Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Thesis Defense Passed!!

Good news, I passed my thesis defense!!  It was yesterday afternoon at 2:00 p.m. and I have rarely been so glad to be done with anything. I've been an absolute nervous wreck about it, but I felt that way about my comps, too, if you remember and I did fine with them. Having the defense done is just such a feeling of accomplishment, I can't even describe it. It's truly very validating! I mean, in the face of 121 pages, to sit down and discuss it with people who have read your work and actually want to talk about it with you, it seals the deal. It makes it final and tells me that what I've done is valid to people who have done much more.

Honestly, now, I'm not sure what I was worried about. I've been fretting over it for so long, maybe fear of the unknown or of failure--I've always had a bit of trouble feeling any sort of security in the knowledge that I'm smart or capable--so when the time came I nearly couldn't do it. I did, though, go to my friend, Marsha's defense on Monday and she has two of the same committee members as me, so I was able to see how they're conducted in an atmosphere that wasn't at all threatening to me--I wasn't in the hot seat! After seeing her defense, I felt eons better, but when Tuesday came my fear was back... if not in full force.

Ultimately, I had some lunch and kept it down, which I was proud of myself for accomplishing, and went to my defense. Cowering or not, I went and I only told my committee chair, Dr. Young, that I couldn't do it once. On the way there I did look down and find some errors, like an aberrant space on the table of contents, and the date lines being wrong on the approval page, which freaked me out. You never want to go to these things knowing you've still got errors, it doesn't instill confidence, but I knew already that there would be some things to fix. Dr. Young is so patient in reminding me that we have until July 5 to get all the kinks worked out before it has to be to the graduate college for more corrections.

Once we got started, I was fine!  Better than fine, actually. You never realize how much you want to talk about your work, particularly something you've been pouring your heart and soul in to for a year, until you're sitting there with people who care and want to listen. I had an amazing time discussing how I came to this topic, the discovery process in researching, how this topic wasn't what I had in mind when I started grad school, how much I enjoy--both personally and academically--studying the Gothic. They asked me some deeper questions regarding things like how I see the Gothic addressing the anxieties of society now, during the postmodern era, or how, given the distinction between terror and horror I saw them manifesting in modern society, and much more.

When they asked me about what I would say to future graduate students, my advice was simple: no matter how badly you want to, never give up. It seems generic, but it's the truth. It's not an easy process, it's not supposed to be.  Self doubt is inevitable, giving up is easy, keeping at it is not. I also told them that I thought the thesis was a wonderful exercise, that I thoroughly enjoyed it, and that I felt like to do the MA without it was to miss out on something so educating and gratifying. Without having done the thesis, which is the hardest thing I've ever done, I don't think I'd feel nearly as educated. I truly feel like it's something every MA student, at least every MA student in English, should try for. It's an amazing experience, even though it was frustrating and heartbreaking at times, too.

I also thanked them for all the hard work they've been putting in on my behalf. They get nothing extra for doing this, yet they're so willing to work hard and make this experience as gratifying and educational for me as possible, which means a lot.  Finally, I feel like writing the thesis has made me a much stronger writer, much more capable of seeing how ideas go together in the grand scheme of things.  It has been wonderful and I'm going to miss grad school when I'm done.

All in all, it went for about an hour and fifteen minutes before all was said and done. Then, they sent me out and discussed it for a few minutes before bringing me back inside and congratulating me on having done a "beautiful job."  I don't think I was ever more proud of myself than I was yesterday, when Dr. Young smiled at me and said, "Congratulations!" Not even when I passed my comps. There is just something very gratifying about looking into the faces of people you respect and seeing pride there... for you! 

And you know, doing a read through of the whole document, I feel a great amount of pride for myself. More so than ever before. I think it reads really well, and I sound like I know what I'm talking about! Ha!  No, but really, I didn't realize how much I truly know about this topic, even after writing so much about it, until it came time to defend. You really do know more than you think you know sometimes!!

So now it's time to do more corrections and get this thing ready to be bound. After that, I'm done! Amen! I'm not going to walk when I graduate, I decided sitting in the heat in black polyester in the middle of the summer wasn't my idea of a good time. I am, however, going to do the graduate hooding ceremony, but I don't know when that is yet. Hopefully, I'll find out soon.  There's still this fear in me that they're going to look at everything I've done and say, "nope, you've got more work to do!" but I felt that way with my undergraduate, too, right up until they gave me the paper that said I was a graduate--or maybe when there was a conferral date on my transcript! I think it'll be that way with this, too. I'm just so proud of myself right now, and though it makes me feel a little bit self-centered, I  simply don't care!

And that's the way it should be!!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Thesis & Some Other Stuff

I know, crazy interesting title, right? Heh.

Goodness!!  I really miss the days when blogging was a priority... okay, okay, there were never days when blogging was a priority. Maybe in the future, though?  Maybe, but probably not. As much as I love blogging, I've got sooooooooooo much going on. Huh, that's irony right there. A blog is a place to talk about all the things you've got going on, but if you've got too much going on you don't have time to blog. Nice.

So, what have I been up to? Let's see... thesis, thesis, and more freaking thesis. Yes, that again. Sorry. If you happen to scroll down a bit you'll see that I'm done writing the thing, which is awesome, except that being done writing it doesn't mean being done. Not at all. Rather, there're corrections, more corrections, read-though, more corrections, a defense, and likely, more corrections. Yeah, I'm in corrections hell. But on the other side of corrections hell is graduation heaven!  I'm so thankful to be nearly completely done.

Right now, the last major hurdle is my defense... it's on Tuesday, the 26th, and I am absolutely, positively petrified. I actually thought about not writing this because it just reminds me of my impending defense, which we're unofficially calling "discussion" now because defense sounds like war. I have been assured this is not, in fact, war. That doesn't make me any less afraid, believe it or not. I actually alternate between feeling like I'll be fine and feeling like I might make an idiot of myself by bursting into tears in the middle of the defense. I think the tears are much more likely than bravery, but I'm trying to think positive. I'm sure that I'll feel fantastic once it's done, I know I did with my comps, and unlike comps I won't have to wait to find out the verdict, they tell you then and there... after some deliberation, of course.  My committee chair says that no one fails these things, but that doesn't much ease my fear. I guess I'm just one of those people who can find something to be afraid of, even with reassurances.

Anyhow, onto a new topic, because I'm feeling the tears right now. Since the last time I wrote I got new furniture. We got a sofa, a recliner, a 9 cube book case, a floor lamp that has shelves, and I got new shower curtains for the bathroom and a new desk chair. Amazing how much a little bit of new furniture can perk a place up!

What else, let's see, I've been reading a lot lately. I've read three books in the last four days. I suppose it's all that nervous energy worrying about my defense. Either way, I've enjoyed taking the time to read a few books. Of course, everything I'm reading have sequels coming up, but not for months, and I'm not good at waiting. Ugh, no, I'm actually terrible at waiting! Strangely, I think waiting to find out what happens next is putting more stress on me than it should be, but it could be deferred stress, so I'm trying not to feel like a basket case.

Anyway, I think that's about it. I'm off for now, I'm going to my friend's defense tomorrow, at 2pm. Looking forward to that, actually, but since it's almost 2am, I'm going to bed. Good night.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Thesis. . .

Done ...almost.

Look over there, on the sidebar. See it? No? Maybe a better hint is in order. See the meter that says "Radcliffe's Daughters--Thesis"?  See how it's at 100% complete. Yeah, I finished the first draft of my thesis. All five chapters are done, compiled into one draft, and sent off to my committee chair!

I. am. so. thrilled.

Of course, it's a first completed draft which means I still have corrections to do. I have to do corrections from two of my committee members for chapter 4, from all three of my committee members for chapter 5, and then overall corrections to the whole draft from my committee and from the graduate college, but it's all written. With the 1.5" margins on the left-hand side, and each chapter starting on a new page, the document is 110 pages. The number of pages will either shrink--if page breaks aren't necessary, for example--or it will grow--if I write more pages or do further space-related editing. Either way, that's a heck of a lot of pages and I'm pretty darn proud of myself, I must say.

Now, other than corrections, all I'll have to do is defend it. Very scary, that, but I think I'll make it through... I hope. That's coming up over the next three weeks some time, wish me luck!

Looks like I'll definitely be graduating in August. Go me!!

Date Night & Snow White and the Huntsman

Our date was okay. Matt wasn't as into it as I had hoped he would be, but he was in some pain because he had worked the night before, so, I suppose I can forgive him. We saw Snow White and the Huntsman, which I liked okay. I don't think Matt much liked it, but then he slept through half the movie, so some of the things he had an issue with were things he had failed to see being set up at one point or another. Since I'm the kind of person  that gets upset when he falls asleep in a movie, I didn't enjoy it as much as I could have. So all in all, dinner was the nicest part of our date.

The movie was pretty good, if you like fairy tales. I like the idea that they're doing modern re-tellings of traditional fairy tales, so this is right up my alley.  A reviewer on Slate said the movie didn't have much to offer from the original, which I don't at all agree with. It had all the traditional fairy tale elements--wicked stepmother, princess in distress, dwarves, apples, the kiss to bring her out of her coma--but it also had a lot of interesting twists on that story that I thought made it much more modern. Things like a magical connection between the queen, Rivena, and Snow White, and Snow White's donning battle gear to go take her kingdom back by force. I liked those things particularly because she comes across as a stronger woman than she might otherwise have been.

Some things Matt and I both had an issue with include Kristen Stewart, Kristen Stewart, and Kristen Stewart.  Yeah, she really made suspension of disbelief difficult. There were a few moments when she was believable, but there were a lot of others when you just feel like Bella's escaped to some kind of medieval alternate reality. The real problem is Kristen Stewart's acting, she only has a few stock facial expressions, all of which Matt is really annoyed by. Particularly that lip quivering, distressed-ish face she does. Strangely, he's willing to admit that he'll watch any movie she's in, even though he thinks she's a terrible actress because, well, he finds her attractive. Ugh, men!

Overall, I liked it better than Red Riding Hood and think I'll probably buy it when it comes out on Blu-Ray. Matt says he'll watch it again and save his final criticisms for when he's seen the whole thing. At least he's not trying to pretend he didn't fall asleep like he sometimes does. Yeah, it really annoys me when he goes to sleep and it made our date kind of disappointing. Maybe next time we have a date we'll do something he wants to do, or see something he wants to see, so he'll be more interested.

We had had dinner late afternoon, so when the movie was over we went out to have frozen yogurt, which was a nice end to our night. We also got a few movies from Wal-Mart and then came home and spent some time gaming.  Seems like Matt's not really interested in going out or doing anything but working and gaming, which I enjoy but wish he was more interested in spending time with me doing other things, too.

Anyway, I have some other things I'm really excited to talk about, but I'll write about them later, or tomorrow. For now I'm off, I hope you've had a nice weekend.

Friday, June 1, 2012

A Date!!

Tonight, I'm going on a date!! Matt and I are going out to Pastafina and are going to see Snow White and the Huntsman. I can't wait! I seriously think dating ones own spouse is an underrated experience and something we take for granted--at least, we do. We go out and eat all the time, enjoy one another's company and nice conversation, but we never consider it a date. Add a movie and, suddenly, we're in date territory because Matt and I don't often go out to movies--I think the last one we saw was Hunger Games--which is crazy because it's so inexpensive here in town.

It's funny because every time I tell someone that we can see a matinee for $3.25 each (it was only $3.00 each when we saw Hunger Games), their mouths fall open and they look at me like I've grown another head. Hilarious!  Regular evening showings are only $5.25 each, which isn't too bad either. Sadly, though, when we moved here in 2004 a matinee was only like a $1.50 per person and evening showings were only $3.00. Then, they renovated the theater and have been slowly raising the price every couple of months. Another few years and we'll be almost as expensive as everyone else.

Anyway, back to the topic. It's crazy how excited I am about going on this date, too. I almost feel like we're dating again, in that giddy sort of way, which I think is a really healthy thing. It means I'm still, even after 13 years together, really into my husband. I think more couples should go on a date every once in a while.

Okay, for now I need to go. The movie's at 4:40 (I think) and it's already after 1pm and Matt's still sleeping. Time to kick his lazy bones into gear. I also need to do something with my hair. I'll let you know what I think of the movie!