Yesterday was not a good day.
I was feeling very good about my Old English Devil seminar paper, and had met last week with the professor about my conference version of the paper and there were minor notes, which I had fixed. But yesterday I got the full draft back with notes and that was pretty much the end of my day. Don't get me wrong, they are all great notes, that will improve the work, and since this opens the first two chapters of my dissertation, this is key.
But there were several notes (about information that was in the conference draft) that I wish I'd had a week ago to start fixing. There are minor formatting notes and other small issues. But most of the notes are not minor and require a complete reworking.
Like the fact that I was using date of inscription and I needed to use date of composition. And my entire framework for analysis relies on placing these works on a timeline.
Or the fact that I needed to read R.D Fulk's A History of Old English Meter (at 400+ pages) in order to answer that.
I also need to check footnotes.
So, a lot of work. And like I said, all things that will make it a strong foundation to open my dissertation. But the conference version is due tomorrow. I spent all yesterday just fixing the Chicago/formatting notes, reading Fulk's book, and going to the library to grab all the books I need. I still need to fix all these argument issues in the conference paper, as I always just expand that into the longer version.
I then have less than a week to fix these issues in the longer paper. But this is also the last week of class, so I have to teach, and grade, and also revise my Milton paper based on feedback.
So yesterday morning after completely melting down, and reading Fulk's book, and making a list of everything I needed from the library, I went in to the professor's office hours. I told them that I was suddenly very worried about passing their class. And they told me not to worry. That these were minor notes. I made sure I explained the major points needed for revision. The professor was nice as always. Tld me I didn't need to be worried as I was. Asked if I was okay as I was leaving, and I said I was, as I dashed out.
But I couldn't help feeling a disconnect.
The notes are not minor notes. They basically say it's a good idea but I didn't prove that. The notes indicate a complete rewrite. So I don't know what to do with the notes versus the in person. Or why these notes weren't in last week's conference. I know that today and tomorrow I need to rework the conference paper for tomorrow night's due date. That gives me Thursday afternoon and Friday to finish fixing the article length piece, and Saturday and Sunday and Monday to revise the Milton paper.
But here's the larger issue that contributed to my meltdown yesterday. Anglo-Saxon work is where my dissertation begins, but I am not an Anglo-Saxonists. I have worked very hard to learn Old English, and am using it as my language requirement. But I struggle. It takes hours, and lots of work. I've never been good at languages. And while I feel like I really know scholarship about the devil, I don't know the rest of the field. And yesterday, as I read those comments, I felt like I didn't know these things and I should have. And as I read Fulk, not understanding one word in ten (which when I told my professor they said- oh yeah, me too), I felt stupid. I felt like I didn't belong here. And I couldn't help but think as I cried in my office that no one cared.
I mostly focus my writing here on the work, and sharing professional stuff. But this is a case where the professional and the personal affect each other.
Because when you are doing this all on your own, without a support system, there is no one there to talk you off the ledge, to point out that I should wait to talk to the prof before losing my mind, and tell them honestly how I felt, and see what they say (none of which I did because I was having a hard enough time holding it together). Someone to tell me that it would be okay. Help me see the forest for the trees.
But I don't have that. My step-father continues to be weird- calling me last week on the two nights I had night classes (four calls in two days) and then leaving a nasty voicemail when I didn't call him back. Because he can't be bothered to remember my class schedule. Not to mention that he didn't talk to me for over five weeks when I told him I couldn't support him anymore and he had to pay him own bills. Not understanding that I can't talk because it's the end of the semester and I'm BUSY. Getting short with me when I tried to explain this.
I do not have friends here. I thought before Spring conference season that I had online contacts that had become friends, but I misread that. When complimenting me the other day a professor called me "precise" and "on task." I may not be great at reading social cues, but those are not great adjectives. I may not be able to read people, but I do know when things are off, or when people are making fun of me.
So this was the mix yesterday. Add in that I was not rewarded summer school classes and am now unsure how I'll pay rent this summer. I also still have to add secondary scholarship to CH 2 of #DevilDiss and write the "how to read the diss" intro and get both those and CH 1 to my director by the end of next week. In hindsight, no surprise that I had a meltdown.
But here's the thing. I'm not the smartest person in the room. I didn't go to fancy schools. And I don't have mom and dad paying my bills. But I have a hell of a work ethic. So I've scheduled out what I need to do to get this all done this week and next. And I didn't lose it in public yesterday (although now I'm telling you all, but no one really reads this so...) So I'll get it done. And I made a rash decision last night, probably because I was still upset. I had put in to renew my position as Core Writing Coordinator. I enjoyed doing it this year, and like teacher training and professional development. But I've done a lot of work in that role this year- monthly professional development workshops, redesigned the website, designed a new website, written a teacher's resource manual, and shifted archives to Google Docs. With not a whole lot of payoff (or appreciation). It's an independent study credit in the Fall (which I don't need) and a course release in the Spring (which would be nice, but I don't feel like teaching is onerous so...) And all this work wasn't rewarded with a summer teaching position, so I withdrew my application to renew my position last night. I am still planning on going on the market in the Fall, and to be revising dissertation chapters. That means the Spring should just be defense, and hopefully job stuff. I don't need to be doing anything other than that. So the meltdown got me to focus on me and what I need to do.
So this morning is a new day, and I'm back on track. But I decided to share this not only because it did affect and reflect my work but also because often people put only their best selves forward on social media. And particularly in grad school, that's not always the case.
So if you're reading this, are a grad student, and having your own meltdown, know you're not alone.