Picture it. Me, crouched in a far corner of the Sheraton Grand Chicago, home of the 2016 annual meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, giving an interview with Rose Hoban of NC Health News.
Thank you, Rose, for giving me the chance to tell the story of why tobacco retailing matters for health. It’s clear from the map below that poor folks have the distinct problem of living way, way too close to too many tobacco retailers. Even more simply put: your neighborhood may be toxic to your health, but it doesn’t have to be.
Nice effort, Amanda K, and others from our UNC/Counter Tools/CounterTobacco.org team. This is work that matters!
According to a sweet little app on my phone (DAYS), I started the PhD program 2,006 days ago. Just a few minutes ago, 4 days in advance of the deadline, I sent my “complete” dissertation to my committee, because those are the rules.
UNC guidelines stipulate that you (1) send your completed dissertation to your committee five weeks in advance of your defense, then (2) defend it publicly in front of God and everybody, then (3) privately with your committee (April 5th), then (4) make any last revisions and (5) turn it in to the graduate school by April 14th at 4 pm in time for May 7th graduation.
So today begins the line of events that call me “phinished”. Done. Graduated. Dr.
Whoa, such possibility! That’s the beauty of shipping my art out into the Universe, I guess. As I sit here in one of my favorite spots, at the kitchen table on Iva Ada Drive, there is a buzzing silence. Charles the dog is snoring. I see a breeze outside; Carolina blue sky. Spring is in the air, all things fresh and new.
Data collection for my dissertation Studies 1 and 2 (of 3) ended about three weeks ago, and with that milestone, I came down with “dissertation fever“. I was warned about this by a mentor and it’s here: I’m stubborn, meanly focused, and glued to my chair and computer screen, even more than usual. In my fever, due to break with my dissertation defense in March 2016, I’m a different version of myself. Thankfully, folks who have been through this, or watched from the sidelines, totally ‘get’ my desire to lock myself in a room until only one of us will emerge: it’ll be me or the dissertation, and I’ve got my money on me.
I’ve had a few come-to-Jesus meetings with myself. Data analysis is hard for me. The kind of difficult that makes the voices of Resistance, Fear, and KFKD Radio, scream with delight in my head: “YOU SUCK AT THIS”. It reminds me of a day in Gabon fifteen years ago as a Peace Corps Volunteer when I decided I wanted to quit and go back to the US. The equatorial sun was blazing, it was hot. Going to the US required getting money from the bank for a train ticket. Getting to the bank required a long walk in the hot sun and a bush taxi. Getting money required a 2-hour wait in line. The bank wasn’t open anyway — Holiday — so I had to wait through the weekend. The “express” 24-hour-ish train didn’t leave Franceville for another 2 days after that. I had to wait. The only way out was through. Chin up, keep marching, if it was easy everyone would do it. (I stayed and it was beautiful.)
Three years in at Counter Tools, we have a high performing team that will hold down the fort for me while I work strictly part part time, suffer the fever and conquer the dissertation. I’m grateful for that, big time. It’s also an exercise in giving what you can, trusting your people, showing up to give your best work within the boundaries that exist, and letting the rest go.
It’s important to me to own up to this season of dissertation fever. I’m excited, scared, ready.