On Wednesday evening before graduation, there was an optional event for graduates to be toasted by their thesis chairs. Charles recounted how I didn't talk much for the first few weeks of his undergraduate class, and then I turned in my first story and he was blown away first by the grammatical correctness of the sentences, and then how funny they were, and how thoughtful and so on. He recounted how for my thesis I'd wanted to write satire about the pandemic and race and war, and he'd said that it could turn out to be a highly offensive disaster but if so, it would still be a learning experience, and then my stories were great and not offensive. He called me the next Douglas Adams. Of course he knew that was the highest praise he could give me after what I said about Douglas Adams in my thesis.
After that endorsement, the husband of one of my colleagues asked her, "Why haven't you had me hanging out with him this whole time?" And then when all the toasts were done and I was snacking again, Charles asked whether I planned to get a PhD and briefly made me more interested in that possibility than I had been a moment ago. He's the one who convinced me to do graduate school too. Maybe I'm just too wishy-washy.
Some of the toasted graduates after the toast:
The main graduation ceremony took place the next morning, early enough that only one of my classmates bothered to participate and I shouldn't have. I rested in the grass afterward because I'd gotten three hours of sleep for no reason other than God hates me. A nice lady offered to photograph me. It was much appreciated, because scheduling conflicts prevented any of my family members from being there to photograph me.
In between that and my college's luncheon, I noticed that I had gotten some emails from the library about my thesis. It was my fault that I hadn't reached out to them before, but it wasn't my fault that the university inexplicably misplaced all of the digital forms I filled out weeks in advance and didn't have my folder put together until absolutely the last minute after the graduate program coordinator emailed me late Monday afternoon asking me to fill out the forms that I'd already filled out as soon as possible. So that got put together on Wednesday, and then on Thursday the library was like "You need to schedule an appointment to drop off a printed copy of your thesis by 5 p.m. today or you can't graduate." The story of getting that straightened out is not interesting enough to justify the effort of typing it out, but I got it straightened out and I lost my tassel in the library. I got it back the next day, and now I hope someone will be kind enough to photoshop it into all the subsequent pictures.
Here I am with classmates waiting in the Wayne Estes Center prior to walking over to the Spectrum for the College of Humanities and Social Sciences Commencement Ceremony. I didn't get to participate in this ceremony as an undergraduate because of my sister's wedding, and some of my classmates didn't get to because of the you-know-what.
Here we are waiting in the tunnel for twenty minutes to enter the Spectrum proper.
At the mouth of the tunnel one of my least favorite non-murdering cops, the one who sent the Logan City cops to abuse me and give me PTSD and then never spoke to me again even though he was in my bishopric, stood guard. As I walked past Brad, he took a very large and obvious step forward like he thought he might need to grab me. Not for the first time, I discreetly flipped him off. On stage a while later I had another opportunity to make eye contact, which I knew from experience would make him visibly uncomfortable, but I wasn't going to waste my special moment on him.
The thing I'm carrying is just for show and doesn't contain an actual diploma. There's always the theoretical possibility of going through all this pomp and circumstance and then not actually being allowed to graduate. Awkward. So anyway, of course I experienced a mix of emotions on this day and graduate school was amazing and it just zipped by unbelievably fast and I love my classmates and my professors and my students so much and I'm so grateful to have had this experience. I'd do it all over again. So maybe convincing me to get a PhD won't be all that hard.
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About the Author
C. Randall Nicholson is a white cisgender Christian male, so you can hate him without guilt, but he's also autistic and asexual, so you can't, unless you're an anti-vaxxer, in which case the feeling is mutual. This blog is where he periodically rants about life, the universe, and/or everything.