Saturday, August 4, 2007

In the Crease

The defense was two days ago, but I kind of feel like it's still happening. Like I'm having 'Nam flashbacks or something. Weird.

First odd thing that happened: one of the managers at Halpern Center asked me if I could sign for the room. She knew that I was the graduate student defending his dissertation, but she still wanted me to do paperwork.

Second odd thing that happened: the same woman asked me if I could help her move some boxes. This was entirely unrelated--there just happened to be some boxes, and since I was a guy and I was standing there she asked if I could move them. I wanted to scream: "Lady, I kind of have other things on my mind right now!" But I'm a good boy, so I helped.

There were several times I thought I might throw up. Before, during, and after. Do you automatically fail if you barf on the external examiner? Nobody clarified that rule.

The examiner in question, a brilliant professor who specialized in feminist science-fiction studies, grilled me with questions about my methodology for nearly 45 minutes. After that, the secondary external, a brilliant and queer sociologist (who I'm totally in love with), asked me some great questions along the same lines. I may have blacked out at this point. She excused herself to go the washroom, and we had an early break. At this point--an hour into the defense--we should have gotten through five separate rounds of questions, not including the audience, but we'd only gotten through two. I realized that we were going to go over-time, and all I could think about was how amazing it would be to have lunch.

The 'sort of second/sort of first' round resumed, and my third reader asked a great question about lovesickness and eros. Then my second reader asked about the relationship between 'queer' and 'lgbt' in my work, which was totally fair, and I knew she was going to ask. Finally, my supervisor very gently asked about kinship and sexuality, which we'd talked about at length many times, so he knew I'd be able to answer--bless his heart.

After that, I fielded a few questions from the audience, including a tough one about class and agency from another brilliant Victorian prof (she told me at the party afterward how elated she is to be able to send her kids to Charles Dickens Middle School in Vancouver.)

Suddenly, it was nearly 3:00. When did that happen. We convened, I waited outside with a gang of friends, and then I went back in to receive the verdict: pass with (very) minor revisions. Exactly what I was hoping for. I only have a dim recollection of anything that I said during those three hours. At times, I was convinced that I was just repeating random words, or slurring like I was drunk and stoned (that came afterwards).

We went out for lunch at the fancy-schmansy faculty restaurant (my risotto was ok, even though it kind of tasted like tuna casserole), and then I went out for dinner with some friends at Subeez, our local industrial-emo-hipster restaurant downtown. The highlight of the day was sitting on my couch afterwards. Seriously, I love my couch like the perfect boyfriend I never had.

The next day, my supervisor was kind enough to throw me a little soiree with wine and cheese and all of those impractical types of food that taste amazing but don't absorb any of the alcohol in your bloodstream. I snuck a look at his first edition set of Proust's "A la recherche du temps perdue." I didn't touch it--just looked. Then we all realized that Brianne was terrifically drunk, so we went to Foundation on Main for some yummy vegan roughage. Brianne was still drunk when we got back to the apartment. I wanted to laugh so hard when she stole the couch from Matt--he kept trying to move her, but she was totally passed out. At one point, her feet were resting on the top of the couch, and she was lying diagonally with her head almost touching the floor, completely at peace.

And that was that. Goodnight dissertation, Goodnight moon, and Goodnight little grad students everywhere.

1 comment:

Xakara said...

Hey Jes,

I'm so happy it went well for you, even if you can't remember much of it. Imagine all sorts of impressed vibes and celebratory thoughts coming from the screen. ;)