Friday, February 5, 2010

You Can Call Me Doctor.

But I probably won't write you a prescription.

My defense was at 3pm on Tuesday.  I taught a class from 1-2:30 that day and I have no idea what I said.  I let them go five minutes early and spent the next thirty-five minutes feeling like I was going to barf.

Then it was time.  And my defense was over after 60 short minutes.

Honestly, I was anticipating at least an hour and a half so sixty minutes felt--dare I say--easy?

My memory of it is already a bit vague.  The actual questions?  Um...  one was something about how I would reframe my project with more of an emphasis on gender...?  My actual answers, I have no idea.  I know I delivered them in an authoritative tone and I know I made myself stop talking when I could have kept rambling but I can't really tell you what I said.

Other things are very clear.  My advisor and I both wore scarves.  We sat around a conference table with dining table chairs--fake leather, high backs, no arms.  The professor I thought would be kind of an ass was the nicest one; the professor I thought would totally softball me asked the toughest questions.  I scribbled some notes but I don't know where they are now.

The first fifteen minutes dragged by and I felt almost like I was having an out-of-body experience, looking down at myself and thinking "OK.  I am actually in the defense.  Time will go by.  This will eventually be over."  And then I hit my stride and the next forty-five minutes flew by and I felt like I could have answered their questions all night long.

But then it was time for me to step outside the room, and then there were handshakes and congratulations and champagne and then everyone shared a gym-class horror story.  Of course everyone had one because we are all crazy awkward academics.  I did not share one because I was too busy downing champagne and trying to breathe.  But as they went around and told their stories I thought to myself that of all the ways I imagined the defense going, all the times I played it my head and envisioned different scenarios, it never ended like this--with my advisor comparing her phys ed class to Auschwitz. 

And the rest of the night was wonderful--David showed up at school with flowers.  My parents surprised me by coming to town which I never expected as it was the middle of the week and everything.  David also bought me a beautiful ring as a PhD gift.  Monica drove in from Louisville and went to dinner with us.  We ate at one of my favorite restaurants and then hurried over to Bailey's Chocolate Bar.  David had made arrangements for us to have a room upstairs all to ourselves and he'd ordered cheese plates and a chocolate cake.  It was so cute.  A bunch of friends were already there and when I walked in everyone clapped and I took a bow.  Then we drank and ate cheese and cake and when I went up to the bar to get a drink, the bartender told me that he had a bottle of wine already purchased for me by "Um, a Steph and Alby?"  Stephanie and Allison had called Bailey's and gotten this bottle of wine for me, which was totally sweet and unexpected.  And then I told the defense story over and over again (including the PE horror stories) and talked and laughed and was so happy that so many of my friends and family were there.  High school friend, college friends, grad school friends from the very beginning, and new friends I've only met in the last year or two.

I reflected that night before I went to sleep that if I had to wake up and live Groundhog Day over again, I really couldn't have asked for a better day.

Thanks to everyone who was part of it--you made it happen.  I couldn't have done it without you.


  1. I think "Dr. Taylor" has a very nice ring to it. Congratulations Brookie! Tia Favorita

  2. Congratulations Brooke! Roger and I have enjoyed reading your journey to your Doctorate. It seems fitting that the post about your friend turning 30 was the one just before the actual big day for you! The fun in Louisville had us laughing out loud for sure. Glad you won't be a "stuffy" Doctor! Sending love from WA, Pam

  3. Thanks for your good wishes! I love it when you comment.