Beach conference/holiday

Kookaburra!

After almost four years, I’m now officially a doctor. Woohoo!
Now to find a job…

A few days after I submitted my thesis, my friend and I headed to the Great Ocean Road for a conference. We left a few days early in order to hit the beach. Except it was cold. And wet. We did check out the cafes, admire the birds and dogs, walk along the beach, and check out a waterfall. But mainly we hid out in our cheap cabin.

The weather turned good just as the conference started. Both of us felt out of place. It’s not so bad attending talks that aren’t your field, provided the speaker is good. If not, you end up spending the time playing with your phone, falling asleep, or (in my case) drawing people who are falling asleep. So my friend and I attended the morning talks and then spent the afternoon on the beach (we didn’t actually pay for our registration, otherwise we’d feel too guilty). The water was amazing. It actually turned out to be a nice cheap holiday.

It’s dangerous to sit in front of me during a lecture. I will draw you.

Almost over

It seems like I blinked and suddenly January was at an end. Where did the month go?
I was completely unprepared for the end of my thesis. The final analysis that the examiner wanted (I think, he was somewhat vague about it) that I spent Christmas trying to figure out and then took me a month to run was finally done (and told me nothing but never mind that…). My supervisor stopped sending me feedback for my drafts. The chair of examiners sent his approval for my changes (he didn’t actually read my thesis, just the letter I wrote in response to the examiner comments). Shit, it’s actually ready…when did that happen?

I spent the last day reading my thesis. I don’t think I’ve ever read the whole thing before. I don’t think I ever what to read it again. There are certainly bits in there that I am rather proud of but there are also lots of bits that sound rather lame. As for the project…bleh…
Lucky I did read it, there were a few mistakes and a lot of missing references.

Base by Lithriel

Now I’m at my parent’s place, assembling the digital copy and getting everything ready for printing. We have a market tomorrow so I’m going to start printing on Monday. Then it’s off to get it bound. If it goes well then I shall have the hard and digital copies submitted before I head off to a local conference on Friday. Then back to mum’s to help out with another market.

Lucky I managed to finish my fairy doll before I freaked out over submission. It’s for the new fairy pageant. Although I was super-pumped after Christmas to do lots of art, there’s been a plenty of hot days and I haven’t been doing anything. And now I have to wait a few weeks before I can finish off stuff that I started months ago.

Results in

Ask me  about my day

Two Thursdays ago I received my PhD examination results. There are a range of levels from you are perfect, graduate now down to you are terrible beyond redemption. Do not pass Go, do not collect PhD.
I got the best level that a non-superhuman can get – pass subject to edits. This should be a happy thing. But after reading the feedback of my two examiners I ended up a teary mess, feeling like a total failure and seriously questioning my desire to become a scientist. Things like “I found the end result rather disapppointing” does do that to a person.
It seems like everytime I build up my self-confidence, someone comes along and rips it to shreds. I know that I’m not meant to take it personally but it’s so damn hard not to. I spent months putting all I had on my thesis and it turns out that wasn’t good enough. Why would anyone willingly put themselves through this? My respect for novelists has deepened considerably.

Some of the comments are so mean while others are too vague for me to understand. Not helpful at all.
One of the examiner’s general comments gives me the impression that my writing skills suck (which is true, I’ll admit that) but then only provided specific feedback on my writing for the first chapter and ignores the other chapters. That is so damn frustrating. Even if I had the ability to see where I needed to put in topic sentences or do whatever, I still wouldn’t be able to because I’m only permitted to make changes based directly on the examiner feedback, not just guess what the examiner wanted.

Despite my ranting to anyone who’ll listen to me, I’m doing ok. I’ve managed to make all the changes for one chapter in a week. There are two more chapters that I think will only take about a week each. But then there are two chapters that apparantly need to be completely rewritten (one of which I’m meant to be turning into a paper to publish. Bye bye confidence). And I have to do more analyses (although the guy doesn’t like my analytical method, he doesn’t quite tell what he wants me to do) which might take a few months to run.

Take a wild guess what I’ll be doing over Christmas?

My balloon

I submitted my thesis today! Which means that I get a balloon.
At the start of the PhD, the concept of receiving a balloon upon submission seems ridiculous. We laugh at the silliest. But when writing, it becomes so important and you can’t stop thinking about it. Oh god, what if they don’t have the colour I want?
As it turns out, they didn’t have the colour I wanted. They did have orange but when blown up, it turned out to be a golden orange. I wanted orange orange 😦
The woman put such effort into blowing up the balloon, I didn’t have the heart to tell her that I changed my mind and wanted purple…

So of course I had to take photos of my balloon. And take it with me everywhere. And almost forget it at the Indian restaurant. And drip gelati on it.

At our regular cafe
At my messy, dusty desk
At my bench space

Public speaking woes

Today I gave my final PhD talk. Oh what fun.

All of my insecurities came flooding back. Yesterday I was swearing abuse at my slides because I thought they were shit. This morning I practiced my talk for the final time and it ran for 40 minutes instead of the expected 1 hour. I worked so hard on making complex ideas appear simple and my talk is 20 minutes too short. Why am I always under the time limit? Oh god, people are going to think I haven’t worked hard enough and my project was easy…

And people are going to ask me nasty questions. They are going to spot the flaws in my conclusions of population division (this fear is illogical. I am the only person in the department who works on fish. No one here understands this stuff). They are going to question my interpertations that go against mainstream opinions. And then I’m going to stumble and look a fool because until recently I believed in the mainstream and am still trying to get my head around things. And I am going to use nontechnical words like “stuff” and “thingy” because words are hard.

I cried. Right in front of my lab mates and supervisor. In a cafe. It’s kinda awkward ordering a big muffin with a red teary face. My friends were wonderful and comforting but I couldn’t stop crying until we chaned the subject to ordinary conversation like ear wax and crazy family members.
I did have time to clean up my face before the talk. And I gave my too-short talk with a confident air, a good pace, and plenty of eye contact. This is why I script my talks. Yay me for fooling people into believing that I am confident about my conclusions and not worried that I’m making stuff up. Fish are hard…

So now all that is left is the thesis. I have about 2 1/2 weeks before I start printing. There is still a lot of work to do but right now things are looking on track. I was initially worried the thesis would be too small (I blame the person ranting to me a few years ago about how certain people managed to get their PhD’s with a small thesis. She’s the reason I’m so paranoid about the length of my thesis and talk). Eventually I realised that the uni had changed it’s guidelines from double-spaced to 1.5-spaced text and that was why my chapters looked smaller than those of past students. So I am feeling quite good about the thesis right now. Of course, I seem to have a different mood a day so who knows how I’ll feel tomorrow.