Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Trying Not To Barf, Part 1

On Monday, I met with the K., the head of a department outside my own, to discuss the situation with my thesis advisor. She listened while I explored the best way to gracefully end my relationship with S. as my advisor while maintaining my friendship with him. All in all, I like S. quite a bit.

I was so proud of the professionalism I displayed in this meeting. Not once did I pound my fist on her desk and yell, “For the love of all things cheese, I just want the fucker off my committee!!” So. Much. Restraint.

Guess what?!?! She agreed that I have every right to want to finish The Thesis and to do so with some feedback and guidance. I know I shouldn’t feel so fucking relieved to have these desires validated this way, but I am. Oh, how I am.

(And what the hell does that mean?! Dammit, grad school has given me The Crazies in more varieties than anything else in my life.)

K. thought it best to first approach D., the committee member I’d like to ask to be my chair. Once I am assured he is on board, then I should set up an appointment with S. to ask him to step down. Seeing as how S. is on sabbatical already, she suggested using that as my reason and just moving on from the situation. (The part of me that thinks this is wussing out and missing an opportunity to educate S. on the finer points of advising could be easily talked out of giving a shit.)

(OK, but so how scary is all of this!!!??? D. could say, “Hell no! This thesis is a Pile-0-Crap! I don’t have time for this shit!” S. could say, “No! You should have finished this despite any obstacle. You are no academic! Too bad!” And there really could be this many exclamation points. Yes, there could. No, I am not being melodramatic and unreasonable. Oh, my tummy hurts.)

I am still worried about how to bring up why I want to change advisors to Oh-Please-Be-My-Advisor D. I don’t want to come across all whiny, but I do want him to know why there has been so. very. little. progress. over the past seven months. It doesn’t seem to be the most advantageous to open up my relationship with D. as my advisor letting him think that I just forgot I had a thesis to write for half a year.

So, I am currently trying to work up the nerve to set up an appointment with D. On the plus side, he knows S. and is well aware of how this man over-commits and stretches himself waaaay too thin. It is no secret that S. is a procrastinator and is completely disorganized. On a different day, I’d describe him as the epitome of the absent-minded professor.

But not today.


  1. Way to go on using the cool, collected approach to get what you need. I don't have answers for you, unfortunately, but I did like the way you described that. It made me think of this one time when two of my friends and I had to meet with a college administrator about an event we were organizing on-campus, and at one point I had to physically restrain my friend from leaping over the desk and attempting to kill the administrator. Needless to say, we did not get what we wanted.

  2. You can completely and utterly do this. Someone far wiser than I said, If someone has something that you want, ask for it in a way that they can give it to you.

  3. Good luck! I'm sure everything will be fine. In my (limited) experience, academic institutions are small worlds and the professors are usually well aware of their colleagues shortcomings. I would bet that you are not the first student to have problems with S. and that D. will understand why you want to switch without much explanation.

    I'll keep sending good thoughts your way.

  4. I really think this will work out for you. My sister went through something similar with her thesis advisor and she became a new woman when she was freed from her original advisor and got one who actually could "advise." Also, why must academia be so difficult? I really hope this works out for you.

  5. Oh, you guys. You have no idea how much I appreciate your words of support!

    Jess - Keep your fingers crossed that I can keep my cook when I ask S. to step down! That will truly be a test of my patience.

    Bibliodiva - thank you, thank you. Your words mean an awful lot to me.

    Lisa - I think you are probably right.

    Flibberty - oh, your story about your sister gives me hope! Thank you for your support!

    Have a great day!


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