Saturday, May 29, 2010


We flew to my grad school town on Thursday. This picture was taken on the plane.

This is what the flight attendant saw, and yet still she asked me, "Do you have any trash you want to get rid of sir?" And no, she wasn't talking about Pocket of Bolts, because when I looked up she got flustered and said, "I mean, ma'am." I think it's hopeless.

We picked up a rental car (which had awesome satellite radio!) and drove down to just outside of grad school town where we had Pricelined a very basic motel room. It was clean and cute, though. Dinner at Ruby Tuesday's, where I had steak and lobster because, why not?

And then I spent some time very reluctantly working on my "dissertation spiel." Everyone says that defenses start with the defender talking for a bit, so I had to be ready. I decided against trying to memorize. I have to go either all extemporaneous or talk from notes. And under that much stress, I figure they'd rather have to forgive me for using notes than for floundering around and getting tongue-tied.

We woke up early and went to breakfast at what used to be our favorite diner back when we lived there. Here's me looking pretty stressed out and fragile!

Better with sunglasses, I think!

Just post-defense, when I'd been told that I would pass. Off to the left, the champagne is being poured. Everyone is moving and I am still. Pocket of Bolts didn't quite feel comfortable to use the flash!

The defense was fine, I should add. The 'questions' were mostly of the form, "When you turn this into a book, you might consider adding a section about..." There was also some really interesting discussion. I did not feel under-prepared, though I didn't prepare much! I felt nervous and tense but in an alert way.

Also, many of my younger classmates were there. Here is a reunion-type class-photo. We have one beloved picture of us all together in this professor's class, and whenever any of us are together we try to retake some form of that picture. This is the closest we have had to a full reunion as yet, I think, and one person is still missing (currently in Taiwan), hence the black and white headshot.

Afterwards, my adviser and another member of the committee took me and Pocket of Bolts out to a very fancy lunch, at a restaurant neither PoB nor I had ever been able to afford eating at when we actually lived there. They were really kind to me. It felt like a rite of passage thing, like a switch had been made between treating me like a grad student and treating me like a junior colleague. There was much discussion about the book project, next career moves, and so forth. Very old boyish in a way, but not a gendered way--if that makes any sense!

Then, there was a lot of paperwork to take care of. Pocket of Bolts was an amazing husband dashing hither and thither to produce massive quantities of cash, blank CDs, and brute strength. (The four bound volumes had to be hand-carried over to the archive...!)

Then there was a bar, and post-bar drinking, and this marvelous picture was taken somewhere in there. This is the grad student lounge in Pocket of Bolts' department where he and I hung out for the first time, when he had just started his dissertation and mine was barely a twinkle in my eye. But in this picture, we are both "Doctors"! (Only one of us is drunk, though.)

Zapaper: You and my dissertation have been in my life for exactly the same length of time.
PoB: But I'm still here and the dissertation is gone. I WIN!!!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

A New Five Year Plan

Almost exactly five years ago, I defended my dissertation prospectus. This morning, I sent the completed document to the bindery. Defense is in two weeks.

And now it seems like it's time for a new five year plan. The last five years were... pretty interesting, but--yeah. Time for something new.

It's amazing what mixed feelings I have, but most of them are positive. (I already discovered the first of the typos, but I am trying to put that out of my mind.) Now I can read novels, and work on other projects, and write long helpful e-mails to people who are barely acquaintances, and generally breathe a bit.

Above/left are some peonies that Pocket of Bolts got for me. I painted them to relieve my mixed feelings.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Sleep Talk

One of us was asleep during this conversation. See if you can figure out which one.

Pocket of Bolts: ...And the oil spill.
Zapaper: What?
POB: That’s what we’ve been talking about the entire time.
Z: But we haven’t talked about that all day.
POB: But it’s all about the Gulf. The oil spill in the Gulf.
Z: The Gulf of Mexico.
POB: Of course the Gulf of Mexico. What are you some kind of racist?
Z: Just making sure you were clear.
POB: I’m clear about tacos and burritos and--...If only someone would figure out what drinks they were serving at the conference and then everyone could just put them in a blender.
Z: What conference?
POB: It’s just a general rule for conferences.
Z: What is?
POB: Everyone says, this paper would be so much more interesting if we weren’t drunk.
Z: No one EVER says that at conferences.
POB: Ssshhhh.
Z: What happens after the conference?
POB: The giraffe goes home.
Z: Where does he go home to?
POB: Bluh bluh Park.
Z: Wicker Park?
POB: No-—Lincoln Park. He’s not a hipster giraffe with big sunglasses and short skirts.
Z: Clearly not. Was the giraffe at the conference?
POB: Let me tell you about the conference.
Z: Please do.
POB: There was an explosion of creative energy, and someone put it in their paper. Bluh bluh bluh bluh.

(For fun I have included a photo I took of a non-hipster giraffe that lives in Lincoln Park.)

Monday, May 10, 2010

Long Time No Blog

Sorry to have dropped out of sight. It's been a hell of a semester. I just submitted final grades today. As in, just now. I procrastinated it all day.

Pocket of Bolts: Z, why are you procrastinating putting in your final grades? You finished calculating them all this morning, didn't you?
Zapaper: Yeah.
PoB: Then why don't you just put them in?
Z: ...
PoB: You know, even after you put them in, you can still change them until five o'clock tomorrow.
Z: ...I can?
PoB: I thought that might be what you were worried about.
Z: ...Maybe.

Of course, I had to deal with my very first crying student today. If *only* I would make an exception, he wouldn't get kicked out of school! I held firm but it was very hard to do. Pocket of Bolts says, "Any given student like that thinks they have special extraordinary circumstances. But actually, they *all* have extraordinary circumstances in their lives. Most of them deal with it. Some of them fail. No doubt if you made special exceptions for all the ones that failed, they could almost all avoid failing. But it wouldn't be fair to anyone." I know this is right, and I was annoyed to be made to feel so guilty for ruining someone's life. (I mean, of course he ruined his own life... and only some small part of it too...) But that doesn't mean I didn't feel guilty.

Another amusing thing that happened today was that a water main flooded. I arrived at campus to be greeted with an interesting new lake where there used to be a sidewalk.

I will try to post more.