I woke up excited today.
Over a month ago, I moved to CT from my beloved Brooklyn to focus on my dissertation. My family offered me a deal that would have been totally crazy to give up, and so I packed up my life and moved to Hartford. While I knew this was the right thing to do, it made me incredibly anxious and sad. The first morning I woke up, I thought I’d feel like I feel today: ready to get up and make it happen, but instead, I kinda dragged myself to the computer and I can’t really remember if anything really got done. Slowly over the past two months I’ve managed to complete most of the data work for my entire dissertation, get all the committee members, and put work into my proposal. I’ve been working on different versions of my dissertation for the past five years, so at this point, it doesn’t excite me like I wish it would.
But I woke up excited today.
As is par for the course, I’ve been incredibly anxious about my what’s next. I’ve been paying too much attention to what my rockstar academic friends have been doing and then beating myself up for not having done as much. I know, lame. But in conversations I’ve been having with my brother and some male friends, I think I’m stumbling upon my next big step. It doesn’t have the shape yet for me to describe it here, but I’m hyped about it. For the first time, I woke up (hyped) and walked to the computer (hyped) and started working (hyped). Instead of “this humongous, overwhelming paper that I don’t know when I’ll ever finish”, my dissertation has become “this thing I gotta get done now so I can do this really cool thing.” My plans after my dissertation still aren’t as clear as I’d like them to be, but they are taking shape, which is a relief. From the few people that I’ve spoken to about my next step, I’ve already received an incredible amount of support. As much as it scares me, it’s something that I can’t not try. It’s in a field and working with a population where my gender will be an obstacle and still I can’t stop.
I haven’t felt passion for a project in such a long time. I am so thankful. When facing hard realities, instead of feeling defeated, I just keep saying “there’s got to be a way to do this.” I have to keep pushing it. I’m too excited not to. Naturally, I’m terrified, but even that is serving as motivation. I’m about to make it happen.
I hate the way people talk about “daddy issues.”
I think the biggest misconception about daddy issues is that people know how to deal with them. It took me easily 15 years to figure out that “dealing” with my father meant forgiving him and accepting him where he was. It took me a few more years to actually be able to do that. And I was lucky (using that term real loosely here) because my father had an excuse I could buy (addiction and PTSD) but more importantly, because he changed. (I wrote about it yesterday.) I’m only beginning my research on adults and their fathers, but from what I’ve learned so far, this is not the way it always goes.
More often it’s a painful disaster. A few months ago I read Naked With Socks On’s piece about when he confronted his father about why he wasn’t there. His father didn’t have a good answer, he barely had an answer at all. And when that happens you are crushed. Hell, I was crushed and it didn’t happen to me. Another public example is a scene in the documentary the Prep School Negro. Andre visits his father’s house for the first time and confronts his father about what happened, where he’s been, what the deal was. To be honest, watching this scene was like watching a horror movie. I didn’t want to watch because I was scared of what the father would say. And like NWSO’s father, this guy didn’t have an excuse and it hurt. It was literally painful to watch.
I think the fear of these scenes becoming a reality is why I think a lot of people avoid having the conversation. What in the world do you say to a parent who wasn’t there and offers no acceptable reason? What do you do with that information? I don’t have the answers. I don’t know what I would do. And my guess is, a lot of you don’t know either.
What was the point of me writing this? Lately, it seems that everyone fancies themselves experts on fathers and fatherless children. And frankly most of what I’m reading comes from people who have no idea of what they are talking about. I also have many, many thoughts on how we talk about women who grew up without their fathers, but that is another post. I say all this to say that I hope the next time someone wants to tell people to go deal with their daddy issues, they’ll think for one second about what that really means, how much time it takes and how it feels.
To be clear, I’m not saying that people shouldn’t “deal,” I’m saying offer some compassion instead of ordering someone to do it.
I figured since I’m going to Cool Kids PhD Club retreat next weekend and I had to submit a working paper, might as well drop it off here if anyone’s inclined to read and/or comment.
Daughters and their Relationship with their Nonresident Fathers (working title too).
I read somewhere that A Belle in Brooklyn writes all her posts on her Blackberry. Since I have an hour commute to work I figured I’d give it a shot. And I really need to write since I’ve already fallen off my write every day wagon. #weak
At any rate, I’ve been thinking a lot about these interviews I’m doing (hopefully for my dissertation). So far I’ve only done and to be honest I was not prepared for what I heard and how I felt afterwards. I’m interviewing daughters who grew up in different households and I’m
trying to explore how they maintained these relationships, what these relationships are like now and if these relationships have affected their dating habit and/or sexual behavior.
I know what my “daddy story” is and have been thinking about blogging that just to get it out of my system and to just sit and think about what it is to me and how it’s affecting my research. But that’s another post
Anyway, what’s surprised me most about these interviews is how sad they make me. Granted there were a lot of sad parts in the interview, the sadness I felt is most likely my own shit rather than empathy. It just boggles the mind how fathers can disappear and move on with life
so easily – especially when their own fathers weren’t there. They know what it feels like, and at some point they must have said “I’m never going to do that to my child.” And yet the pattern continues.
At some point, I’d like to interview the fathers. Not sure how well that would work out. Probably like how it is when Oprah interviews child molestors. She can’t be cool, she barely holds it together and you can just feel her disdain for them. Maybe my emotions aren’t that
strong, but I would be going in with judgment and emotion. That doesn’t mix well with science.
Back to the interview. It helped me form a hypothesis about how these relationships are maintained. I’m going to see if these next two relationships confirm the pattern. It’s exciting.
In 6 days i will begin a 3 week vacation. My first vacation in over two years. My last vacation was prob my worst with my (ex) boyfriend and lots o drama. So I need to make up for lost time and create some positive memories to associate with vacation.
I have a few goals over those next 3 weeks:
- Focus SASSY. It’s too all over the place. There’s no structure. I know it can better.
- Finish the edits on the chapter – which has now turned into a journal article. the editors had the second draft for almost 6 months and returned it yesterday and said they wanted revisions by Augutst 19th. That wasn’t happening but one of my coauthors and I are trying to get it out by September 2nd. Wish us luck!
- Do and mega pro and cons list of my two dissertation ideas. I know I haven’t started the program but if I want to get out in 3 years I need to go in knowing exactly what I want to do.
- PhD bootcamp with my cousin who just got her PhD. (Congrats Leah). I have no idea of what this entails.
- Exercise. a lot. I know it will help relieve stress and my goal is to put myself on a schedule and make this routine. Even though I am currently pretty healthy, I know I can do better.
- Create a realistic healthier diet. I just moved and have been eating crap for three weeks. My body can’t take it anymore.
That’s all I’ve got for now. I’ll keep you updated.
I just realized I never blogged about that fact that I’m headed back to school in the fall. Right back to Columbia to get my PhD is social policy and policy analysis. I thought I had a dissertation idea (well I do) but when I went to the open house and began talking with my homeboy who is already a candidate there, he gave a super amazing idea – or at least the beginnings of an idea – for what I think is an even better idea. When I flush it out more I’ll share.
Ok that’s it. I don’t know why I am up this early. Back to bed for me.