Tuesday, February 19, 2019

PhD in Grief: a Slightly Tortured Metaphor

In my family we always joke about levels of driving skill.  Toodling along an empty country road upstate at midday on a sunny day is at most high school junior level driving.  At very most.  The FDR in heavy but fast-moving traffic on a rainy night is Masters-level.  Driving the unplowed back roads of the Adirondacks, in the dark, during a post-blizzard ice storm, on the way from your husband's burial, is PhD-level driving.  Though as you attempt the merges on and off unplowed highways under such conditions, possibly you reach your Driving Post-Doc.

Though I never made it past a hanging state of ABD with my actual doctoral work, I find myself now struggling to completion in a field of study I didn't choose, don't enjoy, but am resolved to see through to graduation (on an undisclosed far-off date, in an imagined auditorium somewhere).  I really hate the coursework.  It's all over the place, from the philosophical to the practical; some might call it interdisciplinary.  And it has no real specialization, but never mind.  A sampling from the course roster:

Staring Down the Void: Readings in Existential Abandonment  (independent study)
How to Cook a Nourishing Dinner for Your Child While Shaking and Tear-Blind (practicum)
Civil Service Bureaucracy: An Overview (prerequisite survey course)
Civil Service Bureaucracy II: Intricate Forms
Civil Service Bureaucracy III: Phone System Navigation
Advanced Civil Service Bureaucracy: Magical Realism and Lateral Thinking
Blurring: Uses and Abuses of Psychopharmacology

This really is some advanced-level grief.  I've watched people die before.  I've had losses.  Deaths of loved ones, numerous.  I sat vigil with the body of my father, and held his dead hand.  But I never imagined what a piker I really was, til now.


Ponita in Real Life said...

You can only slog through this kind of program at whatever pace you can muster. There's no timeline for completion, no order of go. And no penalty for not completing any course. xoxoxo

maurcheen said...

I wish I had some words of enlightenment to give, but I don't. There isn't a finite time line on this course, we all hand in our papers at different times, and most of us just don't. But we're all study buddies. Xxx
You are in my thoughts every day

Pat said...

All I can add is maybe it's time to be kinder to yourself.