S. Worthen (owlfish) wrote,
S. Worthen


Yesterday morning, not long before my ride to the airport was due to come, I arrived in my advisor's office with 1835 pieces of paper to drop off for him. They were stashed in my backpack, a cloth bag, and a plastic bag, the last from the concerned photocopy store person who wondered how I was going to transport it all.

I had good timing at the photocopy store. It was deserted when I arrived. The man behind the counter had plenty of time to chat as I printed out 365 pages and started the subsequent photocopying jobs. Just as well - a dozen people then descended on the store all at once, and he was busy. I've used that copy shop frequently to do complicated color photocopying jobs. I wanted them to have the business of this particular print job.

The night before, I slept for an hour-and-a-half in all. I never faded too badly, editing and fleshing out footnotes through the night. I'm glad my hotel room came with such a large desk.

I had a breakfast appointment at 8:30 in the morning with chamaeleoncat, and it's a good thing too. The appointment made me more organized, gave me a clearer time limit to work with. It also ensured I ate a decent meal with good company. And, since she's lovely and helpful, she helped me carry back all my books to my carrel afterwards.

As of midmorning, my text was burned to disc a second time, with a few last corrections, and I was at the photocopy store. All I could see when looking at it were the remaining problems. Pictures with incomplete labels. Two images which aren't there at all. An important point I entirely failed to make. Acknowledgements overlooked. I didn't really want to turn it in at all in what seemed like such a dire state.

But I had to. It needed doing. I could have anticipated that when I turned it in, all I would see are the problems. I've had that happen before with large papers and theses I've written. What I wasn't expecting was the sense of loss, that I can't work on this particular version of this project anymore in any fundamental way; that I don't know what I'm doing next in the bigger scheme of things; that I'm not ready to progress so much closer to the reality of graduating from this degree and not being a student anymore. There seemed nothing worth celebrating - a loss, not a gain.

And yet, I've made it to a major landmark in my degree, no matter what it feels like from the inside. I've turned in my dissertation. I have an external examiner lined up. Within the next week or so, my exam date will be scheduled (for sometime in early-to-mid December).
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