The Worst Dream Ever

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.”



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Enjoying it a little bit longer

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.

Thank you, thank you, thank you!


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Fashion Sense?

Somehow or another, the Dean’s Office accepted my request for defense.  It’s been a week since the papers were delivered. Without the email equivalent of a Hogwart School Howler appearing in my Inbox, I am left with the assumption that this is actually happening.  I’m defending my dissertation on the 15th*.

All in all, I feel pretty good about it.  I’m ready.  Today, I washed my face with shampoo.  This sort of scatter-brained behavior can only be a positive sign of my fitness for academic life.

Still, I’m nervous because I want to look sharp.  Something that comes across neat and clean, but not too pretentious or flashy for our 9am presentation.  Suits are really out for me (they never fit right) so I’m left looking for some sort of outfit that makes me seem like a suitable Wonder Woman – Mother – International Professional – (hopeful) PhD in a creative, modern manner.

In short, I’m hoping to avoid the mid-presentation discovery that I’ve tucked my skirt into my underwear… but in the event this does happen (because I’m trying to face the truth that this is a very real possibility) I’m hoping that the outfit is sharp enough that I can recover a little bit of dignity.

Thanks to the shopping help of a friend, I brought home this plain shirt dress (which, FYI, is on sale at Macy’s):

What do you think?  Does it work?

Here’s an unflattering picture of me in it, holding up the shoulders because it needs to be taken in a bit (yes: I’m short).

The photo is compliments of Will and my phone:

But here’s the question: how do I dress this up?

Links to suggested looks: accessories, jewelry, shoes, make-up, whatever.  All are appreciated.



*Well.  As long as the storm-formally-known-as-Gaston manages to stay out of the Gulf.


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The ex-hippie indigenous studies teacher I had in my first term of college gave me the single best advice I’ve ever heard:

“Don’t worry about what you should do,” he told me as I fretted over what I was going to do with my life, “work hard at what you like and doors will open for you.”

At the time, it was what I needed to hear to calm me down and focus on just getting through college.  Now I look back at that advice as a reminder to be open and flexible.  Life isn’t about getting to an end point.  It’s about the process.  So I’ve put faith in the process — of doing what feels right.  It has meant taking risks, walking away from sure-things  in favor of the unknown, and sometimes just doing whatever it is that makes the least amount of sense.

Eight days ago, I was finishing teaching class when an opportunity fell from the sky and landed smack-dab on my head.

Even if I had been paying attention, I don’t think I would have seen it coming.  It means a lot of changes (and short-term, a lot more to balance) but opens up seemingly endless possibilities for incredible projects and work opportunities.  The door was open.  There was no way to say no.


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Soundbite Favorites

I’ve heard that PhDs are granted approval to graduate once their committees are satisfied that all love, inspiration, and idealism for their field of study is beaten out of them.  Largely, I find this to be true, which is why I’ve found so much enjoyment out of the job holding the largest portion of my part-time work pie.

I am program director for a small nonprofit in New Orleans where I get the pleasure of supervising and mentoring roughly a dozen graduate students who dream up, design, and implement service projects in underserved communities.  Simply put, they rock.  Yesterday, we had over 20 interviews to narrow down our finalists to the dozen we decided we could take for the next Fellowship cycle.  Of the ones I co-conducted, these are some sound-bites that inspired me (or made me laugh).

— “I had never really thought about Tulane for Medical School.  Then, as I was reading about different Medical Schools in the AMA guide, Tulane was the ONLY Medical school program that distinctly and specifically says it is focused on training physicians within a community health model, and requires community service from all Medical students.  That is when I knew it was the only school I wanted to attend.”

— “I’ve lived my whole life in California and never thought I would leave.  Then I visited New Orleans… and I was blown away.  I guess the rest of the country has no idea, because I had no idea… I had no idea how great life here was…”

— “I was worried.  I mean, it’s the SOUTH.  But wow, I mean, it wasn’t so bad after all!”

— “Everyone here is SO HAPPY.  I mean, was it like this before Katrina, too, or is it all that medication people talk about?”

Life in New Orleans

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