There's an odd sense in our house these days. It's a house with three doctoral and one masters student. All composition. One doctoral is doing his defense this semester. Another defends next spring. The other may as well. The masters student also really only has one year left.
I'm done with coursework after this semester. Comps are finished. Dissertation is not yet completed, but depending on the situation, could be done as early as the fall.
And that's the kicker, for all of us: "...depending on the situation."
I've had uncertainty many times before. After DePauw, I had no direction other than "Apply for grad schools" and found myself on the beach in Jersey. It worked out. But there weren't any opportunities when I graduated, i made them.
After Brooklyn, similar situation. Job in Jersey disappeared with the economy. I applied for whatever I could, but a Masters degree is a tricky thing in my field. It's not the terminal degree, so teaching positions are incredibly difficult to find, beyond the occasional adjunct work. But much of the rest of the world sees you as horribly overqualified. So, I started a dark period in Indiana, begging for work for 3 months before getting hired at a music store making practically nothing.
Then I got into a Doctoral program. It was, somewhat, in desperation. But it was one of the schools I was interested in...I just didn't do the usual process and check out the schools.
So, there was a lot of unknown after my Masters, but, again, it was an unknown with no possibilities over my head.
Now, I'm finishing my doctorate. I've gotten one awesome opportunity for the fall already, and I'm hoping to be there. But, there's still so much over my head...
There's this Fulbright business. I will hear anytime between now and June 1. Sooner is much better, whether positive or negative. I have a preference for a "come on out to Sweden," but knowing is much better than not knowing.
There are job opportunities. Should I apply? I'll be ABD. I could be ABD with a "just waiting for the semester to end to get the diploma, but he defended in August." I could be ABD till May 2014. And then there's the fact, I could apply for the job, and get the Fulbright AND the job? What then? I'm guessing I'd turn down the job, but how will that affect future applications. My advisor has assured me that no one begrudges a Fulbright winner for taking off. I'll hold onto that.
And what if neither happen? Will I continue to work on this full length opera, or bang out a second short and turn in a set of two for my dissertation? I could be done, again, by August, or take my sweet ole time then and work on the craft and editing. I could definitely go to the opportunity in the fall, which would be effing awesome. I could do more in Kansas City, set-up events, maybe stage a couple more productions. Could edit what I have now, make it even tighter. Do a string quartet version of Cake finally.
And what exactly is my dissertation? Is it a full-length? Is it an "evening of short operas" with two 15-20 minute operas?
I've been feeling stuck in this Limbo. When there are no ready options, the world is open to you. You can take any opportunity that pops up, float around, skip town and move across the country. You spend your days searching. It's a different Limbo, a different stress. There's still a sense of unknown, but it's total unknown. The mind has difficulty processing the idea of "all options and no options are available."
But when you're sitting, waiting, with some distinct possibilities in place, it's different. You're waiting for that domino to drop that sets off the chain reaction. You're small ripples in a pond from water dripping off a leaf...It could continue, it could become a downpour and all those little ripples become a wave, or someone could throw a stone into the pond. Or a boulder.
Or possibly the entire world.
And then your original little ripples are consumed.
Trying to be tranquil in this sea of troubles is not more forte.