Patty Ph.D. vs. Patty, ABD…

First of all, for those of you not mired in academia the term “ABD” means ‘all but dissertation’ — that dreaded limbo between finishing coursework and defending the dissertation.  Technically, “ABD” is not a degree, but it’s more than a master’s degree — at least to some folks… seriously, I’ve seen it on academic business cards… ummm, no.

I was ABD when we moved back to Minnesota from Nebraska — thus, the whole time the BNCC folks have known me, I was ABD. The thing about being ABD is that you always have your dissertation hanging over you.  Go have fun, take a vacation, have a break from classes?? Nope — vacations included dissertation writing.  No teaching meant days writing dissertation chapters or doing research.  Days off came only when I was burned out on research and had writer’s block — not exactly relaxing conditions.

I was ABD so long that it felt normal to have that extra layer of stress — and when I didn’t have it, suddenly things got strange —- Enter Andy…  really folks, Andy and I had coffee together for the first time the weekend after my final version of my defended dissertation was filed with the university.  I’d defended earlier, but July 30 was the deadline for revisions… August 1 we met for coffee after e-chatting for quite a while… Patty ABD would have had no time to get a coffee and chat –trust me, I didn’t… so I doubt Andy would have ever met her.

It seems odd, and kind of nice, that Andy didn’t know Patty ABD — because, frankly, Patty Ph.D. is a much nicer person.    She has time for other folks, she’s not semi-distracted by her dissertation, she doesn’t open e-mail with a small sense of dread that wonderful Dr. Advisor will discover she’s an intellectual impostor and tell her to go away.   She’s also more confident in her abilities as an academic, although not necessarily as a domestic goddess.….

Yesterday I had a great conversation with my Dean.  It was one of those end of  year, wrap up conversations.. kind of an informal performance review discussion.  Dean said that she appreciated my skills as department chair and that she’d noticed a big change in my personality this year.  That I’m more relaxed, I have more patience and a more calming aura concerning problems that may come up.  She attributed the new Patty to finishing my dissertation — and that’s part of it — the other part is probably the influence of Andy.  For those of you who don’t know Andy, relaxed, calming and patient are usually adjectives that apply to him…..unless you hit a button of his, or he’s out of his happy pills..(then he’s funny… really funny….)

All I know is that Patty Ph.D. is much happier, saner, and more fun than Patty ABD– and, as I start my last day in the transition year between Patty ABD and Patty Ph.D., I thought I’d note the change.. no matter why it happened, it was needed!



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