Roy and I have been together for six months now with the entire focus of our relationship directing us towards a final break up. I would not recommend this route for any “real-life” relationship, but in the academic world there seems to be a norm of use-em’ and lose-em’. I have put countless hours into making Roy a better man and although I dreamt about him on countless occasions he was far from ever being the man of my dreams. Roy’s parent (unfortunately coming from an single-parent household due to the lack of support from the other committee members) helped me through our relational difficulties. Which brings me to one of the biggest lessons I learned this year: having a good relationship with your thesis chair (or thesis parent) is key to getting through this process with you sanity remotely in tact. However, like I remember learning when I was younger that “bad company ruins good morals,” a poor committee can devastate a good thesis. Thus as you would pick your friends wisely, also pick your thesis’s friends carefully. I unfortunately made a mistake in my selection by allowing the “Terdy Third” to be on my committee.
The Terdy Third disappointed me in a number of ways throughout the process. During the first defense he not only showed up in athletic wear, but also attempted to appear as if he had read my prospectus. However, it was quite apparent by his questions that he had not even read my title. Although this got my perverbial feathers ruffled for a while, I was willing to let it go. Perhaps this was the wrong approach because my distain was only increased by his second showing (or lack thereof) for my final defense. My final defense was planned 6 weeks in advance because aligning three doctorate professors’ schedules is like trying to squeeze in a meeting with the president. A few reminders had been sent along the way and everything was in order the weekend before my Monday defense. On Saturday morning I woke up to an email that informed me that he was going to attend a lunch Q & A instead of my thesis defense. Excuse me!?! There was no death in the family, no unforeseen car trouble, no medical emergency, no lottery won or robbery incurred. Instead, a free lunch and a chance to listen to some academic respond to some questions–mind you the Terdy Third was not the academic who was called to elicit a response at the luncheon. This is the biggest day of my grad school experience and it was almost foiled by a free Sodexo lunch! Wow, I have reached an all new disappointment level. Instead of seeing the light and attending my defense he was told to write his comments down on a piece of paper and give them to me before my defense. Sure enough, on the day of my defense he presented me with a single sheet of paper with ridiculous suggestions for additions that ended on page 39 of my nearly 200 page thesis. I assure you that these suggestions were so far fetched that I would’ve been more in aggreeance with anything that was said if it were done so in the form of doodles, comics, or hieroglyphics. Also, it seems like my thesis was perfect after page 39–I just needed to warm up my academic writing and then it soared after page 39. Undoubetedly, the Terdy Third doesn’t even know what my study found if he even knows what it was about. I can’t believe I sought the advice of three academics on the most grueling and labor intensive project only to receive two well-thought out opinions. It definitely cheapened the experience to say the least.
Well as with any relationship, they usually end with one big fight. My final defense was my last fight with Roy. Yet even though we have broken up, I still feel like we are “friends with benefits” until he is on the shelf in his final form. Roy just went through his official counseling session (aka editing) and is ready for my sendoff. While some guys come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime, Roy stayed for a long season, and I must say that I am ready for a change in weather.
Apparently, grad students are not supposed to have fun. When word leaked out in the communication division that there was a spring break planned for the three of us in Kauai, there was an endless amount of backlash and gripe from our professors. If a day or class period went by without some mention that we were going to Kauai, it was cause for a celebration. To all those grad students who want to take a trip or break from the exhausting routine and academic wear on your psyche, let me give you some advice: Keep in a secret. I mean it, not a peep to anyone, not a mention on a facebook status or an uploaded picture until the school year is over. I got extremely tired of feeling like I owed everyone an explanation for why I was going to Kauai over spring break. In case anyone was still wondering, here is a few reasons why:
1. I have not been on a spring break trip ever.
2. I am losing my mind in academia at the moment due to the endless mental strain that comes with writing a thesis.
3. I have spent the past six months spending every night up late on the couch writing while everyone else sleeps.
4. Great weekends have been measured by how much I was able to write, not who I got to spend time with on a social level.
5. I don’t know the last time I woke up without an alarm or had the opportunity to take a nap.
6. I feel guilt looking at non-academic books and watching a movie is out of the question.
7. My skin hasn’t seen extended sunlight since August…seriously.
8. I have two wonderful friends to travel and unwind with who are also losing their minds.
I’ll stop there, but I could go on. You see, I need a break and Kauai for a week is the perfect escape from my current reality. However, I realized at the dinner table tonight, that a grad student spring break doesn’t look like your typical spring break. Mornings are spent working on theses (except for me, which I’ll explain later), so I read the news online like any good scholar would do. If I sense that there is an increased level of stress or pressure on the other two I continue my restful morning either by continued reading or a brisk walk. The rest of the day is spent on a beach or trying to find a sunny beach where we catch up on all the sleep we have been deprived of lately. Dinners are spent at the condo discussing some intellectual idea or another. Tonight, we talked about commerce in Hawaii, the narrative of America and its expression on an island that did not want to become a state, the condition of the school system in Hawaii, and possible real-life examples of ethical case studies where dishonesty was used to better one’s qualifications. Isn’t this what all 23-year-olds talk about over dinner? I would guess that this is probably not the case. You see, just because the master communicators have taken a vacation does not mean that we have suspended all critical thinking. Instead, we have moved our critical thinking a few times zones and pina coladas to the west in search of our sanity. The rest of our evenings are spent back at the thesis grindstone (except me) and occasionally I can talk the other two into watching a movie with me before going to bed before midnight–you know typical college spring break stuff. Yeah right! I hope my parents realize how fortunate they are that their daughter is not dancing on a bar somewhere during her spring break until who knows what hour of the night/morning. Instead, me and my master communicators are nestled into our beds (before midnight) with published theses dancing through our heads.
How the Thesis Grinches Stole the Weekend
Merry Christmas to our faithful leaders
Every wave up at Pepperdine liked school a lot…
But the Thesis Grinches, who lived just north of campus, did NOT!
The Thesis Grinches hated school! The whole school season!
Now please don’t ask why. No one quite knows the reason.
It could be that their methods were never quite right
It could be, perhaps, that all they did was write.
But I think that the most likely reason of all,
Was because they hit the notorious thesis wall.
Whatever the reason, their methods or writing,
They sat in the grad lounge hating APA citing.
Staring down from their thesis cave with a sour, Grinchy frown,
At the warm dormitory windows in that Malibu town
For they knew every Wave down at Pepperdine U.
Was busy now, thinking up fun things to do.
“And they’re planning fun outings!” they snarled with a sneer,
“Tomorrow is Saturday! It’s practically here!”
Then they growled, with their Grinch fingers nervously drumming,
“I must find some way to stop the weekend from coming!”
For Tomorrow, they knew, all the Wave girls and guys,
Would wake late and lazy. They’d peek open their eyes!
And then! Oh the fun! Oh the fun!
Fun! Fun! Fun!
That’s one thing they hated! The FUN!
FUN! FUN! FUN!
Then the Waves, young and old, would lie down to sleep.
And they’d sleep! And they’d sleep! And they’d SLEEP!
SLEEP! SLEEP! SLEEP!
They would sleep in their cozy beds, and count white sheep.
Which was something the Thesis Grinches did the least!
And THEN on Sunday night they’d do something the Grinches liked least of all!
Every Wave down at Pepperdine, the tall and the small
Would chat happily on facebook, with their statuses posted.
Makes comments on each wall about the weekend through which they coasted!
They had played! And they’d played! And they’d played!
PLAYED! PLAYED! PLAYED!
And the more the Grinches thought of these Waves without theses
The more the Grinches thought, “We must stop this whole thing-tear it to pieces!”
“Why, for an entire semester we’ve put up with it now!”
“We MUST stop the weekend from coming! But HOW?”
Then they got an idea! An awful idea!
THE GRINCHES GOT A WONDERFUL, AWFUL IDEA!
“We know just what to do!” The Grinches laughed in their throat.
And they sat down and a hard syllabus they wrote.
And they chuckled, and clucked, “What a great Grinchy plan!”
“With this syllabus and assignments we’ll pull the perfect scam!”
“All I need is a professor…” The Grinches looked around.
But, since professors have lives, there was none to be found.
Did that stop the Thesis Grinches? No! The Grinches simply said,
“If we can’t find a professor, we’ll make one instead!”
So they found Judy Tapper. They stole her keys and fled.
Then went to every CCB office and stole every degree.
THEN they loaded some desks and some caffeinated tea.
Into the grad lounge and posted a nameplate outside of the door.
Such a believable professor had never set foot on the CCB’s 2nd floor.
Then the Grinches said, “Write!” and they gave out assignments.
To every Wave girl and Wave guy in need of academic alignment.
All the dorm windows were lit. Typing fingers filled the air.
The Waves were all thinking and stressing with despair.
When it came time for the first exam they made a paper due too.
“And this is just week one,” the thesis Grinches brewed,
Then they gave a pop quiz, to the students dismay.
Then they moved to group projects. All work and no play.
But then the Grinches saw the little Waves still lined up for coffee dates.
“This free time,” the Grinches grinned, “is the next thing we annihilate!”
Then they slithered and slunk, with grins that were not very nice,
Around the whole campus, the Waves would pay a price!
Weekends! Mixers! Sunny days and coffee dates! They all had to go.
Beach days! Workouts! Movies! Such fun the Waves would no longer know.
And they canceled them all. Then the Thesis Grinches, quite satisfied,
Waited and waited. They sat and they waited, on that Drescher hillside.
They waited til the Waves succumbed to dreamlike sleep,
And as they were all counting their fuzzy, white sheep,
The Thesis Grinches tossed all their sleek Macbook laptops, into the Pacific!
They left the homework and books behind-they were really, quite specific.
Then they slunk to the Waves Cafe. They took the Waves’ Saturday morning meal!
They took the Wave bacon! Even the bad Seattle’s Best coffee the Grinches did steal!
They cleaned out the HAWC, too, as quick as a flash.
Why, those Thesis Grinches even took the Waves treats set out for a Campus Ministry bash!
Then they stuffed all the goods in their book bags.
“And NOW!” grinned the Grinches, “This will come off without any snags!”
And the Grinches revved up President Benton’s golf cart Wavemobile,
When they heard a small sound that made them put the brakes to the wheels.
They turned around fast, and they saw Willie the Wave!
The Waves’ great big blue mascot-the Thesis Grinches had to behave!
The Grinches, in their cold-hearted sabotage induced by caffeine,
Had been caught by Willie in the midst of this evil routine.
He stared at the Grinches and said, “Why, grad students, why?”
“Why are you taking our fun, games and free time? WHY?”
But you know those old Grinches were so smart and so slick,
They thought up a lie, and they thought it up quick!
“Why, my sweet little mascot,” the Thesis Grinches lied,
“There’s a tear in this weekend at least a half mile wide.”
“So I’m taking it home to my workshop, no reason to fear.”
“I’ll fix it up there. Then I’ll bring it back here.”
And their fibs fooled the Wave. Then they patted his tide,
And they got him a surfboard and they sent him to ride.
And when Willie the Wave went to the beach with his board,
They hopped back on the Wavemobile, oh how that engine roared!
The Waves’ weekend had to be ruined, of that there was no doubt
The Grinches could not wait to see them cry and pout
Where free time once existed, now there was none
Papers and assignments took the place of what used to be fun
Shiny computers and other nice things too were a thing of the past
Those were done away with, and done away with fast
They did leave one thing for those Waves- some may call it a toy
But they were just broken old pencils, something no Wave would enjoy
It was quarter past dawn on that Saturday morning as those Grinches sealed up the deal
All the Waves still a-snooze while they admired a job well done.
They had taken with their coffee! Their snacks! And their fun!
They had taken their computers! Their breakfast! Their good mood!
Their fun! Their free time! And their carefree attitude!
‘Bout three thousand feet up that Wavemobile flew.
It was packed with goodness those Grinches could not wait to undo.
“Pooh-Pooh to the Waves!” they were grinchishly humming.
They’re finding out now that no weekend is coming!”
They’re just waking up! I know just what they’ll do!”
“Their mouths will hang open a minute or two,
Then the Waves down in Malibu will all cry Boohoo!”
“That’s a noise,” grinned those Grinches, “that I simply MUST hear!”
So they paused. And the Thesis Grinches each put a hand to their left ear.
And they did hear a sound rising, but what it was, they did not know.
It started out low. Then it started to grow.
But the sound wasn’t sad! Why, this sound sounded merry!
It couldn’t be so! But it WAS merry! VERY!
They stared down at Malibu! The Grinches popped their eyes!
Then they shook! What they saw was a shocking surprise!
Every Wave down in Malibu, those who learn and those who teach,
Was singing! And they were all at the beach!
They HADN’T stopped the weekend from coming! IT CAME!
Somehow or other, it came just the same!
And those Grinchy Grinches, they hit a new low,
Those three all stood puzzling and puzzling: “How could it be so?”
“It came with out coffee! It came without fun!”
“It came without facebook, computers or sun!”
And they puzzled three hours, till their puzzlers were sore.
Then the Grinches thought of something that they hadn’t before!
“Maybe weekends,” they thought, “don’t have to be such a bore.”
“Maybe weekends…perhaps…can be a little bit more!”
And what happened then? Well…in Malibu they say,
That those Grinches’ small hearts grew three sizes that day!
And the minute their hearts didn’t feel quite so tight,
They whizzed with their load through the bright morning light,
And they brought back it all! And then it was not such a reach
For the thesis Grinches themselves, to lay out at the beach.
-JB, JEA, AKG
This semester, while still on a zero count for coffees and lattes consumed, I still managed to regularly stay up later than everyone else in my apartment. While I listened to AKG mumble things in her quiet slumber, I was snuggling up to Roy on the couch. I take this, not as a symbol of my uber-dedication to my thesis, but as a symbol of how far gone I am in this sick thesis addiction. This journey with Roy, which started five months ago, may be best understood as a relationship.
At first, Roy and I began as a blind date– I had no clue who he was or even how to approach him. It wasn’t long before I realized that Roy came with a lot of baggage from his previous relationships and finding a unique avenue for our relationship to blossom was going to take a lot of work. The first month of our relationship was the “getting to know you phase,” where everything was new and exciting as I would find new information about Roy daily. After our honeymoon phase, we moved into a rut. Suddenly, finding more things about Roy was laborious and it seemed like our relationship was going to always be an uphill battle. Although I had some relationship counseling along the way by my committee chair and my fellow master communicators, there were still times when I needed my space from Roy. The problem was, however, that space from Roy was impossible. The time I spent away from him was spent thinking about how I needed to spend time with him or writing about him. It was just better to spend time with him than not to and be ever-occupied by thoughts of Roy. This led to another relational problem; I became that girl in a relationship who only knows how to talk about her relationship. Social settings without my fellow master communicators were forced and awkward and I had no clue how to fix it. The next phase of our relationship was the reconnection phase. After I had learned all about Roy I had to figure out “how” I was going to go about carving the space for just our relationship alone. During this phase we went through some tough times where I would hit a wall with him and have to walk away in order to come back and hopefully work through our problems. I probably consumed the most glasses of wine during this phase, which I must admit put me and Roy in a better mood. Around glass 1 1/2 Roy starts looking more attractive as well, which boosts my confidence. More recently, Roy and I got to the stage of our relationship where he needed to meet the parents… And by parents, I mean my thesis committee. Like any good parents, mine wanted to make sure that Roy and I had a healthy relationship and that we were heading in the right direction. They wanted to know: could I support him? what his past relationships were like? And what I liked about him? This was a grueling 2 1/2 hour interview that started with a brutal reminder about my most recent failed relationship. Yet with the love and support of my fellow master communicators and some advised drinks, I was smiling and laughing again in a little over a week. My parents made me realize the flaws in our relationship and the things I needed to fix. Funny how this relationship tends to be extremely one-sided in the sense that I have to be the provider and the one to make it work.
Now that I have hit the mid-way point in my and Roy’s relationship (let’s face it, most relationships do have expiration dates even if you don’t know it), I can say that this journey has taught me a number of things.
1. To be dedicated to something, even when I feel like giving up at times.
2. To cherish the friendships that bring out the best in me and Roy.
3. That is it better to be overly communicated with your thesis parents than under communicated.
4. There is always more work to be done, but at some point you have to just be okay with what you have.
5. To treat yourself to a weekend away from “the boys” every once in awhile.
6. I might actually feel a sense of loss when Roy and I split up, which is not how I entered our relationship.
7. That every relationship goes through ups and downs and that these relationships can only progress as fast as your thesis parents allow.
8. It is always better in the morning.
9. There is never a mess that can’t be cleaned up.
10. And that I will always have friend in low places…
JB and Roy
In the spirit of Thanksgiving, I “gave” my thesis to my committee on Monday morning.
But enough about the thesis. For today, I’m thankful for friends, fam, and of course, food.
My dear mastercommunicators, I’ve come upon a poetic streak recently (it must be all the academic jargon driving me to a more creative form of writing), and I’d like to dedicate this to you:
As we work on our masters
and flirt with disaster
the only thing keeping me sane
is friends with whom to complain
So dear friends
‘tho we’re not at the end,
I’ve got to tell you,
Based on what we have been through
You put the fuel in my fire
You’re the ones I admire
They say life is a highway,
And on this path to our M.A.,
You’re keeping my tank full,
Girls, for that I am thankful
Currently, I am less than four hours away from my thesis defense. I have four hours to prepare for the impending fate that awaits me in the small den of torture also known as the “research library.” I have no clue what a defense is supposed to look like (just like I had no clue what a thesis was at the beginning of this semester). For all I know, I could be four hours away from a fencing match where my advisors are all dressed in the appropriate garb relentlessly trying to spear me. The winner of this fencing match would be the committee member that strikes the closest to my heart when they shatter the countless hours I’ve spent caressing this keyboard until all hours of the night. Great, now my love life is in shambles to the point where I can effortlessly describe writing my thesis as a “caressing” of my laptop keyboard. Woof. There is going to be some serious social damage after this process is done. Anyways, back to the point of how I have no clue what to expect. When I asked for advice from my thesis chair I was told that snacks would be a good idea. However, with vegan members on this committee I had no choice on the degree of flavor that would be present in these snacks. So I will be giving them chocolate cupcakes that taste like silly putty. “Here you go scholars, here is a chocolate brick to get you in the mood to verbally vomit on me.” I am sure no one will get through even one of those shards of terror…If they do it will only be a matter of time before we need to “take a short break” (if you know what I mean).
War time is now t minus 3 1/2 hours. I know that this is just one of two formal battles that must take place before the war on communication academia may be settled once and for all. If I come out limping, just know that it’s going to take more than cookie dough and hugs to get me on thesis path again. Grad school is not for the faint of heart.
Today, began like any other day. It started with me rolling out of bed early to go upstairs and sit in my “thesis throne” (aka the chair I like at the dinner table), which I had only left a few hours prior to catch a few hours of sleep. My daily look in the mirror this morning reminded me that I have not put much time into myself in awhile. However, I did buy a new lipstick yesterday to push me in the right direction. While my day did not start particularly well, I have a newfound euphoric feeling as of 1:30pm today. Why you may ask? Is it because my thesis is now over 100 pages? Or because I took a shower and blow-dried my hair today and tried to pull off a trendy sweater? No. While all of these added to my day, it was the sending of a single email that made my week/semester. Today I sent my finished proposal out to my committee. With one one click the countless hours of work left my hands and went out into cyberspace to be opened and read by my committee. I would like to relish in this moment before I let the butterflies attack my stomach because I have an impending meeting with three people that have the power to ruin me. For now, I am carefree, far from methods misery, and foolishly flirting with 100.
Sad to say, the CCB has become my home away from home, minus the comforts of sweatpants and leftovers from the fridge. When class was cancelled today, I thought, “YES!” I’d love to go for a run in the sunshine today…or go shopping at Trader Joes. These are things that I really should do–but unfortunately, eating and working out are just a few of the necessities that turn into luxuries as we continue on the epic warpath of thesis writing. After my 2:00 thesis meeting, straightening out some work with my assistantship, and waiting to talk to one of the elusive committee members, it’s 5:30. So much for getting out of here early. Someone wasn’t thinking this whole living-off-campus thing through…let’s be honest. It would be much easier if we each had a bedroom in the CCB. Things to consider: thesis meetings, classes, thesis proposal meetings…we’d be able to roll right out of bed and on into the classroom. Thoughts?
BONUS of living in the CCB? Getting to see Mr. Gregory Lee.
Happy to be back on the awesome Master Communicator blogs after my fellow Master Communicators changed the password on me without telling me and then changed it back when I was going to make them log in for me. (Very sneaky, you two) Haha jokes…
Anyway, while I was banned from this great blog, there were a couple of different things that I wanted to write about, but couldn’t and I figured that while I am sitting at LAX waiting for my flight to Chicago, it would be good to write them down.
First one is a hiku that I wrote last week while Amanda was fighting off the Swine:
No time for the swine
We’ve got better things to do
Gordon, 1, Swine, none
Second one is a little story that I would like to tell about an event that occurred last week in the CCB.
I had just woken up from a lovely nap on the floor of the back of the speech lab to go to class, and I admit that I was not looking my best. My hair was a little ruffled, my sweatshirt was a little dirty, as can be expected after one has used that sweatshirt as a pillow on a dirty floor. I ran in Caitlin Lawrance on my way to class. She indicated towards my rumpled appearance and said,”now this look says, ‘I’ve been working on my thesis.”‘ I started pouting, so she says, “At least it looks like your hair is washed.”
I hadn’t worked on my thesis or washed my hair for two days. FML.
This conversation with Caitlin, somebody who was living this life at this time last year, has made me nervous for the months to come. Is that what we have to look forward to? The total destruction of our physical appearance? Two months from now, am I always going to look like I have just awoken from a nap in the speech lab? I hope not…
I hope this blog post has been reasonably entertaining. Because I paid six dollars to get the wireless for it.
A recent email from my thesis chair after, finally, having a meeting with her:
Please take note of the following things:
1.) She said that it was “good to see me” (+ 3 points)
2.) She said that my proposal is coming along well (+4 points)
3.) She revised it and made comments (+5 points)
4.) She told me a thesis to look at that would help me (+2 points)
5.) She went out of her way to contact the Carter Library for me. (+3 points)
6.) She forgot to attach the document with her changes (-17 points?)
Sent: Thu 11/5/2009 5:20 PM
To: Alvarez, Jacqueline (student)
It was good to see you today and to see how well the proposal is coming along. I’m attaching my revised comments from our meeting and the little outline we made. I added a “methodology” section just in case it makes you feel more comfortable. One good model of this is Francesca Smith’s opening chapter if you want ot grab it from me or the research library. She integrates the method with the chapter outline and explains how she will conduct her rhetorical criticism at each step along the way through the project.
Also, I emailed the Carter library to see if they have anything from the State Department Olympic Boycott office, we’ll see what they say! I found some things on the National Archive database that they would have but, if they are nice, they will give me more info.
See you later!