to our admin

I’d like to thank our departmental administrative assistant who looked after the smaller details of graduate existence. She became a kind of mother to me and many of my fellow students over the years (and for some decades) in the department, the kind of abusive sadist mother that teaches us so much about “real” life and to her, I am eternally grateful. It is truly the administrators who make our success or failure possible, and it is at their mercy and grace that we navigate our way through the system.  In her mothering, she watched over my health, and made sure to point out any weight gain immediately.

Because of her, I now know that funding checks can vanish due, not to human error, but to a “mis-entry” that is the computer system’s fault. I have learned how paperwork can go missing, even on the cleanest of desks. It is to the administrators that we truly owe our success (but never our failure) and who hold the financial strings that make it possible for them to compel me to thank them (under duress). Without our admin (and often because of them) we are reduced to nothing.


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“Actually, it’s been scientifically proven that the ideal temperature is 70 degrees.”

To my fellow graduate students:

I have enjoyed our discussions in seminar.  By adopting a combative stance on every topic, you have reminded me that even casual statements like “nice weather, huh?” merit an argument.

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The “fun” in funding

I would, of course, particularly like to express my gratitude to the department chair, C.  Under C’s watchful eye, the department has consistently provided funding to so many of my colleagues while never ceasing to remind me that I entered the program one mere year before guaranteed funding, and therefore will not be considered for departmental fellowships or positions until after those who followed in my lowly footsteps.  By calling this lack of retroactivity “tough love,” you have made my years of eating Family Dollar store food that much sweeter, knowing that all of this was solely due to your high esteem for me and for my work.

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the excitement of submission

And of course the deepest gratitude to my supervisor who was sometimes available by email. Your last minute feedback kept me breathlessly waiting as deadlines approached and I can but hint at how much more thrilling this made the thesis process: each day was a surprise, each revision filled with suspense as my writing took on the dramatic twists and turns under the pressure of an approaching deadline reminiscent of a ticking bomb. Our meetings (both of them) added valuable mystery to the process and opened up countless questions that will never fully be answered.

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In praise of cats

To Napolean, a darling 8-kilo black furball who has been sick for the last week. Thanks to you, I have glimpsed the charms of cat ownership. I love the way you approach me, plonk your lovely chubby bottom on the ground and stare at me for belly rubs. I make a mental note to become a cat owner whenever you swipe at me. After I oblige you and tickle your tums.

Your charms are endless, from your inability to poo in your litter box to your 5:30 a.m. arias. “Food! Now! Please? Now! Food!” Your fear of your carrier box and your disdain for showers–all necessary discomforts to save you from expurgating your own intestines and bruising your liver–signal to me your vulnerability and insecurity. And nothing sets my nurturing instincts in motion like a squirming, yowling cat. I suppose a bit of cat robitussin would make life easier for you and I. But dosing cats! We’d be dosing children next!

Thank you for being an endless source of drama and distress. Heaven knows what I’d do with myself without you.


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Welcome to the lost art of acerbic acknowledgments

Gratitude is a multi-valenced thing. So is writing a dissertation. This is a space where these two things intersect. For all those who wish to express their “true gratitude” to their supervisors, committee members, partners and all others who “contribute” to the process. All submissions are welcome at

thank you. no really, we mean it.

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