I got dressed in snazzy clothes (med school interview attire), put on some makeup. I went to look for my closed-toe shoes, the low slingback heels that give me blisters on the tops of my 3rd and 4th toes but look professional, and of course I couldn't find them to save my life.
A few minutes in, and I was on my knees at the foot of my closet door, hurling items from the closet floor out into the middle of my room. No shoes. I found flip-flops in several colors, yellow summery shoes, warm fuzzy boots, and brown prom heels, as well as odds and ends and a pillow and papers and other debris. No sensible shoes. I switched to under the bed, where I found fuzzy indoor-outdoor slippers, more flip-flops in different colors, one of those spa-type sleeping masks to block out the light, endless pages of music arrangements. No sensible shoes. I settled on the bargain, shiny sandals I got last August, black with shiny bits on the straps.
Outside, it was fifty degrees and raining, plus the wind was blowing really hard in every direction. Sandals were not a good choice.
In the printing lab, someone was printing out literally a book, probably a hundred pages of nonsense. I was going to be late for my appointment with my fiction teacher. I tapped my fingers on the counter, my toe on the carpet, my umbrella against the desk. Finally: my document was queuing up, printing (a thesis is long in and of itself, 73 pages all said and done).
After my meeting, in my seminar class, I struggled to pay attention. Nerves were making it hard to draw a breath, my chest felt close and I wanted to breathe in deeply but it was definitely too hard to do.
I left early to get to the Romance Languages office early. The door was locked, all of Ridgley empty--there was a conference going on, everyone was there. I paced up and down the third floor hallway, practicing my opening statement like a lawyer about to close a murder trial. It felt like extemp in debate tournaments but way more important and like I was way less prepared for what awaited me.
Just looking at Prof. M was reassuring: he literally looks like a stuffed teddy bear, round and jocose with short whitish hair on top and cheerful eyes. Mme S was more imposing than normal; I had forgotten how smartly she dresses all the time (in her class last year, I used to always feel particularly sloppy, dressed in jeans or god forbid, sweatpants).
It was surprisingly nice. For une soutenance I feel like I talked very little. My three readers asked me questions, certainly, but often it seemed to be more a discussion among themselves than questions directed at me. Mme W came to my rescue often, I was afraid, but she told me afterwards, "Tu as bien débrouillé, tu as bien soutenu ta thèse." And then it was over, and we shook hands, and Mme W et moi, nous nous avons fait la bise.
I felt a little lost in Whispers, grabbing a salad (orzo with black beans--kind of icky) and a cafe au lait and going back to Ridgley to set up for cine-club and "La Haine", which was a pleasant distraction and surprisingly well-attended.
Finished. It is finished. I can't believe it. I sort of want to cry (from relief?) but also I'm just tired and I feel a little empty.