Monday, June 6, 2016

Yellow Light

"Somewhere deep in the dark
A howling beast hears us talk
I dare you to close your eyes
And see all the colors in disguise
Running into the night
The earth is shaking and I see a light"
- "Yellow Light" by Of Monsters and Men

If you live on the Oregon coast long enough, you'll learn to predict the weather inland from the weather on the coast. When the coast is drowning in winter rains, the mountains are getting snow and the valleys are getting slush. When the coast is socked in with summer fog, the inland cities are dry and hot.

As I drove to the lab this morning, I could tell the valleys must be miserably hot. The drive to lab was like a ride in a bowl of soup. Stepping out of my car, I could feel the fog on my skin. It was close, clingy, and cold.

The fog wasn't an entirely unwelcome guest in my morning. After all, it fit my mood. I had an important meeting with my committee, and I'll readily admit, I was nervous as could be. I did my best not to psych myself out, but I had really no idea how the meeting was going to go. Half of me was trying to just not think about it, and the other half was surrounded by dread - close, clingy, and cold.

The meeting actually went pretty well. Very well. Actually, it went as well as it possibly could have, because my committee approved of my work. I had produced three manuscripts in the past few months and presented them to my committee as possible thesis chapters. They liked them. They said I did well. They said I could graduate.

Celebratory smoothie
Of course there are always improvements to be made, and I'll spend a good chunk of the next few weeks revising my papers. My committee made some very good suggestions, and I'm grateful for their critical eyes. For me, the most important part is that the basic premise, the scientific foundation of my thesis, is accepted. Now I can assemble my dissertation.

By the time I stepped out of the meeting, the sun had dispersed most of the fog. The poor inland valleys were probably still burning up, but at least we coasters got a break from the mist. The light had returned to the Oregon shore, but there was also a new light at the end of my own proverbial tunnel. My time as a graduate student was always meant to be finite, but after today's meeting, it has a definitive end. A date. A forseeable expiration.

I took my labmate out to lunch and indulged in a fruit smoothie to celebrate. Yes, I was as wildly ecstatic as my crazy eyes suggest. Someday soon, I will have a Ph.D.

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