I didn’t expect it and it has not even sunk in yet. But I got an early Christmas present courtesy of my thesis research advisory committee (TRAC) – I was given the go signal to wrap things up and start writing my dissertation!!! I really did not see this coming. Based on what they wanted me to do last year and the progress (or not) of my thesis in the last few months, I was planning on finishing up by the last quarter of 2011. The subtle hints that I’ve dropped to my P.I.* on me finishing up soon has been ignored (maybe because they are too subtle???) over the last few discussions that I had with him. So, I was actually surprised when Dr. W suggested I drop the second part of my project, finish the necessary experiments to write the paper and write my dissertation. My TRAC chair was even bolder and said that I can get back to them by the end of January or early February to have the paper work signed so I can officially start writing and defend by the end of the spring semester! Talk about pressure! It was good that they wanted me to wrap up that soon though. I really needed a deadline for myself, and my P.I. was never really good at setting deadlines, so I welcomed their recommendation with open arms. Now my arms (and my heart) are shaking – I have a ton of writing to do, and I have to do it fast! I will definitely target May or June for my defense, so that would mean getting the paper (and the needed experiments that go along with it) done by early January and starting to write the dissertation as soon as possible. There are going to be tough days (and nights) ahead, but they will be all worth it. And oh, now I have to start looking for a job… another journey begins, another tunnel. But for now, I’ll drink a beer to this light that I’m seeing.