Friday, 6 May 2011 § 2 Comments
All But Dissertation. (Or, in the re-wording of a friend, All But Dead.)
You say Masters, I say Mistress. This is what a mistress of history looks like:
After the exams, I invited some fellow historians to my
adviser’s office for a little drink. Eileen brought a fabulous hat from the theater shop, which will make a repeat appearance at tomorrow evening’s Harlequin Romance themed party.
The weird thing about these exams, and that I guess nobody can ever know until they’re over, is that the anticipation is so much worse than the actual exam is. The couple of days before my orals were hellish. I went through approximately a third of a box of tissues. I re-read my essays and chased down citations and rehearsed answers to questions I imagined might be posed to me. I frantically re-read notes on Chancellor Bethmann Hollweg and the Bourbon restoration and the 1905 Revolution and Flaubert. I read book reviews for some of the books I skipped. And I cried. A lot.
And then the exam came. I wore my ass-kickin boots. There were moments that really sucked. The Absolute Professor asked me one question that I really should have known the answer to — it’s [apparently] crucial for my dissertation. And I had no. godforsaken. idea. what the answer was. She said something to the effect of, “I can’t believe you don’t know this.” I hung my head in shame. We moved on. There were other moments where I felt totally in control. There were a few where I was frustrated by what was going on but knew it wasn’t actually about me. And there were even a couple of really funny moments. Like when I was sort of fumbling a question, and one of the people on my committee, who is fabulous and was clearly thinking along with me, made a comment about an idea she had. The Absolute Professor turned to her and said, “[that prof’s name]! You already have your PhD! Keep your mouth shut!” It was hilarious.
And so anyhow, we spend three years in reverent dread of these exams. And then they happen. And then they’re over. Weird. Maybe the worst part is knowing that you won’t fail, but still feeling like maybe you actually deserve to. I said this to a professor yesterday, and he said anyone worth their salt feels that way. Which is sort of reassuring, I guess.
The Barefoot Rooster became a mistress of history today, too. This is what the lush life of mistresses looks like:
And this is what te world looks like: