Any Thing That Can Go Wrong at the End Will

Suicide was not the answer but I was definitely thinking about murdering someone.

First you have to understand that, thanks to a technical problem, I’ve just spent part of a final class reentering marks into a spreadsheet and trying to remember, in a couple cases, what scores I had entered earlier. This all has me thinking about my master’s thesis.

Several hundred years ago, when I was working on my Master of Arts degree, and Microsoft Word had only just been invented, I had a technical problem. I was using WordStar which, at the time, was still kind of trendy but which, today, is roughly the equivalent of writing with a hammer and chisel.

I was confident in my abilities to use it, which means, of course, I was doomed. If I hadn’t been as stressed as I was, I probably would have been more cautious. However, somehow, and I’m still not sure how, in linking four files together so they could print without me having to retype the entire mess into one file, I somehow managed to destroy most of my master’s thesis.

I discovered this when I tried to print it out a day or so before I had to turn it in to my review committee.

Me being confident–and it being the early days of computers–I hadn’t bothered to back anything up. (Yes, I realize there’s no logic in that sentence whatsoever.) The only back up I had was notes, a partial printout and vague memories of what I had written. At this point fear led to panic; panic led to projected anger; projected anger led to rage; and I knew, at that point, someone needed to die.

The trouble was, I couldn’t think of anyone to kill whose death would have made the situation better.

Instead I assembled the scraps and in an epic all-night writing session managed to hammer something out that resembled what had been there before. Oddly, rather than this being a fish story about the great Shakespearean work that had been lost, I still feel the rewrite was better. (If you’ve ever read my master’s thesis that tells you how bad the originals were.)

Then again, maybe that’s just denial and I should have gone ahead and killed someone.

In the end I passed, although there were apparently some issues with one of my committee members. It’s probably best I didn’t know that earlier.

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