I’ve had a PhD for ten months. Now what?

IMG_0487

Smith’s Cove Grand Cayman Island

I haven’t written anything in quite a while – unless you count tweets or incredibly witty & clever captions for photos posted on social media.1   I finished my PhD nearly ten months ago, and have absolutely no interest in writing any words or furthering my research – unless you count listening to Bloodshot bands, which I’m totally still into. I have applied for many academic jobs (and continue to do so), though I find myself lacking the wherewithal to really care about them. In fact, the sole reason that I’m blogging at this moment is to avoid the ten tabs open in Safari representing ten jobs I qualify for and should apply to.

I cannot decipher if my apathy is related to a) the post-dissertation/graduation slump, b) I really don’t care all that much about musicology and the somewhat insular world it represents anymore, or c) the chances of getting an actual musicology job are slim for me. Certainly, it’s a combination of these things, although the latter is a certain reality. I have seen many of my (infinitely more talented & awesome) friends deal with the academic job market for years with little to no success, while also witnessing several awesome folks choosing non-academic jobs. Yeah, I know. I’m still less than one year out, and it’s too early to be giving up on the job market/academic job possibility. But, it would be stupid to not consider the option.

Since I graduated way back in December, I have been teaching music appreciation at a community college, teaching piano lessons, and working my church job. Along with some gigs here and there, I am financially fine – making the least amount of money I’ve made in my adult life, but I can pay my bills and then some; and I’m pretty sure I can continue this trajectory indefinitely (Lord willing, as we say). What I’m wrestling with is what I’m going to be when I grow up.2   I really enjoy teaching college classes, and that’s what I thought I’d be doing – as a full-time instructor/professor. I’m really good at a lot of things, but my CV, experience, and nearly nonexistent publishing record don’t make me an outstanding candidate for many academic jobs. So perhaps the moral of the story is that, for now, I should simply appreciate the fact that I am making a living doing music-y things. And I should probably apply for the jobs sitting in all the surrounding open tabs here.


1. I went to Grand Cayman to visit a friend in July, and as that photo indicates, it was beautiful. I also visited a few distilleries on the Bourbon Trail back in May. I wouldn’t mind going back to these places.

IMG_0002

Maker’s Mark Loretta, Kentucky


2. This is supposed to be ironic or maybe funny. By most accounts, I’m an old lady.

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’.

I fail! I win! (again)

laundry3

California Closets – hopefully I’ll end up with more than one organized shelf…

I mentioned in a previous post that I’m a WINNER, thanks to a grand opening contest from Off Broadway Shoe Warehouse. My prize is a “closet solution” from California Closets up to a certain amount of money.1 I signed the legal paperwork agreeing to accept the prize (and pay the requisite taxes, of course), so now I’m waiting for my California Closets consultant to contact me to set up an appointment.

The impending professional organization consultation has motivated me to do a bit of pre-emptive cleaning out, and I took a few boxes of clothing and various other items to the Habitat ReStore today. Plus, an “organizing solution” couldn’t come at a better time, since I currently have a roommate, which means I had to move shoes Stuff from my walk-in closet (aka spare bedroom) in to my bedroom.

In the losing category, I’ve been applying for academic jobs, and I received my first official rejection email.2 Let’s be clear here: I fully expect to not get offered an academic job for 2014-2015 (yes, the whole academic job process is long and drawn out and quite unlike the real world). In fact, I have not even emotionally prepared for the possibility of being offered a job and subsequently leaving Athens. Nevertheless, the first rejection email (of many, I’m sure) seems worthy of mention. I didn’t really want to move to Kalamazoo anyway.

______

1. Based upon this company’s website and likely price points, it’s possible that I will receive a three-shelf bookcase for my winnings.
2. Academics who wish to teach at the college level are generally at the whim of the academic job market. That is, getting a job requires a match of schools needing a musicologist, particularly one who specializes in a particular area or time period, and a location that the prospective employee would be willing to move (because it’s generally not the place one earns his or her PhD)… and no, there really aren’t that many, and yes, it actually works out sometimes (I think).

Early bird

I’m currently applying for dissertation fellowships. That is, I’m jumping through hoops to ask random organizations to give me money so I can finish my research and write my dissertation. Generally, these fellowships grant around $20,000 for an academic year, and also cover university tuition and fees, and maybe some conference travel. I appreciate that the idea is totally awesome, but applying for these things is relatively onerous, and the likelihood that I will be awarded one is realistically quite slim.

The requirements for these applications is what you would expect: writing samples, descriptions of the project, a c.v., personal statements, something that yells about how much the research perfectly aligns with the mission of the granting organization, etc. However, thus far, the most difficult task has been an 800 character dissertation abstract. I was completely fine with a thirty page writing sample, but explaining my entire-yet-to-written dissertation in 800 characters (including spaces)?!? I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say it was one of the most difficult paragraphs I’ve ever had to write.

I have heard that applying for academic jobs is a full-time job in and of itself, and I’m guessing this fellowship thing is quite similar. I’m applying for five different awards right now, and in the Spring, I will apply for one from the Graduate School. This post is simply to acknowledge that even though I’m a professional procrastinator, sometimes I can get it together and not wait until the very last minute.

I just submitted application #2 even though the deadline is 5:00 p.m., central time, November 15, 2012. THAT’S THURSDAY and it’s ONLY TUESDAY. Be appropriately impressed, please.

There are two reasons I finished this today.

1. This application has been incredibly frustrating, and I was more than ready to stop thinking about it. Plus, the deadline for #3 is quickly approaching.

2. The Kentucky-Duke basketball game tonight. I wanted to watch this game without distraction, and be free to freak out and over-invest without other things to worry about. And yes, this game is in Atlanta, and yes, I considered MANY times buying tickets. But my budget and schedule just couldn’t handle it this time (also, not counting any proverbial chickens, but the Final Four is also in Atlanta…).

It’s all about priorities, folks. Go CATS!

Two years

One year ago yesterday in this post, I speculated that the annual Georgia-Florida football game would likely serve to remind me of comps and a subsequent roadtrip to Jacksonville. And if the past two years are any indication, then I am fulfilling this prophecy. I find it somehow appropriate that during this year’s game (formerly known as The World’s Largest Outdoor Cocktail Party), I was in Nashville interviewing some (formerly of Chicago) folks for my research.

I interviewed two different individuals at two different East Nashville coffee shops on Saturday afternoon. For various reasons, I was a little nervous about both of these, but my anxiety was completely unfounded. Both individuals were incredibly nice, and remarkably, both had new and different perspectives about Bloodshot and Chicago music than most of the folks I’ve already spoken with. As I pulled out the lovely city of Nashville, I had the brief and passing thought that I may actually write a dissertation, and that it may actually be interesting (it was brief, and I’m not letting it go to my head, because then I remembered that this nearly three hours of audio adds on to the billions of hours of interviews I still haven’t transcribed).

Last year, I was a little disappointed that I hadn’t made a ton of academic/dissertation progress. Well, this year, I completed and defended the prospectus, presented at a bunch of conferences and traveled quite a bit, and am pretty close to wrapping up the interviews and ethnography for the dissertation. And it seems that I have a realistic timeline to write a dissertation and graduate (and no, it’s not exactly soon, cf. billions of hours of interviews). So while transcribing isn’t necessarily happening (it will, it will, it HAS to, sigh), progress is being made.

But what might be even more exciting than all of this? Georgia now has a two-game winning streak against Florida, and Kentucky basketball is showing up on my DVR. Go Dawgs and Go Cats!

Lessons learned from… Timeline?

Perhaps you’ve had “timeline” on your facebook a long time. I have not and was alerted just this week that I have until August 7 to get my timeline-y affairs in order before it takes over. Thus, when I log on to facebook and go to my profile, it’s already been timeline-d, so I can scroll through my life story (as told by my facebook activity) all the way back to 2007 (February 13, to be exact).

2007 also happens to be the year I Went Back to School, and timeline shows all the minutia and fluff mixed right in with life-changing moments. The result is a big picture that is both true and slightly distorted. As one who feels compelled to document all things, scrolling through my past facebook activity serves as a journal of sorts (a shockingly public one, at that): trips taken, friend who have come and gone (this is a standard narrative in a college town), relationships that have grown, and also… one’s entire academic doctoral career to date. It’s this latter piece that I find somewhat disturbing, encouraging, disheartening, and entertaining.

When I started the PhD, it was so exciting and new. I was still teaching what seemed like 800 piano students and working at the church, TA-ing a new-to-me class, along with taking three or four graduate music courses. And it was, indeed, exciting and new. And wild. And tiring. And frustrating. And exhausting. And exhilarating. I think that 2007, 2008, and 2009 all went by in a bit of a blur because of the furious pace at which I was existing. And I came to equate this pace with Living.

Things (sort of) slowed down, and then comps happened. After that, it seems as though Nothing happened. And because of this Nothing, when I ponder 2011 in my memory, deep down I think of it as a waste: I didn’t DO enough; I wasn’t productive enough; I didn’t make enough academic progress; I didn’t WRITE enough; I wasn’t smart enough; basically, I wasn’t busy enough.

But then I look at Timeline, and I see that I was plenty busy: I had a wreck on my birthday, got to be a part of our worship team’s first live album, went to Chicago and fell in love with the city, made new friends, worked my assistantship, taught piano lessons, got closer to a dissertation topic, saw two dear friends get married and another have a baby, traveled more than ever before, presented at some conferences, and worked on a prospectus.

Even though I know better, I find myself believing a myth that I must always go at that furious pace, that only my academic progress and career matter, and that those are the only things that give meaning to my life. And if/when those things don’t work out exactly as I think they should, then I am a failure. It’s this distorted view tells me that 2011 was a bust, and that maybe 2012 is turning out the same way.

Really, I know better, but sometimes it’s nice to be reminded. Even if it’s facebook and timeline that are doing the reminding.

What about tomorrow?

Since I’ve already switched things up around here this week (with the post-Sunday post on Tuesday and a random video on Monday), I was lazy decided to skip Guitar Slide Wednesday because I didn’t have a song in mind anyway. And now, it’s Thursday, and I’m going to do the “school update” post.

The last time we talked about it, I was experiencing Post-Chicago Euphoria and was just thankful. Now, as it’s time for me to Do Something with all of the information acquired in the Windy City, I’ve stepped up the procrastinating game. I (generously) gave myself last week to Not Do Work, because I was in Tennessee for half of the week to hang out with some college pals. This week, since Sunday was Sunday, Monday was busy, and I had plans on Tuesday, I tentatively planned for yesterday to be the day I did some sort of school work. And it didn’t happen.

The best way for domestic duties to be addressed in my house are when I’m supposed to do school work. So naturally, I did laundry, cleaned out my closets, mended clothing, and finally went to the grocery store (I hadn’t been since before I went to Chicago. Yes, that was almost a month ago, and yes, I’ve had a few meals consisting of a random canned vegetable. Judge away.).

But getting back to school work (or not), I have a great deal of tedious work ahead of me. All of the documents I scanned and/or photographed in Chicago need to be looked at and “catalogued” (or maybe “spreadsheet-ed” for lack of a better term). I took a few notes on them initially, but I need to at least put all this information in one place. This is approximately 200 documents. And all of my interviews need to be listened to and transcribed. Again, I’ve taken notes of most of these, but none have been fully transcribed. This is maybe 15-18 hours of talking.

I’m not making this up. See, here’s a fun (and funny) Bloodshot postcard proof from around the mid-90s…

So yeah, I think I should probably get going with that… maybe tomorrow? 🙂