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Exam Haze

My comprehensive exam is coming up. I’ve been reading all summer, and trying to produce writing as “practice” for the hell-weekend coming up in less than two weeks, the weekend where I will sit anxiously awaiting the questions that will be e-mailed to me at 5pm, refreshing my e-mail again and again, in case the administrative assistant sends them early.

I have a substitute for my Intro to Literature class that day. One of my committee members suggested that I spend the day sleeping and I said “That’s such a great idea” while inwardly laughing. As an insomniac with anxiety and depression, I typically only sleep during the day when I’m at risk for a relapse. When I’m under high levels of stress, sleep doesn’t really visit me when I want it to. Instead, sleep visits when I’m trying to think, trying to read, when I don’t need or want it around.

So, at 5pm on a Friday afternoon, I will open an e-mail that will contain six questions. I will choose three of those questions, and then spend the weekend writing researched essays in response, consisting of theoretical frameworks, engagement with theorists and critics, and close readings of three or four novels. I’ve been reading for this all summer, and before. I filed my list a couple years ago; was supposed to take the exam a while ago, but had some delays, as is wont to happen in graduate school.

By 9am on Monday morning, I’ll send my answers back, and then sometime that week I’ll go into a room and defend my answers, and also answer questions about other texts on my list of 100 books (give or take). After that, I hope I will be able to announce that I’m ABD. The blessed phrase, that we all long to utter. Then I’ll be able to focus on writing my dissertation and on applying for jobs.

So I’m sort of in this hazy place where I have this big thing coming up, and I’m nervous, but also calm. I feel a bit overwhelmed, but once it’s over, it will be over. I’m eager to work on my dissertation, so I’m hoping some of that eagerness will carry me through and beyond the exam.

Also hope to write more consistently and more persistently here at the blog at that point, too.

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