See, Their’s Goes “Deen deen deen dica deen deen. Deen deen deen deen dica deen deen.” And Mine Goes “Deen deen deen dica deen deen. *Ting* deen deen deen dica deen deen.” It’s That Itty Bitty Ting. It’s Not The Same.

02/12/2011 By Shawn Burns

A dear lurker, Angela, asks “What’s the last thing that put you under pressure? Was it funny? I hope so, because sad things make me sad.”

I don’t think it was funny. But I don’t think it’s sad either. I’m in a weird place. I’m in a graduate program, and that graduate program has various requirements: coursework, seminar work, teaching, a chapter defense, a departmental presentation, and finally a dissertation defense. I’ve finished all of the requirements for my Ph.D. except for the actual dissertation defense.

That’s the easy part, right?

All I have to do is write it. Write. That’s what I do here all the time. Writing should be easy.

But I’ve run out of deadlines. And the problem with me is that I’m not a good student: I need deadlines, or else I don’t work. Add in the fact that I have two kids now and I also find that I’m just not the academy geek I used to be; I have a hard time motivating myself to do the work that would have absorbed me ten years ago. I can be in department receptions and just not be interested in getting to the bottom of a problem raised during a talk: I’m just there for the crackers.

Dissertation writing, like challenging the Emperor, is for the young, the ones who don’t know any better.

So, the last thing that put me under pressure? I’m always under pressure. But some days it’s easy to think of it as no pressure at all, while other days it feels like it’s all-consuming. I don’t fall apart under pressure. I just…do you know “Kung Fu Hustle”? The big fight scene in the gang lair between the Big Bad and the Two Lovers showcases their individual talents: The Big Bad is powerful as hell, the female Lover has a bellow that can move mountains, and the male Lover is able to move just enough, at just the right moment, to let punches and kicks slide right off of him. That’s what I’m like with pressure. I move just enough to avoid feeling the full force of it. I’m a Kung Fu master of avoiding pressure.

But every now and then the Big Bad just cracks the hell out of my face, because in truth, I’m not as good at dodging as pressure is at pressuring.

The most recent pressure I was under came in the form of a chapter I had to write in the fall. I got it done, and now I’m revising it with my advisors’ input. But I’m also not revising it, because I am a leaf on the wind.