Thursday, August 21, 2014

I Can't...I Need to Pass Comps


I hear that phrase about ten times a day in my house. Coming from my husband. I hear it so much it makes me want to punch him (in the most loving way possible) every time he says it. It is the most frustrating phrase I have ever heard.

Let me back up a bit. As you know, my husband is in a Phd program here in Louisiana. Ever since we moved here we knew the day would come when he would have to take his comprehensive exams...aka Comps.

Comps are taken at the beginning of the third year of my husbands program. They are what they sound like, a comprehensive exam of everything he has learned in his doctoral program. But they are much more difficult than they sound. They are told to study the last 25 years (or whatever it was) of journal articles and books  in his field because they could be asked a question on any of the topic covered in any of those articles and books. On top of that they have to memorize and be able to cite any of the articles off the top of their head.

If it sounds ridiculous, it is because it is. You have to pass in order to finish the program. So yes, it is crazy stressful. And yes, it requires a lot of studying. And yes, I understand that he has a lot of pressure coming at him from all directions.

My husband will be taking two of the three sections of comps the first two weeks of September. He will then be taking the third and final part of comps the first week in December.

So for the past year, I have heard about all the studying that needs to be done. All the preparations that go into it. All the time that he does not have due to having to study. All the time spent doing other things that could have been spent studying. That excuse that is used for everything, "I need to pass comps". This test that has infected every aspect of our house and relationship.

Conversations that have gone like this.

Me: What do you want for dinner tonight?
Him: I don't know. I need to pass comps.

Me: So we have this wedding in September. Can you come?
Him: I don't know. That's too far from now. I need to pass comps.
(A conversation had in July)

Me: So you bought a lot of food that you don't usually buy at the store.
Him: I need good food so I can pass comps.

Me: So sometime in the far off distant future I would like to plan a trip somewhere.
Him: I can't think about the future. I need to pass comps.

Me: Wanna go for a walk right now?
Him: I can't. I have to study. I need to pass comps.

I can't even begin to describe how frustrating it is for me, sitting on the sidelines being stressed about something that has nothing to do with me. Conversations about the present, near future and the distant future can't be had because comps are just looming over us like this dark cloud that will not go away. Things that should be only a little stressful end up being the end of the world because it is added on top of the stress that has already filled our house to the brim.

I read other people's blog and see other people's picture and just wish that we were in a different time in our life. Cause this one sucks. I keep reminding my self that it will be over soon. That we will get our life back and things will be better in a short time. In a few weeks, part of comps will be over. Hopefully that will help lessen the stress. In a few months it will be completely done. Then we can move on. Boy am I ready to move on.

Until that day comes, I will probably be sitting on the couch watching TV while my husband studies his little heart out. I will be listening to him describe topics and issues that I do not understand just so that he can talk them through to me instead of just in his head. We will be hiding in our little cave of an apartment until the light comes back in our lives, waiting for the moment when "I need to pass comps" turns into "I PASSED COMPS".

Two weeks until the first set. Three and a half months until the second set. The time cannot pass fast enough.

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