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’.

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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.

Because blogging is easier than revising a chapter of my dissertation…

I was going to post about procrastinating, and how being a Good Procrastinator is knowing how long one can put something off and STILL manage to accomplish the task at hand – generally with only a few hours of sleep sacrificed… And how I pretty much failed at it last week (despite my claim of being a professional) with the most recent chapter revision – I greatly underestimated how long it would take to finish, and therefore sent the thing to Advisor a solid 36 hours later than I planned.1 

But I met with Advisor this morning (about said chapter), and I’ve got all kinds of things flying around my brain right now; and I lack the wherewithal to assemble that original post with detail. So instead, I’ll say last week was hard, what with the writing and…. Father’s Day, which was not my most favorite day/weekend ever.2 

Also, I got swept up in the tide of throwback photos on the magical interwebs this week.  I went through my high school and college photo albums (you know, one of those things that contains and displays actual printed photos!), and found some amazing pics. I will be sure to post them in the coming days (consider yourselves warned informed, friends I’ve known for a long, long time). But for now, here are two pics from my junior prom (back in the Stone Age) – including one of me and my Dad.

 


1. Better late than never, I suppose. Also, this might be the place to make some not-very-clever comment about putting this off until a later time.

2. It wasn’t as bad as I was expecting, but it certainly wasn’t fun. I’ve found the “big days” aren’t quite as difficult as the “I’m-totally-fine-OH-WAIT-I’m-not” days. For the former, there’s some emotional preparation, or at least expectation – which is just slightly easier to deal with than the “out-of-the-blue-sucker-punch” days. Grief sucks like that, I suppose.

Happy Friday Gratitude!

Lots of parts about graduate school pretty much suck (and by graduate school, I mean specifically a doctoral degree in the humanities). The bureaucracy, the seemingly arbitrary hoops to jump through, the reading, the writing, dealing with difficult professors, etc., this stuff just isn’t very fun. Add to that all of the woe, wailing, and teeth-gnashing regarding the job market, work loads and such, and one must wonder why anyone would subject themselves to such experiences. Well, for me, it’s the other parts that make it worthwhile, such as learning gross amounts about something that I find fascinating and compelling, the reading, the writing, dealing with brilliant professors (often the same individuals who are difficult, of course), and commiserating with folks who are equally compelled by similar interests.

As much as I would like to end up with an academic job, I have no idea if I will ever get one; but I do know that I have (mostly) enjoyed the past seven years. The actual experience of earning this degree (assuming this actually happens in August) has been worthwhile. If nothing else, I will have spent seven years of my life Thinking about, Reading about, and Writing about Music in (mostly) new and different ways, which I think is better than just about anything else I could have been doing for that time.1 

I spent a chunk of time this morning with a producer/recording engineer. We listened to an assortment of Bloodshot and non-Bloodshot tracks and talked about what they sounded like, recording and mixing techniques, and other such details. And it was great – interesting and super helpful for me.2  As I walked away from that meeting, I was reminded again of how much I like music, and how grateful I am that I get to write a ton of pages about music that I really, really love (even if the actual thinking and writing part is Really Hard). And of course, I was overwhelmed (yet again) by how nice and helpful so many folks have been to me through this whole process… and all of this on the eve of SXSW – where I will attend again as an “artist” (make that ROCK STAR, at least in terms of wristbands)! I’ll get to see more live shows than you can shake a proverbial stick at, and get my fill (and then some) of great music.3 

I’m not finished with my dissertation just yet, and I’m in a relatively challenging place in the journey right now. However, I have moments where I’m beginning to believe that I might actually one day finish the dissertation, and after that, graduate. In the dissertation, I will get to write a page of acknowledgements to thank folks and publicly proclaim my gratefulness to specific people, but for now, in the middle of a not-always-fun part, I’m pretty glad for some reminders of the fun parts.


1. Enjoy the journey, value the process, and all that… Besides, in the “real world,” when it comes down to it, wouldn’t seven years be considered a pretty good run at a job? Not sure how my committee members might view this perspective, though…


2. Here’s one of the tracks we listened to – Robbie Fulks’ “The Buck Starts Here,” from his Bloodshot Records debut, Country Love Songs (1996).


3. I absolutely cannot wait to get back to the Broken Spoke!

Writing things that are not part of my dissertation…

All of my writing efforts (well, except for this post) are geared towards dissertating these days, so my apologies for the lack of blogging here. After the California Closet wardrobe was installed in my bedroom, I got it in my head to finally take care of some other decor/decorating issues… with a trip to IKEA. Yes, it was a poor decision in the context of writing deadlines, sleep, etc., not to mention the requisite Putting Together of the Things purchased at the store. I still haven’t gotten around to assembling one large bookcase, and honestly, I have no idea when I’ll actually get around to that.1  But I have it, and one day, this bookcase will exist in assembled form to hold All the Books in my room. I did, however, assemble shelves to accompany my desk in the dining-room-turned-office.

IMG_6889

The Laiva bookcases were $25 each, plus they matched my desk. And they were easy to assemble. Ukulele’s there just hanging out – not its permanent home.

To answer the age-old question, “How’s writing going?” I shall refrain from an overly dramatic response, and say I’m making progress.2  I have chunks of all four of my main (non-intro/conclusion) chapters. Two of them are incomplete and completely incoherent, and two of them are approaching complete and flirting with cogency. I hope to turn in one of the incoherent chapters early this week (hopefully in an improved state), leaving one mess of a chapter to turn in the next week (again, hopefully in an improved state). All the while, I need to revise and re-work the other chapters. The goal has been to have a complete draft by spring break, which is frighteningly soon. I’m certainly not holding my breath at this point, but I haven’t ruled it out just yet either.


1. As a professional procrastinator, I have a decent idea of how much I can actually procrastinate and still (sort of) get stuff done in a timely manner. The assembly of this shelf generally exceeds my procrastination windows of time.

2. E.g., this. Or maybe this.

Messy

Writing a dissertation is hard. Actually, I guess writing anything well is hard. It’s even harder when you end up having to take a month or so off from writing, and even harder when you still don’t exactly know what you’re supposed to be writing specifically. I feel as though I’m just getting back in the swing of things (even though this “swing” is still sad more frequently than I care to admit), but it has been incredibly difficult finding my way with dissertation writing these days.

A big, fat mess of stuff

A big, fat mess of stuff

I’ve been paralyzed by the General Mess that is all the stuff I’ve already written. I was really encouraged when I decided to go through what I’ve written thus far because there was quite a bit of it. And that encouragement lasted for like a second, because then I realized how much work it will be to make ANY of those many pages make any sense. I worked on eight pages last night, so I guess that’s a start, but it looks like I’m back to eating elephants.

Out with the old…

Last Monday was my 26th first day of school. It was also quite likely the very last first day of school (fall semester) that I will ever experience in my formal education.* I apologize for not posting a picture of me with a backpack on the front porch, but at this point in my schooling… I don’t actually *go* to school anymore. Nevertheless, my “first week of school” was full, but not just full of school stuff. Last Sunday we started our new schedule (five services – we added one service and changed all service times; I lacked the wherewithal to post a post-Sunday post; maybe this week). Monday, I started back piano teaching. Tuesday, we had a big worship team meal and meeting.

I’ve mentioned before that in a college town like Athens, GA, pretty much everything follows the school (and football) schedule; and with the new semester comes change. Remember all those fellowships I applied for? In a miraculous turn of events, the Graduate School offered me an award for this year, which means I no longer have an assistantship!  As I am no longer a graduate teaching assistant for the university, I received word that I had to move out of my office. Last weekend, I began the process of going through stacks of paper and books, and paper and folders, and more paper… throwing out, recycling, and throwing out some more. I don’t consider myself to be a sentimental person, but I thought this activity might make me at least a bit sad.

I was wrong. It didn’t make me sad at all. It brought back a TON of memories, good and bad, painful and celebratory, ridiculous and wonderful. But it didn’t make me sad. Going through notebooks and thinking about the classes I have taken made me glad – glad for all of the things I have learned, glad that I survived, glad that I’m no longer there, glad that I did well, glad that I’ve moved on from that part of the degree. In fact, it felt incredibly liberating to throw pounds and pages of paper into the recycling bin.

I still had about 30 or so books to move out of the office, and on Thursday, when we had our obligatory beginning of the year area meeting, I packed up three boxes of books and turned in my office key. OK, so maybe this was a teeny bit sad, but just a bit. And then I had the inevitable chat with Advisor, and was merely terrified (I’m exaggerating. I wasn’t terrified, mostly just guilty.). But I did turn in a not-quite-complete (mess of a) chapter draft to her last night, so there’s that.

Here’s to a new school year, y’all!

*In accepting the Graduate School’s money for this year, I signed a contract agreeing to do a few things, including complete all of the degree requirements by summer 2014. If I follow through with this, that means that this is my last year… PHD SENIOR YEAR!
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