09 November 2011


It's done. It is done. DONE!

I handed in the final draft of my dissertation yesterday. No more edits will be made, no committee member will send me suggestions for revisions, no more research can be undertaken, no more doubts will be had about maybe moving that section in front of that other section or deleting that sentence or choosing a better synonym for that word. It's done. It looks newly fancy, with a title page and an abstract and acknowledgements (just like a real book!) and a table of contents and figures and footnotes (well, those guys have been lying around for a while, all piled up lazybones on the bottom of the page).

This has been a long time coming. That last sentence is an understatement. Let's see, shall I detail how much of an understatement? In 2002, I started graduate school (yes, that would be NINE years ago). In 2004, I got my MA degree. In 2006, I got my MFA degree. Also in 2006, I passed my doctoral exams. Also in 2006, I got married and moved to Brussels. (It was kind of a big year.) Between 2006 and 2007 I wrote a proposal for the dissertation that at first didn't resemble the document I would go on to write but eventually turned into a legitimate plan. I flew to Bloomington to get my committee's approval of the plan. Then I spent a couple of years living in Brussels and Barcelona, translating and editing and always TRYING to write a dissertation but really just eking out dribs and drabs in fits and starts and mostly researching, reading, and reading some more. (That was the fun part, the reading and researching. Actually making something of it? That was the hard part.) I had one chapter done (Chapter 3, a perfectly logical place to start, right?), and little floaty pieces of others, and that was all, depressingly.

In a major turning point, both M. and I realized that if I was ever going to get this degree, I would have to be back in Indiana at school. So we made plans for me to live in Bloomington by myself for a semester. But then! We got pregnant! So M. came with me, and a semester turned into a year and a year turned into two years. He got hired as a visiting professor. We had a baby. I wrote and wrote--Chapter 1 and the Introduction--and taught, then I didn't write or teach while I nursed a newborn, then I wrote and wrote--Chapter 2--in Barcelona over the summer, and then I wrote and taught and graded and wrote, and wrote some more. The last semester in Bloomington I didn't teach, just finished writing Chapter 4. So then it was kind of done! A complete draft! But everything was also kind of a shambles, written in the most haphazard way and missing details that I was supposed to fill in later but never did. Then we moved back to Belgium, to Leuven this time, and I edited and edited and edited. And edited. Which meant writing and rewriting and adding new, better ideas, now that I had the whole thing before me. And all along my directors sent me their input and we embraced track changes and comment flagging in Word. Then it was the fall and my committee gave me the green light to defend in December, which gave me a deadline for submitting the final complete set-in-stone dissertation: November 9.

Today is November 9.

I hope the above saga communicates the fact that I NEVER would have finished this dissertation if it weren't for the Mister. He worked and worked while I wrote and wrote (or, ahem, didn't write). He unhesitatingly supported the idea of me spending time back in Bloomington, and then when--oh, we're having a baby!--he unhesitatingly picked up and came with me. He took over baby duty a million and infinity times so I could work, he cleaned the house also a million times so I could work, he sacrificed weekend or evening fun so I could work. He taught extra classes in Bloomington so I could take time off from teaching, the semester Gabriel was born and the final semester we were there. He pushed me when I needed it, listened when I needed it, didn't say anything when I needed him not to say anything, reminded me why we were doing what we were doing, and rubbed my shoulders when they ached.

I wrote this in my acknowledgements, of course, but I want to write it here, too, so everyone knows, not just the eight six people who might read my dissertation: thank you, my love. This dissertation is dedicated to you.


Ashley said...

Hooray hooray hooray! Go Oobin!

Sara said...

congrats friend! and good luck!