It’ll Make a Great Story Some Day

It’ll make a great story some day. One of my professors mentioned that I seem to be juggling a lot this semester. That’s how I responded to him. Well, at least that was the conclusion. Allow me to elaborate.


Setting: Professor’s Office. Abigail and Professor are talking. Context has already been established that Abigail is trying to reach ABD status by the end of the term and that includes mastering sixty books. At the moment, this meeting is about the final paper due at the end of the term for the professor’s class, which Abigail is trying to figure out how to fit into her schedule.

Abigail: Yes, definitely. This conversation helps me a lot to figure out what it is that I’m trying to do. At least how I can meet your expectations while also accomplishing something helpful.

Professor: Yes, well, that’s the goal. It’s good to get started now.

A: Yes, well, you see, I wasn’t planning to come back to school. So I’m still wrapping my mind around the fact that I’m here. Now I’m right in the middle of all of this.

Prof: Wow. You certainly have a lot of things that you’re trying to accomplish in one semester.

A: (thinks about trying to learn a language, take this class outside her field, read 60 boxes, and TA a class) Yes, well, it’s certainly a lot. It’s going to a whirlwind and a LOT of work, but I’ll get through it. And then, it’ll make a great story!

Prof: Uhhh, yeah, I suppose that it will.

A: Oh, it most definitely will.

Curtain


Yeah, so it is a ridiculous amount of work. And I’m already behind. But I’m happy (when I’m not overwhelmed). And it’s going to be a great story. Not just because I can finally laugh at the ravenous lion. But because it will be my story. And showcase who I’m becoming. And that, dear reader, is exciting!!

Abigail

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A Fresh Start

I’ve been waiting a LONG time to write this post because it just seemed all too good to be true. :::::DRUMROLL::::: I am officially a third year graduate student in history, taking classes, studying for comprehensive exams, writing a dissertation proposal, and on track to be ABD* soon.

I honestly never thought this day would come, or at least, only thought this day would come in a dream world. But it’s real. I’m here, back in the same program, picking up more or less where I left off. Of course, some things have changed. I’m doing better physically. I have much more teaching experience. I know what I want out of the program. Plus, I have a new adviser who is really smart but also generous. He’s also very excited about my project, and we’ve made a lot of progress already considering class has only been in session for 6 days.

I love studying and thinking about grand thoughts, but I honestly miss teaching already. I miss the interaction with students, seeing those lightbulb moments, and wish I had more time in the classroom organizing activities that have definite purposes instead of just marking time. But I have a first year graduate student who has requested to shadow me, so perhaps that will give me an opportunity to walk into the teacher role again. We start tomorrow with office hours!!

Grappling with the dissertation topic again is hard, mostly because I’ve been away for over two years. I haven’t thought about these issues for a long time. Reading some secondary literature last week, I stumbled across the term “millennialism”. Now I used to know not just what that meant, but also what the different schools of millennialism were and how each of them were associated with different expectations of family, responsibility, society, slavery, etc. It’s taking time to refresh everything that I do know. So part of it has been adjusting to being a student. Part of it is about adjusting to being back.

Besides that, being back has been hard. Being in graduate school at the stage I’m in is very fast paced. I’m supposed to read something like 50 books this semester, which is kind of ridiculous, especially when you pair that with the fact that I’m taking two classes and TAing and also polishing a dissertation prospectus. Add to that the fact that I also have a life outside of school, and you’ve got an Abigail pulled in seventeen directions. It’s not just the fact that I want to be active in church and have time for my hobbies or just want to sit down and read about Kate Middleton for a second. It’s also the fact that I have to get a new driver’s license and deal with my car insurance and worry about not having the proper furniture, etc. Plus, throw on top of that the fact that router decides to stop working or one of the toilets in our apartment just decided to spontaneous flood the entire bathroom for no reason, and I have to drop whatever things I’m trying to do and attend to that.

A lot of my old friends are here, which has been helpful. And I’ve been meeting new people. Timothy & Grace have moved, but Aaron’s still here. He’s married now with a baby, so that’s exciting. Joseph and Erica are still here, so I’ve spent quite a bit of time with them already. Diana’s still here; she was actually scheduled to spend a large portion of the term abroad, but those planned were nixed at the last minute, so she’s actually in my neck of the woods. I wish Tabitha was here, but her little brother just started school down the road, so he’s a pretty good substitute.** And all my doctors are still here — Drs. Mark, Leo, Samuel, Harold. It’s nice to have some grounding.

It’s definitely going to be quite the ride, but I’m excited overall.

Abigail Cashelle

*grad school has its own nicknames for everything; ABD stands for “all but dissertation”.

**hopefully that’ll be more than wishful thinking

A Quick Update

I’m still here…. I’ve been working on some sewing projects. I’ve been seeing some more doctors. Mostly I’ve been sleeping. And reading. And thinking. And, importantly, not being a grad student any more.

I should be around a little bit more… especially since I’m hosting the ME Synchroblog tomorrow!!

First I need to clean up the apartment because Gretchen’s best friend is visiting us early tomorrow morning. And it looks like Hurricane Abigail has moved in!!

Until next time,
Abigail Cashelle

Thankful

It’s official, folks. I’ve bid goodbye to the ravenous lion. He’s going to have to find another person to feed him. I’ve got a few things left to finish out the term, but otherwise my journey through graduate school is over.

I could go on and on about it, and I might later. But in the mean time, I want to show you something. I decided to write thank you cards to all the people I encountered through the course of my program, people who took the time to help me, to listen to me, to spend with me, and to teach me. The list included classmates, professors, and church folks. It’s a good thing I decided to go card shopping. Because this is what happened:

very thankful
very thankful

I came up with a list of 23 people…. And that doesn’t even include Aaron. (I realized later that I need to go back and add him.)

Being in grad school, I’ve felt profoundly isolated. I’ve spent a lot of time wondering if I had any friends. But, when the rubber hits the road, I have more than I thought I did.

In fact, one of my classmates (who hasn’t even appeared on this blog yet) is hosting a going away party for me this weekend. It’s super sweet. I didn’t realize how many people are going to miss me. It’s kind of cool.

Abigail

Busy, busy, busy, so get out the sewing machine

Apparently, I do crafty stuff whenever I’m super stressed and have WAY too much real-life stuff to do. Apparently, I also love starting a project much more than I actually like sewing it together. Maybe Alana and I could become a team? I’ll pick out all the fabric, find the perfect pattern, cut the pieces out, and then hand her the instructions. Those are the things she hates doing!!

Since I have a million things to do and this week has been insanely hard emotionally (more on that later, I promise), I decided to go to prayers tonight and then stop by the fabric store on the way home. I’ve been looking for the perfect fabric for a new skirt, and I think I found it!!

the skirt with the front ruffle
crushed linen/rayon blend

I’ve got the pattern pieces all cut out, and the fabric is in the washer as I write. I’m excited!!! I’ve never sewn rayon before, and I’ve actually never worn crushed linen before, so this should be exciting!!

For those of you who are wondering, yes, I do still have the dress and the quilt to finish. The dress is almost finished, but it looks like a potato sack on me. Maybe I should try it on again because I gained three pounds. Anyways, I haven’t figured out how to make it fit correctly, so it’s in my stack of incomplete projects. The quilt is almost insert air quotes here finished. The only thing left is a few of the pieces weren’t sewn on straight, so I have to sew them on correctly. Then I need to lay out all the blocks and sew them together. I’ve convinced myself that I need a lot of time and an empty floor in order to do that, and having a busy/stressful life is not exactly the recipe for that. (Or so my brain keeps telling me.)

I have a stack of projects each in a gallon-sized resealable bag in my closet. In addition to the dress and the quilt, there’s another dress(!) and a top. The top I found when I was clearing away some space in my closet to put these project bags!! I think I cut that one out 18 months ago.

someecards.com - But I can't clean up those projects yet.... I'm still working on all 6 of them. #didIjustsaythat #grownupwoes

Abigail

P.S. Yes, that is my very first e-card!! Now I truly feel grown-up.

Amorphous Blob 17.68192

or something like that.

I have to rewrite my entire dissertation proposal by Friday. And it’s going really badly. All I have right now are loads and loads of crumpled up drafts on the floor. I keep telling myself that all I need to do is to make it through this week, but it’s not working very well.

It doesn’t help either that I’ve been in a lot of pain and haven’t really been able to eat much. Fortunately I’m seeing Dr. Leo tomorrow. That’s about the only positive highlight of the week. Well, that and Hannah has her baby!! So hopefully I’ll get to meet him soon. 🙂 Otherwise, it’s write and grade everlasting.

Here’s a quick cartoon for what’s going through my head:

Abigail

Sleep

The problem with chronic fatigue syndrome is that you always need more sleep. Of course, when you lay down to sleep, there’s no guarantee that you’ll actually fall asleep. CFS = fatigue + insomnia.

With the ravenous lion, I think I have somnifaculty.

But Eric, one of the ravenous lion’s other students, and I go to the same church as the ravenous lion. And, we saw the ravenous lion fall asleep during the service today…. I wonder what that’s called!?!

Abigail

Amorphous Blob v. Ravenous Lion

I think the ravenous lion just nullified my entire field of research. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do.

When I point out that he contradicts himself, he says, Oh, I’ll have to think of something else to say. Seriously. He actually said that.

Sigh. I think this era is over. I can’t sleep at night any more. And I just start crying whenever I think about the amorphous blob, which (by the way) is not so amorphous any more.

Pray for me… for this transition, for the conversations that follow. It’s been a long road.

Abigail

the Ravenous Lion has spoken

and I’m think I’m still too upset/stressed/mad/infuriated to trust myself to describe my proposal defense in words. So let me share with you some images:

Grad School the Board Game
I landed on “meet with thesis committee”
Clarity and Depth
well, someone (or maybe someones) actually said the “lacked clarity and depth” part…. unfortunately, their response did the same

To add insult to injury, my thesis title was “so terrible” that one committee member wasn’t sure he could even read the proposal.

your thesis title
Unless you follow this advice, you will be crushed. No one will read your dissertation proposal… or buy your book down the road (which you’re already marketing, right?) That’s what happens when your title is in English, has only 10 words, and includes no subtitle.
I think I might need Jen after all

The verdict: I have six weeks to resubmit and defend again.
My plan of action? Get somebody to actually teach me what it is I’m supposed to be doing. Fire the ravenous lion and hire an adviser. Potentially redefend (instead of dropping out of grad school in frustration.)

Yup, the tension in my life only increases.

Abigail

TV Show Personality Quizzes

Because I am currently taking a comprehensive exam and wish I could be doing so many other things:

Which Narnia Character Are You?

Created by BuddyTV

Which ‘Jane by Design’ Character Are You?

More on Jane by Design. Created by BuddyTV

Which Gilmore Girls Character Are You?

More on Gilmore Girls. Created by BuddyTV

Must. Take. That. Quiz. Again.

Which Gilmore Girls Character Are You?

More on Gilmore Girls. Created by BuddyTV

Hmmm. Let’s try that again.

Which Gilmore Girls Character Are You?

More on Gilmore Girls. Created by BuddyTV

Moving on…. (I always thought I was like Lane????)

Which ‘Switched at Birth’ Character Are You?

More on Switched at Birth. Created by BuddyTV

Which ‘Bunheads’ Character Are You?

More on Bunheads. Created by BuddyTV

Which House Character Are You?

More on House. Created by BuddyTV

Which Character from The O.C. Are You?

More on The O.C.. Created by BuddyTV

Brownie points if you can guess which personalities are spot on (and didn’t involve me retaking the quiz a million times!!) Bonus brownie points if you can guess which show I don’t actually watch!!

Abigail