Tuesday, May 29, 2012

the terminal bug

A little deviation from grad school and cats for today. (What does a grad school blogger write about when grad school is finished? Hmmm.)

Do you see what's in my garage? Hiding in the corner?


The title is a bit of a pun of a few levels.

Terminal = PhD (your terminal degree), and its also used to refer to incurable/for life medical issues.
Bug = sickness. It also is the common name for the car I was given for graduation.

The thing about bugs is, if you catch the 'sickness'... or the 'addiction' to them... you can't ever shake it. I owned a '73 VW bug from 1998 - 2005.

(Me, age 15. About to contract the sickness.)

I sold it for practical reasons (moved to ND for grad school, didn't have money or time, needed reliable vehicle capable of towing, etc). I went in to 'remission' for my 'bug addiction' but never got rid of my VW stuff (books, toys, pictures, etc).

Rewind to the week before my defense. I kinda wanted a new car for graduation; husband kept saying he'd like to get me one. Love my Civic, but it's so.... boring... and I like cars too much to drive a boring one. But I really didn't need a new car, and once I figured out that I was trying to fill a VW-shaped hole in my life with a new BMW or Acura, the choice was easy. I knew exactly what I wanted for graduation! Off to the classifieds I went. Not the newspaper or AutoTrader though: the special classifieds, the ones where people who know, go, when they want to buy or sell these vehicles.

I found a couple of them I liked, but almost overlooked this one because it looked a little rough. Once I learned more about it though, I knew it was THE car for me. I'm the kind of person who likes to know a car's entire history: where it's been, who owned it, its life story, basically. I want to know it was taken care of. And having been in this realm before, I knew what kinds of wear and tear were OK, and what would raise a red flag. And I'd rather have an original car that needs work, than one someone else (or several someones) have worked on and done who-knows-what to them.

I won't bore you with too many technical details, but here's what I ended up with.

(Here I am picking it up. I got it the week before graduation.)

A 1963 VW Beetle with 47,000 original miles. Been in storage in Minnesota for about 34 years; was driven in California before that. The second owner bought it to restore himself but didn't get around to it. I am the third owner. I got a ton of cool papers with it, some of them in German because that's where it was bought and driven for its first few months (the original owner was in the military). It is rust free in all of the places that matter. The paint is rough in places, but mostly original. The interior too. I had a lot of work done on it right off the bat to get it road ready. (Sitting so long, basically any rubber or plastic tube or seal was dried out or rotted.) I'll work on the "cosmetics" over time.

Still, it shined up pretty nicely with some soap, wax, polish, and elbow-grease.

The inside, too, is now much more comfortable, with a good scrubbing and a couple of "band-aids" in the form of t-shirts, Ikea seat cushions, and gorilla tape...



So in addition to the "how's it feel" question, the second most common question I get now that I'm done with my degree is "what will you do with all your free time?" Well, there's my answer.

The bug's name is Darrel.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

me, ph.d.

Well folks, I am officially a Doctor, and the question I keep getting is:

"How does it feel?"

The answer is that so far, I don't feel any different. I even feel pretty embarrassed when people refer to me that way. "Who me? Nawwww."

Graduation was last weekend - the day before Mother's Day. (If you follow me on Twitter, you'd have seen at least one picture of me in my graduation garb.) My parents and grandparents came to town for a few days from out of state, which was nice.

So first of all: the graduation. It was very very long. As in, I was in line a bit after noon. We were marched in and seated at 1:30. We were finally marched out at about 4:20. Told you: long. And there was no break, so it's a good thing I didn't have to go to the bathroom... too badly. One thing that helped pass the time and make a nearly intolerable situation slightly less intolerable, was that my advisor and I got to sit together. (So I did not have to sit alphabetically with other grad students I didn't know.)

My husband took that picture above from very, very far away. Like 200+ yards, I think. I'm impressed.

I barely remember the actual hooding. I just kept telling myself not to trip and fall or do anything stupid. They told us not to hug our advisors (takes too long), but I did it anyway. (What were they going to do, tell me to quit it?!) I also received my actual degree on the stage, not a stand-in dummy degree like you get for a master's or a bachelor's degree.

After graduation, we had a BBQ at our house and a lot of family and friends came--a really lovely evening. The weather was perfect. Plus, I got to show off my graduation gift from husband (and me) to me! You perhaps saw glimpses of it if you're a Twitter/Instagram follower (seriously, all the day-to-day stuff is on Twitter!). I'll put up another post specifically about it soon.

You possibly noticed also, I got a haircut a few weeks ago. I don't normally get major haircuts for big events, but this one was special because I had been growing out my hair since I started my PhD. Now, it looks more like it looked around the time of my wedding. I plan to go a bit shorter, but didn't want to risk looking like a boy in my tam at graduation, so I will make another hair appointment soon.

That's all for now. Starting to enjoy summer, and starting to realize that my dissertation is actually done, for real.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

go go go

This past week has been a continuing process of filling out forms, turning in forms, filling out surveys, and so on. Finally on Friday, I turned in my actual dissertation to the college. It is really really done now, out of my hands, case closed. So that has to make a gal feel good.

Unfortunately I had a bit of disappointment yesterday too: I am getting this great graduation gift and I thought it would be delivered tomorrow, but there has been a hold up. Now I'm trying to rearrange my schedule and figure out a different time to take delivery. (The next few weeks are packed with relatives visiting, graduation events, etc.) Oh well, a minor blip. But still sad. Meanwhile, I have a HUGE to-do list of things that need to get done before company arrives next week.

Happy times though, really. Happy times!