Wednesday, December 17, 2014


Fellow brainbloggers,

Like a neglectful parent, I have been away far too long - although I did leave twenty dollars on the kitchen table for you to order pizza - and while I could recite the usual litany of excuses, including job searching, teaching, writing papers, sorting the recycling, learning glassblowing, and recovering from gout, none of those warrants such an excessive absence; especially given the supportive, heartwarming messages I have received from some of you describing how the blog has helped save time, money, and, I like to think, relationships. Maybe. If you've learned nothing else, just remember that the most important part of a relationship is winning every argument.

However, as the end of my graduate school years comes closer, I have had to make difficult decisions resulting in the abandonment of the mistress of my youth, blogging, for the wife of mine age, dissertation writing. I never thought I would end up like all the others at this stage, finding myself using all of my free time to work on my dissertation. Partly it is because using the excuse of working on your dissertation is incredibly effective at getting out of any undesirable obligations. For example:

Injured Friend: Andy, I need to stanch the bleeding caused by a freak accident involving a pair of nosehair trimmers. Please help.
Me: You know I would, but I have to work on my dissertation.
Injured Friend: Of course; how selfish of me.

Girlfriend: Andy, we've been in a long-distance relationship for three years now, but during that time I have only seen you once on Skype - and that was just to tell me the joke about who they found in Jeffrey Dahmer's freezer*. I need more commitment from you.
Me: Sorry, Schmoopy, but I have to work on my dissertation.
Girlfriend: Whenever you say "I have to work on my dissertation," you sound so incredibly confident, productive, and sexy. I completely understand, and apologize for any inconvenience I may have caused.

Advisor: Andy, you need to spend less time screwing around, and more time working on your dissertation.
Me: Maybe, but I should probably work on my dissertation instead.
Advisor: Holy mackerel, you need to get on that.

The manifest absurdity of such statements doesn't seem to strike anybody as particularly odd - after all, you are slogging away for long hours on something productive and good, and not, say, out in the streets mugging anybody, or committing cyberterrorism - and this fills many graduate students with a satisfying sense of self-righteousness.

In any case, if you have written regarding any questions or issues, I will get to it eventually - there is a bit of a backlog at the moment, and I've had to do some triage. Although you should probably know that, again like a neglectful parent, I will be going to Spain for the holidays. That's right, I said Spain. And although I realize it may not always be the wisest thing to advertise when I am away from my apartment, please don't break into it while I'm gone. (Although, if you do, there are hotpockets in the freezer. Just saying.)

*Ben and Jerry.