Missives From Mount Dissertation

My Dearest Family,

I can only hope that someday you shall read this. Or better, that I shall be able to share this with you in person.  But, if that is not to be, if the mountain should claim me, let this be a record of our journey.

I write to you from the very depths of the caverns of Mount Dissertation, a place that lives in my mind near the famed Everest…but taller.  As had Sir Edmund and his intrepid team, I, too, began this journey with the highest of hopes.

None but I would be able to scale the mountain before me. Yes, there would be hazards. The early days of Introduction were nothing at all, and I thought, “Onward to glory” at every step.

I admit now that my steps slowed some as we slogged through the Swamp of Previous Literature. As all prior reports had indicated, this was indeed treacherous ground.  At every turn one was tempted to stray, to stop, to read, to sink… Alas, I too found myself tempted.  It was only the strength of my boon companion, the dog I call Sir Charles, and the whispy fantasy of the woman I love and left behind in this quest.  I say “left behind” in spirit only because I know that she, in her quiet and unassuming way, slogs beside me with each wearying step.

There are nights were I am sure I cannot go on, and I dream that a meal has been placed before me.  Sir Charles and I both wake, sniffing longingly, and dream of home.

Ah, but in my delirium I digress.  Yes, the Swamp of Prior Literature was indeed a boggy ground, but I thought, “Onward, ever onward” to my goal.  For somewhere ahead lay the Prize. My raison d’être… the Floppy Hat.

We had heard, Charles and I, that the most tedious and technical part of our ascent would be the Wall of Human Subjects Review. However, to our surprise, our preparation and planning won out and we managed that in a mere 27 days.  An accomplishment, to be sure.

Following the Wall were, as you will recall from our planning sessions, the dreaded Cliffs of Methodological Design.  Those were, indeed, as treacherous as we had feared.  I was almost lost at one point when a missive from my good friend Dr. (almost) V. Bailey arrived to provide me light and guidance when it was needed most.  Truly, those three words, “As we know…” offered strength and fortitude in my darkest hour.

While the Cliffs were oft touted as the most dangerous and harrowing of this ascent, I shall share with you, my loving family, that is not so.  The greatest danger in this endeavor is not the climb through the Cliffs to the top, it is in forging our path back down, through the Miasma of Incomprehensible Findings.  Alas, this area casts the Swamp and Cliffs before in a shining light of easy memory.  The Miasma is a swirling vortex of thought and wind, of fancy and dream.  Oft I fall back from our attempts to pass too weary to continue.

We were told, were we not, before the journey that this was one of endurance, of fortitude.  I fear, now, in my darkest hours, that I shall not be able to carry on.  That I have not the fortitude. The strength. I have the desire, surely, for the Floppy Hat, but often wonder if I have the will.

I am weary now, and it is difficult to form my thoughts. The Grippe has gripped me and I fear my strength is waning.  We, Sir Charles and I, rest here beside our guttering campfire dreaming of days long past. Of warm breezes and Sport to be watched and enjoyed. Of Family and companionship. Of the love of a woman.

The end is near, now.  Sometimes I feel that I can just see it, wavering just on the edge of my vision.  Beyond the Pale lies the Slope of Conclusion and then home. And then…victory.

Sir Charles and I are footsore now, I in the grip of illness that shakes me to my core.  Charles, ever faithful Charles, can only gaze upon me with love and as give as much comfort as can any faithful hound. Writing this, simply putting words to paper has given me, given us, strength.  I believe we can do it.  We can conquer. We can achieve. Weary, battered, worn, but not broken. Never broken.

Onward, ever onward, to the Floppy Hat.

Victory shall be ours.

My love to all.


7 Comments on “Missives From Mount Dissertation”

  1. Tammy says:

    Sher slogs behind you on purpose. All the easier to see when she needs to whack you upside the head to keep the course… 🙂

    When you’re ready to escape into an exhaustive world not of your own making, try ‘Game of Thrones’. It’s had me in its inescapable talons for months.

  2. Pol says:

    LOL. Thanks. I read Game of Thrones ages ago before it was famous. We don’t have HBO, so…

  3. Carleen says:


    I absolutely love this. Never before has someone put the dissertation struggle into such a colorful tale. Outstanding.

    This had to be my favorite: “For somewhere ahead lay the Prize. My raison d’être… the Floppy Hat.” Floppy Hat, indeed! I guffawed, truly.

    Onward, my friend. Onward!

    • Pol says:

      Oh, it’s ALL about that damned hat! LOL. Thanks again.

      Reading your blog I am struck anew by just how similar our career fields are. Shoot me an email sometime when you have a chance and let me know what you’re doing these days.


  4. Sheryl Low says:

    omg, Walter Mitty, you can make a drama out of anything and Tammy is right!

  5. Josie H says:

    When is graduation? Party?

  6. Pol says:

    Graduation is May 24th at 6:30 PM. If you can make it down, we’d love that! As for any partaaaay, dunno. I don’t have any plans.