Clarity and Confusion

Today, I attended one of the seminars put on by the Graduate school for new students. The topic? Choosing a mentor and deciding on a thesis/dissertation topic. I had the second part, but not the first, so I went over to gain some insights.

The presenter was expert and personable. He must be really good with faces, because he mentioned where he'd seen most of the people in attendance in specific presentations he'd lead before. It was nice to get to ask questions throughout, thanks to the small group size.

My big concern was how the heck do I pick a mentor when my plans include study in two separate departments? Well, the answer is that a doctoral candidate should have several mentors. He also dispelled the myth that a mentor has to be the supreme authority in your research area. As long as the dissertation committee or mentor has an expert in that discipline, it should be good.

This was very relieving. As I begin looking at PhD. programs, the reality that there is very little research combining my two subject areas and I'd probably find an expert in one who didn't have depth of information in the other. This doesn't mean exploring other universities is off the 'to do' list, it just means that the pressure is off if I find people who will offer guidance where it is needed.

The clarity was refreshing.

On the other hand, confusion on the Jane front reigns supreme. She is still in rehab. Yes, Medicare said they'd cover SEVEN days, which ended, oh, about twenty days ago. She made an off hand comment to another family member about 750 dollars a day, but when probed, said something unintelligible.

This happens often with Jane, partly due to the painkillers, partly due to the fact that she's got about eight teeth left in her mouth. Then, add to this her habit of falling asleep at the drop of a hat and it makes things interesting.

We've agreed that the time for tough love has come. None of us here in Florida are going to drop everything for her: she decided that she can live independently, let her be independent. It was cemented by the fact that we called to get information from someone who doesn't change their story several times in a single phone call and were shut down. Jane only wanted the family informed that she was being released February 1st.

Yes, I know, that has passed. She is not home.

Yesterday, she called Ed and told him to thank me for paying her rent. Only problem is I did that on January 4th for January's rent. Was she thanking me for something I did a month ago, or was this her way of saying "You need to pay this month's rent for me." (Would you please? is an alien concept)

So, while I wanted to not say anything, I called today and got her voice mail. The message I left was "Hi. In regards to your message to Ed about paying rent, you're welcome. However, we're confused. Are you thanking me for paying the January rent, because I did that a month ago. If you're thanking me for paying this month's rent, well, I haven't done anything worth thanking.

"If you were thanking me for paying the February rent, there's the small problem of not having your checkbook to do so. Can you please clarify?"

She called back while I was in that seminar and left me a two minute message. I really wish I had a way to put that recording up here, because I still don't know what the hell she's said, and I listened to it eight or nine times!

It went like this:
5 second pause
"Hi, sweetie, it's Jane"
15 second pause, where it seems like she dozed off
"Hi sweetie, it's Jane" (as if this were a new phone call)
10 second pause
"Listen, they're keeping me here because they want me to do some garblegarblegarble to see if I'm going independent unintelligible. Can you believe they don't think garblegarblegarble?"
25 second pause where I think she fell asleep again, because she grunts as if jerked awake.
"So, that would fine if you did. Let me know what you think. garble garble garble. Okay, bye"
15 second pause before she hangs up the phone.

Somehow, I don't think a PhD. will help me to decipher that message.


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