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Thursday, August 22, 2013

The Banana Chronicles

So, other than moving to New York and starting a new externship at Mount Sinai things have been relatively mellow. I have been keeping myself busy with things like going to Soul Cycle classes, going shopping, taking strolls through central park, and catching up on episodes of Pretty Little Liars.

Psychhhh. Just kidding.

I kept myself busy by   f r e a k i n g   out about my dissertation and defending my proposal.

Okay. Confession. I was going to Soul Cycle (spin) classes. It is my newest New York City obsession. Self-care, right?

Fine. Second confession. I do watch ABC Family's Pretty Little Liars...but you can't judge me. This is a judgement free zone... and it's my blog.

But, I was spending MOST of my other not-so-free time being really, really worried about dissertation.

Like, really worried. Even ask Pat [McElwaine]. He will tell you all about the neurotic texts he received from me...

I think I was mostly worried because I have this amazing committee that is also a trifecta of intimidation...

...and I just didn't want to disappoint them.

Once I realized that proposing to 2 sock puppets and a beanie baby** wasn't a reality, and that if I wanted to apply to internship this year I better put on my big girl panties, and get to work.

**Don't worry I have a run in with a beanie baby later on in this story 

It is a PCOM Psychology Department policy that in order to apply for internship you must defend your dissertation proposal by September 1st.

Let me just say, that in the middle/end of July, you will suddenly realize (feel a sense of panic) that September 1st is a lot closer than you think

....and then realize (feel a sense of sadness) that your summer is basically over.

Word of advice. Start coordinating a date for your proposal as soon as you can.

The summer tends to be a time when faculty and other committee members take vacation. So, it can be a challenge to coordinate a date that agrees with everyone's' schedules. Luckily, for me it wasn't too difficult!

But, the date of my proposal defense was scheduled a little sooner than I would have liked because it is what worked with all of the multiple schedules involved.

To say, I was nervous or anxious would have been an understatement.

Emotionally unstable would definitely be a better description.

I could NOT keep it together.

The thought of presenting my proposal to my committee created a wave of nerves in my body that made me cry instantly.

And I am not a crier.

For example, walking home from the subway one day I saw a Shih Tzu in the window of a pet store and it reminded me of my dog Bailey, who is currently staying with my parents... and I started hysterically crying.

Like, really, Jackie? Get it together girl.

Poor Pat and Ashley [Hennessey] (who was also proposing the exact same day as me--we have a similar committee)... because they had to deal with the fact that I was an emotional train wreck. They are amazing friends!

Anyway, two weeks before D-Day (Dissertation Proposal Defense Day) I met with Dr. Felgoise, my committee chairperson to go over my proposal.

When I sat down in the chair in her office, and I warned her that I was "Totally emotionally unstable about this whole proposal thing and that I will probably cry.... now."

I actually only teared up, maybe whimpered, and then I started laughing through my tears.

Because Dr. Felgoise is amazing and just being in her office made me feel better. She did everything she could that day to cheer me up and calm me down.

Including, insisting, and I mean really insisting that I take Bananas as a loan to make me feel better.

This. ladies and gents... is Bananas.

Meet Bananas! 

Here is Bananas meeting Ashley for the first time!!

Bananas and I needed a break from writing, so we took in the view of the NYC skyline from my rooftop deck! 

Bananas and I engaged in some self-care at Soul Cycle. Bananas had a hard time keeping up with the class. The spin shoes weren't quite the right size, and his little legs didn't exactly reach the peddles on the bike. After class, we enjoyed some kale juice as a post workout treat!

Bananas got the full NYC experience with his first NYC cab ride! 

Bananas and my little cousin, Kaitlyn enjoying lunch (and a quick writing break) for a delicious burger at NYC's Mercer Kitchen! 

Another little word of advice: never let a monkey edit your dissertation... 

In case you're wondering, yup, I ACTUALLY did take alllll of these pictures of a beanie baby named Bananas doing different things in NYC. But, like I said before, this is a judgement free zone... 

Bananas, was actually returned to Dr. Felgoise last week after I SUCCESSFULLY defended my proposal! 

**Results of my Proposal Defense**

That's right! Last Tuesday was D-Day! 

Everything, went really well minus a few hiccups here and there. 

For one, I waited until the last minute to print out my slides. DON'T DO THAT. 

I guess because I am Irish, Murphy's Law and I inevitably get along really well. 

So, obviously, the printer in the computer lab decided it was going to hate life, or mine that day. 

Basically, the printer just printed my slides in whatever order, superimposed on top of each other, and then just ran out of toner. Cool.

This allowed me to play a game of Old Maid slash Go Fish while I was presenting. Good times. 

Thankfully, Dr. Felgoise recognized at one point I was wearing a face of desperation and fear... and asked me if I needed a moment to gather myself and slides... I gladly took her up on the offer. 

I also found that 10 minutes into presenting I was pleading with my saliva. Saying, "Saliva don't fail me now!" 

But, my saliva totally failed me and my water bottle was too far out of reach.  

My mouth was completely dry for the rest of the defense.  

Slide printouts and saliva debacle aside everything else went really well. My committee was super supportive and encouraging, and I found the process to be really collaborative. 

As we were nearing the end, I could feel myself becoming more and more relaxed. However, there was one last hiccup, when Dr. Felgoise asked me a question about what would I do to help ALS patients (the population I am studying for my dissertation) as a clinical psychologist. 


Could. Not. Answer. The. Question. 

How embarrassing?!? 

I talked in circles for a few minutes before saying, "I know I am talking in circles."

She tried helping by leading me to the answer with some Socratic questioning, but it was still a nightmare. I just felt myself becoming more and more nervous. I completely blacked out. 

I was so angry at myself because I wanted to demonstrate to my committee that I have the ability as a clinical psychologist in training to generate ideas (whether I just wrote a literature review or not) about how I would help a patient and their family prepare for anticipated speech decline. 

Anyway, I promised myself that I would not perseverate on this and this is me totally perseverating. 

On wards and upwards, right?. 

The next steps require me to make the necessary changes to my proposal discussed at the defense and apply to IRB. 

Even though I was so, so nervous about the proposal I am really excited about the rest of the dissertation process. Not only because it means I am one step closer to completing my requirements for graduation, but because I am a total research nerd! 

Having this hurdle out of the way is a huge accomplishment. Also, a special shout out to Ashley and Pat are in order as they also passed their proposals! Their support and encouragement was huge. It helped to make this step much easier, so thank you to both of them!! 

My last piece of advice for those of you just starting the dissertation process and beginning Research III now is this: (1) Pick a chair that you get along with; (2) Do the work and stay on task with the schedule; (3) Participate in class and talk about your study--don't just sit in class on your laptop doing other work or pinning pins on Pinterest; (4) Meet with your chair as frequently as you can to talk about your study 

Everyone gets a little Bananas once and a while.  So, until next time! 


Gossip Girl

Whoops wrong blog! ;) 

All the best,


P.S. In case I didn't accurately express my sentiments regarding passing the oral defense: 


  1. Estrella S. ArmstrongSeptember 16, 2013 at 2:59 AM

    Congratulations on successfully defending your proposal despite the pressures from picking up the best thesis ideas until the nerve wracking defense. It's worth telling yourself "Very Good for a job well done". May you enjoy working on the actual process of dissertation writing.

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