Wednesday, 2 October 2013

The End

I finished my thesis.

It was about three a.m. After two weeks of sleeping badly and working stupid hours, and an epic all-nighter spent in The Zone, I finished my thesis. Turning my thesis into a PDF was the most satisfying, most exciting thing I had ever done in my entire life. (actually, no; turning it into a PDF again at 6:30 in the morning, after I had checked the first PDF, found many mistakes in it, gone back and corrected them, and scrapped the first one, was the most satisfying thing in the world.)

I sent it off to the binders, who had promised that, if I got it to them by nine a.m., they would bind and deliver it for me that same day. I prayed that they would receive the file and that there would be no mess-up. (to be honest, though, I didn’t really care. If there was a mess-up, I would deal with it.)

So I sent it off and I went to wake the Boy (at 7:21) and tell him the good news, trying not to scream with happiness.

I went straight outside, got on my bike, and went swimming. (The sky was light! The trees had leaves!) Teenagers were walking to school in little groups. I stepped into the warm swimming pool and told my swimming friend I had just finished my PhD. The happiness of swimming, PhD-free, unencumbered by thoughts of what time I must leave and which chapter I must get back to, was incredible. I went home and made myself breakfast, and ate it at a table laden with flowers (which came on Saturday as a surprise from a lovely friend…) I went to the gym and did a yoga class. I sat on a sun lounger. I spent the day on an emotional rollercoaster, vacilating between euphoria and mild despair: pure pleasure at having finished, interspersed with thoughts of what I have done, and what I have failed to do; the woefully short bibliography, which may (or may not) shock the examiners; the books I never read and just shoved in a footnote, which may or may not be glaringly obvious; the potential evidence of the last-minute patch-up job, which I may have a hard time explaining. The terrible, half-baked conclusion. One minute I was happy, the next I was sad; one minute I was telling a man at the gym proudly that I finished my PhD, the next I was nearly bursting into tears in my Pilates class. I didn’t want to go home. I had spent far too much time at home in the last few weeks as it was.

I thought about how I really should clear up the spare room. I went in there in the morning before swimming, saw it in the 8 a.m. morning light, and had a weird feeling; it looked like someone used to live in there and died in there; I was reminded of once going to help clear the flat of a (very close) deceased family member. The poignant, humane little heaps of papers, here and there, indicating a work in progress; someone had collected them, arranged them there, put them there deliberately, for a reason, someone had a plan for them; that someone was striving for something, was going somewhere with this; that person had a plan. All these carefully hoarded things would now be swept into a box and thrown away by uncomprehending, uncaring hands. Someone (or something) died in that room. ‘It still smells like him’, I remember an auntie saying. Something died in that spare room (my PhD? My PhD-writing self?) There is a half-eaten Mr Kipling tart (with a glacĂ© cherry on top), which I started but didn’t have time to finish. Some rice on a plate (my unfinished dinner; it made a good midnight snack). Notes and books everywhere. I wish I had thought of booking some industrial cleaners to come in and blitz the whole flat. The last thing I feel like doing is cleaning, and the Boy, I think, is already feeling a bit put-upon, after the last few weeks.

‘Can I have my girlfriend back, please?’ he said to me the other day. ’I am basically LIVING with a PhD.’

I know. I’m sorry. But I’m back now, and I’m not going ANYWHERE.

Some things I have done since finishing my PhD, which were amazing:

-       cooked dinner for myself and Lover while drinking a glass of red wine, followed by Champagne and a box of chocolates
-       went out with a friend for tea and cheesecake, and then went out with friends for DRINKS
-       SLEPT (and with the sleep of innocence and youth, the sleep of the happily unemployed; NOT the sleep of the last-week-of-PhD student, punctuated by wakeful periods spent fretting about footnotes; no; the fairytale sleep of a Sleeping Beauty, who will wake up in a hundred years and be very very happy)
-       went to say goodbye to the therapist, and had a lovely last conversation, during which she said nice things, and asked me to email her and tell her how the viva goes
-       received many texts, messages, and flowers (awww!)…
-       stopped in the street to talk to a Red Cross charity fundraiser, and gave The Red Cross £5 a month (because I was there, I had time, I was happy, and I really wanted to)
-       emailed the PDF of my thesis to nice people who like me (my Mum; a friend who encouraged me a lot in the last weeks; my supervisor)
-       stocked up on Night Nurse and Vix and some vitamins (to combat the post-PhD flu)
-       asked the Lover how you switch on our TV (I really didn’t know)

And you can guess where I am right now, and what I am doing.

...Have a nice day, everybody!....


    Well done, so happy for you, I couldn't stop smiling while reading your post. Honestly I love the way you write.

    Have a great, wonderful, happy post-PhD life :)

    1. Thanks!... hehe. Glad you liked it! Hope you keep in touch!

  2. I am absolutely thrilled to read this!!! Congratulations!!! I am so happy for you xxx

    1. Thank you!.... very happy to hear from you. It helped me so much to have you guys supporting me!

  3. I am SO HAPPY for you!!! Congratulations! I myself defended my PhD last week on thursday, so I konw EXACTLY how you feel. And how you described your room - it could be mine you described :-))


    1. you defended the PhD!... well DONE! i am so happy for you too! enjoy some well-deserved idleness. (i am watching TV!!)


    I am so so happy for you. Seriously. And this brought a tear to my eye:

    "SLEPT (and with the sleep of innocence and youth, the sleep of the happily unemployed; NOT the sleep of the last-week-of-PhD student, punctuated by wakeful periods spent fretting about footnotes; no; the fairytale sleep of a Sleeping Beauty, who will wake up in a hundred years and be very very happy)"

    I'm (hopefully) just about a month behind you on this finishing the phd business, and how I fucking long to sleep the sleep of the happily unemployed..

    glad you are celebrating!!

    1. hey hey thesis twin! good luck with everything, work hard, take NAPS, take some time out to relax now and again! (do some exercise - helps you sleep!) you are very soon to experience the best frickin' NAP of your LIFE. keep at it and just do your best and it will be fine! thinking of you! X

  5. A huge CONGRATULATIONS!!!!! My visits to the blog world have been more sparse than I would like them to be recently....just overloaded with teaching, working (ever so slightly) on my dissertation proposal, family life, etc etc. However, I wanted to let you know that I have been immensely encouraged by your blog and your achievements. Even when you think that you are just "venting" due to the stresses of graduate school among many other aspects of life, you are actually helping other people who are going through similar things. I'm excited for you that you can take a BIG deep breath and realize that those years weren't wasted, even though you might have felt that way at many points (and many of us, including myself, often have those thoughts!). Again, a humungous congrats and I hope that you do even more to reward yourself!!!!

    1. hey hey! thank you for visiting the blog, and thanks for ALL your comments so far! You have no idea how nice it is to go on this blog to vent and to find that nice people somewhere are writing back and saying nice things... Hope everything goes well with the proposal-writing, and hope to see you on here again (I think it'll be a while before I give up the blog on which I 'hate my PhD'...It's not over yet! :)

  6. Just read this post today. Congratulations!!!!!!!!! Your post phd feeling is just the way I imagine mine will be on the 30th of November Insha Allah.I am so happy for you becausee I consider you my phd soulmate. If the way you wite and express yourself is any indication, I just know you'll ace the viva. Good luck and May Allah be with you as you start your post PhD journey, and help you the way you have helped us, even if it's just to bring a smile to your face.

    1. hey there! THANK YOU so much for visiting the blog, for reading my rants, and for your lovely wishes! GOOD LUCK in the run-up to the 30th... and hope to 'see' you on this blog again!! :)