Tuesday, May 29, 2007

The anti-climactic finish to the hardest climb of my life

I never thought I could sleep this much. I've been clocking about 10 hours most nights. It's shameful. You'd think that I would have too much pride to try and squeeze in a nap after a night's sleep like that, but you'd be wrong.
The countdown to no more lab is three days, but I haven't needed to go in for the past few days. I have one small experiment left.
It's kind of funny. Finishing grad school has all the markings of any other grad school activity. Poorly defined but required duties to complete. Lots of deadlines, some of which don't have dates associated with them, some of which are firm, some of which are not, none of which are labeled as such. And when you finally complete all of the duties, meet all of the deadlines... nothing. Okay, there's one thing: other scientists jokingly call you "doctor" and sometimes ask "What are you still doing here?", which is a question you ask yourself every five minutes when you are back in lab. But most graduate students don't "walk the line" (participate in a graduation ceremony). You aren't handed a diploma. You do have a public defense where you present your work, and some people treat that as a graduation, but it isn't. After that is done, you still have your private defense, and after that, you have to (sometimes) make changes to your dissertation as requested by your committee, and then you have to get the darn thing formatted for acceptance by the graduate school (this particular chore is one of the most confusing things you will run up against). Once you have filed for graduation, defended, submitted your dissertation, had it accepted, paid a bunch of money to get bound copies of it (these people are sly and merciless; it is impossible for the weakened grad student who has spent four years or more putting together their dissertation to resist paying any absurd amount of money to have a bound copy), then you are often still not done. There are papers to submit, revise, and submit again. There are almost always more experiments to do (you soon run out of fingers to count the one last experiments your boss/committee/journal reviewers are asking you to do). Almost always, you go right back to doing what you did leading up to the defense. Most mornings I wake up and go in to lab and wonder if I finished at all.
But I did.
Holy Lord, I did--can you believe it??
And come Monday, my "last" day in lab, maybe it will sink in...
Until I get an e-mail from my boss asking me to re-format the paper, or find a protocol, or maybe do just one more experiment...

1 comment:

docmama said...

you are scaring me. i need this to end! i am saying no! i am not being chumped! you must WALK AWAY.