You guys, what have I done?

I went and opened my big mouth, is what I did.

So, I'm not sure I've really posted all that much about this, but since April I have been working at a local winery.  I love it - it's so much fun and even menial tasks (like stocking shelves) are calming for me.  It's also so peaceful out at the winery, too, and I love my coworkers and my boss (the vintner). 

Anyway, I recently found out that, well you all know this - that I won't be graduating until December - but there isn't a good opportunity for me at the University as far as teaching.  So, even though I will defend this summer, I won't exactly have any further commitments after summer school ends (I'm teaching a 4-week class that is about to begin soon) though I won't be completely done with the University until December.  So, I'm free to go (counting on a successful defense, that is).

This all occurred rather abruptly, and I know what you are thinking:  why was I not anticipating this feeling months ago?  And to tell you the truth, I was a little, but it's so hard to see past the dissertation when it's staring you in the face - it's kind of like when a character in a movie confronts a scary animal/monster in a tunnel - you know that they can't turn back around because then their quest will end, and you know that the animal won't kill them (although it might cause damage or injury) because then the movie would end.  You know that the person will get through, but it's something that's in the background for you - you are concentrating RIGHT NOW on the animal/monster that the character has confronted.  It's kind of like that.  I knew that one day I'd be done with the dissertation, but when I came upon it in the tunnel (heavy with a backpack full of books on how to slay the monster!), it was hard to do anything but look it in the face and confront it.  Now that it is almost done, I can see light at the end of the metaphorical tunnel.  And it still really IS a surprise to me - here it is, almost July 1, and I need to find a job because I'm in the process of disentangling myself from the University.

Okay....tangent over...ANYWAY, I work at this winery, and I'm teaching a summer class, and one of the main employees at this winery that is in charge of wholesale sales left yesterday to run another winery (in another country!).  So, I volunteered to pick up her slack while the winery searched for a replacement.  I'm getting the opportunity to learn client management software, professional invoicing, etc. so it's a great learning opportunity.  The thing is, I need to be looking for a career, you know, that light at the end of the tunnel?  But the economy is tight right now, and I do mean tight.

So, I'm focusing on restructuring my resume over the next 2 days, applying for jobs, preparing my syllabus, teaching in 2 weeks, going to a conference, and working more than part time at the winery!  My schedule is so packed and I do wonder how I'm going to balance it all successfully.  I think I'm planning on taking it one day at a time, and using my precious morning hours to pack in as much work as I can before I leave for the winery in the afternoon.  Evenings will hopefully be just as productive, although I usually am very tired at the end of a winery day, especially if we've been very busy in the tasting room.  Yesterday was busy, though, and I still managed to work a little in the evening.  So hopefully that's a good sign.

It's all in flux right now and while SOME ambiguity in life is okay, I'm craving a more consistent steady life plan right now.  I've stayed tucked away in academia for the past 5 years (with the exception of moving from Masters location to the PhD program), and now it's time to confront the real world.

This long, meandering entry is mainly meant to say, hey, there's a lot going on right now, and I appreciate everyone's support.  I'll be happy when I know what I'm doing.  'Cause right now, all I can feel are those tunnel walls and a half-dead creature beside me. 
I'm currently working hard in the Big Easy - holed up in my hotel room with the occasional break for a networking session or a walk down and around Bourbon street - but I'll try and satisfy any Lab appetite you have with a few older pictures of Cosette that I have tucked away on my laptop:
Such a soft, kissable head.
She used to chew on her leash during walks - so glad to be rid of that habit!
A bonafide water dog at 10 weeks old. :)
Joel defends his dissertation today at 11 a.m.  I'm so very proud of him!  Today marks the end (well, until graduation at least) of five tumultuous years for him in graduate school. 

Once the dissertation is defended (successfully, but they rarely go awry), Joel will make final changes that his committee requests, and submit the document to the graduate school.  So, he will have a little more work ahead of him after today, but nothing he can't handle! 

As far as myself and my progress, I'm working on a few edits to my completed draft.  My expectations are that I will defend sometime this summer and graduate in December.

But, expectations are for people that only have themselves to rely on.  My expectations were crushed this year, time and time again.  Last August had you asked me what my intentions were, my intentions were to prospect my dissertation in November and defend in April so that I could graduate in May.  Obviously, that didn't happen and believe me when I say it wasn't due to procrastination on my end.  I prospected on Monday, May 10, 2010 and my hope was to graduate in August.  I wanted an August graduation for so many reasons.  Three days after I had prospected, my dissertation was already approved by the Human Subjects Committee (to determine if you are causing harm to participants) and four days after prospecting, my survey was online and ready to go.  That weekend I spent sending out e-mails to participants.  I spent an arduous fourteen days collecting data. It was not easy.  My expected response rate was slashed in half, and my expected response rate (10%) was meager to begin with.  So I had to work SO HARD to gain participants.  Within 14 days of starting data collection, I collected the necessary working participant responses (approximately 300).  Over Memorial Day weekend, I sat down and wrote the entirety of my results and discussion section and finished edits to my literature review that my committee requested.  Writing the entire back half of the draft in under 30 hours is an accomplishment. 

A week later, I received the bad news that my expectations about finishing in time for an August graduation did not match my committee chair's expectations.  And that's all I'll say about that. 

But the news was crushing, upsetting, threw me for a loop, and absolutely ruined my hope for walking in August.  I received this news on the first day of vacation in Hawaii, on the day of my friend's wedding.  I was mentally miserable to say the least.  I had turned down a trip to Europe to see my family, whom I only get to see once or twice a year (and we're a tight-knit family) because my expectations were that my hard work and diligent efforts would pay off in the end.  If I had known that working my ass off so hard for so long would not yield the results I was expecting, I would have (1) not rushed myself, (2) gone to Europe to see my family, (3) spent significantly less time stressing about data collection and writing, and (4) proceeded at a more leisurely pace. 

I'm still sickened about it.  The unfairness of it all, and there's several angles to the unfairness, really turns my stomach and leaves me with a feeling of distrust and disappointment.  I know I was asking a lot of someone else, but I ask a lot of myself and I expect other people to match my own expectations.  And therein lies my fatal flaw that I've been dealing with since I was much younger. 

But, I will be there to cheer on Joel as he graduates with his PhD (also was expected to be conferred in May, so his was pushed back as well) and walk hand in hand with my Dr. Boyfriend afterward. 
There's no combination of words
I could put on the back of a postcard
No song that I could sing
But I can try for your heart
Our dreams, and they are made out of real things
Like a, shoebox of photographs
With sepiatone loving
Love is the answer,
At least for most of the questions in my heart
Like why are we here? And where do we go?
And how come it's so hard?
It's not always easy and
Sometimes life can be deceiving
I'll tell you one thing it's always better when we're together

MMM it's always better when we're together
Yeah, we'll look at them stars when we're together
Well, it's always better when we're together
Yeah, it's always better when we're together
-Jack Johnson, "Better Together"
summer heat
tender kiss
breeze in our hair
wine glasses
that gaze
laughter and quietness
artichoke dip & greasy fingers
energetic dogs
open road
very much not comfortably numb