeling furious and hurt. Followed that up with an afternoon of crashing through therapy, and in the evening I found myself crying in the kitchen while Catherine tried to make dinner. Pulled myself together, blew my nose, checked my e-mail, only to find out that I had received a major research fellowship. How many ups and downs can one very fragile graduate student take in one day? Not very many, as it turns out.

There is no sleep happening at my house. Tuesday night I slept for a total of two hours, dragged myself to campus for my oral exams Wednesday morning. Everyone will be glad to know that I advanced to candidacy before noon. Exhausted and relieved and glad I never have to go through that again. Had a very nice lunch with a friend, couldn't put two words together to form even teh shortest of sentences, and crashed again afterward. Made the mistake of checking my e-mail only to find out that I received a second research fellowship. Upward swing, crash again, another night of no sleep.

What day is it today? Still Friday, I think. Third night of no sleep. Yes, we felt the earthquake, but no, it didn't wake us up because we were already awake. I had just finished my second major crying fit. Reality hit about 3 a.m. Thursday night/Friday morning--having this research fellowship means 9 months away from home, no return visits allowed. The second fellowship offers me the opportunity to extend that 9 months to 12 or even 15 months. I can't turn that down, can I? Even if it means I won't be able to visit my family unless someone dies?

People do talk about post-exam or post-defense depression, but I'm not sure I'm there yet. I'm just exhausted from too much talking, too much thinking, too much emotion. I'm planning on staying in bed until Tuesday (therapy beckons). Then I'll try to sort through all the possibilities for my life and make some decisions.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

After all, if they make a Pocket Diva...

Okay, time for a quick update.

Last night I found out (after a two week delay!) that I passed my major field exam. Add that to the pass on my minor field exam, and that's see...1 pass + 1 pass = 2 passes. All I need to do now is pass the oral exam next week. Oh, yeah, and go to London for 3 months to do research. Oh, and go to India for 6-8 months. Oh, and there's that dissertation to write afterward, too. But let's keep it in the short term for now, okay? 1 + 1 = 2.

Yes, I'm relieved. There must be something else (happiness?) in the emotional mix, but mostly I'm just glad the writing is done and that I don't have to re-take the exam in August. I think what I'm enjoying most about passing are the reactions of everyone around me. I was pretty sure I failed (and indeed, although it was a pass, my advisor did agree that I kind of dropped the ball at the end of the exam), so the past two weeks have been pretty stressful for me. Not as stressful as for everyone around me, though, if their responses to my news are anything to go by. Catherine has been saying, "Congratulations! I'm so proud of you, honey!" on a non-stop loop. Dana sounded so happy and relieved that I suspect she had already resigned herself to my failure. Beth pretty much exhausted all the exclamations points available for the writers in the year 2008, and told me I was झकास! My therapist had asked me to call her and give her my exam results if they ever arrived, and I dutifully left a message on her office phone this afternoon. She returned the favor, leaving the kindest congratulatory message on my cell phone that you could imagine receiving from a counselor.

And this leads me to another thing I've been thinking about: I must say, "My therapist said..." 1000 times a week. I should start using her real name, instead of talking about her like an object I keep in my pocket. Hmmm...pocket therapist. That would make a *great* action figure. Gotta get me one of them.