1. Your laptop is dead. Charge it.
2. While it charges, make yourself a cup of coffee. On your way to the coffeemaker, trip over your husband’s laundry. Consider how long it’s been since your interests have aligned, since he’s read your work, since you’ve trusted his promises that he really reads the articles you tag him in on Facebook. It’s his fault that you haven’t started your dissertation. The morning is gone, and the coffeemaker is broken. Go out for coffee.
3. The barista has kind eyes and is hiding a Miranda July book beneath the counter. Begin an affair with her. Its slow descent into toxic codependency will take at least four months. The divorce settlement will take longer.
4. After the barista throws you out for killing your shared fern, think about loneliness. Think about proving that you are not a destroyer of things. A destroyer of things cannot complete their dissertation. Adopt a very unlucky cat. If you commit to finding one with only one ear, this can take at least eight months.
5. When you realize you’re using the cat to fulfill your narcissistic savior complex, attempt to find a psychotherapist. Before you can begin your dissertation, you need to resolve your emotional issues.
5a. The first will tell you that clean eating will resolve your depressive tendencies.
5b. The second will fixate on the way you sit, which is really just because your parents never chided you on your posture. “So they were neglectful,” she will conclude, gleam-eyed.
5c. The third will abuse his position by attempting to seduce you. Let him. Procreate with him. By all accounts, this will take at least nine months.
6. When you break up, attempt to find a new psychotherapist. Repeat steps 5a and 5b. 5c is overkill.
7. When you are awarded primary custody in the lengthy custody battle, read about radical parenting approaches to ease your as-yet unresolved childhood issues (since you never did find an appropriate therapist). Buy a van. Travel the country. Create a signature hashtag about the travels you take with your child. Your Instagram following will blow up. So will your blog. You’re inspired. You’re ready to write your dissertation.
8. Your laptop is dead. Charge it.