Thesis or Fecis

It all comes down to this…

I Want You To Hit Me As Hard As You Can (with your words)

with 24 comments

With my thesis looming large on the horizon (less than 48 hours from now) and the amount of time I’ve spent editing and writing I’ve had lots of time to freak out about my research, the quality of it, the strength of my global conclusions, and finally the Rice faculty and graduate student’s opinion of my research quality. Because my mind loves to eat itself from the inside out I’ve extended this thought process to all things encompassing my life. And that brought me to thinking about whom I am and what my failings are.

Let’s pause for a second and get back to the Thesis. I am scheduled to defend my thesis on Wednesday, April 16th at 1:30pm. The location is Space Sciences Building room 106 (map). Here’s how it goes: I present my research for around 40 minutes. Following that, the committee will ask questions about my research no doubt exposing all the gaps in my knowledge, highlighting bad assumptions that formed the basis of my research and generally addressing the weak conclusions my research draws and the lack of impact my work will have on scaffold design and tissue engineering. Basically forcing me to face the honest failings of my past seven years.

No one likes to be publicly humiliated so you can probably see why I’d be concerned when several of my best friends and personal heroes expressed an interest in attending. Additionally, the probability of me breaking down into uncontrollable and embarrassing sobbing is nearly 1.0 for each of the three possible outcomes of Win, Lose or Weapons Grade FAIL. Add that to my fear of public humiliation and the result is that I don’t want anyone to attend my defense. But that’s not fair to myself or anyone that is genuinely interested in my research or supporting me. Oh also: people planning to attend only to see me be humiliated, I salute you slash fuck off.

The only way that I’m going to get over public humiliation is to put myself out there honestly and embrace what happens knowing that I did my best. And I will do that in my thesis and you are all invited to attend. I may even record video for those of you in other cities. But I need some practice getting honest appraisals. So this week I’m asking you to help me grow a thick skin.

I want you to be brutally honest with me.

For example: in a 2007 defamatory blog post, I was called a “would-be mogul,” a “snake oil salesman” and finally a “hard nosed motherfucker.” All hilarious terms but imagine arriving at SXSW to be on your first film panel and the ‘I’m Feeling Lucky’ hit for your name was a post entitled “A Hard Lesson in DIY – Matthew Wettergreen & The Dimes.” Micah Baldwin couldn’t ask for better press.

Now this was personally vindictive but I think you can come up with brutally honest things that are actually constructive. Tell me what my failings are as a human. Insult me. Tell me what bad things I’ve done and how they’ve affected you. Get creative, think of some really awful stuff. “You have the personal hygiene of a grue?” Boring. “Dollionaire philanderer?” Heard it. But what about things that I don’t even know about? Let’s cut to the quick here, folks. This is my coming of age.

If transparency is the new model (and I think I already show that if you’ve ever read my twitter stream) then here it is. Transparency about my entire life. My issues and problems put out there for everyone to see and digest so that I can see what I am and what I project myself as and what I fail at so that I can evaluate these things and become a better human. You want transparency? This post is fucking see-through.

Two ways you can participate.

Publicly: (for the brave) Leave a comment and as long as it won’t keep me out of office, I’ll approve it.

Privately: Anonymously email me using (remember not to put your email addy in the sender’s portion)

I’m being put through a professional coming of age ceremony on Wednesday. Think of this as my public trial. Everything after this sets the bar for my actions.




Written by Matthew Wettergreen

April 14, 2008 at 9:29 pm

Posted in thesis

24 Responses

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  1. As I said earlier. This is merely a teensy hurdle in a string of upcoming hurdles you will be jumping towards a pretty kickass future. You are so going to rock it. And the next one. And the multiple ones after it. xo

    Tara Hunt

    April 14, 2008 at 11:13 pm

  2. Oh. And I promise to help teach you focus on the positive stuff rather than the negative stuff (only ONE negative blogpost? ha! I have legions of people who would LOVE to see my downfall. Whatev)…if you promise to help me, too.

    Do you wanna know the best thing about transparency? Take it from a gal who knows…is when you look back and think, “What the fuck was I so wound up about? That was nuthin’!” But you won’t know that for months. In between, you will be tempted to destroy it, btw. Don’t. Not until you can look at it and laugh at how far you’ve come since now.

    Tara Hunt

    April 14, 2008 at 11:31 pm

  3. Listen to the mustn’ts, child,
    Listen to the don’ts
    Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts,
    Listen of the never haves, Then listen close to me–
    Anything can happen, child, anything can be.

    You’ve already hopscotched over where the sidewalk ends years ago. Yet your determination has led you on to a life filled with the promise of a future too bright to see.

    You don’t need anyone to tell you where your wrongs and rights are. you see those in your heart. and you will make yourself the person you want to be by the help of none other than the determination that has gotten you thus far.

    You are an inspiration to those around you, and THAT is the measure of a man. Not a PhD, or a new suit, or who you know. Someone could plop you right down in a barren desert and you’d probably organize a concert of the snakes and scorpions, design the invitation, create a cactus bar, and befriend all the sand dunes. And it would be a success. Why? because you shoot for the moon in everything you do.

    I’ve told you this many times, and I’ll tell you again. Of all the things I do, of all the things people know me for, one of my most proud accomplishments is being your friend. Forever and always.

    Now go kick some ass tomorrow so we can finally have a damn drink!!!!

    love you, (high five), good talk.



    April 15, 2008 at 11:06 am

  4. That was lovely Monica. Huzzah. But I’m gonna do what the man asked 🙂

    Matt, you get too wound up about stuff and you make yourself crazy. Stop it. I did the same thing and you know what? My committee wasn’t out to get me like I thought they were. I don’t even think they read most of my thesis, which was more of a slap in the face than if they had verbally destroyed me. The lesson here: It takes a lot of time and energy to be that nasty, and those two things are what most professors don’t have. Most people, actually.

    Repeat: No one is out to destroy me. Every one wants to see me succeed. Serenity now. Serenity now.


    April 15, 2008 at 11:34 am

  5. Vindictive criticism is simply jealousy in drag. And you, my friend, are a straight man. You see through it, and rise above. I’m not worried about you at all. Not for a minute.


    April 15, 2008 at 11:35 am

  6. I was once called a “phone prostitute” by a total stranger and then almost got fired because I couldn’t stop giggiling about it. So I guess my advice to you is to not start giggling if any of the bastards calls you a phone prostitute. Also you should wear womens underwear and garters to help you focus. I think I saw that in a baseball movie once.

    Jenny, Bloggess

    April 15, 2008 at 1:29 pm

  7. Bring bagels. Or possibly doughnuts, or even cookies. Some kind of round food, basically. Very soothing.

    And remember that the American dissertation defense is merely an opportunity to show off a little during that very last pissing contest with your committee, not some kind of intensely conflictual, set-the-world-on-fire intellectual extravaganza of bedazzlement. Trust.

    You’re gonna do great.

    Dr. Ding

    April 15, 2008 at 2:57 pm

  8. Stop bodyslamming yourself.

    You rock.

    The only negative thing I can think of about you is that I didn’t meet you sooner. And that you bodyslam yourself too damn much. Oh and that you probably don’t like Fairground Attraction. Or puppies.

    Girl con Queso

    April 15, 2008 at 3:06 pm

  9. Name requested to be withheld:

    You can be an asshole without regard for another’s feelings. And then you can pretend to regard another’s feelings just for your own gain. You don’t eat properly. Your breath is awful. You can’t dance. You really need to tone down the drinking now that college is done. Sometimes I can hear you wanting to cry, but instead you laugh hysterically. Sometimes what you find funny is not funny at all. You should shave more regularly. Oh, and you’re a sometimes friend – when it’s convenient or you need a friend you’re there. When someone needs you, can we count on you?


    April 15, 2008 at 3:15 pm

  10. You latch onto jokes and use them far beyond when they’re dead. And then you influence other people to use them and together you resurrect them and then kill them again. I’m not sure where “FAIL” is in that cycle.

    You play with poo.

    You have too many people that feed your ego even when you specifically request the opposite.



    April 15, 2008 at 3:47 pm

  11. ok, ok, eff this shit. i can’t not weigh in now.

    i disagree with name withheld. you CAN dance. i’ve seen it and it’s fabulous.

    your breath is horrid at times. you need to shower more than once a week. and regardless of what people say, grad school is NOT college. 🙂

    And lastly, drop the unicorn schtick. it’s old. you had your 15 min. it’s over.

    of course these are all topical. and what’s MOST important is how you treat other people, and i love you to pieces for being an ALWAYS friend. not a sometimes one.

    p.s. your ego is the size of Alaska. (not baked)


    April 15, 2008 at 4:10 pm

  12. You remind me of a Jack Handy surrealist statement that leapt off the page and put on a value village designer suit. That might be good. It might not. Not sure, pot/kettle and such.

    Good luck on your defense tomorrow. I’ll be the one with the water canon in the back. Screaming out things like “I got your lamellar level right here jerk” and “van Bruegel didn’t know nothing I didn’t learn in grammar school!” and “my bi-cubic polyhedra scaffold can kick your cubic scaffolds ass and it only has two sides!” Stuff like that.

    Ed Schipul

    April 15, 2008 at 5:23 pm

  13. Like I said on Twitter today –

    Something to keep in mind at your thesis defense tomorrow. “ILLEGITIMI NON CARBORUNDUM” or Don’t let the bastards wear U down!

    But the real question is … Where is the after-party to this event ?

    Finally, retweeting myself again. had a great mini-article (is that a word?) on how if you ever want to take any aspect of your game and raise it up a notch, make it public. I think this post raises your game about 3 notches. More here:

    Good Luck! (although from the looks of things it looks like you won’t need it)


    Kurt Stoll

    April 15, 2008 at 5:43 pm

  14. I can’t think of anything negative to say, so clearly I don’t know you well enough. Monica’s first post made me cry a little bit though. I’m a sap.

    You shoot for the moon, but you forget to stop and give yourself a break sometimes it seems. Sleep more. Shower more. Enjoy life.

    Uhm, after tomorrow, that is.

    “My bi-cubic polyhedra scaffold can kick your cubic scaffolds ass and it only has two sides!” That totally cracks me up!


    April 15, 2008 at 5:45 pm

  15. Believe in yourself. I do. You have lived and breathed this task for the last 7 years, now is your time to shine.St. Michael is the patron saint of battle. I will say a paryer asking him to grant the victory you so deserve. Close your eyes, take a deep breath and dive in with your whole heart.

    Donna Danna

    April 15, 2008 at 7:47 pm

  16. Opps I meant Prayer.To many glasses of wine.

    Donna Danna

    April 15, 2008 at 7:50 pm

  17. you stand out, you shine
    in other words, you’ll do just fine.


    April 15, 2008 at 8:22 pm

  18. Enjoy the thick skin you are growing. I developed a layered skin in Grad school that I often forget others don’t have. Soft looking on the outside with a kevlar layered middle covering an insecure goo on the inside. Use it, you already have it if you are at the point of posting this. Tomorrow is one day. Not the culmination of 7 years. You have done the work and been tempered in the all-consuming flames of research. Done. Tomorrow is one day. Congrats on the 7 years. The one day of defense? Beh. You won’t remember it as much as all the little incongruous moments that got you there.

    Embrace your thick skin, use it, wear it proudly, and remember to treat those without the same gently and humbly. No huge stabs or insults here, just enjoy the day and take care of yourself better than when in Grad school.


    April 15, 2008 at 8:34 pm

  19. Name witheld:

    when i was a wee little undergrad and you were a towering early-year grad student, here is what i thought of you: looks like an jerk, has a don’t-mess-with-me persona, and damn his girlfriend is hot. (i vaguely recall you having a buzz cut. this did nothing to help your image in my young, feeble mind.)

    i’m so glad i ended up _____. you fucking rock. you’re the 21st century’s web-2.0 plugged-in venture-nut post-hippie answer to the renaissance man.

    you’re going to kick ass tomorrow at your defense. congratulations on finishing that monster of a thesis. i’m sure your presentation will be flawless (at least the slides, which no doubt will conform to your higher standards for design; i’m thinking three-to-one odds you don’t look totally caffeined out by presentation time).

    i’ll try to make it to show my support (space science 106 according to!) but i’ve got two experiments going and an undergrad to stop from screwing up, so i might be cutting it too close. if i’m not there, blow it out of the park for me. n.b.: i had no idea how fast defense-related gossip flies around campus. “so-and-so got reamed!” or “shit, it was so awkward to be sitting in that room.” let this not panic you. too much.

    on that note, good luck. and congratulations again.

    and like i said before, you fucking rock.


    April 15, 2008 at 11:49 pm

  20. what the fuck?

    let’s hear more about how he uses long words inappropriately in a misguided attempt to make people think he’s smarter than he really is!

    or about how he makes people (male and female) fall in love with him but has no idea what to do with it even though he is completely aware!

    i hate you guys.


    April 16, 2008 at 9:54 am

  21. I just met you once at Fayza’s party and I know that The Big Moment is probably over and done with by now, but I wish you the best of luck anyway. Surely well-wishes are retroactively effective even if they are from mostly random strangers.



    April 16, 2008 at 4:15 pm

  22. This probably isn’t exactly what you had in mind but this is what I can offer. Have you ever had a trial by fire like this before? I’m not in grad school (yet) but the idea of defending a dissertation looms before me like getting picked last for softball. Only not only are you picked last but also they insult your intellgence while throwing the balls at you.

    When I was in college debate we used to read our prepared speeches and then do rebuttals while our peers yelled insults at us from afar. You’re no one unless you’ve had a telling of “The Aristocrats” sneered at you while talking about foreign policy.

    I’d recommend doing something simliar. It’ll help, trust me.


    April 30, 2008 at 1:19 am

  23. Ok feel totally silly now that I realize this day has come and gone. Hope it went well.


    April 30, 2008 at 1:21 am

  24. I accidentally popped over here due to a @missrogue twitter. I have to say, that none of these comments seem like they are going to thicken your skin on account of them being so positive and constructive. The whole point about a thick skin is that it can be sliced only by criticism that you recognise to be true, yet you can do nothing about. So if I say you are a hairy mofo, it’s just comedy. If I say your thesis is the worst document every written by human hand, and is likely to land you in jail for being so pathetic, it’s still just comedy.

    The only people who can really cut you are those you know the best, and of course they won’t do it because they like you! As a writer and public speaker, I know that nothing said about my writing/speaking will ever bother me. And nor should comments like that bother you. The stuff that will matter comes from family and friends, and the more their comments sting, the more you should reflect on them.

    Paul Dettman

    June 1, 2008 at 8:40 am

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