March 26, 2010

Completion

Today felt longer than it really was.  I got up at a reasonable time (9:45), finished a paper, then worked on what I was going to say for my thesis defense.

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.  

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