Friday, September 23, 2005

Thesis Fear

Surreal moment #1,680:
Guests at my 30th birthday celebration bash chanting, "THEsis, THEsis, THEsis. Get it DONE, Get it DONE, Get it DONE. FinISH, FinISH, FinISH."

Okay, okay, okay!

Went out to dinner with an old friend from college. She's known me through some tough academic times. We talked about this and that, and she finally asked, "How ARE you? You don't seem that good." Here I am, practically vibrating out of my seat with anxiety, say casually, "Yeah, I'm freaking out about my thesis. The closer it gets, the more my anxiety spikes, and it's finally so close that I can't ignore it anymore, so the anxiety's pretty high." She mentioned that this was an old pattern for me, and there must be some ... reason. Well, yeah! Hello. Perfectionism isn't ONLY an admirable trait. It's also a deep-rooted pyschological albatross that's successfully paralyzed me on several life-altering occasions. Daughter of freak-show parents. Happens.

That said, my fellow grad students looking to graduate this December have actually SET THE DATE for their defense, and they're urging me to do the same. More than anything else, this freaks me the fuck out. November 7, people. WEEKS away. Here's the thing: I have not written word one. Not one! I have over 700 notecards, over 100 references, and about a year and a half worth of thinking and pondering and complicating things in my own brain. Finish in a matter of months? Sure, no problem. Let me get right on that. Holy fuck.

I know once I start (this afternoon, by the way), it won't be nearly so bad. What I'm talking about isn't even so hard. And my professors WANT me to graduate, so they'll be pretty lenient and forgiving of any/all shortcomings.

*What???* Shortcomings? Her little virgo-perfectionist-last child heart screaches to a halt.


Yes, that's right. There will be many. And it will be fine. Done is better than good at this point. And perfect? Out of the question.

Here's the thesis in a nutshell, just in case you're wondering:

One neighborhood wants to choose a name for itself as a shortcut to creating a sense of place.
Here's what I have to say about that:
By definition: Name = Place & Identity
It's also true that: Place + Name = Identity
However, it is NOT necessarily true that: Name + Identity = Place

Moral of the Story: You can't skip the physical improvements that create place, which is a necessary step toward identity.

Not to mention that the name they want to pick is historically/culturally inappropriate, in that they will be appropriating someone else's culture for their own economic benefit. Problematic!

That's it. That's all I have to do. Talk about that. Lay it out. Show what some other academic freaks have to say. Give some recommendations.

And viola! A motherfucking masters.


Oh dear god, please please please, let me breathe through the anxiety that stands in my way.

And to all my friends reading this, let me take this impersonal moment to say:
HELP ME!!!! Goading, checking in, bribing, grocery runs, chaining to immovable objects -- all are welcome.

And if none of that appeals, just do me a favor and STOP ASKING ME TO DO FUN AND/OR SOCIALLY RESPONSIBLE THINGS. I don't say no, so just don't ask, okay? God. And, even bigger, don't even THINK about getting your feelings hurt when I don't call or return calls or even think about you for the next few months. The truth is, if I am, I shouldn't be so do your best to redirect me toward W-R-I-T-I-N-G. Thanks.

On my way to meet with committee member and get detailed outline and logic nailed down. Oh sweet baby jesus. I'm coming home.

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