Tuesday, September 15, 2009

The Next Step

So, Sept. 11th (2009) was a monumental day – I successfully defended my dissertation that day. I had been very reluctant to schedule the defense for that day – it seemed so inauspicious. As I told my committee, the only day that would seem worse would be something like Friday the 13th. But as graduate students rapidly learn, it is very difficult to make four committee members come up with a common date and time they can meet – and you would have to be out of your time to make them change such a date after they have decided on it. So, we kept the date in spite of my misgivings. And to be fair, I would probably have had misgivings no matter what the date was.
Anyway, the defense went well except for one minor problem. On some (minor) things, my committee agreed on the changes I would have to make to transform this into a book. But on other things, they disagreed – even disagreeing on the best chapters/topics which should form the heart of the book. Some thought articles should come first; others pushed for a book.

All of this seemed a merely academic discussion at the time. I had just defended – what did I care? I still have small changes to make before turning in the vast amount of paperwork and the dissertation which will earn me my actual degree. But those who know me, know that I am not happy with little to do. I have a love-hate relationship with what I do – I hate it when I actually have to write but love the material. So, starting today, I have asked myself: what next? What now?

I do have a very long To-Do List. Most of it is from the summer – things that got put aside for the dissertation. But I like my dissertation. I want to work on it. So, should I start an article on it? What does that entail? Or think in terms of a book? I realized that while grad school has taught me some things, it has taught me nothing about how to convert a dissertation into a book. Does one work on the dissertation first? On a book proposal? Talk to editors? I have no idea. So, the next step for me is: research how to publish books in academia and work on journal articles.

It’s always about the next step for me. I wish I could learn to relax. What do you do after you finish a major project?
To-Do List:

1. Apply for reappointment for my third year at MU
2. Clean out the more than 100 boxes in our basement
3. Make two new course proposals for Ancient & Medieval Political Thought and Modern Political Thought – will write more about the process for this later
4. Make changes to the dissertation and submit it with all the paperwork
5. Apply for travel grants for conferences this semester
6. Shop for the India trip, get shots etc.

Plants: All my plants made it through the summer, so this experiment was clearly a success. I love the fresh herbs, so I am definitely getting more of them next summer.

Giggs: He has had a rough few weeks. He hurt his right back leg about a month or so ago. The vet thought it may be a torn ligament and if so, would need surgery. She gave him a painkiller and anti-inflammatory but it worked and he stopped limping. Then, 2 days ago, he hurt his left back leg while trying to chase a dog. He is back on that medication and has stopped limping. However, he is very cautious about that leg, so I know it still hurts him. Then yesterday, he got a stomach bug and threw up about 4 times. He finally ate some crackers and drank some water (with sugar and salt in it) last night, so I am hoping he is feeling better.

A New (Old) Car: Gregg and I bought a very old 2001 Ford Explorer this summer. So, while everyone was trading in their clunkers, we bought one  It is much easier to have two cars – I do not have to plan my life around the car anymore. The Camry is now my car – which I love. No more adjusting seats and mirrors every time I get into the car. I hate driving the Explorer though – it is too big and I simply cannot park it. So, I am very happy with the Camry as mine. Gregg likes the bigger car anyway – sense of power or control or whatever it is.

Last Thought on the Significance of Sept. 11th, 2009: When Gregg’s mom heard about the defense, she decided to send me a card early. However, I was very unwilling to talk about the defense and certainly refused to open a card prematurely – it seemed like bad luck. So, she contemplated putting the following on the card: “Do not open till Sept. 11th” but decided against it because of how it sounded. I am so glad she did not send that to a green card holder 