A Slight Fiction Addiction

This is one of the times that I really, really wish I hadn't told my mother about my blog. So, Mom, if you're reading, please stop. Go and read another pregnant dissertator's blog. I'm sure there are more out there. I'll tell you about this someday, but right now, I'd like to keep this little bit of shame to myself. And besides, it will only make you freak out and worry and call me immediately to make sure I'm still breathing. I'm fine, I'm doing fine, I just need to vent.

If you're not my mother, pray, continue.

So, here's the thing. I'm stuck. Really stuck and frustrated and scared and for some reason I can't stop reading cheap fiction. I think I've read 5 or 6 200-ish page novels in the last three days. (All Dick Francis mysteries that I've read before. Yep. It's THAT bad.) And this fiction addiction seems to be requiring the exclusion of doing ANYTHING else. I mean ANYTHING. The dishes are piling up, I'm a day behind on my part of this bit of writing t I told my senior colleague I'd have done yesterday, there is laundry (clean and unfolded) everywhere, and worse, I think I've only left the house for a few minutes when Spousal Unit insisted I take a walk with him last night and when I had to go and pee in a cup for the pregnancy doctor on Wednesday morning. Most of these days, also, I've spent in pajamas or only in a teeshirt. I'd like to tell myself it is because my maternity pants are chafing me (PhD Blog Quiz: anybody recognize the reference? I'll post your name Overread style if you guess correctly...) but it is probably more likely a sign of the oh-so-slight depression and panic that I think I may be working on here. And, yes, of course, it is probably about the dissertation. Unless it is about birth. (New post on that forthcoming.)

I always had this fantasy in the decade+ that I've been working on this damned thing. (Well, aside from the I-get-put-in-prison-and-Gramsciesque-produce-a-brilliant-dissertation-because-I've-nothing-else-better-to-do fantasy.) Here is how it went: I would get pregnant, know that I only had 9 (actually, 10) months to finish the dissertation, and so would just kick into high gear, working constantly that whole time period to finish. I would finish and defend before having a perfectly easy labor and never have to worry about kowtowing to the dissertation committee again. From that point on, as my darling, perfect and angelic infant slept beside me, I could write for my own pleasure, for my own edification, and to simply please myself. Yeah, like I said, it was a fantasy. I didn't plan on shifting advisors, getting a t-t job, writing a whole dissertation that had to be chucked and started over. Nor did I really think through the complete implications of the whole pregnancy thing -- and I certainly didn't count on being sick every day for 6 months, on total exhaustion at most points, on the absolutely bizarre and completely distracting feeling of being inhabited by a MOVING alien, on a strange cocktail of hormones that seem to render me incapable of worrying about anything for more than 30 seconds, or on the strange cocktail of hormones that seem to render me incapable of THINKING about anything for more than 30 seconds.

So, perhaps getting pregnant wasn't the cure-all I thought it would be. (And mabye that prison thing wouldn't have worked out so well either, I mean, look at Paris...not much intellectual work going on there, I gather.) But, now I'm also beginning to suspect that in the 6 months where I did feel shitty, I learned to use feeling awful as a crutch for NOT working on the dissertation. I mean, who can think about Congressional debates when they're huddled over the toilet? Or, heck, who wants to think about suffrage petitions when you're lying on the couch trying not to move so the nausea can't find you? Pretty good excuses for not getting my ass in gear on the thing, really. But, with the help of modern medicine, I no longer have these excuses. I'm not nauseous most of the time now. I'm getting uncomfortable, sure, and my belly button has lost all structural integrity, but really, these are things that I can live with. And, If I have to stick my elbows out at odd angles around my belly to reach my keyboard, it is a minor nuisance and no reason not to be working.

Plus, Spousal Unit played soccer with my advisor on Tuesday night and he emphatically told SU to tell me to call him. Gulp. If I had anything to show him, I would call. But, telling him that I've read 6 novels in three days, I suspect, will not impress.

So, this fiction thing. I don't really know what is going on, I mean, I don't even really like horses. But my best guess is that I'm hiding out from these things that are scary:

1. Dissertation. Very Scary.
2. Department Responsibilities. Less Scary, but challenging and new.
3. Childbirth. The Holy Mother of All Things Scary.

Now, to my reason for posting. I'm quitting. I'm going cold turkey. I'm going to stop the novel reading. As of right now. And, since I've confessed it to the world, or to the 3 or 4 folk who read this little corner of the world, I can't back out. (Yeah, Hi, Mom. I knew you'd keep reading.) For the rest of the day, I'll finish the position thingey for my senior colleague. Then, tomorrow, I will leave the house and work on the dissertation. I will report back in tomorrow evening. After all, this blog is supposed to be about accountability. So, guys, I'm going to account. 'Till tomorrow, then Wish me luck. Those little paperbacks sure are tempting!


At 9:55 PM suz said...

I bet your Mom just read the first paragraph of this post and then scrolled to the bottom paragraph and saw, yep, you knew she was reading...and she probably saw that all is well, you are stepping forward. And I bet then she logged out without reading the middle, feeling good that she can check in tomorrow and maybe read the whole blog. I just bet!

At 10:37 PM Scrivener said...

Dissertations absolutely suck. I totally feel you on the avoidance thing, and I got nothing useful to say except that it makes perfect sense to me that you'd be reading fiction. (Not to mention the fact that fiction is way better than that history stuff anyway.)

Good luck on getting out of the house and being productive.

At 12:41 AM spark said...

As someone related to you, and not your mother or Spousal Unit, I can be all hokey and say that I love you, respect you, believe in you, and send you juju for days. You can do this. No doubt.

At 7:33 AM StyleyGeek said...

Good luck!

I have to ask, though:

get pregnant, know that I only had 9 (actually, 10) months to finish the dissertation

10 months from when you knew you were pregnant to giving birth? Are you planning on having the world's longest gestation?

At 11:52 AM Anonymous said...

I'm glad to know that I'm not the only one with a novel addiction - or an addition to novels, rather. I read books I've already read, telling myself they will be easier to put down, and that I don't deserve a new book until I get some work done. Getting out of the house (and away from temptation) is the only thing that's ever worked for me ... best of luck...

Oh, and pregnancy generally lasts about 40 weeks, although some people argue it lasts forever...

At 9:13 PM StyleyGeek said...

Sorry, I guess I was being pedantic, and assuming that you wouldn't know you were pregnant for the first four weeks or so, and that the remaining 36 (at 4.35 weeks to a month) means you'd only have 8.3 months of knowing you had limited time left to dissertate.

(I know, I suck. I'm not usually this obnoxious. I blame PMT.)

(I'm going away now.)

At 10:45 AM Stewgad said...

Don't sweat it -- you're right, I didn't know I was pregnant until exactly 28 days after my last period, so I guess I only had 9 months to worry about it -- which is good.

I'm still in a bit of shock at the 40 week pregnancy thing -- and when people ask me how far a long I am, I don't have a clue. I was used to understanding it in terms of months, but medical folk don't calculate it in that same way. And, apparently, this strangeness continues after the kidlet is born -- I was talking to someone the other day and I asked how old their kid was and they said "24 months." I was like, "You mean 2??" I think by the time they're 2, you should count in years, not months. But, that's just me.

And, you don't have to go away!

At 11:04 PM Scrivener said...

In my experience, people seem to count in months right up to 2 years, and then somewhere soon thereafter it becomes "2" instead of "24 months." And then sometime after the kid turns 3, at least in our case, she starts insisting that you identify her as "3 and a half" or even "3 and a quarter" so you sort of grudgingly do.

At 11:48 PM StyleyGeek said...

Dooce's letters to her daughter always talk about her age in months, and now that it's up past 40, I find it unbelievably confusing. I shouldn't have to do division in my head to work out how old a kid is in real units :)

At 5:20 PM RageyOne said...

all the best on battling your fiction addiction. i know it will be difficult, as i had to give it up while dissertating also.

have faith! you can do it!


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