The Amazing Mr. Book

My parents came back from vacation and immediately asked me how productive my week with the dogs and cat had been. The discussion went something like this:

Dad: How was your week?
Rebecca (calm): Fine.
Dad: How’s your dissertation coming along?
Rebecca (agitated): Can we talk about something other than my dissertation? Please?
Dad (sounds puzzled): I just wanted to know how it’s coming.
Rebecca (contemplating the accumulated mass of writing otherwise known as Chapter Three): It’s going OK.
Mom: How long do you think your disser…
Rebecca (interrupting, and beginning to panic): Ack! Stop! Don’t say the D-word! I can’t handle it!
Mom: Can we call it something else?
Rebecca: No! It is what it is. Please can we talk about something else?
Mom: How about Mr. Dissertation?
Rebecca: Eh? What?
Dad: Or Mr. Book? It will be a book eventually, right?
Rebecca: Er…well…
Mom: How about “The Amazing Mr. Book”?
Rebecca: Amazing Mr…(trails off)
Dad: I like it. Your dissertation is hereby christened “The Amazing Mr. Book.” So, how is “The Amazing Mr. Book” coming?
Rebecca: It’s going OK….

I don’t know a single grad student who actually likes responding to the question “How is your dissertation going?” It’s right up there with “When will you be done?” I don’t know if calling my dissertation something other than a dissertation will help me talk about it with any more ease, but I’m willing to try anything at this point. So, The Amazing Mr. Book it is. As nicknames go, that isn’t so bad….

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6 thoughts on “

  1. Funny post, especially the “accumulated mass of writing” part. How’d you know about my Chapter 4?My family also asks how the “book” is coming; I think it’s a way of acknowledging that the dissertation is a big deal and a long work-in-progress. I’m more annoyed when people ask, “How’s the paper coming?”I like Tenacious D, Rob. But I think I’m going to go with: “The Accumulated Mass of Writing.”

  2. Oh Goddess! Your parents don’t take a hint do they? I never tell my parents anything, but I have recently discovered that this strategy is probably part of my “avoidant attachment style”. According to child development literature, having an insecure attachment style isn’t good, but it does help me not converse with my parents on subjects that make me uncomfortable.

  3. Dissertation or book (or even the “amazing Mr. Book”) is better than what my family kept asking me about for seven years…. “So, when are you going to finish that paper?”

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