Somewhere in the past few weeks, I stalled on the dissertation….with only one chapter left to revise (before tweaking the rest based on some recent committee member feedback). I finished 2010 strong, considering that I spent the final week of the year trying to redo one of the toughest chapters, but this year things have been more challenging.
Of course, there are always many reasons for a stall like the one I’ve experienced. In my case, it was a combination of going out of town (for the AHA) at the beginning of the year, coupled with ongoing stress and frustration over the job market and the occasional despairing feeling about life after May 2011. Coming to the end of a dissertation and grad school has been fairly challenging overall, and at times like I’ve had recently it’s been more difficult to feel like celebrating the distances I’ve come and the accomplishments I’ve made.
But hey, it’s no fun if things are always easy, right? And I’m discovering a lot of interesting things in my dissertation revisions that I hadn’t realized before. Slowly, I’m getting there.
Last weekend, I knew I had to turn a corner. I told myself it was time to kick back into gear and get things moving forward, although I had no clue how I’d do that. Fortunately, I had family in town for about twenty-four hours, which provided a fun distraction. And then I had tickets to see Idina Menzel perform with the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra.
Not that I felt much like going. The weather was rotten and I was in a blah sort of mood, halfheartedly thumbing through a book that wasn’t really terribly helpful for the dissertation. But I went. And of course, there’s nothing quite like hearing showtunes sung by a world-class performer, especially when she’s arrived barefoot to sing to us.
I adore music, but I forget how much I love live music because I hear it so rarely. I particularly forget how poignant it can be to hear some of your favorite songs, especially the ones you’ve forgotten about. Since there was no pre-announced program for the concert, everything felt a bit serendipitous.
I loved the serendipitousness and fun of it all, from indulging in the special drink of the day (a Ruby Slipper – champagne with grenadine – in honor of Menzel’s past role in Wicked) to oohing and ahhing over the lobby of Powell Hall (I’d never been before) to loving every minute of the performance. It was absolutely just what I needed, from her renditions of Streisand and Cole Porter to her original songs to the crowd-pleasing songs from Wicked and Rent and Glee.
It was perfect, and more than that, it was a perfect turning point for my month. I came out of there feeling like I’d found my way again and was ready to move on.
And today, I did.