Packed & Defended

The sun is about to rise over Rosslyn VA. I’m sitting in the dark typing this since I have a magical ability to wake up exactly 8 hours after I go to sleep, even when totally exhausted, and last night we crashed out early. Of course, as soon as the cat saw me moving this morning he came for a snuggle, then sneezed square in my face, which helped to ensure that I actually got out of bed at 5:30 in the am. So parts of normal life go on, even while everything else is changing.

Yesterday the movers cleared out our apartment. It was amazing to see four guys take what still looked like a fully furnished, mostly decorated home, and turn it into an empty, echo-y set of rooms in just under 6 hours. Overall we think everything went smoothly. There were of course a couple things that got missed, or had to be reorganized a bit, but nothing serious. We also had some help from Jacob and Nick, although the movers were so efficient that we didn’t really have much for them to do. At the end of the day we came back to the hotel and Jack and Kesh, mom ordered us delivery food (a very agreeable moving tradition) and we collapsed.

The day before I defended my prospectus. The prospectus is the plan for the dissertation research — basically what do you want to study, what previous work has been done on the subject, and how will you go about researching this? Sounds pretty simple, right? It’s something I’ve been working at directly for months, and indirectly for years, so in practice it turns out not to be so simple. At any rate, the defense went well and I am now officially ABD (All But Dissertation)/advanced to candidacy. Which is all fancy academic-speak for I’m set to move forward on the dissertation, and my tuition fees go down! Passing was a serious relief, as not passing would have posed problems for pursuing the dissertation in Japan. There weren’t many surprises in the defense, although it was all quite a lot more technical than I had expected — lots of questions about my data, and where a particular variable best captured the dynamic described in my theory, or whether it should be measured in a different way. But all in all, it was actually fun and really interesting to discuss my project with four people who I respect and who know something about the field. Afterward I went out with Jacqui for a quick celebratory beer, and then headed home to resume packing. We moved to the hotel that night with the cats and our luggage, as the movers were coming at 8 the next morning. Despite being exhausted, I hardly slept because I couldn’t get my brain to stop recycling all the things we needed to remember for the next day.

So it’s been a hectic and stressful couple of days, but we’re now settled into the hotel, all our stuff is preceding us toward Japan, and my prospectus is successfully defended! I feel a lot more excited about Japan now that all those hurdles are out of the way. Now I just need to learn the language!

Well, by now the sky is lightening, and the traffic has picked up below. I am looking forward to our seriously awesome hotel breakfast, and then a day of fun (and a little apartment cleaning). Since the packout only took one day, we are going to take the day to go say goodbye to the city our own way — which will probably involve cupcakes, a nice walk down by the Potomac, a few errands around town, one lucky item off of the largely unfulfilled “things we should do in DC before leaving” list (TBD), and perhaps a nice outdoor cafe lunch.

Up next: I’m going to write up instructions on how to do RSS/emails of the blog posts for those of you who have asked.

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