You may call me Doctor Susan

And this time I mean it for real.

Yesterday I finally had my appointment at the graduate school to "deposit my dissertation" (they actually just take the abstract and title page for DMAs, not the whole project), thus making official what's been true for nearly an entire month: I am Dr. Susan G-------, DMA Collaborative Piano.

I left Daniel and Anya with my parents, who have been here visiting for a week, and drove to campus alone. Before the appointment, I had to stop at a drugstore to buy white-out; one of my forms my committee had to sign read "2007" as the graduation date, and I had to change it to "2008" because Anya's birth made me miss the deadline for graduating last year. Once that was done and I had double and triple checked that I had all the necessary paperwork, I began the long trek up Bascom Hill to turn it all in. It was momentous, walking up that long hill and into Bascom Hall, a rather majestic, cavernous building where all the graduate school administrative offices are housed. Less than ten minutes later, I left holding my bag and a fee card (someone explain to me why it costs 90 bucks to hand someone a few sheets of paper???). I stopped by the Music School to turn in a copy of one of the forms, went to the Bursar's office to pay that fee...and that was it.

For a few minutes yesterday I felt really proud of myself, very doctoral. I would have liked to celebrate a little, treat myself to a cup of coffee, browse a bookstore, enjoy myself for a few hours, but I had to get home and nurse my baby and find everyone some lunch and throw a load of diapers in the washing machine. This will be my life for the next year or two or three or, well, who knows how long.

When people ask me "So what's next?", I explain that I won't be on the job market right away, and the reasons I give are mostly economic in nature: we have two small children, daycare is extremely expensive, jobs in my field pay crap, Stuart is in a much more stable and lucrative career track than I am so it makes sense for him to be the breadwinner, you get the idea. But my deep dark secret (not so secret now, I suppose) is that I'm also afraid, not terrified but a little afraid, of rejection and failure, of not being good enough.

Piling on advanced degrees (I've got two masters and a doctorate to my name) has made me a better musician, but hasn't necessarily done much for my self-esteem in this field. It's kind of the opposite, actually, since I feel like the longer I study, the fewer excuses I have for not cutting the mustard. Don't get me wrong. I've had moments and performances I'm really proud of. But that doesn't change the fact that I will always second-guess myself and wonder if I'm good enough and wonder if maybe I should have done something else entirely, like some area of research science or teaching high school history.

(Mind you, all but the most egotistical and naive musicians experience crises of confidence all the time. The best musicians I've worked with have all said to me at one point, usually after a string of unsuccessful auditions or unsatisfying and low-paying gigs, "Why didn't I just get a degree in accounting?")

2007 was a big year for me. I had several performances out of town, I finished my doctoral work, I had a baby, and I was taking care of a toddler more or less full time. 2008 will be very, very different. Now that the DMA is done, I have to figure out how and when (or if) I will put it to use. In the meantime, 2008 will be a year of breastfeeding, washing diapers, sleep-deprivation, potty-training (I hope), and whatever else comes with parenting a couple of young children.

I'll try not to forget how to play the piano, and I'll try to keep the blog interesting...if you promise to keep reading.

Comments

Yay! Congrats, Doctor Suze! I promise to keep reading, even if you just blog about blowing raspberries.
Strangeite said…
Congratulations. A birthday, the confering of the title Doctor and the birth of a daughter, what a busy couple of weeks.
Chris Foley said…
From one DMA to another, congratulations, Dr. Suze!
katie said…
congrats! and i'm looking forward to the blog this year!!
Julia said…
Congrats Susan!!!!!!!! Yayyyyyyyy! Your post gives me hope... I'm in the midst of studying so much that my eyes are blurry because I have comps tomorrow through friday. 24 hours of exams... Scary. PS. my parents have your books, they're going to drop them off one of these days. Anyway, glad that you got everything turned in Dr. Susan!
Sula said…
Congratulations, Dr. Suze!! And thanks for continuing to be an inspiration in many, many ways (and p.s., if we knew why it cost $90 to hand someone papers, then we wouldn't need to go to school for so many years. Courtesy of a musicology PhD student.)
Pamela said…
NOW YOU AND THE GANG CAN MOVE TO CALIFORNIA! I'm sure Stu could find a sweet job in Silicon Valley. :-)

Congratulations, Dr. G!! You rock!
Steph said…
WOOHOO!!!!!

I wish I were there to give you a party or at least some free babysitting.
Scott said…
Yaaaay! Congrats Dr. Susan!
Becca said…
Eh, What's up, Doc?

Congrats!
Animal said…
Wow Suze, that was a HECK of a year! So much for me to congratulate, and so much for YOU to feel unabashedly proud of.

Tess & I were just discussing our feelings of inadequacy last night, remembering that ALL of the DMAs/PhDs that we know feel exactly like you do at one time or another. (Usually more often than not, actually!) The "What now?" lurks in all our subconscious minds, so even though that doesn't take it away from YOU, at least you know you're not alone.

First one step, then another, then another...enjoy them all, because one day you'll be in your 80s and you'll realize that while you were figuring out what to do with your life...whoops! You went and lived it.

:-)
Andre said…
Congratulations Suze! What a year for you! As to feelings of anxiety and fear of failure, I remember asking Melinda Wagner, who one the Pulitizer in composition a few years back, about how to deal with rejection. She told me that she can *wallpaper her house* with the rejection letters she's received over the years. It is simply a numbers game. One has to get a critical mass of rejection letters in order to get the one or two letters you want. But rejection letters (nor acceptance letters for that matter) are not good measurements of one's musical worth. . not by a long shot.

Congrats again! I hope you're not worrying too much about what to "do" with your degree. There is no greater work of art than a healthy child.
Mrs. Allroro said…
I've stopped myself from writing this about 5 times now, but I can't help it any longer. I think you would be a great teacher, like your mom. There. I said it.

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