Here’s something I never thought I’d say: my dissertation defense was a very low-key, positive experience with cookies. Good cookies, too: I think they were Samoas. That part was especially nice because I hadn’t been able to eat much over the last day or two, and I had slept about 3 of the last 48 hours. Having had various aspects of this program forcibly imprinted on my colon, I was pretty nervous, and more than a little concerned that I might puke in the trashcan, or worse, on my committee chair’s shoes. Instead of colon punishment, though: cookies. Given the choice, I’d take cookies every time.
Also, when you show up in anticipation of having a horrible, lubeless experience (albeit a necessary one for attaining your larger goals), and somebody’s put nice cookies out on the table, and made a pot of coffee and stuff, it makes you feel like probably nothing bad is going to happen. (Cardinal Biggles! Bring out… the comfy chair!) I mean, when Paulie Walnuts is going to lay waste to your patella with a baseball bat, he doesn’t run out and get some Samoas first so he can put out a nice plate. On the other hand, that would be a pretty good strategy.
Basically, I got to talk about my work with interested scholars for a couple of hours and eat cookies. It was like being a featured guest on Book Notes: IR Theory Weenie Edition. I didn’t think their questions were easy, but most of them were things I had thought about, and none of them were things I couldn’t answer. They were interesting, curious questions that I actually wanted to answer. They weren’t trick questions, or mean pretend-questions that were actually just veiled digs at me or faculty members they were mad at or anything. They were actually kind of, well, flattering. Also, the folks involved were all really nice and encouraging and fun to talk to — it made me wish I had had them all along for the ride from the beginning. Then, they sent me out of the room with a cookie, deliberated about my awesomeness, and congratulated me when I came back in and actually hugged me and stuff. No going medieval on my ass or anything.
So that was all very happy and surreal, and then I had to run off really fast to go teach for three and a half hours. It’s a special topics class about my work, too, so I then got to go talk to more people who were interested in what I’d been working on all this time, and were in fact even paying to hear about it (not to mention expressing cool ideas about it), which was even MORE happy and surreal. Then, when I got home, the whole lack of food and sleep thing caught up with me, so we went out to a diner. I got an omelette that came with toast, and the waitress brought out: mixed fruit jelly. I really like those little square blister-packs of mixed fruit jelly when I go out to a diner and have toast. I couldn’t really tell you why — it might just be the novelty. Anyway, it was at this point where I wondered if I wasn’t really somewhere in an alley dying of multiple gunshot wounds and just having an “Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” kind of experience. It was the mixed fruit jelly that tipped me off. It was just too much, you know? Even though I became aware of it, though, I didn’t snap back into the blood-soaked alley, so maybe I was just having a string of really pleasant experiences.
Then I went home and went to bed, and Petra gave me lots of pillow cuddles. Then I woke up this morning and a bunch of other people confirmed that all that happy stuff had actually happened. Yes, Phillip said, I really did get mixed fruit jelly. He took the day off today so we could drink and/or go to the zoo. I think we should just go nuts and maybe take in an Imax movie, too.
Basically, it isn’t sinking in just yet. My recently-graduated buddies tell me that takes a few days.