Life in Progress

First off, I feel like I should apologize for the unannounced blog hiatus.  It was intentional, but by the time I made the decision I did not have the time to give notice.  For those of you still reading, thanks for sticking with me.  I don't anticipate another extended break.

Why was I on hiatus you ask?  Well, funny story.  I am in my fourth, and theoretically last, semester of graduate school.  This is the semester in which you (the graduate student) are supposed to stop eating, sleeping, and wasting time on personal hygiene concerns so that you can complete, edit, and defend your thesis.  It is the semester from hell in a way that those not in the graduate school world often do not seem to understand.  You basically have an entire semester to do nothing but work on said thesis, a personally developed project that you alone design and set constrains for.  Not a bad deal, right?

I've spent the past 2-3 months charging into the breach, trying to accomplish this task.  I've made myself physically ill, turned my apartment into a scene from Hoarders, alienated friends and family, and basically been a major bitca to be around (Mom, call me for an explanation of the Buffy reference).  Through all of this, I've struggled to avoid daily panic attacks and serious self-destruction.  My quality of work, though a significant amount of output, began to decline.  I struggled to remember what I was trying to accomplish.  Every day felt like five and any sleep I managed to score was so fitful that I would wake up more exhausted than when I went to sleep.

Yesterday marked the one month point.  One month until the first (and virtually final) draft must be completed.  Last week I met with my committee head to discuss my progress.  She was very encouraging and helped me to get a better grasp of where my thesis was heading. During the hour I spent in her office I finally was able to sketch out a clear map of what I want to accomplish.  The flip side to all of this clarity?  I was able to see all of the gaping holes in my knowledge.  Not because I  have been slacking off but because I picked an excellent subject that I am passionate about but that falls into an area that is different from that which I worked for the past three semesters.

Long story short?  I am taking an extra semester.  It is both a liberating and devastating decision to make.  It gives me the freedom to research thoroughly and produce what I hope will be an excellent product.  At the same time, it means that I've exceeded the amount of time allotted to me.  It doesn't matter in some ways that only a few students are able to finish in four semesters and that these are generally not students working in a new subject area.  I am the girl who took four AP classes in a single year while juggling several extra curriculars.  I am the student who finished undergrad in three years rather than the more and more frequent five.  Not that I criticize those who have not done this or taken extra time, I just always expect myself to push the limits of what it is possible to accomplish.

This all probably seems to personal for this space.  And it is.  But I think know that it is an important part of my own life and one that many others have had to experience be they students or not.  And I think it is important to know that through all of this, I have not stopped knitting.  My progress slowed, but I did hold on to knitting as a way to process my own thoughts.  It is still the best therapy that I know.  Just as I have grown to understand that I really do need to knit gauge swatches before starting a large project, I needed to accept that I need to take the time to fully understand my thesis.  I needed to take the time to play with my materials, understand what threads I am bringing together, what project I intend to make, and how these pieces fit together.

See?  It always comes back to knitting.

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