Thursday, May 26, 2011

Grad school blues, redux

Most of my reasons for wanting the PhD are superficial.  I've put so much time in.  I'm almost ABD and then "all" I'd have left is my dissertation.  I want to prove I'm smart enough to add those letters to my CV, compounded by the fact that there are so many PhDs in our town.

Then there are the reasons that carry a little more weight.  I would earn more as a teacher.  Not a lot more each year, but it would add up over the time I intend to spend in this profession.  And the one with the most heft--my dissertation idea continues to form and mature, and sometimes I wonder if its insistence on existing will ever let me go until it's written down.

But I should listen to my body too, right?  My back and shoulders are one giant knot of tension.  My left trapezius is in perpetual spasm.  I'm hunched over far too much.  And I can't deny that when I think of leaving this degree behind, an immediate sense of relief washes over me.  I think of the things I would do with this time--reading for pleasure, giving the dog more attention, turning my attention from the computer to my kids, doing more bookbinding, taming the accumulation of books and papers I don't particularly care for--and I'm happy.

I'm staring at a new set of revisions.  My initial impulse is to chuck it all, instead of another week or two of killing myself to get this all done so I can stay on track for my current set of deadlines.  It doesn't help that J. is fighting his second ear and sinus infection since getting ear-tubes and that the sleep deprivation continues unabated.  How different would all of this be if I'd had a decent night's sleep in the past two years?  I'm tempted to say that I should wait to make my decision on pushing ahead or throwing in the towel until I'm better rested, but when will that be?  Certainly not before I hit the next deadlines.  So I'm stuck making the call--dogged pursuit of knowledge for another year or take the time for myself now--with what limited cognitive functioning I currently have available.