Speechless

Friday, December 14, 2012

A few years ago I swore up and down that I would not get a doctorate.  That I had no interest or desire to write a dissertation or do research.  Fine for others to do it, but it wasn't for me and never would be.  No way.  So here I am, five semesters into doctoral coursework with just two left.  I passed my exam in August.  I did the administrative paperwork.  In the midst of a tough semester personally, I put all of my emotions and energy into my qualifying paper, the second step of the certification process due February 1.  Of course, The Chief raised an overachiever, so I submitted the final draft December 1.  Which means that I'm the first in my program to be certified and officially became a doctoral candidate, instead of just a doctoral student.  Still a lot of steps left to go before someone calls me doctor...  

But I'm sitting here in my cozy little Upper West Side apartment surrounded by books about campus tragedy, with an app for building a timeline of school violence and an Institutional Review Board application open to gain approval to do my own research on crisis and tragedy on campus.  I have two tabs open for student affairs journals, since I'm hoping to submit that qualifying paper on campus tragedy for publication.  I'm writing a learning contract for what I need to accomplish in my final semester at Columbia before formally beginning my dissertation research.  Not to brag, but my very well known advisor has started treating me as the campus security and crisis response expert.  

And what I really want is to not have a legitimate reason to do this research.  

To not have my local news station broadcasting nonstop coverage of children running through an elementary school parking lot.  For the reporters I see every night on the late night news to not have to ask five year olds which way the bullets were going.  To not see pictures of panicked parents waiting for their kids.  For 20 families to have their lives and kids and happy holidays back.  For my advisor and second reader and IRB committee to have to tell me that there's not enough to go on and that I need a new topic.  

I would so gladly give up my degrees or career or cushy life in New York to not hear news stories about safe places that will never again be safe.  

I'm 29 years old...single and childless and living what is by all accounts a fantastic life in the world's greatest city.  I'm Ivy League educated and probably 18 months from earning the title "Dr." and a pretty well established higher ed career.  What I really want, more than anything, is a good man to share my good life with and have great children.  I don't know if it will happen, but I hope and pray that it will.  And I watch the news and write my research and sometimes just want to hide at home.  Sure, you could homeschool the kids and what...never take them to the mall?  or a movie?  or church?  or who knows where else?  I know just a tiny bit about what it's like when you hear that gunfire on campus.  I will spend the rest of my career in front of a college classroom or in a higher ed office.  My sister is a preschool teacher.  We go to movies and malls and church..and hope and pray that we will be safe in places that we should never have to think twice about.  

For someone who spends her days talking about the worst-case scenario, I am speechless.  And most of all, I am grateful for a God who understands the impossible.

"With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible." (Matthew 19:26)

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