Saturday, December 14, 2002

Hey, it's a done deal. Thanks to Rick, Mom, Walt, Mary, Cindy, Jeff, Andreana, Mitch, and, of course, Gail, for all being here; to Dave, for his seven years of patience; to the rest of the Biological Sciences Department at WMU for being such hoopy froods; to my fellow doctoral grads for bonding so instantaneously as we all figured out simultaneously, just before going onstage, just how many Ph.D.s it takes to fold an academic hood; to the new grad with the battery-operated Christmas lights on her mortarboard for making the occasion so festive, and to the rest of the approximately 2,000 people who received degrees from Western in three separate ceremonies today for sharing such an amazingly vibrant experience.

You challenge and inspire,
Your hope is our desire,
We sing to you, our Alma Mater, Brown and Gold.

The photos will miraculously appear on my website as soon as I reconstruct the $&@*#$& thing. There's not much else to say today, really ....

JKS, Ph.D.

Friday, December 13, 2002

The reality hit me somewhere between the coffee room and the departmental mailboxes: This is my last official day as a graduate student. Ever. The appearance in my mailbox just this morning of a recent article published in Insectes Sociaux may seem to be a piece of evidence to the contrary. I think it's just Dave's way, though, of reminding me that the bugs never sleep. (A tribute to Dave's mentorship will undoubtedly appear here at a later date.)

Also just finished grading the last papers from my science-ed class, which makes this indeed a day of celebration. It's still up in the air whether I'll be teaching any labs while in a holding pattern next semester, but let's say I'm leaning heavily towards crawling under the toaster if anyone so much as asks. At this point I'd rather re-format my dissertation with EDLIN than grade one more buggin' lab report. (For those of you who are under 35: There's probably no good way to explain how strong a statement the last one was, so I won't even try.)

Watch this space ....

Wednesday, December 11, 2002

After a day of grading papers, I want to do absolutely nothing directed or useful. Instead, I have to muck out the guest room. Mom arrives tomorrow; seven other family members and friends will roll in on Friday. I also have to make time to have my increasingly big hair made small. I can't imagine any other day or night, before Saturday, when I'll have time.

Grading is always traumatic. I don't enjoy being an authority figure. I also have a hellish reputation among my students for marking down essays and papers because of problems with spelling, grammar, and syntax (one of my students used a feedback sheet to remind me of this in three-red-pepper detail this week). The explanation that I only mark down if I can't understand the answer doesn't generally go too far.

And, one of my Arizona millipedes died this week. Millipedes don't seem to thrive under my care; I think I'm going to donate the survivors to the local nature center. The centipede, fortunately, endures; I still think it's about to molt again. I don't want to think about how big it's going to be after the next ecdysis. But I love my big bugs; my friend Nick, who works with ants, keeps needling me in a friendly way about what he perceives as my fondness for immense arthropods over small ones.

"They're Julie-rific ...."

Tuesday, December 10, 2002

Picked up the regalia yesterday. It's really strange to see it hanging in my closet; a black gown with bell sleeves, each with its triple strip of black velvet, like three huge tiger moth caterpillars scuttling in formation across each arm. I tried it on when I got it home -- hood, cap, tassel, and all; I thought that something transcendent was going to happen, like that moment in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone" when Harry picks up the wand that's meant for him and suddenly his hair stands on end and the whole room glows. Instead, I just started giggling in front of the bathroom mirror.

It's going to be hard to return it after this is all over. Normally, I don't handle rituals well, but this one has been so long in the making that it will be very, very difficult to let go of the pomp and circumstance after the closing ceremonies.