This week’s Storyworth prompt was asking about my longest project. After thinking for a bit, I realized that had to be graduate school. I definitely followed the metaphor of “it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” I started my Master’s program in 1996 and defended my Dissertation in 2004. Whew, that was a long time to be school. Part of the reason it took me so long was the fact that I also worked full time and was paying for it myself with work income, supplemented with home equity loans (81 Wild Azalea Lane turned out to be an amazing investment for financing school, international adoptions, and TONS of home improvement projects).
I went into the attic to look for a picture of me at my graduation and stumbled on this letter my mom wrote me.
I remember the blue bird. He sits proudly in the antique cupboard in our living area, but I had forgotten about the letter. In 2004 my mom was in a great place. She had moved from Shelby back to Kernersville, was finally free from my dad, had a job, and was an amazing support with a new baby. I remember her coming every single Tuesday afternoon so I could teach my undergrad classes. She not only babysat sweet baby Aidan, but also prepared dinner for me and Rahul when we came home well after dinner, too tired to cook. By the time Samantha came home, she was heading towards a bad headspace again, so I am grateful for that time she could be present for my family. She loved being a Nana more than anything in the world.
Now for 2 memories of graduate school. I am going to share my best and worst. My best memory was of the oral defense of my dissertation. My anxiety meds were spot on, and I prepped more than I had for anything else in my life. I knew the areas where committee members were going to try and poke holes in my data and results, and I addressed them BEFORE they could call me on them. I don’t think I have ever felt more confident than I did when I went outside of the room for the committee to vote on whether or not I passed. I knew I had passed.
My worst memory is kind of funny, but definitely not funny in the moment. As I was making the final edits of my dissertation, the APA formatting guidelines changed. This meant I had to go back through every single citation to change from italics to underlined. That may not seem like a big deal, but after reading and editing that document for as long as I had, I decided that was it. I was quitting graduate school before doing that stupid, mundane task. Thankfully, my supportive husband convinced me that I was sooo close, I had to finish. So I sat upstairs in my makeshift office that is now my 18 year old’s bedroom and completed that tedious task while he sipped wine and watched the movie Sliding Doors.
Isn’t it strange what we remember? Why was I so upset about those APA edits? Why didn’t I remember the letter my mom wrote celebrating how proud she was of me? Memories are strange like that. Thankfully I have Storyworth this year to help me remember more and more of them. What a great gift.