The Night of the Dissertation Proposal Defense

For most people, nightmares include intrinsically scary elements.  Your second grade teacher suddenly becomes a T-Rex and disembowels all of your classmates Red Wedding-style as you stare on in horror.  Out of nowhere, you’re in your dorm, and MONSTERS! Scary MONSTERS! show up and all you have to fight them with is your stupid Red Devil pitchfork from your “sorority.”  In most nightmares, something “scary” happens, and you have no control.

For me, nightmares are dreams I cannot wake myself from.  I’m a very lucid dreamer.  If a T-Rex shows up in one of my dreams, I can conjure a dinosaurs-obliterating asteroid to land on its head.  If scary MONSTERS show up, I can turn that plastic pitchfork into a flaming sword.  A nightmare happens when i 1) don’t realize I’m dreaming and thus 2) cannot wake myself up from it.

The worst is when it happens ALL NIGHT.  I swear, every time I did manage to wake up (I’m an end-of-REM-cycle-wake-up-long-enough-to-roll-over-and-flip-a-pillow-sleeper), I’d fall back asleep into the same hell:

My dissertation proposal defense.  Which is today.  For which I will probably look like this:

This was yesterday.  Note the bugged-out eyes and size of the mug.

This was yesterday. Note the bugged-out eyes and size of the mug.

I really don’t know if it was the heavy dinner (which was amazing) that my brother made me last night, or if my brain-phasers were set to AHHHHHHH!!!!!!, but I think I just had an 8 hour proposal defense the night before my 2 hour proposal defense this afternoon.

So, in an unprecedented foray into my psyche, I give you the list of things that *could* happen in my defense today, apparently:

  1. Non!Stoner!In!Real!Life!Classmate brings roaches for all of my advisers (including advisers I’ve never met), who then toke up during the defense and get the giggles.
  2. All of the Converse memers (thanks Caitlin) show up and live-meme my defense, complete with loud color commentary throughout.  I then kick them out for being bad Connies.
  3. A professor I don’t even know calls me out for referring to Star Trek: Enterprise in my bibliography (note: while I do teach with ST:  Enterprise, it appears nowhere in my MS) as Star Trek: Enterprise instead of just Enterprise (I made some sort of BS reply about how it went from ST: E to just E when Berman died, which isn’t even remotely true in Real Life).
  4. Another professor I don’t know, apparently a Known Defense Troll, shows up and starts asking long, detailed questions about her podcast as it relates to my research.  Newsflash: it doesn’t.  Even Stoned!Committee!Chair can recognize that, which he states before forcing me to still answer the question.
  5. My mom shows up, and whenever someone asks me a hard question, interrupts and asks why they’re trying to make me cry.
  6. The defense literally goes for 8 hours, during which time I manage to make it 2 sentences at a time into my prepared 5 minute speech only to be interrupted for issues of “clarity.”  We never actually finish.
  7. In reference to the speech in point 6, I have no idea what the hell I was reading in the dream.  It was like a few sentences from every single paper I have written in the last 10 years of college, put together, and I kept insisting the entire time that “No, trust me, it all comes together at the end and if you would stop gorram interrupting me, you’d know that!
  8. One committee member shows up 1.5 hours late, but it doesn’t matter, because I’ve only gotten through 2 paragraphs of said speech.

All of this became a nightmare, and not hilarious, simply because yeah, I didn’t realize I was dreaming.  In good news, I’ve already defended for 8 hours, so what’s the worst that can happen now?  Pretty sure that none of this is going to happen today.  Except maybe point 3…

ETA:  The high of the day today is 28 degrees F.  I’ve read enough of my Dante to know that the lowest levels of hell are frozen.


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