If you are my real-life or Facebook friend, then you know that I passed my Doctoral Qualifying Exam on Wednesday. It’s been anything but a blur. I can still remember how I felt when I stepped into the elevator to go up to the examination room, the eager excitement welling up as one of my committee members tapped into an idea I’d been secretly playing with, the sweat on my palms as I waited almost 15 minutes (maybe it was 10–it felt a LOT LONGER) to hear my results. But I still find myself strangely incapable of putting together coherent, linear thoughts on this blog. So I thought, why not a bullet-points list? Sorry if it’s disjointed. You still get the picture:
- I joked to my friend S that I felt like I was getting married again. Funnily enough, I wore the same sandals I got married in, as well as the dress I purchased on my honeymoon.
And really, if you think about it, I *was* getting married: to my topic. Now that I’ve signed off on the paperwork and said “I do,” there’s no going back now. It’s finish or nothing at this point. What an exhilarating and terrifying thought!
- Like my wedding, I was also filled with this strange enthusiastic energy to undermine any nervousness I felt. Although, at my wedding, it meant cracking a series of dirty jokes to The Chancellor during our photo shoot.
Thankfully, no dirty jokes were cracked. I did, however, make a gratuitous Benedict Cumberbatch reference during my DQE. As well as notes about Wills and Kate memorabilia cranked out by the Heritage Industries in Britain (though the latter was brought on by a question my dissertation director asked).
- In the elevator, I prayed deeply and hard. I prayed for the calmness of spirit to not be nervous. I prayed for God to take it all, and empty me completely. I prayed to give it my everything.
- I am super grateful to my committee, who made the exam an intense, but oh so valuable process. They asked tough but fair questions, pushing me to consider my own stance further, and to help me recognize my limitations at this point in the research.
- Keeping Calm and Carrying On is a secret ingredient to success during QEs. It was important in helping me remember text names, theorist names, and certain ideas that I had wanted to bring up. And since I’m better at writing than verbal exposition, it was vital in not wandering off into a needless tangent.
- I talked about Jane Austen, Kazuo Ishiguro, Ian McEwan, Hanif Kureishi, Zadie Smith, Andrea Levy, Margaret Atwood, Don DeLillo, William Faulkner, Ralph Ellison, Henry James, Louisa May Alcott, and William Dean Howells. A formidable host of writers, by whom I deeply honored to surround myself, both in the project research and the larger teaching field.
- In the waiting room, I prayed again. Gratitude, joy, relief. Glad to be over, relief that my part was over, and joy that pass or fail, I had given it EVERYTHING. I would so much rather have failed honestly giving it my all than to half-heartedly pass.
- Ultimately, I’ve decided that DQE was, to this date, the single-most beneficial exercise I’ve undertaken in grad school. I know where I stand in my research, how well I know my field, and what steps I need to take next to strengthen my project and my knowledge of my teaching field. What could be better than that?
- I’m excited to start writing. Yesterday, I played catch-up with teaching and graduate business, and today, I found myself rereading my first text. During my reading and note-taking process, a potential chapter outline presented itself to me. So I wrote it down. You can understand my excitement.
- Once the paperwork comes through (I’m guessing in a few weeks?), I’ll *officially* be ABD (that’s all-but-dissertation for my non-academic readers). The next best three letters to the best three letters I hope to receive!
So that’s the latest from my world. At some point, I need to write a teaching post, because I am simply in love with both my classes. They are energetic and bright women and men, and I have high hopes for their potential and success. Oh, this life. It fills me deep, abiding joy sometimes. And I can barely even scratch the surface of it in writing.