If you were paying attention, you might have noticed that I missed my blog posting last month. I was in the throes of trying to finish up my dissertation, to meet my first deadline that would have let me defend on May 1. I was actually writing up to ten hours a day at the end, and just couldn’t carve out the time to write anything else. As you may have guessed from my title though, I am still in the trenches with this experience, and have not defended yet. A few days before I was to submit the paper to my committee, my advisor let me know that it was not ready yet, and needed more work.

Unsurprisingly, this was was kind of a blow. It was not totally unexpected, she had let me know that she was not sure I could meet the deadline, but ever the optimist, I had kept the dream alive until the last minute. My analogy of writing a dissertation being like training for a marathon never felt more apt. Even the way I was writing for such long stretches of time at the end, felt like the lengthening of training sessions as the date of the race approached. When I knew I was not going to be done by April 20, I just was not sure if I could keep on going. I felt like the finish line had been moved, and I had more miles ahead of me than I had expected.

So, I cried for a day and then got back on the treadmill the next day for another day of training, or writing on my laptop at least. When it came down to it, I had come so far, and while the end had moved, it was still on the horizon, and I was going to slog on through and finish this.

On a happier note, my new due date approaches. The dissertation is due to my committee on May 19, and I am in good shape to meet that deadline. I have let all of my friends and colleagues know my new defense date (Tuesday, June 2 at 10a.m. at the Valley Library in Corvallis, if you are around!) and I am starting to think about what will go into my public talk part of the defense.

My graduation regalia is hanging in my closet already. I have ordered my graduation announcements (although I have not sent them out yet). And hopefully next time I post on here, I will officially be Dr. Wyld… Keep your fingers crossed!

There is a lot asked of us as graduate students. We take classes, we read, we talk about what we read, we read some more, we work, and let’s not forget about our own personal research.  And that’s just the school side! So how does one balance all of this? As Shawn said on Monday, thinking is hard and it’s time consuming. So every once in while we need to step back and re-center ourselves in order to gain a fresh perspective.

I’m sure everyone has his or her own re-centering strategy: walking in the park, family time, watching your favorite movie, doing some yoga, baking… Personally, I craft. I’ve been sewing since I was in 3rd grade and only recently learned to knit (at the FCL retreat two years ago). There’s something to working with my hands, to reading instructions step-by-step and to knowing my end goal. The finished product is going to look like this.

There are so many ways to reflect on my crafting as a free-choice learning experience. I had interest and motivation to learn both sewing and knitting. When I’m stuck, I turn to the Internet and search for a way to solve my problem. With fellow FCL colleagues I attend a weekly knitting group that’s really nothing more than a community of practice. And, of course, there’s basic knowledge acquired over time. Will this fabric stretch when sewn? Can I knit this with that yarn?

It’s comforting knowing what the finished craft project is going to be. There might be hurdles, but each can be resolved and the project finished. Kind of sounds like grad school…