I wish life could be all rainbows and unicorns, but alas, it isn't. As Dolly Parton once said, "If you want rainbows, you have to put up with the rain." And that was my day today in a nutshell.
Today was the big day. My thesis defense. I practiced and practiced my speech last night in full freak-out mode until midnight when I forced myself into bed. I slept soundly until 4:30a when I woke briefly, then I dozed in and out of sleep and nightmares until 6a when I got up for good. I ran through my defense speech a couple more times, showered, forced some food in my mouth, and headed to the library to print off a tree or two - or, I mean, my thesis. I made a stop for a half hour in my animal behavior class, discovered I'd received a grade of 100% on my past exam - whoop, whoop! - and then skipped out of class early to head to my defense that was across campus (one of the joy's of WVU!, three -or is it four? - campuses). And of course, the PRT (WVU's little one-car trolley system between campuses) was BROKE DOWN - that is my West Virginia dialect for you, broke down, so deal with it. Needless to say this frazzled my what-were-calmed nerves. But I caught a bus and still got there early.
One of my Ph. D. candidate friends had almost completely calmed me again in the hallway outside the conference room I was to present in. My GIS professor committee member arrived and we went in the room. He helped find a projector for my slideshow and I worked on getting it setup. Then the biology coordinator for the thesis program arrived. Minutes passed, my two Ph. D. candidate friends arrived. Minutes passed - my thesis adviser, a crucial person in this whole thing still hadn't arrived. I was apologizing profusely to the biology director-lady. She told me we kind of needed my adviser there. So, beginning to panic, I jogged down the hall to check her office again. Nothing. I went down the hall to her husband's office and asked him where she was - and then I started crying. Freak-out mode engaged. He couldn't get a hold of her so I headed back to the conference room convinced I would be failing. Jesse, one of the candidate friends of mine, met me half way to say my adviser was in the room. I started crying harder. Freak-out mode had taken over. He calmed me a little and gave me a hug and told me it would be okay. We headed back to the room where I had to sit for a moment to gain control of myself and stop crying enough to present.
I recovered beautifully and got stronger as I went along, according to Jesse. I don't really remember. To me the entire thing was a great big disaster. But I passed. I feel as if they passed me because they felt bad for me. Who knows. Biology-director-lady did tell me when things were said and done (an hour later) that she was very impressed with what I had accomplished, and how these kinds of statistics are so far beyond the scope of most undergraduates. So that cheered me a little. I walked out talking with my adviser, who it ended up, had the flu and her son has bronchitis. I had figured as much, but this was an important day for me and I needed her there. I'm so thankful she came, but man, I didn't need freak-out mode to become engaged in the process.
After the defense I walked aimlessly around the Evansdale campus calming myself down, telling myself it was all over and I was okay. I walked to Kroger (a grocery) and picked up sushi to celebrate being done & and a Dr. Pepper. I then walked aimlessly around the campus again trying to find the perfect spot to sit, relax, and eat. My dress khakis and boots were really boggin' me down at this point in the 80 degree, full-out-sunshine. Ack. I finally found a place. I sat down. I opened my Dr. Pepper for a big refreshing swig...soda-splosion. All over me and my dress clothes. It was the ultimate soda-splosion. And that was it. The last straw. I broke down again. I called a friend I wouldn't usually call for favors and asked him for a ride home. Class started in less than an hour and I simply wasn't going dressed like this. He picked me up. Words couldn't express my gratitude for this favor. I was able to change into more comfortable, weather-appropriate clothing, eat my sushi, drink the offending Dr. Pepper, and ride my bike to class on time - where I presented my thesis in an abbreviated format for fulfillment of my final project for that class; and I presented it with gusto this time, might I add!!
All in all, its been a VERY trying day for me. Physically exhausting and mentally trying. But the most important thing? I made it. I got through it. And I passed. AND I'M DONE! I have a few corrections before I turn in the thesis to be bound and kept in the biology department. But. I. Am. Done. I will be graduating with honors in Biology. I will be graduating from the Honors College. I will be graduating magna cum laude. I will be graduating magna cum laude, with honors in Biology. Take THAT undergraduate college career. BOOYA - yes, I just said booya, and I'm not ashamed. I wanted my rainbows. I put up with a lot of damn rain to get my rainbow. There better be a flippin' unicorn, too.