Wednesday, January 10, 2007

The Screen Door Slams

We begin with a dream sequence. It's 8:30 am on a Monday, and I'm currently oversleeping, risking being tardy for a meeting. My subconscious knows I'm taking risks, and because it would much rather sleep, I begin to dream that I'm in my meeting with Moira and a professor. I'm exactly where I'm supposed to be, meeting with exactly whom I'm supposed to meet.

Professor: Well?
Me: Ah yes, of course.

[I reach for my bag and pull out two $50 gift certificates for the coffee shop where we're meeting. The gift certificates are beautiful. Printed on 60lb paper with script handwriting, subtle rainbow security background, and a small hologram. Nothing like in real life.]

Professor: Thank you.

[And she begins looking at the gift certificates, which have since become a pamphlet for birth control. She turns to the page describing Ortho Evra, the patch that has long been removed from the market due to health issues. The professor points at the page, making a sound of disgust.]

Professor: Tsch.
Moira: I know. Bananas and water.

[And as I nod my head in dreamy agreement about how 'bananas and water' the patch was when I was using it, I start to realize that I'm not in my meeting after all and I really need to]

Wake up, only to find I've started my period. And I realize quickly it's going to be that two-tampons-at-once sort of day.

* * *
Three days later, and it's 4:00 pm and I'm sitting in my pajamas listening to Bruce Springstein, stifling back tears of absolute frustration. I'm trying to finish an NSF proposal I'm preparing. The professors, including my advisor, are all out of the country, and I'm suddenly a post-doc/secretary. It's one of those things where I'm proud to have been asked, but I realize the small damage it's doing to me. The proposal is due three days after a paper deadline I should have submitted to, but just couldn't put enough energy into writing them both at the same time, AND get a real Christmas visit with my family. I made the choice to spend time with my parents over the break, rather than in a coffee shop basking in the glow of the iBook. And so, my prelim is postponed yet again, but I'll have the experience of an NSF proposal. One of those, "Better that I did it, now I know better, but I wish I hadn't" sort of things. Like donating eggs, smelling a freshly-cut durian, or going skiing (and falling out of the lift).

* * *

My friend is about to take the qual. She studies 23.5 hours a day, and talks about it all the time. She talks about quitting and failing, like qualers do. Like I did. Of course I do not envy the stress she's going through. But, in a way, I envy very much the constant progress she's making towards a concrete goal. I think my current tears of frustration are coming from working dilligently, and getting nowhere, an old chevy, without a differential, stuck in the mud. It's a funny scene in "My Cousin Vinny," but not at all in the Ph.D.

It's all so just bananas and water.


Lab Lemming said...

Mary's dress sways.
Like a vision she dances across the porch.
As the radio plays...

Bruce will get you through.

FemaleCSGradStudent said...

Am I a traitor? My favorite version of that song is the cover by the Cowboy Junkies.

Though, Devils & Dust is a dem fine album, too.

Lab Lemming said...

Sorry, but I'll lose my Jersey citizenship if I allow myself to agree.

FemaleCSGradStudent said...

Hahah. Noted. I'm just a simple Oregonian, hence my affinity for lefty Candandians.