This evening, I was taking notes on one of the books on my comprehensive exam list, and I thought to myself: “You know, it would be great just to get away. I could go to York for a few days, maybe. Or, California. Or anywhere but here right now.”
And then, came the sobering reality.
“You can’t possibly go because in a few weeks, you’ll be taking your comprehensive exams.”
Cue the momentary shock, dismay, perhaps a short scream followed by a sigh of resignation.
In December, we finally set the dates. I really wanted to take the exams earlier, but I also wanted to have a fair span of time for review. So, when my advisor came to me at the end of December, I told him the first full week of February–three days of written testing on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday of that week with an oral section to follow (hopefully, provided I pass the written section) sometime the following week.
I think my desire to get these over with is rooted in a number of factors. First, I’ve been on this project, without much variation, for what seems like forever (truly about a year now). I started the reading in earnest back in May, but I had taken a few courses during the spring semester with exam reading in mind. At this point between three bibliographies, I’ve been through close to 300 books, all with the same purpose in mind. Second, the other two students slated to take the exams this term have both completed their written exams, and, by the end of the week, they both will have completed the oral section as well. I’m left “holding the bag” a bit on this one, although there are some really good reasons for that. Regardless, it does make me feel as if I should step this up and get it over with. On the positive side, with this review time, I should really go into the exams feeling as confident as possible, and that was the goal in the first place.
Part of this confidence is due to the fact that I really did take a lot of notes on these books–probably more than I needed to, but in the end, that detail might be an advantage. At this point, other students really do need the books that I have out from the library for this project, and I have to say that they have been very sympathetic and have all come directly to me when they needed a book they thought I might have. Because of my notes, I can give up many of the books so they can use them without feeling like I’m cutting an essential lifeline.
In the course of this process, note taking has gradually taken its toll on my wrists. At one point, I had to find another way to take notes, and I discovered Dragon Dictation. Now, the app on my iPad is pretty good–it’s not flawless, but it does get the job done. A few times, it picked up on some side moments going on in the background–and, they all inevitably involve a cat in this house attempting to sacrifice some unfortunate, small creature. See below.