Tuesday, January 13, 2009

How I became a Master of the Universe

I left you hanging yesterday with news of the most valuable sort: I successfully defended my masters.

“But Lady Susan,” you cry, “we want to know how it went! We want to know every last detail of your day yesterday. Please tell us all!”

And because “I would by no means suspend any pleasure of yours,” I give you the following:


6:30 AM—I got up and got dressed which involved a trek out to the car where I left my shoes. Realized that shoes left out in the car overnight are very, very cold.

7:30 AM—Ate a breakfast involving two pancakes and a glass of milk, even though I wasn’t hungry. My mother has successfully put the fear of God into me regarding breakfast in the morning. A morning without breakfast is a morning not worth living. As a result, I always eat breakfast, even when my stomach is just one big herd of butterflies. Because otherwise, my brain will spontaneously combust and I will end up a blubbering idiot by noon.

8:00 AM—Put on makeup AND earrings. Had the fleeting thought that people at the lab might not recognize me looking drastically different than my usual “I spent less than half an hour getting ready” look.

8:30 AM—Left the house for the lab.

9:25 AM—Started panicking that only my one lab member and my advisor had shown up for my talk. Where was everyone?

9:30 AM—Really started to wonder where everyone was. There was a total of five people in the room, and I was scheduled to start speaking.

9:35 AM—My advisor introduced me. This involved putting up an unflattering picture of me in the field pulling a seine. Otherwise, the introduction wasn’t too bad, and was rather nice to hear the good things said about me. (i.e. I basically didn’t run away screaming for the hills after the long months of fish rearing. However, he didn’t know that I just wrote about my insanity here on the blog.)

9:40-10:05 AM—I gave my presentation to a modest audience devoid of a lot of the faculty members which meant that I had fewer difficult questions at the end. Score. I managed to conduct myself with a degree of sensibility and professionalism. However, during my acknowledgment slide, I started choking up. This meant that I was performing various facial contortions in an effort to avoid outright crying and my voice took on an old, infirmed woman type waver.

10:05-10:15 AM—I took questions from the audience. For the most part, I answered the questions more or less credibly. However when one professor (a chemist) asked the difference between egestion and excretion, I found myself resorting to a five-year-old’s vocabulary--I said that egestion was poo and excretion was pee. Yes, I used the words poo and pee in answering a scientific question in a scientific seminar. No fecal material and nitrogenous waste for me! I still find myself shuddering over that last bit of memory. Luckily, my committee didn’t hold it against me.

I included these two pictures on my question slide. I thought they were rather fitting and hilarious. However, it went completely over the head of my advisor.

Advisor: What does it mean you haven’t decided to use your power for good or for evil? Does it depend on how well you do in the defense?

Later while eating lunch……

Advisor: You should go into baking. (This is because I bake cakes for the lab mates’ birthdays.) Is that what that picture was about? I think you must use more than a tenth of your brain to bake your cakes.

This basically confirms my inclination of not wanting to become a professor. Because at some point along the path of academia, you lose your sense of humor and of the ridiculous. You are no longer attached to reality anymore.

10:30-10:35 AM—I waited outside nervously convinced that my committee was plotting treason against me. I was positive that they were consulting amongst themselves which obscure and difficult questions they should ask me.

10:35-12:00 AM—In which I underwent a grueling hour-and-a-half question and answer session. Supposedly it was one of the more “quicker” of the masters defenses. All I can say is: it was plenty long enough for me, thank you very much. Having an hour and a half session where I have to answer in a fairly timely manner random questions regarding statistical approaches and fish bioenergetics all the while defending my results as valid in a make it or break it deal, is close to my idea of purgatory. At one point, my committee member had to figuratively hold my hand as he walked me through the answer of “what does a significant lack of fit mean? What does it test? Is it affected by an unbalanced design?” Dude. I literally had no idea. My brain started short circuiting at that point which was problematic as it was the first question I had to answer.

12:00-12:05 PM—I am once again escorted out of the room while they debate my scholarly worth. I might have started to hyperventilate. Had they taken any longer, I probably would have passed out.

12: 30-2:00 PM—I had lunch with my lab mates and Mr. F., all the while being in a daze. I ate like I hadn’t seen food in weeks. Perhaps I ate so much because the energy I obtained from my two wimpy pancakes were long gone, or perhaps it was just to feel like I was actually awake and not dreaming. Who knows? But it was good.

3:00 PM—I conked out asleep on the couch, tired and drained.


Today, I am much more able to process the information that I am done. I feel like a very large burden has been lifted. It feels nice. I feel like I could break into song and dance at times, like in a musical. And everything would be super saturated in color like in the show, Pushing Daisies. I don’t find this wish to be unnatural.

I say all this, but at the same time, it isn’t a clean break. Yes, I am done. Yes, I officially passed. But there are these nasty thing called edits. I actually have to look at my thesis again (ugh!) and make some changes. I probably will have to continue to look up papers on hypoxia and fish energy densities. I am not looking forward to that.

I guess it is a small price to pay for being, you know, a Master of the Universe.


Hizzeather said...

Nerve wracking! But Congrats! You did it! You ares seriously amazing! :)

yola said...

3 things:

1) I love that you included Anne Taintor graphics in your presentation -- extremely classy and fitting.

2) Sounds like you handled it, well, masterfully, despite old lady wavering voice and using potty language.

3) Are you going to get the Prince Valiant haircut now too to go with that Masters of the Universe deal? Cuz that would totally rock. As would a sword and Battle Cat. Handy things to have around in the wilds of southern Maryland. I'm just sayin'.

Congrats again dearest!

Lady Susan said...

Dude. I already have a Prince Valiant haircut. Well, minus the bangs. I will have to ixnay the battle cat (allergies), but I should totally look into getting a sword.


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