December 31, 2012 § 1 Comment
Thanks to the WordPress.com “stats helper monkeys” for putting together this lovely annual report for A.Hab.’s View (2012).
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2012 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
600 people reached the top of Mt. Everest in 2012. This blog got about 8,400 views in 2012. If every person who reached the top of Mt. Everest viewed this blog, it would have taken 14 years to get that many views.
Personally, I think there is some room for improvement. But a new baby and a completed terminal degree will keep a girl from her blog. 2013 will be better! Without having to write the dissertation, I will have more time to blog. Stay tuned for a more-consistently-updated A.Hab.’s View in 2013!
December 31, 2012 § Leave a comment
Happy New Year’s Eve, everyone.
My post, “The art of being wrong” was featured today, which you can read here:
I would personally be grateful to you if you read and left a little comment. And I think you would be grateful to yourself if you poked around a bit in Tori’s blog…and considered following her. Because she is so hilarious and so worth it. If you like smiling and feeling happy, then you should be a regular reader of Tori’s. Just sayin’.
Have a lovely New Year, readers!
I’ll be back in a week or so with some new material. Maybe even some updates on Melanie! Lord knows I’m a few months behind.
December 20, 2012 § 4 Comments
And directly on the heels of Rowan’s rejection, here comes the rejection from Wisconsin-Madison.
Half of my potential schools have officially rejected me now. Judging by the pace at which I received these last two rejections, I am going to guess that my last three will likely arrive any day now. Why am I so confident that I will be rejected? Because deadlines have come and gone, and no one requested to see additional materials from me. I will not be granted an interview if they have not looked at additional materials (like letters of recommendation and writing samples).
It is with this third rejection that I am beginning to feel a little shaken. Not shattered and destroyed, mind. But a bit shaken. Wondering about the possible colossal mistake I made by following my interests and natural talents, and earning an advanced degree in such a specialized, practically non-hirable field. Considering advising the opposite course of action when Melanie goes to college.
As I said, I am not shattered by this–just a bit shaken. In the meantime, I have submitted a shorter version of a dissertation chapter to a journal (the one that the entire committee loved the most). I fear that a rejection from a journal will lead to some deterioration of my positivity and optimism. Of course, I am liable to be rejected simply by virtue of statistics. Rejections are far more common to receive than acceptances, and I have never submitted an article for publication before. So, it is statistically likely that the first line I cast in the publication pool will come up empty.
Let’s just hope the rest of the forthcoming rejection letters are a bit gentle.
December 20, 2012 § 5 Comments
December 11, 2012 § 6 Comments
Bleary-eyed and still shaking off sleep-induced confusion, I checked my e-mail on my phone. 10 new messages awaited my attention at 6:03 a.m. As per usual, the plethora of e-mails were not as urgent as the subjects suggested. I highlighted message after message, selecting these for eradication. “Save 40% storewide TODAY ONLY!” “A special gift for you, A.Hab.!” “Your 20% coupon to Spas Unlimited awaits you!”
Ugh. How do these people find me?
Just as I started to click the “Delete” button, my brain began to sift through the cobwebs and exclaimed, “WAIT!” I paused a moment. I had highlighted a message with the subject “regrets”.
“Don’t you think that looks curious?” mine brain urged.
“Uhm…yes?” I supposed. Frankly, I was eager to return to that last dream I had been having before my alarm so rudely roused me. I was not really curious about anything.
“Then let’s open it and just give it a look.”
Shrugging to no one but the cats, I clicked on that unassuming, all lower-case “regrets” to find this message:
Suddenly alert, it dawned on me what this unassuming e-mail had accomplished in so few words and with utter absence of personalization: eliminated a possibility from my potential professional future.
I read and re-read the message a few more times before responding with a much more polite e-mail, this one addressed to its intended recipient, and thanked the university for its consideration.
For the remainder of the day, I considered two things: the first, how very like applying to college it is to apply for a job within academia; the second, how surprisingly unscathed I was by my rejection.
Tackling the latter first, perhaps it is because I am already hired for a teaching position next semester that I do not feel the same amount of soul-crushing defeat I once felt when rejected from educational programs. Perhaps it is because I was rejected from a job that was not my top choice. Perhaps it is because I am still not entirely convinced that this is what I want to be when I grow up. Whatever the reason, I am not eager to dwell on it for fear that I will begin to feel defeated.
As for the similarities within academia between applying for programs and applying for professional jobs…the overlap is eerie.
Materials required for both types of applications:
–3 letters of recommendation
–Writing sample (longer page requirements the higher you climb through the educational system)
–Curriculum Vitae (CV)
The only differences I noted in my application materials were my statement of teaching philosophy and my teaching portfolio. (Although I did not submit a full teaching portfolio during my initial applications, it has been recommended to me that my portfolio be ready if requested.) While I recognize that my recent graduation from my doctoral program should indicate that I have reached the inevitable telos of my academic pursuits, somehow I feel uncomfortably tied to my 17-year-old self who anxiously attended the college fair at her high school, unsure if she would measure up in the first place.
Following sage advice from peers and professors alike, I applied for all job postings for which I was qualified. Unfortunately, that left me with sending out a paltry six applications. Thus the academic job market and demand for Shakespeareans. With last week’s rejection, I am left with five jobs from whom I have heard nary a peep. It bodes ill for me–I am under the impression that I should have heard more if they were interested in additional materials by now. In a different post, I will explain the way that the American academy handles professional hirings for those who may not already be familiar with it.
Suffice to say in the meantime, the process is similar to applying for educational programs, replete with frightening deadlines and the need to impress faceless names.
If I receive more rejections, which is likely to happen at this stage, I will make a six-part series of it. Then we can all compare the best of the worst rejection letters.
Have you ever had a surprising or unanticipated reaction to rejection? Have you ever received a form rejection letter?
December 10, 2012 § 6 Comments
I graduated on Saturday, December 8th, 2012.
My dissertation director draped the hood across my shoulders, and I shook hands, strutting my stuff across the stage. The symbolism was great on that day. Upon entering the arena, my director walked before me. Upon approaching the stage, she walked before me. Once I stood up from my crouch to be hooded, I walked in front of her. It was a moment that I had not anticipated would have affected me quite the way that it did.
I arrived to the meeting room twenty minutes before the e-mail had instructed me to. I was nervous and antsy, so I read an athletic program, staring blankly at pictures, feeling a bit alone among all the other graduating doctoral students who seemed to be there in pairs. When I finally saw my director come into the room, I hurried over to her, feeling suddenly thrilled and excited. I felt like I belonged there. Soon, we were given instructions–hand over your hoods now (it will be on the stage waiting for you), don’t take up more than one seat (just squeeze together), don’t hug each other on the stage (keep moving quickly), and remember to smile (there will be pictures)! There was a joking promise of seeing the light (you will suddenly realize that you know everything there is to know once you get hooded).
My director and I offered muttered commentary where some of the instructions warranted it, stifling our laughter behind sarcastic smiles.
After we had chorused our understanding of the instructions, we were herded back downstairs to the arena portal where we would enter for the last time as students. My director and I muttered together about another professor’s hatred of ceremonies, confessing that we both secretly loved going to graduations. I was relieved to know that I wasn’t alone in feeling the weight of this moment. I walked past my family, seated only a few rows above me. Once I found my seat, I heard a familiar motorboat sound and looked slightly to my left: there was Melanie with Robert’s family, seated near a door for a quick get-away. I felt surrounded by my supporters, both behind me and in front of me (later I would learn my friends were seated to my left).
The familiar music swelled and ended as the departmental representatives arrived and were seated alongside the masters of the ceremony. Speakers spoke. The commencement speaker was a humble professor of poultry science who had earned several excellence in teaching awards–and well deserved. He spoke about success not requiring strength in quantity but strength in quality–it is possible to succeed by positively affecting just one life, not all lives. I took his message to heart, and I saw the light in it.
After my director and I were seated, she and I began to play the “look at the undergraduates’ shoes” game. This is a famous game, rumored to me by her previous doctoral candidates. I was delighted when I received my formal invitation to play. While she remarked on the height of heels coupled with inexperience in walking in them, I pointed out dullness of men’s shoes coupled with programs of expertise. Of course, the military men and women swept my shine score card, but that was to be expected (and was). I love a high shine.
The ceremony ended quickly–in under two hours. We were escorted out of the arena to applause and back up to the room where we first convened. After sharing my home address with my director and receiving her promise to attend the reception afterwards, I hurried down to the arena to hug my husband.
I have been flying high ever since.
A few people have asked me what it feels like to be finished. And, in fact, I must confess that I have asked my other friends the same question when they have completed their degrees. It’s a feeling that has no description. Does it feel good? Of course. Do I feel relief? Immense relief. Do I feel proud? I want to wear my hood everywhere.
But what word encapsulates all of those adjectives?
The best I can come up with is happy.
If you are working on a degree, and I know so many who are, push yourself. It will hurt. It will suck. It will make you question your decision-making skills. But this is a finite experience, as long as you end it. Finish your program, and no one will ever be able to take your degree away from you (along with all the rights, privileges, and responsibilities therein pertaining).
Push yourself. Finish the degree.
This happiness is well worth it.
October 23, 2012 § 17 Comments
The number of years I spent in my PhD program.
The number of years I spent in higher education programs.
The number of years I spent in all educational programs.
Reaching the educational finish line is not always as easily mapped-out as it may at first appear. On that first jittery morning, standing on the hearth with plastic Strawberry Shortcake lunchbox in hand, plaid jumper and be-ribboned pigtails quivering, I grinned until my cheeks hurt. This was the day. I would get to ride on the Big Girl Bus, stay away from home all day long, and return with tales as long as my arm about the lessons learned in kindergarten.
I didn’t know, couldn’t know, that on that Day One I would embark on a journey that would carry me for 25 years. To the passive observer, my path was clear-cut from the beginning. I was the child who lined her stuffed animals up (and later added her younger sister to the group) in order to offer reading instruction, pointing to letters and imagining their chorused response. The destiny was obvious: this child will teach. So I carried that in my heart for 25 years, positioning myself and repositioning myself until that goal was no longer a shimmering possibility but a very real outcome. Although I was not a driven high schooler, I managed well enough to get into a good liberal arts college. From there, I buckled down, ultimately clawing my way into a graduate program in spite of unimpressive GRE scores, in spite of a decision from the admissions faculty not to fund my education with a teaching assistantship. A week before classes began, I took advantage of an opportunity in order to swoop in and take an assistantship from a graduate student who had rejected hers earlier that morning. I took a chance by applying to a single doctoral program, not expecting to be accepted; feeling utter joy, gratitude, and fear upon reading my acceptance letter.
Six years later, I have reached the inevitable telos of my path. My journey is not unlike the journeys of other people, and not just of the academic nature. It began with excitement and anxiety, maintained a level of energy and motivation for a while, dipped into nadir-depths, trudged through sluggish valleys, cautiously ascended…until I reached the summit, battered, bruised, but there dammit.
Have I wavered on my life goal? Yes. Do I doubt my training, my ability, indeed my own interests? No.
Yesterday afternoon I defended my dissertation.
I am no longer a graduate student.
I will graduate this December as A.Hab., PhD.