Wednesday, November 30, 2011

It's Over

Last night, I turned in my thesis. Ten days ago, I defended it and passed with honors, which was awesome, but I was given revisions to complete. Then Thanksgiving happened (boy, did it -- took the family to Dallas for a big event) and grading built up and the revisions got frustrating and...well, let's just say I'm thrilled it's done now.

I started this degree when my daughter was three months old; she is now two. I began wanting to study business ethics; I ended researching ethics in science writing. I began unsure of the program and why I was there; I leave confident and happy with my choice. I have learned so much not only about the subject (tech writing/rhetoric/new media), but also about the world of academia and how to navigate it.

I have a million thank-yous to give to the people who got me through this degree and helped me succeed. I have a million chores to catch up on that I've ignored for two years. But for now, I have to do some relaxing. It's over. I'm done. I'm a Master. Break out the champagne.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Defense!

Tomorrow morning, I will defend my thesis. I love this verb: I am not presenting it, showcasing or discussing it; I am DEFENDING it. Back off, doubters: this is my awesome work and I will prove to you how awesome it is.

Wish me luck - and strong defenses.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

This is Life

With D's new job and our associated new-found security, he and I have had a few intense conversations recently. We've explored the path that got us here, made projections about our future, and assessed our present.

I noticed that during these conversations, D. started talking about wanting to go ride his bike more (which he hasn't done in over a year) and encouraging me to buy the elliptical machine we've been contemplating. Now, D. is not fat, but he's not super-healthy right now. Neither he nor I go to the gym or commit to regular exercise, but I manage to keep active enough chasing a toddler, romping with her outdoors, and taking a weekly dance class; he sits at a desk most of the day. He has been hearing it from all sides that he needs to exercise more, and he usually avoids the conversation or even lashes out at the advisor. Now, though, he seemed to be asking for it. I gave him my confused face. He explained:

"This job makes me realize that THIS is life. I am not holding out for a big change. There's no 'I'll get to that later when I have time.' Now is the time. Things aren't going to change much. In fact, if they do change, it'll probably be because we get busier - with a second kid, another promotion, more freelance work for you. So I've realized that if I was ever going to do something with my life, the time to do that is now."

I hear conversations like this in movies, but rarely if ever in my own life. But he's right, and he's wise. We are in our mid-thirties. We have a house, a kid, solid jobs, independent parents, good health. This is it, man. We are living The Life. Now it's time to act like we're living it, and not just trying to get to the next phase.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Security

My husband just got The Job. It's the job he's been doing for years, but now he actual has the title. He's a Professor, on a tenure line, on his way up that big ole academic ladder. I'm so proud I could burst.

We are so blessed. As he and I discussed over fancy dinner (this kind of news deserves dumping the kid on grandparents at the last minute, throwing on some heels and eating an over-priced and decadent meal like grown-ups), we now have security. Oh, that holiest of words. He will soon be tenured at a state institution. That's, like, the definition of job security. Do you have any idea how hard it is to fire a state employee (oh, the story I would share here if this weren't a public forum)? In this flux economy with so much going wrong for so many good people, we have hit the jackpot.

This new security is not just in finances or benefits, but also in location. We are here to stay -- at least for several years. I have been nomadic since leaving Texas for college. Leading up to the year I got married, I had moved every year for 10 years. When I moved to Clemson, it was in the belief that I was here to be with D. as he finished his Ph.D, and then we'd move for his first job. After he surprised us both by getting his first job at Clemson, we expected to move soon for the tenure-line job. We waited longer than expected for that move, fueled by countless promises and slowed down by a bad economy, but always certain we were going to move soon. And then this happened. We are now in a state of Not About to Move. I can settle down, exhale, make plans. This house we are in the process of buying (it's stuck in probate court, but that's another story) will be my daughter's childhood home. In four years, she will walk from here to the elementary school three blocks away. Our Christmas stockings will hang on this mantle. The flowers we plant will grow tall for years to come.

I always thought I wanted to wander. I wanted to see the world, and I still do. Yet these past few years have found me longing to put down roots, to ground myself in a place, a home, a group of people, a future. I have put out tentative roots here, but relunctantly, as I wasn't sure they would last. But now, this is home. I will grow here, as will my children. And it surprises me most of all how happy this makes me.

Next month marks my sixth year in Clemson, but only now do I feel like this is truly my home. I live here. It is my daughter's hometown. It is where we will build our family's life. It is where I am secure.