You've seen those cartoons where something starts rolling down a snowy hill, right? It starts off slowly, then as it picks up snow it move faster and faster.
That's what my dissertation experience is like. For a long time, things were moving slowly. Selecting dissertation sites took a long time, because I had to contact very busy people. Then the IRB process went reasonably quickly - well, quickly given that I was doing it around the holidays. This week I began contacting my research sites to set up interviews, and all of a sudden I've gained a great deal of speed. One interview has been tentatively set for Jan. 29, although it looks like we may move it back a little.
I'm actually contemplating graduating in May, which is a little aggressive. At Vanderbilt, in order to participate in the ceremony, everything must be turned in and done by the end of March. My impression is that at most schools, you have a longer window, and you might be able to walk if everything was turned in but you technically have a later graduation date. Anyway, May might not be doable, but August certainly is.*
I just hope that when I come to a sudden stop at the bottom of the hill, the snowball doesn't fall apart.
* Barring the unforeseen. I could be beamed up by aliens or fall into a coma, you never know. I don't want to get over-confident and anger our alien overlords.