PhD, Semester 8: It’s Been a Lot

In February 2020, I wrote a post titled “PhD, Semester 4: An Inventory of Exhaustion.” It was a very long post about being tired. I guess I needed to think and write through this exhaustion, make sense of why I was so drained.

Today, in May 2022, I’ve just wrapped up semester 8. The exhaustion is different. Maybe I’m more “resilient” now or have developed more “grit,” which means that I survive under conditions that are not ideal because there’s no alternative. The pandemic is global, after all, and I don’t have the means to go to space.

But it feels like some sort of accomplishment to have lasted long enough to double my semesters in graduate school. Here’s an inventory of this past semester. There was a lot to catalogue.


  • I caught it.
  • January 3.
  • The loneliest part of having COVID was eating alone in a house full of people.
  • The strangest part was going from avoiding risk to becoming a risk. It reminded me of a recurring childhood dream. In it, I am running away from monsters, but halfway through the dream, I become the monster and begin chasing someone else.
  • My contact tracer recommended I drink pineapple juice. Preferably organic.
  • I was okay after 14 days. But now I always wonder about Long COVID.

A Good Double Whammy

  • I attended a very excellent virtual conference in February. And on the first day of the conference, my co-authored article was published online.
  • Wow!
  • People actually read it. Or at least downloaded it. The free e-copies were used up fast!
  • The conference was Critical Mixed Race Studies. I’ve been meaning to blog about it.
  • The publication was a visual essay in Visual Studies. I’ve been meaning to blog about this too.

A Bad Double Whammy

  • I lost both of my grandmothers.
  • They passed maybe a week apart, but I found out about both on the same day. March 8.
  • Their portraits are published in an academic journal, with a tiny bit of writing and reflection. I still like the portraits, but the writing is too much for me now.
  • I didn’t know a CV line could hurt so much.
  • When I wrote the Semester 4 post, I had recently lost my grandfather. I think about him a lot these days too.

A Situation that Evened Out

  • My journal submission to SPQ got rejected on April 7.
  • After dead grandmothers, rejection still sucks but doesn’t hurt as much.
  • My journal submission to SRE (a major revise and resubmit) was accepted on April 14.
  • Wow oh wow.
  • Grief seems to dull everything but after the good news, I left my house to take a long walk in the middle of the day. I screamed and sang and celebrated in the car ride to the park. I’m not an empty husk of a human being after all.

A Strike

  • Graduate workers at Indiana University Bloomington went on strike on April 13.
  • I yelled a lot and was human at a bunch of pickets.
  • We’re fighting for the exact same things that graduate students at other universities are fighting for. It’s validating but disappointing. Shame on universities.
  • It is finals week now and day 22 of the strike.
  • Semester 8 isn’t quite over.