Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Here is Not Yet There

Although I don’t write here nearly as much as I used to, I find a great deal of value in rereading my recent posts (and sometimes much older ones) to gauge where I was compared to where I am. It can be a little bittersweet as I am always ultra-critical, thinking I could have said this or that better or uncovering the occasional typo, but generally I’m pretty happy with the writing, and even happier with most of the content being history. Sometimes I’ll re-energize emotions that fed a particular piece, but it never lasts more than a moment or two. Time is a curious thing. As it passes, things become clearer and much easier to look at as they are, not as they were.

I am currently in a pretty good place, maybe too good. I find myself in a situation in which the completion of my doctorate is, for the most part, self-directed. Everything but my prospectus and dissertation are complete, but the prospectus should have been done some time ago. My general exams, commonly referred to as comprehensive exams, or “comps,” are finished - and I passed. That was a huge hurdle and one I faced filled with self-doubt. However, it wasn’t nearly as bad as I imagined it. I don’t “time out” (a seven-year window is allowed from the beginning of course-work to the completed dissertation) until 2018, but it would be foolish to think that I would complete it that late. If I drag it out beyond the next year, it will never get finished. That doesn’t mean my time would have been wasted, but it would leave the big prize on the table, one that is absolutely within my grasp. That is not the plan and I don’t believe it will happen, but at the same time – this time, right here, right now time – I am struggling to motivate myself to write my prospectus, a document that is really not all that difficult, especially compared to what I have done and the circumstances under which I had to perform.

So what is it? Probably a little burnout, a little fear and a little of just me being me. My modus operandi has never been that of a go-getter, the super-achiever, the “let’s do this” guy. Even with the numerous obstacles I have overcome in the last 10 to 15 years, and even with the achievements I’ve earned, I always seem to have to do it the hard way. Apparently, for me, that is the only way. The long short of it is that although I am stressing a little, I am not freaking out like I was going into my comps. Indeed, the pressure to “git ‘er done” is just about at critical mass, I can feel it coming. Soon, very soon, these words will be replaced with those I am here to write; the most ambitious challenge (I really look at it more as an adventure) I have ever undertaken. I know I can do it, but to do it, I have to actually do it. Rocket science, I know.

But as I write, conjuring up the next characters to spill out onto my screen, I can’t help but come around to an all-encompassing question, one that has plagued me not since coming to LSU, but rather one that materialized after my engagement/marriage turned into an ugly divorce. What next? Now as I look upon these words I think that part of my stalling (like I really need a excuse) could be hinging on that question. It’s not as though I always need to know what’s coming down the pike, or where I’ll be in x number of years, but rather that I had things pretty well nailed down before the rug was yanked out from under me. Could I still be seeking to regain my balance? That divorce also changed some very personal dynamics such that I don’t necessarily want to go back “home” to Sacramento, yet at the same time I know Baton Rouge is not going to be my long-term home either. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I am “homeless,” but slow-motion transient isn’t too far off the mark. And finally, at less than a month away from my 52nd birthday, I am feeling an overwhelming need to be somewhere, but I have no idea where that is. And I feel all of that while fully acknowledging that where I am is pretty damned good place.