Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The End of the Friggin' World

Almost there.  I was almost there.  Today was supposed to be my last day as a graduate student. 

I am sometimes a planner. There are things I am a little exacting about and with good reason.  Allow me to give an example using the graduate college at the university I am currently attending. 

As a master's student, I selected the thesis option and wrote about 125 pages of thesis, including three case studies and a self reflective journal with the requisite review of relevant literature and traditional five chapters. I met for the first time with my graduate college liasion during that summer. She instructed me to print out my thesis on 100% cotton paper and bring it to her for inspection prior to giving it to the library.  I did so.

It wasn't right.

I fixed what she told me to.

She found other things.

Each time I brought my revisions to her, they were on 100% cotton, acid-free paper.  It gets expensive.  After the sixth revision, I had to stop dealing with her.  I was so angry.  I spent over $100 on copying things so that she could make big changes that she should have seen the first time.  I got the paper delivered to the library with something like 20 minutes to spare.  Depositing the dissertation is the last step before becoming a PhD too. 

So yes, I am a little more careful these days.  I tend to plan things out and read completely before taking any action concerning the grad college. I made an effort to go purchase my own cotton paper (with thanks to my friend Cathy for also providing her extra stuff) and went to the one place in Oklahoma City that carries specialty paper. 

I walked in the door marked "Will Call".  It was a little mystifying; I wasn't aware that a show would be playing too.  But what the hey.  The nice men in the warehouse-which is where I found myself- escorted me to the retail area.  A middle-aged and burly man looked me up and down and then addressed me.
"Did you need to buy some paper?"
"Yes.  I need a ream of 100% cotton, acid-free paper.  Of course, it would be cellulose free as well and that's important.  Do you sell that kind of paper?"
"Well, it's very expensive.  Let me look." He spoke slowly to me as though I were a scared rabbit.  "You know, we only usually handle commercial distribution."
"Are you saying that you can't sell me a ream of paper?"
"A ream is the smallest increment possible. How much do you need?" Didn't I just say what I needed?
"It's for my dissertation," I blurted out.  I wanted to say "I'm almost 40 asshole and I'm finishing the most important document of my life to date.  How's about you look up the paper before I rip you a new asshole," but I didn't.  I hate being patronized.  It makes me cranky. 
But the salesman wasn't done. He leaned forward.  "There's a nice gentleman outside who knows everything in the world about paper.  I'm going to ask him if this is the paper you need." I was standing so I just held up my hands, palm up and looked askance.  He went outside to some old fella who was smoking and talked to him a minute. 
"Well little lady, he says this is just what you need."
"Awesome," I said.  He looked at me carefully.
"A ream of this paper is $33.  Is that ok?"

Do I look poor, young and completely clueless?

I did get the paper, but I sort of feel bad for that man, what with his current inability to sit down anymore.

Today I visited the graduate college. 
Two weeks ago, I visited with all of my papers, to make sure before I printed on 100% cotton paper, that everything was indeed in order and that we would not have to make any revisions, reprints or anything else like that. 

It was fine. Everything was fine.

Until today.  Today they tell me that my signature page has the title doublespaced and it needs to be singlespaced. 

This is the third time that the grad college has seen my paper.  Seriously.  And do you know what the counselor tried to say? That I must have switched the pages since they would have completely caught that the first time through.

Do I look like I would make a stupid move like that?  Did I mention that they went through three different counselors this semester alone?

So they wouldn't accept it today. 

And there are implications.  I cannot graduate unless the dissertation- both copies- are turned in to the library. Graduation is Friday and I have no idea where my professors are.  I have taken off of work twice for this and now they are wasting my time.  This is not a simple mistake.  This has happened twice now.  It's happened with other graduate students too...almost every single one.  I am not uncareful.  I am not a slipshod person.  Right now I have no idea if I will be allowed to graduate.

I was able to get 2 of five signatures tonight.  My advisor realized as we were talking that he has doctor appointments on Friday and may not make convocation.  He said they don't do the hooding ceremony then anyway if his memory serves.  My other adviser told me he probably won't come.  He just doesn't want to.  I'm not sure how I feel about graduating with nobody to hood me.  I will go; my sisters are coming just to see this. 

In all of my panic tonight, I forgot my eye appointment.  My house is a mess and my sisters are coming tomorrow.  So I called a couple of friends to blow off steam and stop my shoulders and ears from meeting so often.  I sent an email to my committee and asked them to re-sign the paper. Hopefully it will all clear up tomorrow. 

Tonight, I was going to clean and straighten up and maybe do some laundry.  Instead, I'm writing and thinking and breathing.  Maybe I will go paint. Maybe I will watch television. Maybe I'll read a relaxing book.  The sun will come up tomorrow, life will go on and likely everything will be alright.  I didn't punch anyone and probably only hurt the copy paper guy's feelings.  Nobody died and if I have to spend another semester as a grad student, then so be it. 

It's not the end of the friggin' world.

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