Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Sugar. Also, Trying Not To Barf, Part 6 and Still Swooning

Um, yeah. I just spent no less than three minutes in the office break room, staring at my coffee cup. What was I contemplating with such dedication? Or rather, what was on my mind at that moment that had me paralyzed?

Whether or not to put two teaspoons of sugar in my coffee or a packet of Splenda.

NO SHIT. I really need not feel so insecure about every decision in my life. Geez. I am not kidding about being paralyzed with this decision. Because, what was the right decision and will I be happy with it? Lordy. There is some fodder for another lengthy, scary post, eh? Also, you can imagine how much I squirm trying to make a decision at the hair salon, no?

Anyway. I went with the sugar. At least I can pronounce it and I know it is minimally processed. It occurs in nature (yes? Or am I stretching the truth, here?) and I am not introducing crazy, manufactured concoctions into my body. I even know that this particular sugar was processed in the northern part of my state, so bonus points for local food from my foodscape!

But I am hypoglycemic, and if I don't watch my diet, sugar can really throw me for a loop. So, substituting Splenda for raw sugar every now and then has its benefits. I don't like feeling as though my legs are not connected to my body at 3:00 p.m. in the afternoon, or being so disoriented as to not know where I am, or sometimes, who I am. So, I limit sugar when I can. (Um, right. I bake cookies at least once a week...)


I e-mailed professor K. from my department to see if she would discuss serving on my thesis committee over coffee. She replied that she'd be delighted to serve on my committee, and even more delighted to visit together. (Woo hoo!!) She and I are meeting tomorrow over the lunch hour to review my prospectus, discuss my lit review, and to chit chat and catch up a bit. She and I have always gotten along very well, and I was her teaching assistant for two of her undergraduate classes. In fact, the most challenging and rewarding class of my entire academic career, The Ecology of Knowledge, was developed and taught by her. That class was one of my favorite experiences of my life. (Nerd? Yes!) Damn, that class was amazing.

Also, A. and I met in her class.

I think K. is one of the most brilliant minds I've ever encountered. In particular, I am always blown away by her ability to see patterns. In everything. Patterns of thought, patterns or speech, patterns of behaviour, patterns of knowledge, patterns of learning, patterns of consciousness, even. The stuff she is interested in blows my mind. Truly, hers is a mind I respect entirely.

She is also an excellent writer. She sees writing as a necessary vehicle to convey information, yes, but also as an expressive craft that deserves uninterrupted attention. Needless to say, I have much re-writing to do as well as hours of careful proofreading. ;-) I am a little bit scared of this task, as it is daunting, as writing for her always is, but am also gingerly anticipating the work with a bit of excitement.

Even though she isn't going to be my chair, she doesn't do anything halfway and I know she will be involved in my work. There will be no half-assed work passing for acceptable here. (I might be in deep shit!)

I am a bit nervous about our meeting. To be honest, I don't know if I could tell you what I am writing about at this point. Truly. Much of what I am working on now is muddling through all the vague, pointless suggestions of Advisor #1, my own mediocre approach to the material and whittling my project down to something I can get my head around. So, I've decided to put myself out there and have a frank discussion with K. about the situation I find myself in. (But, I will be careful not to mention Advisor #1 and what it was like to work with him. I am sure she will understand that without my saying it, and I don't need to put her in a position to hear negative comments about a colleague. I'll spare her that.) Whenever we are discussing something, she picks up on my patterns of thought that my worrying and fretting keeps me oblivious to and gently points out ideas I am hitting upon. It seems like she is almost saying, "See. You know more than you think." Or, she is really good at planting ideas and making me feel like I came up with it all on my own. Whichever. I am really counting on that quality of hers to shine through.

I have to help her help me, right?

(Why, WHY, do I let grad school and The Thesis riddle me with doubt about my abilities?)


A (new?) song by Bon Jovi just played on my online XM radio. Living on a Prayer was a hit about the time I was 15 or 16, and Jon Bon Jovi's voice played an important part in my, um, awakening. His voice still makes my knees weak and my heart flutter!


  1. You are smart to just lay it all out there with someone who has already proven herself to be an excellent and caring professor as well as a very smart and knowledgeable person. I think the worst thing you could do in this situation would be to try and pretend like you don't need assistance in the situation, because it sounds like you could really use her help, and she'll recognize that as well. I don't think that most people in the thesis world (not that I know much about it, but whatever) are about pointing fingers and assigning blame, and I can't imagine she would do that. I think and hope that you will emerge from the meeting feeling better about the whole project. I am excited to hear how it goes.

  2. You are right. I just need to ask for the help I need! Actually, it is quite exhilerating and exciting to just move forward honestly.

    I am embarrassed I've let all this academia bullshit get to me so thoroughly. Oh, well! Time to move on!

    Thanks for your support, Jess.

  3. This is good! Real good! Feel free to use my new mantra, it seems to be working for me today.

    Also, like Jess said, this prof seems to be the best kind and has demonstrated a sincere desire to advise you. It sucks that you had such a miserable ex-advisor, but it would seem you're in good hands now.

    Also, can you tell the difference between cane sugar and sugar beet sugar? I can't, but I do know that I HATE the smell of the sugar beet factory in Billings.

  4. Whenever I met with someone from my committee, I was so scared they were going to point me in a direction that would just create more work. Or that their suggestions would conflict with the path my advisor and I had set. In the end, their suggestions were always quite helpful. While I often had to go seeking out obscure articles or speak to people I hadn't considered, the end product was much better than it would have been without their input. Sounds like K. will be a great asset to team Artemisia!

    I have an assistant who is the same as you about decisions. She has learned not to verbalize it to me, because I'm nothing if not decisive!

  5. Flibberty - I can't tell the difference in the taste of the two sugars, but agree that the smell of a sugar beet factory is terrible. Wretched, in fact.

    LoriD - I am afraid that I just plain won't understand what they are saying to me (as I never understood what I was supposed to be getting from the ultra-vague suggestions from Advisor #1. So far, Advisor #2 is much more concrete, as is K.)

    At work, I am very decisive. Even with decisions that have serious consequences. I'm all about just getting it done already. But what to make for dinner? What movie to rent? What color eye shadow to wear today? I'll fret over that shit for HOURS if left on my own.

  6. Oh, man I LOVE Living on a Prayer.

    What a treat to work with someone you respect so much. I think that's what most of us HOPE for in that situation. I was a graduate TA for a professor I ADORED. I still think of him often.

  7. It's scary working for someone who has such a great mind, but believe me, they make your own work that much better. You will be so grateful for the experience. Can't wait to hear how it all turns out.

    And man, I LOVE Jon Bon Jovi. LOVE.

  8. Thank heavens for a new thesis committee shaping up, and with K, who sounds wonderful. It's profs like this who can make or break a thesis. I'm so happy you have her to bounce stuff off of, and so jealous I didn't 25 years ago!

    Also, I confess. I used Splenda exclusively. Ice cream addicts have to be very careful about real sugar.

  9. do we know what your thesis is about? is that secret information or did i just join this blog party too late in the process? :-)

    also OMFG I LOVE BON JOVI ONE MILLION. seriously. i don't care what anyone says, ever, about him. he's hot. ooooh i need to look into tickets for his upcoming show, speaking of....


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