Michael Karlesky

A cabinet of wonders. Minus the cabinet. And possibly the wonders.

Twists and Turns

A meter from the historic preservation of Substation 21 powering part of the NYC subway system. I can relate to this energy reading.

A meter from the historic preservation of Substation 21 powering part of the NYC subway system. I can relate to this energy reading.

You, dear readers, have no doubt noticed a lack of stories, photos, and news here. This is, in part, because my life in this city has become more and more full as time has worn on. I’ve also been doing a great deal of travel. Said travel has not been for school but to visit friends, family, and a certain lady in my life. And come to think of it, I believe I’ve hosted more visitors in the past year here in the Big Apple than perhaps ever before.

It is also true that I'm at an all time low on energy. This is directly attributable to school—not because of the workload but because of the twists and turns.

My dissertation proposal process has been bumpy to say the least. I did not start strong as I was new at all this and there is really no one else in my department in my area to draw upon for help in navigating the process. Since that time I’ve had all kinds of further trouble. From the start I have not been invested in my direction that developed from the synthesis of certain expectations, traditions, and history. Part of my committee has been quite disengaged and very slow to respond (if at all on more than one occasion). And a component of my dissertation work required of me has proven to be quite problematic to bring to fruition. In fact, my proposal is still not yet fully approved—or, rather, its status is ambiguous due to lingering issues with its makeup and the issues with my committee. I am floundering in trying to make my proposal work so as to direct my efforts in the ongoing projects expected to be components of it.

But hold on. There’s more.

Two weeks ago my advisor announced her decision to leave my university at the end of this month for another position as a full professor elsewhere. It was not an easy thing to do, the circumstances were complex, and I can respect her decision. The plan is for her to continue to advise me remotely as she has done for the last year while she was on sabbatical. In the meantime, problems with my proposal, committee, and my dissatisfaction with my direction have inspired the notion of reformulating my committee and beginning anew with a different proposal. This is far from certain. I know little of how this would come to be and how much more time it would take me to complete—if it is truly an option. On the upside, perhaps there is now an opportunity to pursue something closer to what I intended when I first began.

In all honesty I’ve entertained quitting several times over the last year. It has felt as though this train is going off the rails for a while now or maybe has already fully derailed. I knew when I started that I would be required to jump through various hoops, and the process would not go exactly as I hoped. But present circumstances are objectively well beyond such concessions.

I hope you can appreciate how my attention has not been here in detailing my various adventures, triumphs, and disappointments as this has all played out. I do so appreciate all your encouragement and the requests for updates and checking in. Thank you for that. Very much. The struggle at present is to remain positive, to abide in gratitude for my immense blessings, and to be open to something better than current circumstances suggest is possible.