Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Thesis, theses...

Am I the only person in the world who hates that the plural of thesis is theses? Sounds too much like a funny word...


I'm supposed to be writing my Master's thesis right now. Clearly, that's going really well, since you're currently reading these words on my blog post ABOUT my thesis which does not in any way help me get said thesis finished.

If you're curious why I might be writing a Master's thesis when you all just thought I was doing another year as an auxiliar de conversación in Spain, well, that's a story for a different day.

But struggling to write this thesis inevitably reminds me of another time and another thesis, when I was sitting angrily in front of my computer screen willing myself to just write actual words already. That was, of course, four years ago (has it really been that long??), when I was writing my undergraduate honors thesis.

At the time, I was struggling with the choice between taking a "year off" (ha) to teach abroad or going to graduate school for literary translation. Fittingly for the latter, my thesis was a translation of the poetry of one of my professors in Bilbao.

So day after day I would sit on the futon in my sad, tiny, freezing little all-brown student apartment, and try to get to work. I would tell myself, "Just translate one sentence. Just one. Go on, do it!"

The weather out my window quite often looked something like this (when people ask me what it was like to study in Maine, this is inevitably what comes to mind...this is also the type of scene that comes to mind when people try to complain about "cold weather" in Spain, and then I start to laugh). 

As the snow swirled outside for months on end and I drank a probably unhealthy number of cups of tea, little by little, poem by poem, snowday by snowday, I made progress on my thesis, until finally the day came when I defended it in front of 5 professors, who said I could go really far in the field of translation if I wanted, and I felt on top of the world.

Just a few days after that, I decided to take a position to teach English in A Cañiza, Spain.

Why do that if I could have been so great at translation and didn't want to be a teacher?

Well, the experience of writing that thesis had taught me that I had no desire to be self-employed and have to set my own deadlines. The idea of spending my future going through that struggle of self-revilement, procrastinating and feeling bad about it every single day, sounded like honest-to-god torture.

In the end, my "year off" to find myself turned into four, and find my profession I did. I ate my words about not wanting to be a teacher, since here I am, doing just that and loving this dynamic job that is different every day and does not require me to muster enormous amounts of self-discipline about writing long essays.

But as a cruel twist of fate, studying to become more qualified to teach leaves me right here right now, staring at my computer screen, fighting the exact same battle as four years ago. "Just write one sentence. Just one. Come on, do it!" Except now, I've been out of practice for four years, and my skills are a bit rusty. "Is that how you spell that word? Does that word even exist in English, or is it Spanglish? Does that sentence sound right? How do people say that in America? Is that British English or American?"

The battle to write just one sentence is up an even steeper hill than it was four years ago, and I am absolutely floundering. However, having done this once already, I do know that I can, and that helps immensely.

More importantly, it also reinforces my plan to continue in this profession and not switch over to higher education or back to translation! I can fight this battle from time to time, but I still say: every day, no frigging way. Give me teaching or give me death!

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