Tuesday, January 03, 2006

I passed!!!!!!

Dear ever-patient blog readers:

I hope that you have all been way too occupied by your own holiday activities to be worried about my silence regarding my 12/15 defense, but the short story is: I passed! This radio silence over the past few weeks has been due to frantic grading, holiday craziness, other factors, and now, a horrible cold... but I'm finally feeling coherent enough to put some words together. Rather than one terribly long post, I'll try for a few posts over the next week.

So, onward to the defense! As my friend reminded me beforehand: all you have to do is get a C. And he's right. So the most important thing is that I passed without revisions. I'm not going to officially graduate until May '06, so I've got months and months to work on a few typographical things, fix a few ornery items in the bibliography, and contend with our new electronic submission requirement (read: nightmare).

But perhaps that description makes it sound worse than it was -- in my mind, all I cared about was passing and I had no higher expectations for my performance. But in reality, I think it went really well. Due to end-of-semester schedules, there were no spectators. (fine with me!) So it became an engaged and private discussion between me and my committee members for two hours. I received many nice compliments from my committee when it was over -- and they had even brought champagne with them!

But I realized later that a defense (if it goes well) is really a strange animal. Theoretically, everyone has already decided to pass you and the conversation should be about what happens in the next phase, i.e. what you should do as you turn this into a book. And that was certainly the tone of my defense. But... if you think about it, that's a really strange situation. Rather than talking for two hours about what you did do, it becomes a conversation about what you did not do. So instead of talking about my area of expertise (my dissertation) the conversation mostly contained my ill-informed speculating about what I might find if I did X research, and what I thought might happen if I focused on Y area of theory, or if I had taken the project in Z direction. Very strange, but also a situation in which I felt comfortable saying numerous times, "Well, I don't know, but that's certainly an interesting idea!"

Perhaps my biggest worry was my one committee member who is More Theoretical Than Thou -- but this did not present a huge problem. He was on a speaker phone since he has moved to another university in the meantime. And while I probably didn't understand most of his questions, I managed to come up with something (my motto: If I'm talking, they can't be asking more questions). So my babbling, combined with a judicious use of "Well, I don't know, but that's certainly an interesting question," seemed sufficient.

Now for the tragi-comic relief: You're probably all imagining me conducting this defense in my most favorite Professional Outfit -- a camel-colored silk jacket over black pants and a black shirt, heels, and my grandmother's necklace. Ah, if only that were the case! Northwest Airlines (yes, this is my bad karma for crossing a picket line, but flying to my Home University presents few other options) failed to deliver our luggage for more than 48 HOURS. TWO DAYS LATE. Since I had to bring my dissertation and all related papers (articles to read, notes, thoughts, etc.), my laptop, and all my exams to grade, our carry-on items were full. So we erred and checked more items than we normally would. So we were without a change of clothes, without our toiletries, prescriptions, etc. Total bummer.

I knew from the flight schedule that there was no way the luggage would arrive before my defense the following day. Thankfully we were staying with a friend who was able to provide toiletries and sweatpants and other items of comfort. I had some hopes of borrowing some professional clothes, but discovered that my shoe size was at least one size off! So basically that meant I was stuck with the hiking boots I wore on the plane. And if you can't change your shoes, there's no need to try to borrow a skirt or something. I did borrow a sweater and blazer, but below the blazer I wore my remaining clothes: jeans, hiking boots... and inside-out underwear! Not quite the professional impression I wanted to convey.

So where was our luggage?? We figured the luggage was just sitting in Detroit (or Day-twoi, or Detroilet) waiting for the next flight. Well, two days later, our hostess answered a call from Northwest. Northwest told her they had "found" our luggage. My thought: we didn't know it was lost! The Northwest worker told our friend (while giggling. I kid you not.) that the luggage had been sent to Another City With a Similar Name, since (giggling), "The airport code is only one letter off!" We were not amused.

But even this incredibly frustrating event was a good lesson in finding something to be thankful for: the luggage was originally delayed by a winter storm, so we were simply thankful that we had made it -- we could likely have been stuck in Detroit for two days and I would have missed my own defense.

So, in the end, all that matters is that I passed!


At 1:47 PM, Anonymous slantedtruth said...

what a wonderful if harrowing experience!
i have to finish my diss in the next 7 months and hope that at the end of it i have as happy a tale to report.

At 2:39 PM, Blogger RageyOne said...


At 4:39 PM, Blogger Overread said...

Woohoo! I think it was the inside out underwear that did it. I'm going to wear my underwear inside-out on important occasions from now on.


At 7:50 PM, Blogger Kristiface said...

Congrats. TMI, but congratulations anyway ;) !!!!

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Dr. Mon said...

Congrats Dr. Histgrad!!

At 9:48 AM, Anonymous New Kid on the Hallway said...

Belatedly - congratulations!! Way to go, Dr. Histgrad!

At 7:36 PM, Blogger academic coach said...

Kudos and Congrats.
And NO REVISIONS - yeeehahh!

At 1:14 PM, Blogger jo(e) said...


At 12:00 AM, Blogger BrightStar said...


At 1:06 PM, Blogger Porkorama said...

Well, I wore my 'Sunday best' and my defense was pretty sucky, so I'm going with your accidental method from now on!

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