When It Rains, It Pours

Every time I say (or write) that slogan I can't help but think of Morton's Salt. And then, more often than the salt, I actually think of the Morton Arboretum. Going to college in Chicago-land we went there fairly often to ramble about on a Saturday or Sunday afternoon - it was a cheap and pretty date. I've been thinking it's about time to brave the DC arboretum - things should be looking quite lovely around now. (We went last year but were a bit early - or late - and missed most of everything.) I'd also like to hit up Hillwood House again soon - I imagine the Japanese garden there is looking particularly lovely right now.

But that's neither here nor there, actually.

No, in this case, the above refers to my blankety-blank PhD. I swear to you I have not had this much drama in my life since middle school when my best friend decided she not only didn't want to be my best friend any more but that she would not even be any kind of friend and would, in fact, do all that she could to ensure that my life was a rather dark abyss of misery. There is nothing in this world or any other that would entice me to be a middle school girl again for even an hour.

The latest in the seemingly never ending drama goes something like this: no one at the school where I teach was willing to help me. I place this directly on the heads of the department chairs in charge of the class I need, not really the teachers. 2 of the 3 department chairs never even returned my email, so I'm fairly certain that they didn't pass along the opportunity to help (or if they did, it was in a very non-helpful way). Of the 1 department chair that did pass it along, 2 teachers said they'd help but they made it clear they were just going to post the info and not mention it otherwise so I had a whopping 7 students start and only 1 get even 1/2 way through. So yeah, no dice.

This then put me basically at the point where I tried the few other contacts I had to try and drum up a new place to do the dumb study. With no luck.

So I was making pro/con charts about starting over with a new idea (what idea? no idea.) or just saying to heck with it. To heck with it was winning. My uncle (who teaches at UT) had an idea that he could help me with that I floated past my advisor but it really wasn't in the genre of studies that fit for my degree (it kind of was, but it was a stretch) and while he didn't say no he wasn't really positive about it getting off the ground. That and I really wasn't into the idea all that much, but honestly I was (and am) at the point that if I can do a study on licking gravel as a way to expand your consciousness and just be finished, I will do that study.

Cue disconsolate email to advisor letting him know that I'll have a decision about starting over vs. quitting by the end of the term.

Meanwhile, the school where I teach reorganzied. Again. And now the class I need to use is back under the department chair who was initially excited about my study. Maybe excited is overstating, let's go with "positive". Regardless, he's happy to work with me and encourage the faculty to help (because he sees how this could potentially help students succeed in the class, which really is what I'm hoping to prove) and even willing to have a mandatory meeting for said faculty so that I can present the idea and get buy in etc.

Meanwhile, my advisor emailed me with a study that he's wanting to do that he'd be happy to give to me and it's actually an idea that's reasonably interesting (bonus!) and he's really interested (double bonus!) and we could do it with other grad students at my school, most of whom he and my committee teach and could coerce encourage to participate.

So now what to do? I guess quitting is off the table, for now (which is good, honestly, because I couldn't really bring myself to do it, but honestly...the drama!) but I don't know which avenue to pursue.

My current plan is to follow up with my school as if I am pursuing that idea - but even with department chair support there are a lot of conditions for getting data (faculty participation and then student participation for the WHOLE study, etc.) and frankly, I'm not hugely optimistic about actually getting there. And so I plan to switch ideas to the one my advisor has proposed. It has problems too (like the fact that I have to freaking start over with my documentation and all that gooey goodness) but at the end of the day, it seems like the more "sure thing" than the other, which puts my ultimate goal of no longer paying tuition much closer to hand.

And hey, if the other research does pan out, then I'll try to get it published and have a PhD and a publication.

That said, my current advice to anyone seriously contemplating starting a PhD? Get your head examined.


michellewillingham said...

And this is why my husband has an ABD. :) He keeps saying he might do the dissertation one day, but yeah...I'm thinking not.

Hugs and good luck! Hope one of these options comes through for you!

Anonymous said...

may the blessing be with you.........................................