30 September 2012


'Theses are not finished, they are abandoned.' - guy I know quoting guy he knows
I submitted my thesis yesterday around noon. Printed it, put it in a box, and mailed it. Bam. Done.

This might seem like a bit of a change of tune from my last post. It was. I got an e-mail on Friday morning from my main supervisor saying that it was 'nearly there' and she had sent in the needed forms. 165 comments, all minor. Comments came from my second supervisor that night: four pages of typos to fix. I had done it all by the time I went to bed on Friday. Got up, printed it out once to fix all the main errors: formatting things, etc. And then it was done.

In the end though, I didn't feel like I had finished so much as just stopped. I could have worked at it for another hour, another day, another week. I just put it in the box and said I was done.

This was after praise from my supervisors about the quality of it. They said good things, used words like 'great' although I was supremely sceptical. I wanted to hear the truth. Tell me the truth. It's not great. It's done. It's not done, it's submitted. Now, instead of worrying about something that I can fix, I worry about things I can't fix. Last minute changes I made. Had I edited in new errors? How bad is it? Did I format that table right? I checked this, but not that.

I said during a presentation that theses need to be narratives of failure. Of course you didn't do it right. You're a student. If you think you did something worth writing home about, you're fooling yourself.

I was angry when I finished. I just wanted... something. To stop. To feel like I had stopped. We had pizza, everyone went to bed and I drank whiskey. I never drink whiskey. What now? Celebrate. Buy shoes?

Nothing. This process was so lonely, why did I think the ending of this part would be anything different. It's never felt good, why would the ending feel good. I go to work now, starting Monday. Marking, teaching, marking, teaching, and waiting for the viva.

I will feel better about it in time, I think. Just not now.

26 September 2012

Finished, but not 'finished'

I had an illuminating conversation today about my PhD, which will not, it appears, be submitted by the end of this week. My thesis is finished, it is submitable, and it will pass. Those three things are big things and I should be happy about them. My thesis is not yet printed and submitted for examination and won't be for another 10 days–2 weeks for a couple of reasons: there are (probably) still things I can fix. Things that make the thesis read better, make a better impression, and make the examiners reading it think, 'This is good' rather than, this is submitable. This changes the whole viva process, making it more likely about the problems that you can never fix with the thesis, but are excusable, rather than the problems with the thesis that are fixable and you will be required to fix after the viva. So, in my supervisor's eyes, if my viva is going to be in the last two weeks of November (which we have agreed on) and I have to submit 6 weeks in advance of that, then actually, my real deadline is 5–15 October. The end of September was just what I wanted, the date that meant I had finished in my funding period, but that's just a personal thing. Has no bearing on anything, actually.

So my supervisors will get back their comments to me by the end of the week and I will work some more, and then submit before 15 October. That's what will happen and I will feel bad, but not too bad.

I started teaching yesterday which was really nice. I am finally teaching literature, something I have always been qualified to do, but have never had a chance to actually do. I love it. We had a really good class, I think. I always hated literary theory, but I love stylistics. It's empirical, right? I have been planning my lectures  like this: text I like + form of discourse analysis = class. This week? Lexical cohesion + A hunger artist. Next week? On the road + narrative structure. Bada-bing, bada-boom.

And I'm back to hurry up and wait. Hurrying to wait.

24 September 2012

The eye

I'm back in the eye of the storm: thesis in to the supervisors again, but hopefully coming back with fewer comments and potentially close enough that I will be able to submit it. My goal was the end of this week to submit, but I'm about 85% that isn't actually going to happen now. My supervisor is saying she'll get notes back by that date and I actually have to teach on Friday. So I suspect my new deadline is sometime before 15 October (to be sure to get my viva done by the end of November). This is frustrating to me, but in the same way that it was frustrating when I ran the marathon this Spring and ran six minutes slower than I wanted. The time was still great, but it wasn't as great as I wanted it to be. I think, however, this is actually a good thing for me. I've never been an A student, always B+. Never quite there. That means that I keep trying.

But, a couple of weeks ago I was talking about all the things I was going to have to do to stay sane while being underemployed, and then I fell off the map. That was, mainly, because I am not going to be underemployed in the short term. I got a slew of part-time teaching hours (starting tomorrow!). So although I am now wicked busy, I am paid. And being paid is great. I said to a friend of mine, 'I have more money than I know what to do with,' before realising that is not actually the case. I have more money than no money, and that's certainly, certainly a good thing.

So I am working on a couple of things this week as I wait: updating the CV, working on a book proposal. This and that.

I'm teaching at the University of Westminster and at Middlesex, if you're interested. The University of Westminster used to be Regent St. Polytechnic, which is where Pink Floyd formed. That's, you know, pretty cool, I think. The class I'm teaching is also something I'm really excited about: Literary Linguistics. Things are coming together. At least a little bit.

There's more to say, but nothing I blog about at the moment.

My brother and I have been having these talks that I'm posting. I hope some of you think they're interesting. Obviously we enjoy doing it.

12 September 2012

It starts to rain again

The eye of the storm has passed: my thesis draft is back to me. I revise, send back by 21 September. Then we'll see if I need another draft or not. 

News otherwise, but I can't get to it yet. Soon.

10 September 2012

Underemployed Week -3 Goals


  1. Blog everyday, including some real, navel-gazing shit.
  2. Start work on articles for two ISI-listed journals. Titles:
    • Christians and psychopaths: Categorisation in YouTube 'drama' 
    • 'It's all red ink': Extending Biblical metaphorical language in YouTube videos
  3. Apply for at least one industry job in the States. (Completed 10 September!)
  4. Study five pages of jr high Japanese-English dictionary (vocabulary building and review)
That's enough, I think. 

07 September 2012

On being underemployed

This week, I am taking a test run at being underemployed. I submitted my final draft of my thesis to my supervisors on Monday and will be waiting to get their comments back on 17 September. Until then, I don't really have a lot going on. I have to apply for a couple of jobs, finish an article I promised an online magazine in June, and mark an essay for Birmingham. So far, I have been marginally successful. On Tuesday, the first day I was home, I didn't really have a chance to feel it. I worked in the garden and spent more time than I needed to working on my bike. Wednesday was the girls' first day of school (including Mei). Mei goes for only three hours a day, so we have to pick her up (or take her) in the middle of the day. That ends up taking more time than you would think. Now it's Friday.

I've done the things I've been putting off: updating my passwords for different websites, doing some budgeting, thinking about what we should do. I was offered teaching hours at Middlesex, where I have taught for the last three years, which I hadn't expected and was happy to hear. It's 6 hours over 3 days though, which means I have to spend about £52 a week commuting. I might be able to cut that down to £31 if I can ride my bike. But still, it's not great. And they might be able to offer me more hours. Lots of mights and maybes at this point. The good news is that it doesn't look like we will be bleeding out money and we may get close to making up the base salary I'm made as a PhD student. Considering our savings, we could continue on easily until next May at this pace. It essentially buys us 8 months and if I've learned anything in my life, everything can change in 8 months.

It puts off some the nasty reality of making an International move with no job prospect, which is nice. The peace, however, I would feel with going on to Expedia and buying 5 tickets back to Japan... well, it won't be coming for a while. It becomes much, much less likely.

So being underemployed. From what I can tell, I need to do a couple of things to stay sane while I'm doing this. First, get dressed every morning and/or exercise. I'm not doing well today, but I did run so that's something. Second, shave. Third, do something towards the future, be it working on an article, working on part-time work, updating CV and cover letters, applying for a job... something. Luckily, come October, teaching will occupy at least three days of my week and will have some exercise built into it.

And hopefully, a job will come. I'm confident it will. Here, there, somewhere. It's just a matter of time. But I need to not be waiting for that to happen—I need to enjoy 7 September 2012, my feet on the ground in this place, at this time. The job will come soon enough, but I need to do my best to enjoy the here and now for all that it offers. The warm let down into Autumn. The sounds of the girls laughing. The ability to open the window another day. Worry never goes away, regardless of how much money is coming every month...

First Day of School 2012

No crying? Can't believe it!