Old News

I have a hole, er, square hole, in the ceiling of my dining room/desk area. This square hole was cut some time in November – I don’t exactly remember the date as the end of the year was a little crazy, what with getting a PhD and all. Yes, I finally graduated from college. I passed the defense, made revisions like crazy (including en- vs. em-dashes and re-worked musical examples), and got the paperwork to the grad school on time. After many, many years, I am no longer a graduate student.

More about that later – for now back to the square hole in the ceiling.

The square hole was made by plumbers who fixed a leak. I was told by the plumbers to leave the square hole open for a week or so after they fixed the leak, just to make sure the leak was, indeed, fixed. But this timeline meant I needed to schedule the Ceiling Fixer Guy after my trip to Puerto Rico. The Ceiling Fixer Guy could not come the week after Puerto Rico, and then I was out of town for Thanksgiving. Add the snake fight/defense/final revisions of the dissertation into the mix, graduation, plus traveling for Christmas, and today, I still have a square hole in my ceiling.

IMG_8715

The week after the plumbers cut into the ceiling and fixed the leak, my piano students were all very curious as to why the ceiling now had a square hole in it. In fact, several students asked many, many questions about the ceiling and plumbers repeatedly.

Nearly two months later, I resumed piano lessons this week, and you know what? Not one of my kiddos mentioned the square hole at any point in their lesson. The square hole is officially Old News to them. In fact, instead of being alarmed, I myself have grown rather fond of gazing up into the plumbing and duct work of my drop ceiling.1 

Considering this is the first blog post of 2015 and my first post as a PhD, I feel obligated to make a brief commentary of the Old-News-ness of the square hole and having attained the (quite long-awaited) PhD. As you might know, for many years, I have been focused on completing this danged degree. At some point toward the end, completing the degree meant working diligently to do all that the Advisor and Committee requested (OK, nearly all they requested).

I have heard PhD’s talk about the post-dissertation slump or depression after graduation. Before I finished, I sort of understood, but was pretty sure it would not happen to me (I just wanted to be done with it, after all). Now that I’m a whopping twenty days from graduation, I can see how such a thing might happen. Slowly but surely, being focused on the dissertation and the Committee becomes Old News – the square hole in the ceiling that just is – and when the Committee is no longer the Boss of me, and the Dissertation rests comfortably in unopened files on the hard drive – things are a little strange, uncomfortable even. You know, change is hard and all that.

There are NO WORDS to describe how happy/relieved I am to actually have a PhD (and a completed dissertation).2  Really, none. And while I’m not quite used to having a PhD just yet, I’m pretty sure I like it – ahem, that’s DOCTOR, thankyouverymuch. In any event, here’s to a new year, kicking the Old News to the curb, and um, getting my ceiling fixed.

 


1. I mean you didn’t expect me to get it fixed promptly, now did you?
2. The piece of paper still hasn’t arrived in the mail, so it’s still entirely possible my PhD is all a hoax. A sad, mean, sorry hoax.

One more time…

I did not get around to posting on this year’s compsiversary… partly because the game was just awful (like REALLY awful), but also because I found it slightly depressing that we’re at the FOURTH freaking compsiversary and I STILL DON’T HAVE A PHD. Yes, I know. It’s all very close and all that. BUT REALLY. It’s been FOUR YEARS since I completed comps… and I don’t have a PHD. You get the idea.

In happier news, I’m heading to Puerto Rico (again) on Tuesday for NWSA. I intend to be a part of a roundtable on women and/in music, attend the keynote address featuring bell hooks, and spend the rest of the time on the beach & hopefully taking an official tour of something or other.1 

In less happier but very necessary news, my defense is scheduled for the following Monday morning… at 8 a.m.2  You have no idea how happy I will be when this is over. Unless I fail, and then I will just be very sad… like way more sad than this:

But let’s not think of such things right now. I should probably go write things for the conference next week, and/or work on my presentation for the defense. And think happy thoughts about scenes like this one 🙂

View from the Malecon Esperanza

View from the Malecon Esperanza


1. To the great surprise of no one, I have not finished my paper/presentation for this conference. We present on Thursday, so there’s plenty of time!

2. I will never not link to the McSweeney’s “Snake Fight” essay when discussing my defense. I find it hilarious, and frighteningly apropos of many aspects of grad school. Also, if you know me at all, I clearly, clearly did not choose the time for this snake fight.

I’d like to thank the Academy (and you)…

The short version of this post is that I submitted hard copies of the dissertation to the committee ten days ago, and I’m incredibly grateful for the love and support of friends and family who helped make it all possible. The longer version is, of course, below.

The printing took over two hours at Kinko’s and way too much money, but the task was accomplished. Certainly, this was a Great Relief, but I think I was too tired to really appreciate what was happening.

Part of what was printed (and what took a ridiculous amount of time to complete) was the Front Matter. This was very involved and tedious to compile, except for the Acknowledgements section, described as “You may write whatever you would like to on this page.” I like to read the acknowledgements, and I’ve thought about (dreamt about?) writing my own acknowledgements many times. I posted on Facebook that this process made me cry — to think of the many kindnesses and the great amounts of love from friends and loved ones that have helped me get to this point… and I’m sure I will revise it slightly, but I thought I would post it here (with a few notes).

It appears that a defense is scheduled. So while we wait for that, I give you the Annotated (and slightly abridged) Acknowledgements (notes in italic, along with footnotes when needed; typically I avoid using names on the blog just because, and I have adjusted accordingly):

The kindness of numerous friends, acquaintances, and colleagues has made this project (and its completion) possible. Advisor has offered endless amounts of advice and support, and asked difficult questions at every step of this process; her involvement has made this a much better project. The same can be said of the other members of my committee.1  Gender and Music Video (with Advisor) was one of the first classes I took as a doctoral student. I wrote a paper on Bon Jovi for this class, and it opened my eyes to popular music studies. Also, the so-called Proseminar (also with Advisor) was where I wrote my very first paper on country music (Loretta Lynn & Jack White to be exact).

History Professor provided feedback and guidance in the early stages of the research, for which I am grateful.2 I had the pleasure of working with My Academic Role Model and the Writing Intensive Program for many years, which greatly increased my understanding of writing and the writing process.3  Financial support from the University of Georgia Graduate School and the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts made fieldwork possible, while a Dissertation Completion Award from the Graduate School allowed me to actually finish this document and (finally) graduate. They gave me money. Seriously, I still can’t believe they gave me money. 

The entire Bloodshot crew has been kind and accommodating, even when I wouldn’t stop asking questions or took over large areas of their office space. Radio Guy has been especially helpful, beginning with his response to my very first email inquiry and phone call. The members of the Chicago musical community were immeasurably helpful, not only in sharing a wealth of information, but also providing good company, directions, rides, and even restaurant recommendations. At this point, I listed all of the Chicago folks I interviewed. As most of these folks are musicians who have recorded with Bloodshot, this part is basically extensive and glorified name-dropping!4 

If College Pastor had not introduced me to Talented Chicago Friends, a dissertation examining Chicago music would not have been possible. I left out friends’ names below, but I felt pretty justified in including the names of these three people here, because seriously, this project could NOT have happened without these providential connections. I am forever indebted to them for their repeated hospitality and grace. I crashed on their sofa more times than they likely wanted, and I am honored to now call them friends. Similarly, I owe a debt of gratitude to numerous Chicago acquaintances and friends for being genuinely nice to me over the past few years. If you’ve read my blog in the past few years, surely you’ve read recaps of my Chicago adventures. It really blows my mind to think about how much fun my research was (challenging at times, yes, but also lots of fun), and how nice and helpful so many people were to me.

In the category of friends and loved ones, I boast an embarrassment of riches. I’m not even exaggerating here. And seriously, maybe this is a #humblebrag, but I have a lot of friends – friends that I know from lots of different places & times in my life, friends that I love and who love me. I knew I couldn’t list names here, if only because I would leave someone out… but you should know who you are. 

The musicology/ethnomusicology students at UGA, past and present, have provided solidarity, stimulating discussion, gossip, and plenty of dorky jokes (particularly on Friday afternoons). This includes but is not limited to classes, seminars, Youtube Fridays in the WIP office, Hildegard Happy Hours, Friday lunches in all their many forms and locations, Friday happy, er, afternoons, date nights, and conference trips… I also wanted to include the many other students from other schools that I’ve met along the way… but wasn’t sure how to include them. Again, hopefully, you know who you are.5 Kentucky friends, Transy friends, Athens friends, UGA friends, and my church family at Watkinsville: your prayers, kind words, calls, texts, meals, drinks, love, and general awesomeness have kept me going on this long, winding, and at times, difficult journey. I am eternally grateful to you all. See? An embarrassment of riches. 

I must also mention Sarah at CAPS, who helped me through the most challenging year of my life. I started seeing a therapist one year ago. I was having a really difficult time… with life. I admit I was skeptical at first, but I’ve found the process to be incredibly helpful.6 Finally, to Mom, Sister, Brother-in-law, Nephews, & family, I love you all more than words can say. Thank you for your enduring support and love. I so wish Dad could have been with us to see the completed project, but I like to think he would be proud. Cue tears.

1. These statements are true. Of course, one’s relationship with his/her Dissertation Advisor is complicated. But… there were many, many times where I’m certain Advisor was convinced I was a complete idiot and/or could not believe that I did or did not do something “obvious,” and I, in turn, wanted to kick her. I’m glad I never did that.

2. She also made it possible for me to visit Puerto Rico that one time, so there’s that. Needless to say, I’m REALLY grateful for that, too.

3. No kidding. I really want to be like her if/when I ever grow up and get a Real Academic Job.

4. Speaking of name dropping, remember how I’ve gone to SXSW these past couple of years?!

5. Especially folks from FSU, and especially for letting me crash with them in the DR for SEMSEC that one time, but also the many friends I’ve made at ICMC, too.

6. Mostly, I was angry (I’m not exactly an angry person, maybe you’ve noticed). I was approaching Hulk-level rage on a regular basis, which was disconcerting, to say the least. Of course, it was grief & stress related. Of course. But it sure has been nice and helpful to hear someone tell me I’m not completely crazy on a regular basis. I’m certain it would help you too. Just sayin’.

Still writing…

Well, it’s been such a long time since my last blog post that WordPress has changed its editor, and things looks a little differently on the inside of this here bloggy place. I have a good excuse for not blogging, though. Really, I do. I’ve been Doing All the Things, including teaching two Music Appreciation classes at the technical college (one of which is a “short session” class, which means we meet for three hours every Tuesday and Thursday, which also means the final for that class is very soon, which necessarily means the class will be over soon), running around at the church/doing church-y work things, and teaching the children how to play piano.

I have also been Writing a Dissertation. Yes, I know I have been doing this activity in one form or another for 800 a few years, and yes, I know that I have lied said here several times that I might be close to finishing. BUT WAIT, this time, I like, sorta, really mean it. Seriously.

The chapters in their nearly completed form. The files are titled following a naming practice developed approximately four years ago, and i decided to be consistent. Don't judge.

The first five chapters in their (mostly) completed form. The files are titled following a naming practice developed approximately four years ago, and I decided to be consistent. Don’t judge.

I’m working on a conclusion/last chapter. I have been working on this conclusion for a couple of weeks now, and have made very little progress in actually finishing it. But I at least have five other chapters that are ready to go. When/if the conclusion is finished, all the many pages and chapters will head off to Advisor, and then off to Committee-land. Apparently, after that, I have to schedule my required snake fight/defense. And then, maybe then, if I survive, I will be Finished.1 

I know lots of people are Busy. I know other people have to deal with much harder things in life than I do. I know many of my friends have much more challenging issues to address on a daily basis. But I also know that my brain has been full these past few weeks; and I know that I feel like I’ve been doing most of the things in my life just barely good enough. Maybe that’s part of being an Old Lady, but I can only hope that getting these danged last pages written will change some of that in the very near future!


1. OK, so there’s a few appendices that I need to work on, the bibliography to compile and format, and then the general grad school formatting stuff, too. But after THAT, really, I think I’ll be finished.

Sad and Sorry (Literally)

One year ago today, I spoke with my dad on the phone. I remember this distinctly for two reasons:

1. Last year, August 11 was a Sunday; I always call my parents after church on Sundays.

2. August 11 is special day: it’s my anniversary.

This anniversary marks the time I first met my parents. Although I don’t remember this day, it changed my life. Adoptions back then didn’t happen as they do now; my parents did not travel to Korea to meet me and bring me to Kentucky. Rather, I arrived in Chicago from Korea on the lap of a stranger. I have always jokingly referred to myself as a mail-order baby, and in some ways, this is not untrue. And my closest friends and I refer to this anniversary as “Fasian Day,” as it marks the day I became a “fake Asian.”

Aside from my August anniversary, we’re approaching the awful, one-year anniversary of my dad’s untimely death. And it still sucks. Like really, really sucks. Death is awful. Grief is awful. Despite my belief that Jesus has conquered death, hell, and the grave; these things are still not the best.

This past year has been the worst year of my life — not in a “I can’t make it work” or a “I can’t do what I’m supposed to” kind of way, nor in a “I can’t carry on with my life” way; but in a “This particular night/moment suck,” or in a “This doesn’t feel right” kind of way,” or in a “I really hate that my dad is gone” kind of way. And there are still many days when I feel as though I’m watching my life happen in front of me.

I remember talking to my parents on August 11 specifically, but I KNOW I talked to my dad at *some* point between August 11 and August 23 when he died – I just don’t remember the actual date – but I remember because we had this in depth discussion about my mortgage and also about my student loans; he was concerned about my interest rates and I was slightly annoyed that he was asking so many questions.

And now I just find myself sad and sorry. You know, literally sad – sad that I can’t talk to dad anymore (amongst other sadnesses) – and sorry – sorry that I obviously didn’t really appreciate all those conversations with dad, especially on August 11ths of days past. Again, death & grief suck.

Back at it

Uh, remind how all this stuff works again?

Uh, remind how all this stuff works again?

For the past twelve weeks at my church, we’ve had ONLY two services on Sunday mornings – one at 9:00 and one at 10:15. This is, of course, a switch from our “full” schedule of five services on Sunday morning – two at 9:00, two at 10:15, and one at 11:30.

Before we get back to that schedule, we have a couple of weeks of four services – two at both hours – beginning today, which means that for the first Sunday in twelve weeks, my morning involved a lot of Running Around. Not only were we in two rooms, but we also baptized a bunch of folks. I’m pretty sure every ten-fifteen minutes or so, I remembered some detail or item that needed attention (this actually began around 6:30 a.m. when I was brushing my teeth). Except a few things that didn’t go as well as they could have, considering this was our first time in three months to sync rooms, it was a pretty good day.

But the funniest part of the morning had nothing to do with having two rooms.

At the end of the first service, the band(s in both rooms) came back on stage to do a closing song. As we were wrapping up the video feed on the headset, I looked up and noticed we were missing Acoustic Guitar. Electric Guitar was playing ganjo/six-string banjo for this last song, and I saw Worship Pastor gesture to him to move over to acoustic; and he did. And because our team is awesome & Electric Guitar is a pro, the song was fine and went off without a hitch.

As it turns out, Acoustic Guitar had gotten waylaid by some visitors, and he was nice enough to show them where to go, and just didn’t quite make it back in time. However, in the few seconds that Electric Guitar was switching instruments, and capo-ing the acoustic guitar, he looked like he had never picked up a guitar before in his life.1  Since Senior Pastor was praying at this point, I’m guessing not many people saw that moment. I was even told that Acoustic Guitar started to come on stage, peaking through the curtain on the side of the stage, but then backed out. All in all, it was a pretty funny moment. And in the second service, all hands were on deck and in the right place for the closing song.

 


1. It also reminded me of the TV show from the late ’80s/early ’90s, Quantam Leap – when the guy appears in a new situation/time period and has to figure out who he is, where he is, and what’s going on. Random, I know, but it was kind of fitting.

And because the internet, here’s the opening of the show with a much more detailed explanation:

 

Back to Chicago (plus, a random guy discounts my research!)

I went to Chicago last week. It had been over a year since I visited the city, so I was very glad to be back. The purpose of this trip was to attend the American Music Festival at FitzGerald’s Nightclub in Berwyn. I’ve been before, and it’s a really great festival – and this year, several Bloodshot bands played to celebrate the record label’s 20th anniversary. It wasn’t the only 20th anniversary event, and it won’t be the last, but it was certainly a great excuse to get back to the city.

I got to see friends (thanks as always to the wonderful folks who let me stay with them–and their ridiculously cute one-year-old), and I managed to spend some time wandering around downtown. I ate at a couple of my favorite vegetarian restaurants – Pick Me Up Cafe and Handlebar. Even though I had a definite plan to eat lunch at the Chicago Diner, I planned rather poorly and ended up not making it (which only means I can’t wait a full year before I visit Chicago again!). Oh, and I also did some research/follow up work at the Chicago Public Library.

The trip was fun, productive, and tiring, but I have to share one particular story, if only because of its absurdity. The short version is that I had a complete stranger (older, male) discount my dissertation and research after hearing approximately five sentences about it. His general take on my work was, “That’s not gonna cut it. That’s just not gonna work for you.”

As I was in Chicago at a music festival devoted to American music when this conversation took place, I initially thought for a moment that I was being schooled by a senior scholar in musicology or ethnomusicology from a Chicago institution. As this person continued to speak, I realized he was not in my field, but was likely in a related academic field, such as history or anthropology. But then he kept talking. And then I asked him point blank, and he told me, no, he was not a PhD, nor was he in academia. After I told him Advisor was in disagreement with him about my work “cutting it,” as it were, not to mention my committee, he said, “That’s just one person’s opinion – or just a few people… it’s really not gonna cut it. You’ve really got to do more.” At this point, I replied, “It seems you don’t know how folks go about getting PhD’s. I really would like to pay attention to this band now.”

So, basically, I had my dissertation mansplained to me by a person who was not an academic AT ALL. He was not a musician, nor was he really familiar with Bloodshot, alt.country, or country music, or even academia. After I walked away, I had at least 80,000 other wonderful and witty and clever things that came to mind that I wish I had said to him. And of course, I wondered why in heavens I even spoke with him for as along as I did.

In any event, I’m glad that guy’s not on my committee.