Friday, December 23, 2011

Is There A Doctor In The House?

It's December 23rd, the calm after the storm.  I have a sinus infection from hell- snot blocking all of my airways and tissue attached to my hands.  I have long sleeves on my sweater because I'm cold most of the time (except for those hot flashes) and I keep tissues up the sleeves so it looks like I am a human tissue dispenser.  Sometimes I spike a fever and sweat profusely for about 10 minutes, then go back to freezing to death.  I'm self-medicating, taking antibiotics from the last time I was sick and some sudafed stuff.  Later I will go get some Nyquil and maybe mix it with vodka to improve the effect.  That will heal me.

School is out.  I was done teaching at my middle school on the 13th, and the last class for my college students was on the same day, so once grades were turned in there was nothing left to do as far as teaching is concerned.  All I had to worry about was graduation. 

Ah graduation.  A few weeks ago, I took a copy of my dissertation in to the graduate college to have them pre-approve the document.  They require two copies of the dissertation on 100% cotton paper.  I wrote about this in my last blog post but I was a little, uh, stressed out at the time and thought I'd take a second swing at it. 

Since it's expensive to print dissertations, I did a dry run and had them ferret out any changes so I didn't have to reprint.  Two changes, that was all.  Easy ones.  So I made my last appointment for the Wednesday before graduation.  I had until Friday to turn things in but my first experience with the graduate college is that last minute is never going to work.  That experience involved me reprinting my masters thesis six different times and costing hundreds of dollars.  Live and learn and don't make the same mistake twice.  Two changes.  I did that, and gladly printed my dissertation- all 200 pages of it- on 100% cotton paper as required by the graduate college.  The borders were just so; the margins at the top not too far to the top and each page dutifully numbered in roman numerals and in plain numbers.  Appendices were clearly marked and all pagination noted in the table of contents.  The abstract was single spaced and the acknowledgments were double spaced.  I rather triumphantly marched into the graduate college at the appropriate time and was greeted with a wait of 45 minutes- despite my appointment- because of a "staff meeting".  Everyone came out of the meeting with wrapping paper and christmas gifts.  Five minutes later, I heard seven dreaded words, "There is a problem with your dissertation." 

Let's pause for a moment, shall we?  I have heard those words before.  They make me panic and give me nightmares.  I heard them in my dreams and the doubtful voice in my head shouted "I knew it! Did you think they'd just let you pass?"  It is the apprent job of the grad college to act as a barrier of sorts, a final condom between those who have a strong desire to expel dissertations into the world and those who shall not pass because they are not worthy.  Myself being the former, I inquired politely as to the nature of the problem.

It was only a single error.   A page needed to be single spaced and not double spaced. 

It was a single error on the signature page. 

The signature page has the original signatures of five people that it took me six months to get into the same room.  I did not think I could acquire all five of those signaures in only two days and I had family members coming into town- two sisters- to help me celebrate this achievement that hadn't quite happened yet.  I suspected that one of my signators was leaving the country if he hadn't already left.  I expressed my doubt to the seemingly sympathetic "academic counselor".  Did you ever see the television show "Murphy Brown"?  In it, Murphy Brown, as played by Candice Bergen, is a television reporter with a new secretary every week.  They are incompetent, surly, comical, and completely temporary.  Such is the same with our "academic counselors" in the graduate college.  This was my third counselor in one semester.  I asked what I thought was a simple question: Why didn't they say something earlier?  Now, I realize it's my fault for not having single spaced the page in the first place, but I did do due diligence to bring it in to them ahead of time to avoid catastrophe's such as this.  The answer: You must have switched the pages, because we would have caught this right away..

I did not blow my top. Out loud.  I waited until I was outside.

And I did my part, rushing around to get signatures and emailing professors.  I tracked the possibly out-of-country guy to his office and practically pinned him to the wall.  And I got my final signature the next day. 

Triumphantly, I re-entered the graduate college.  They approved. 

Then I dropped the copies at the library.  Once you do that, there is no going back.  You are a doctor.  I was looking for the Aquisitions office and ran into a lady across the way.  "Have you seen the Acquisitions people anywhere?" I inquired. She smiled and pointed across the hall to a big sign I had completely missed in my panicked tunnelvision.  "Thanks," I said, "now, when I come out of that door, I will be a doctor. Do they give out capes in there?" 

They didn't give out capes, but the process was entirely simple, economic and briskly dealth with.  "Congratulations", said the lady in Acquisitions.  I went back across the way, found the nice lady and made a brushing motion with my arm across my sleeve, as though I had a crumb or two to get rid of. "Funny, I don't feel any different!"  We wished each other a merry Christmas and I went on my way. 

My sisters flew in to town for graduation.  Really, that's the only reason I went through with the ceremony.  I had a lovely visit with them, and introduced them to Grey who squired us around town like a champ.  I found out that I was selected as the outstanding graduate student, though nobody had emailed me and so they found someone else to give the graduate student speech.  I still feel very complimented, however, and got to sit up on the stage during the ceremony with the professors I have so admired for many years.  It was lovely. And we took pictures with a few of them, and with the good friends I have made at the College of Education, and stepped on back home. 

They let you wear a puffy hat for graduation.  But I wasn't allowed to sleep in it...
The party was great too- Cathy, Jackie and her husband Darren, Veronica and Grey put it on. Really fun too, with lots of food and people filtering in and out through the evening.  I didn't have to be in the spotlight much at all, but did make a toast to all who attended and for those who could not make it but were there in spirit.  In all, it was a spectacular day.  And all that I have done since then is rest and enjoy time to reflect and visit and talk and read. 

Thus far, having a Ph.D. hasn't gotten me much beyond a terrific party and some letters after my name. I take it back; my sisters got to meet most of the important people in my life.  Several times I heard each of them say "You are exactly as she described!" and that was fun as all get out.  If I were a medical doctor, I'd write myself a prescription for a stronger antibiotic.  Instead I will have to wait until Tuesday for a regular appointment.  Instead, I will wax philosophical since that's my area.  And in the meantime, I have some Christmas shopping to do. 

I also got this sweet teeshirt that says "Doctor"
Merry Christmas!

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