Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Overwhelmingly Good

My Doctor of Philosophy degree was officially conferred today. That didn't bring about any great changes to my day or anything. I've neither grown an inch taller nor have I gained back any of my hair. In fact, even my knowledge of this day was based solely on my communication with the Doctoral Recorder as quoted in my previous post. It shouldn't be a big deal.

For fun, I went into the student system to double-check the status, and sure enough it's noted there on my transcript:
Large Midwest University Degree
Large Midwest University, Small College Town
University Graduate School
Doctor of Philosophy
Major: Higher Education
Minor: Instructional Systems Technology
Minor: Educational Psychology
And then it hit me. Bam! Imagine standing in front of a high-powered fan trying to inhale at an even rate of speed, only to be overwhelmed by the extremely-quick flow of air being shoved into your lungs. That's sort of how I feel right now. Or, perhaps I simply have pneumonia? Either way, that's pretty swell to see it in writing, in the transcript. Wow.

Alright. Back to work.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Final Confirmation

It's been a funny week or so. After submitting the document online on Saturday the 13th, I needed to get the paperwork signed by my chair. We had a great exchange: She said she's giving me till January, and then we're going to discuss how to get this study published. I don't think I could ask for a better compliment than that. We both agreed that this is more of a beginning of a research career than an end to graduate school. That's sort of neat, though holy SHIT I'm glad the graduate school part is ending!

Then I delivered the signed paperwork to The Graduate School in person, that same day. In the past, there would have been a grumpy person sitting in that office with a ruler in hand to make sure all of my margins lined up appropriately. Since I submitted it online, I thought I circumvented that process. Au contraire mon frere! I received an e-mail from The Graduate School the following day indicating I needed to do things like: "1) remove the word 'Dedication' from your dedication page [seriously?], 2) remove the word "Abstract" from the abstract page [what the FUCK?], and 3) the margins of your CV [attached to the end of the dissertation] are too small...please readjust." THOSE were the barriers between me and finishing? Um...OK. Whatever.

It took me just a few minutes to make the changes and resubmit. Then I gently prodded The Main Office of my Department to ensure the details of my transcript were in line (we receive temporary grades for "dissertation research" credits till the dissertation is done, and those need to be cleared out before our degree is conferred). That was completed last Friday.

So today I finally received the following note from The Graduate School:
Dear Robert of Chesterley,

All requirements are now completed for the awarding of your Ph.D. degree. Your official graduation date is November 30, 2010.

The Office of the Registrar will mail your diploma to your Student Home Address approximately three months after your official graduation date. Please verify that this address in [The Student System] current and correct for the mailing of your diploma. If your Student Home Address is incorrect, please contact the Registrar's Office.

Also, please check your Primary Name in [The Student System] for your diploma. If your name is incorrect, please contact the Registrar's Office.

I will submit the final approved version of your dissertation to ProQuest/UMI for publishing after your official graduation date.

Congratulations on this wonderful accomplishment!

Best Regards,

"Jane Q. Smith"
Doctoral Recorder
University Graduate School
Large Midwestern University
So, I guess that's it. It's all done. The curtain is down. The orchestra cadenced. There's nothing more to do but be a doctor from here onward.

I am of two minds. I'm so glad this crap is finally finished. Holy smokes. At the same time, this journey has been one of the best things for my career. Even after having a shitty day at work, I still come out of the experience actually liking my job. If it weren't for the doctorate I would not have joined this research field. So I'm thankful for that experience. And I'm also thankful this journey has finally ended.


Saturday, November 13, 2010

Study #07- 11947 Complete

I heard back from DC yesterday. She had a few minor changes for me to make. And then she wrote:
I think once you make these changes it is ready to go. I don't need to see it again.
After saying out loud, "Are you fucking kidding me?", after the hooping and hollering at my on-campus desk stopped, and after getting dinner and a drink with a friend (planned weeks before), I finished the edits late last night. Today I did the final formatting edits and conversion into a PDF....

Just minutes ago I deposited the completed dissertation via the online system we use at LMU. It's DONE!!!

Time to head out for dinner and a movie with Wife. Life is back to normal again for the first time in over 8 years.

What a great day.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Back in DC's Court

Boing! I served the ball back over to my chair. I got through the dissertation revisions over the weekend. Am pretty excited about this. I sent it back to her overnight on Sunday, and I received a response yesterday saying she's away for a couple of days but will get to it when she returns. It's all in her court now. Hopefully she'll respond in a timely manner and we can get TFD turned into The Graduate School forever! My goal is this month, but if that's not going to happen then so be it. December 2010 will be just as fine...as long as the year is 2010. My goal all along was the walk in graduation during the same year I submitted the dissertation!!!

I've been reading up on all the little procedures I'll need to do before turning it in. It's fascinating. It's almost like one needs an additional doctorate in certain technology in order to get the submission correct, and to follow all of the rules. One of the directions actually says, "Don't forget to embed your fonts." Excuse me? Isn't that a bit personal? Hahahahaha. I crack up myself. Fortunately the powers that be go on to explain what the hell that means in the directions. It's all good.

So, I wait. But I relax, probably for the first time in about 8 1/2 years.

Saturday, November 06, 2010


The dissertation defense was a deeper experience for me than I anticipated it would be. I have been so focused on finishing the paper while balancing other aspects of life that I think I’ve lost a bit of myself along the way. Or, at least I’ve lost a bit of my ability to feel. Here I stand at the end of the journey as I complete these final ten revisions (did I mention there are ten?), and I find myself trying to pick up various pieces of my brain that I may have dropped behind me by mistake, much like one would drop breadcrumbs in a forest in order to find one’s way home.

The funny thing is that tonight I find myself remembering the end of high school. I didn’t know it when I was there, but that was one of the times in my life when I felt powerful. I was a badass pianist. I honestly don’t know if I was ever a better pianist than senior year of high school. I got into college on my piano skills and, I guess, the fact that I could write my way out of a box. I was at the top of my game as a pianist, I was in decent physical shape, I had a full head of hair... things were going well.

I went to college and the comparison bug started. I was constantly comparing myself with others and immediately making bad judgments against myself. Not sure where that came from. Instead of the constant comparison being a motivating force to compete and perform better, it got to be pretty damaging. And I lost myself in the process. I couldn’t be good enough to satisfy me. There were times I didn’t even try. I had to spend a long while picking up the pieces after college. Don’t get me wrong: I was a decent musician upon graduation, but what was I doing with music then? Could I really identify as a musician? Not really. And I never ended up working in music full-time afterward, so it was easy to feel a bit lost after having gained admission to college as a musician, for crying out loud.

Then I started my master’s degree. It wasn’t as bad. I was finding myself in a new career, and in general I liked it. It took me a few years to pick up the pieces again, but I was able to do alright. And ultimately I had picked them up enough to hold a good job, do well, marry the Wife, have a kid, and start the doctorate appropriately. Life was pretty good.

So, at least I’ve been through the piece-picking-up process a few times in the past, and I’ve been successful with it. In fact, I think the process has already started. Colors appear brighter. Music sounds clearer. In general I feel more powerful. I’m more centered. I feel more capable. And apparently, people are interested in what I think. That’s pretty neat. Maybe I have badass thoughts? The good kind of badass, though, not the “I’m a bad person,” badass.

Finally. Self-confidence is a good thing. And it’s been on holiday a long, long time.

Thursday, November 04, 2010

Passed!!! ...with some editing required

I tried to tweet about this yesterday, but for some reason my Twitter ap on my phone refused to accept my userID and password. Oh well.

I passed the defense! I have a few edits to do, and but they are minor, according to my chair. Phew! Am going to spend the rest of the afternoon trying to plow through as many of those as possible before I start forgetting details. If I can finish them up in the next couple of weeks, then I will go into Thanksgiving with a LOT for which to be thankful!!!

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Final Preparation

I met with DC last Friday afternoon, and she told me I will have five minutes to provide an overview of my study to the committee and any visitors who will be in the room.

Five minutes? I'd have an easier time with 60 minutes. Five??

Well, early this morning I completed a draft of a five-minute presentation (FIVE??), and I ran it by two colleagues over lunch today. Remarkably they didn't fall asleep. At least not entirely. They also provided very helpful feedback that I will incorporate in this evening.

I'll practice just a few more times, and then I'll go to bed. Early. Zzzz

I'm not that stressed about it, honestly. Sure, I'm nervous. I am human, after all. But I think it's ultimately going to go well. I certainly will not peak too soon with this five-minute presentation, though. Geez.