I am the boiled frog.

I am the boiled frog.*

I have just turned in what I hope is the final version of my dissertation, complete with a Table of Contents and numbered chapters, and I did so without any fight left in me, because in the end, I just want to graduate. (You can see my petition to leave out the TOC in a previous post.)

I feel a little sad, a little defeated. I was unable to make any sort of meaningful change–the very kind of change my dissertation argues for, no less.

Anxiety has slowly pushed me down the slope toward graduation and submission. Not the submit-the-work kind of submission but the submit-to-the-powers-that-be kind of submission. The sad, pathetic kind.

Because I want to graduate.

And I didn’t even get an ass-kickin’ rejection letter from Columbia. All I got was this pen.

(Sorry. Momentarily channeling, and yet misquoting, Lloyd Dobbler. But the tone! The tone!)

All I got, from the nameless, faceless, “Faculty Committee on the EdD,” was this:

The Faculty Committee on the EdD has reviewed your request and dissertation manuscript. While the Committee understands the basis for the request, on review it has been determined that a more formal Table of Contents would be appropriate. Having said that, it would be sufficient if the Table of Contents had the following:

I  Introduction

II (whatever label or title would be appropriate)

Underneath II, the indented subheadings which would list the existing section titles and page numbers (basically a list of the stories by page number).

In addition, you must indicate a Reference section in the Table of Contents to match the formatting of the example in the back of the Style Manual.

Also, please confirm the style sheet you were following for references. The Committee has asked that you assure consistent use of that style sheet throughout.

If you have any questions, please let me know.

Thanks,

(I’ll spare the guy who sent the letter and leave off his name. But let me say this: this letter, all 148 glorious words of it, had to come from the Faculty Committee on the EdD, to the Office of Doctoral Services, hence forth known as ODS, where it was rewritten, and then submitted to the boss of ODS, where it was revised, and then submitted to the Office of the Registrar, where it was approved, and then sent back to ODS, from whence it was sent to be me–all of which took four (4!) days, not counting the month during which the nameless, faceless committee deliberated.)

I have been gate-kept.

No reasons. No engagement with my arguments. Just, “Okay, but do it anyway.”

And I did.

I wanted it that bad.

(Pause here for sad reflection on the state of American education. Think of Paulo Freire.  Make rubber bracelet with initials, “WWPFD?” Send note to the Faculty Committee on the EdD thanking members for their malefic generosity.)

Whenever I hear about girls spending hours, months, their young lifetimes thinking about and planning their weddings, what they’ll wear, who they’ll marry, who their bridesmaids will be, I feel as though I’ve forgotten to do something.

I am not that girl.

I don’t even know that girl.

But I did spend hours, days, the equivalent of months holed up in empty Teachers College classrooms and at those long wooden library tables reading and writing and trying to understand how poststructural thought and autobiography work together and revising and developing and revising again the pieces of my dissertation.

And I spent a lot of that time daydreaming about the blue robe with the black velvet chevrons on the sleeves, and the little Columbia crowns on the lapels, and the poufy black hat that I’d wear on graduation day, when I got to walk down the aisle and across the altar at St. John the Divine to be hooded and to receive my diploma.

That’s where my daydreaming time was spent, and that’s what got me through. I wanted the darn robe. I wanted St. John the Divine. And now the robe is here, hanging outside my bedroom closet door in all it’s black and blue glory.

And I’m maybe a little bruised by the process.

*Is that a cheap trick**–using your title as your first line? I really like that line. And the title. I couldn’t think of a better one for either. So there.

**Do you remember the band Cheap Trick? Oh yeah. “I want you to want me. I need you to need. . .” Go on. Sing it all day. Stuck. In. Your. Head. (Zahm, I hope you’re reading this, because you do this to me, all the time. All. The. Time.)

4 Responses to “I am the boiled frog.”

  1. Veronica Says:

    I love your writing style Liz. So sorry about all of this !

  2. wfburns Says:

    Just the fact that you stood up for your work and didn’t go down quietly is a truimph. Congratulations!

  3. Another great post Liz! Loved the shout out to Lloyd Dobbler too. Looking forward to the post-graduation recap!

  4. bathbeach141@optonline.net Says:

    The problem here, Liz, is that you are just soooo above these people. But, you know it’s hard to be an eagle when you deal with turkeys….I’m just sayin….Love you, Louise

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