Thursday, September 28, 2006

I'm tired of being pregnant now...

So, it's time. I mean, I'm really ready to stop being pregnant and dealing with severe back pain, night sweats, mood swings, and trekking 1/2 mile (one-way!) to my office on campus! I'm ready to meet this little person inside me and enjoy some time away from campus now that I've finished prelims.

Speaking of prelims... I had a fantastic meeting with my committee chair last week, which provided me with the much needed resolution I was looking for regarding the "rigor" of my orals, my performance anxiety over the quantity produced in my writtens, and the general feel for my future success with my project. And, to top it all, I happened upon a fantastic primary source for my dissertation project, which is the equivalent of a "golden chalice" for my research!! I can't wait to dive into my dissertation reading.

But, until the baby comes, things are likely to be quite boring....

Wednesday, September 20, 2006


Okay, so this is my very first blog experience! I've chosen today because, well, until today I had NO time to set this up, much less blog. I have the time today because today I passed my PhD Preliminary Exams!!!! After the end of my orals, one of my committee members suggested that I take some time to reflect on and write about the exam process, what I'd gotten out of it, and how my thinking about my dissertation project, etc. had changed. I see the value in her suggestion, so this is my stab at it.

First, let me say that the ritual of preliminary exams is similar to the gladiator fights held in ancient Rome's Colosseum: they're violent, slow, and designed for the pleasure of others. It's quite a torturous process, and I recommend it to nobody! The written exam was anit-climactic in the sense that you're all alone in a room, typing away at the keyboard, unsure if you're making any sense, but doing the best you can to follow at least 1 train of thought to its destination. During the orals, I was sweating like a horse, my voice was shaky, and couldn't force my hands to stop moving while I spoke. I swear I must have partially boiled the baby inside me from all the heated stress. She must have known not to move a muscle while I tried to answer questions, because she never that still for 2 hours!

All that said, of course I'm tremendously relieved that it's over and I passed. The feedback I received on my dissertation proposal was encouraging and useful. And there wasn't a single question posed that I couldn't speak to or answer in some way.

On the other hand, I find myself still wanting more... I want to know just "how good" my written exams were; how well did my answers to their questions in the oral hold up, and/or what do my committee members think of my grasp on the knowledge for which I'm responsible? Did I barely pass? Pass with flying colors? Simply repeat what others have said? I feel lost in the world of all other graduate students who've answered the challenge, but I know we must be distinguished from each other somehow.

I'm debating on whether or not to talk to my committee chair and get a more informal synopsis of the exams. I don't want her to think I'm juvenile in my need to be the "A" student, but I also don't want to be anything less than the "A" student or its graduate equivalent.

For now, though, I think I'll just breathe for a day. Maybe even go to the nursery, buy something to plant, and continue the nesting process as I wait out the last 4 weeks before my baby comes!