The dream was too real, too possible, too totally and completely EXACTLY the kind of thing that would happen to me.
So, I panicked.
Although the building was quiet, it still felt exposed. I closed the door as soon as I got into the office. She answered the phone on the first ring.
“No, no,” I tried to explain, “I turned the papers in months ago. In October. Mid-October.”
“Well, you’re probably okay. Are you on the list?”
“What list?” Now I’m really panicking. “I turned in the final copy for binding and filled out the paperwork…” The last part came out fast as my voice started to rise in pitch. “…I put it on the desk at the registrar’s office. I paid the final semester fees. Did I miss something?”
“Let me check.”
Wait. Wait. WaitWaitWait.
I start to make nervous jokes. “It’s just that, you know, it seemed so EASY… I just woke up this morning panicked, thinking I’d missed something. There was this dream I had and it…”
“Oh, I see it. You’re right here. PhD, right?”
“Yes! PhD! That’s ME!”
“In the first day of the New Year, your transcript will be ready and it will be official.”
“For sure? You’re SURE? For REAL?”
“Yes. I promise. You’ll officially be a PhD, and can request a transcript to prove it.”
I took this photograph outside the paper factory we toured near the city of Jaipur, in Rajasthan, India. Child labor, though certainly outlawed in the world’s largest democracy, is still a reality — ashas beenpointedout in the post-Commonwealth Games scandals.
Still, I was perplexed by this sign. Is it a reminder for others not to put children to work in factories? Is it a symbol of a reformed factory, one that used to use children but has now fixed its ways? Is it a legal announcement, required for this type of business?
And for the record: in our small sample of places we entered unannounced, there were certainly no children of any sort working or otherwise on the premises.
The Just Posts for a Just World are a joint effort between Alejna and me — together, and with your nominations, we try to find posts on personal blogs about relevant social issues. Regular people thinking about important stuff. Ways we can inspire each other to think, do, and be all that we want to see in the world. Click for more information about the JPs here.
Thank you thank you thank you and thank you for your support of the Just Posts.
I told myself I would get my revisions done RIGHT AWAY. Maybe even the very day I defended.
But I did enjoy a Second Line of friends that showed up at the house the night I defended, playing a variety of musical instruments and singing “P-H-D! P-H-D!” All the way down the street to our neighborhood watering hole.
I was definitely distracted the morning of my defense. So much so, that I didn’t notice the Iphone camera was on “video” and not “photo” — hence the ridiculousness in my attempts to document my outfit.
See what I mean? (Don’t blink!)
I also wore shoes. (They are cute, though I did rub some skin off a toe on my right foot.)
For accessories, my glamorous jewelry designer friend, Georgia, came by with a box filled with hand-made, one-of-a-kind pieces. It was her personally designed collection of most favorite sets.
I’m calling a design trend: a Georgia-designed jewelry set is the key to dissertation success! (Movie stars, take note!)
In the end, I wore a set of her silvery pearls: a double strand necklace and simple, dangling earrings. Though I rarely wear bracelets, I could not resist one which bore a quotation: “Nothing is worth more than this day.” When I asked her about it, she told me that it quoted Goethe (natch to G: stylish, thoughtful, and readily quotes German philosophers!)
The bracelet is seen in the mirror at Galatoire’s, when I took photos of my bloody arm.
Between you and me? There was one more detail of my outfit that made a big difference. UNDERGARMENTS.
Of COURSE I wore Spanx. I’m not a heathen, forgoodnesssake. But brassieres? Well, it’s been years and years of asking recommendations, measuring and estimating sizes, trying and retrying… with a small fortune invested in wires, straps, and molded cups that don’t seem quite right. Enough was enough.
So, the day before the defense, I went to Basics Underneath. A shop roughly 200 steps from my front door that I had never before visited. If there is ever a reason to shop local, good gracious: LET THIS BE IT.
Because all that measuring?! Meaningless! Bra fitting is the sort of thing that requires at least two other women grabbing, twisting, and juggling you — showing where straps should sit, pointing out what flesh goes in what places, and discussing the finer points of cup shape and hook positioning. Sure, you CAN measure. I measure 36D. In the past few years, I’ve worn 36D, 36C, 38D, and 38C off and on in different styles, based on those measures.
But it turns out I’m actually a 32DDD. Also called 32F.
It’s a big difference. I’ll illustrate.
This is me, in a picture of the defense dress on the day I bought it. I was wearing a bra I would have, at the time, called “very supportive and well-fitted.”
And here I am, in a still photo taken out of the video Will took on the morning of the defense. See how I have a waist?
So what did I learn from my defense? That all women need bra fittings. Just like it took me 6 years to finish the PhD, it took me more than 6 years to walk 2 blocks to learn how to wear a proper brassiere. (The bra one is the embarrassing number.)
Right before I started speaking, I brushed up against the edge of the podium, opening up my arm to bleed freely during the presentation. How’s that for sacrificial symbolism?
The defense itself went fine; I was exactly on time (20 minutes) with no major embarrassments in anything I said or did (except, of course, for the whole blood thing). My dress was not tucked into my underwear. Phew.
The questions were not unlike what I had predicted to Paul the night before, when he pleasantly listened to my presentation AND (this is a big, important and) suffered through my thought process about what I’d left out of the presentation (what I’d set UP for questions) and what questions I was expecting.
Yes, these things are really thought out.
So, I answered questions and listened to discussion, and took some notes. The things you’d expect. There were no big surprises and parts of the discussion were really fun, in that academic-geeky-love-research sort of way.
I was asked to leave for “deliberation” and spent about 3 minutes in the hallway where everyone asked why the cat had mauled me that morning and left me bleeding openly through my defense (now they know the evils of the podium). After a few minutes of people saying good job, my committee chair came out to say, “Congratulations, Doctor!” and invite me back in.
“We were having a really great conversation, Holly, and we wanted you to join in.”
Hearing this is much better than, “We’re bringing you back in to talk about the extensive revisions we feel you need to do.”
In short, I have to add a table to my dissertation before turning it into the Dean for binding and copy-writing. That’s REALLY NOT BAD. In the scope of things they could have asked me to do, this is sort of the academic equivalent of coloring in the picture before turning it in.
One would think that I’m filled with relief, and it’s true that it feels wonderful to be through this, though I’m really not sure yet. Maybe it just takes a few days to sink in.
Alejna and I administer the Just Posts each month, collecting posts by regular folks on issues related to social welfare, human rights, and other globally-focused, people-oriented topics. Anyone can participate by writing and nominating relevant pieces. Thank you for your support and contributions to the Just Posts!
You know the story, right? International health... work all over the place... drag my kids around in sacks through villages in Central America... yadda yadda. I decided to go for another degree, so in 2004 we moved to New Orleans with no intention of staying.
And then *blink*blink* New Orleans is a completely different place and we just can't leave. Suddenly I'm on TV talking about immigrants and health and Paul is starting a company. Or two. His side is high-tech, mine is community health and our lives are yearly evacuation, regular celebrations, and nonstop work here, there, and everywhere. Our door is always open. I only ask that if you decide to go ahead and make yourself that mint julep, you make one for me, too.