Tuesday, August 08, 2006

...and so it begins

This is shaping up to be a long night.

The paper defense is tomorrow. I had a panic attack almost exactly 12 hours ago, when I opened up the file and read my 10-15 minute opening presentation aloud, which I had "prepared" over the weekend and then put up for a couple days.

It sucked. I mean big, gulping-gasps-of-air sucked. Worse-than-Monkey-balls sucked. I have been so focused on addressing the questions that my second reader might ask that I was forgetting about my own analysis, trying to apologize for it before they had even put me in a position of having to defend it. I can't believe I didn't see how bad this was when I was writing it!

I rescheduled my 2pm dry-run with EPAWS to 4pm and had a go at some damage control, only to come to the conclusion by 3pm that I should just show her what I had and see what she said. I went to my meeting, she listened to the whole apologetic mess, and then she set me straight in that very patient, kind way she has. "Don't forget about your own analysis! Stick to it. He's probably going to ask those questions anyhow. But you're setting yourself up for a much harder defense than if you start off by talking about how great your analysis is and make him ask the questions!"

In short, I was doing my utmost best to walk into the room tomorrow with a huge bullseye on my (ample, and thus hard to miss) chest, and with a sign on my butt that said "Kick here." And don't forget the neon arrow blinking over my head.

We talked through it, and decided that it was good that I had what I had, since it meant I was obviously thinking out my responses to the second reader. But that I shouldn't say any of those things in my 10-15 minutes, and just let them come out if the questions go that way. And that some of it I shouldn't say no matter what, because that's why it's called a defense and not a "retreat."

I knew this, clearly I knew this, but still, I needed to hear it. Why is that? And why couldn't I have gotten to that point last week when I started preparing this? Gah. I am a walking space case.

So, I am rewriting my 3-ish pages tonight, and creating a very short "token" handout, and then I'm going to bed. I will probably stare at the ceiling for several hours and get no sleep, but I'll be damned, I'm going to try.

Any good vibes anyone can spare around 2pm EST tomorrow (Wednesday) would be highly appreciated. Aim in the direction of Robarts Library.

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