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6 down, 2 to go

April 22, 2011

I was thinking this morning, as AJ and I sat on the train on the way to the city, how much these last months of dissertation work remind me of pregnancy. I know, the creative birthing metaphor has been way overused. But I’m thinking of more specifics. Like how I’ve gone from monthly appointments to appointments every two weeks (thank God I don’t have to pee in a cup). And like how uncomfortable the end feels. And how painful the very end is sure to be. And how even now I careen between euphoria and self-doubt. All very familiar.

The train was quite empty, for rush hour on a Friday. The Good Friday holiday must still be alive and well in some sectors, even though heathens like us are ignoring it. Poor AJ had a bit of a tedious morning. We sat on the train. Then we waited for the bus and sat on the bus. Then we got to campus and I got him a snack at my usual coffee shop and he sat in the corner of my adviser’s office for nearly an hour and a half, while we plowed through a discussion of my latest chapter and a couple of job prospects.

I know this is probably my problem, but I go into every adviser meeting waiting for the other shoe to drop. Every time I think, “this is the chapter he’s going to hate.” But it never happens. This chapter was huge and very messy, but even this didn’t make him hate it. He still thinks I’m on track. I go out feeling euphoric. By the time I get home in the evening, I’ve convinced myself that he’s just trying to give me a pep talk so I don’t stop. Because this is the way it goes.

After the meeting, AJ and I walked across campus to the bookstore to visit my friend H and then all three of us headed out to lunch, where I finally got to meet H’s sort of boyfriend, who happened to be there too meeting some other friends. Afterwards, AJ and I grabbed a cab to head down to the Aquarium for the afternoon. Or so we thought.

When we arrived at the aquarium, we discovered a very long line outside the building. We stood in it for a minute before someone told us that this was the line for strollers and wheelchairs. The real line was over there. We couldn’t even see the end of it. They told us the wait to just get into the building was over 2 hours. No thank you. We walked up the road to the planetarium and found that while the line was still very long, it was, at least, indoors out of the freezing cold rain. So we stood in line for 40 minutes and eventually got to go in to a really not so crowded museum. The woman behind us in line was calling other museums. Apparently, the science museum had a wait of over an hour and the Field Museum of an hour and 45 minutes. Craziness. I think every person in Chicagoland, as they like to call it out here, decided that today was a perfect day to go to a museum.

AJ was a trouper through all of it, so it was particularly nice when, just as we were about to finally walk into the museum, that we heard someone call our name. It turned out to be our next-door neighbors, Yoga Mom and The Boy Next Door. Yoga Dad and The Girl Next Door were still in line, but they’d seen us walk by. We chatted for a while and then AJ and I headed in to see a sky show which was worth the price of admission. The astrophysicist running it was both informative and absolutely hilarious in a geeky sort of way. We were highly entertained. When we came out, we ran into the neighbors again and spent the rest of our afternoon at the museum hanging out with them, which was particularly great for AJ who always has more fun at museums when there are other kids to share the experience with.

On the train ride home, AJ borrowed my computer to play with Lego Designer (a heads up to all you caretakers of Lego freaks — this is a really great kid-friendly free 3-D design program. The catch is that if they build something really cool, they might want to buy a custom made kit of their building.) and write a letter to his friend who recently moved away.

Once home, he and Mr. Spy went off to baseball practice — held indoors at a nearby gym because for the seventy-umpteenth day in a row, it is cold and raining — and I put on two coats and crawled under the covers, where I lay shivering and eventually fell asleep just before AJ rang the doorbell to come back in again. I am planning an evening of mindless television and snoozing. It’s been a busy week and I’m feeling like I’ve accomplished enough to earn a night off.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. April 22, 2011 7:45 pm

    For some reason we can’t run Lego Designer on the laptop the boys use. Might be for the best.

  2. Cranky permalink
    April 22, 2011 9:05 pm

    Glad that the gestation period is in the final stages–very exciting! You’re at Mile 20 of the marathon…I hope you avoid any metaphoric walls.

  3. freshhell permalink
    April 23, 2011 8:53 am

    That’s how writing novels and having them critiqued feels as well. Days where you think, “Wow, I might actually have something here.” Followed by, “Who am I kidding? It sucks, I suck, I don’t know why I persist in thinking it’s anything but bad.” But, with only 2 more to go, I know you can birth this beautiful baby and everyone will gather around and admire it. Just don’t let them touch it without washing their hands first.

  4. April 23, 2011 8:04 pm

    My reaction to finishing the dissertation wasn’t that it was like giving birth…but finishing it did lead to that!

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