Thursday, June 18, 2015

When Things are Cool

I have been back home in California for about two weeks now. I retook possession of my house in the unincorporated Sacramento suburb of Fair Oaks a about a week ago. Although I have been home for some time now, the moving-in process has taken - and will take  - a while. This is a luxury – most moves have a finite window where all stuff must be packed, transferred and unpacked within a certain (usually short) time frame. I have time. Time to resettle. Time to reestablish connections. Time relearn the lay of the land. Time to assess to the various and sundry interpersonal dynamics that I am connected with. Time to observe those I am not connected to. Time. For the time being, lots of it.

This time, however, does not come without its costs. It feels like an undeserved vacation in some ways. And, as far as vacations are concerned, this would be a “working vacation,” except that I do not have a job. I have work to do, plenty of it, but it is not work in the traditional sense – traditional meaning that I get paid for it. I am unemployed by design (in part), but uncomfortably so. It’s been a while since I have been so gainfully unemployed and I didn’t think it would feel like this. And “this” is, at best, uncomfortable.

But it is temporary. Soon enough I’ll be working full-time in some as yet unknown capacity while working on completing my dissertation. For those who have been following along – yep, it’s not done yet. It’s really hardly even started. I’ve gone from being excited about doing it to not even wanting to do it to where I am right now - needing to know if it’s even in me. For better or for worse, the only way to know that is to do it. But there is more to it than that. Completing a PhD is, for someone like me, a veritable miracle. It wasn’t supposed to happen. It was not not in the cards, the deck didn’t even exist. It is my personal holy grail – and I can almost touch it.

I spent the entire last year not writing my dissertation. It’s not entirely unheard of, but the odds are that those who do not finish while they are at school (as opposed to those who go elsewhere or home to “finish”) are much less likely to ever complete. I don’t have those stats handy, I cannot offhand cite any studies, but they do exist and, moreover, it makes sense. But there are those who do finish despite the odds. My guess is that they are the ones who have been regularly defying the odds their entire lives. I know I have. We are the ones who are forever presenting researchers with those pesky “outliers;” we are the ones who prevent them from saying things like “all,” “always,” “none” or “never.”

So, as I reflect on what I just wrote, I wonder what it is all about. I mean, I am the author – I should know, right? I don’t. I am trying to get a grip on life, a life that at present is unusually calm, drama-free and serene. I don’t expect it to last (we odds-beaters tend to do everything the hard way), but for now things are cool. Maybe that’s all this is about.