Sunday, December 10, 2006

And Just Like That, Its Over

On Friday, December 8th 2006, I walked into the UT Austin graduate school office, with a pile of signed forms clinched tightly in one arm along with a CD containing my thesis. I wrote my name down on a list, and waited in the office for about 20 minutes with half a dozen other anxious looking would-be graduates. During those 20 minutes, I was practically frozen in both body and mind. I just blankly stared at the floor, not knowing what I should be thinking. When my name was called, I rigidly stood up and walked with an older gentleman, a thesis/degree evaluator, into his back office. He looked over my forms to make sure that all the right signatures were in all the right places, and then took my CD and inserted it into his iMac to make sure that it met all the formatting requirements. The graduate school had "highly recommended" getting your thesis evaluated long prior to the deadline, but I didn't finish formatting mine until the night before, so I didn't have much of a choice. I was frozen in fear while he carefully looked all 106 pages of the document over (in fact, I still have a feeling of anxiety thinking about this moment), for this day was the last day to submit a thesis. If he didn't give his approval, I didn't know what on earth I could do about it...

Thankfully, he said it looked perfect, "exactly like a thesis should look like" in his own words. He then followed by mentioning that it is very rare for a person to have their thesis pass on its first evaluation, which made me feel like I swallowed a smooth stone that was the size of a large chicken egg. He clipped my forms and my thesis CD together and congradulated me. I thanked him politely, and walked out of the graduate studies office. The first thing I thought was "that's it?". For two and a half years, I've been constatntly fighting to stay afloat through a hellish struggle, the likes of which I could have never imagined. And then, just like that, it all ended. It seemed too simple, too easy. The climax of such a long and enduring battle should have been more dramatic, more signifcant. But as I walked out that office, I started laughing, almost in an evil genius sort of way, because I was now, officially, a graduate school graduate. As I walked out the front steps of the main building on campus, I stood above an overcast scene of downtown Austin, with the state captial building towering in front. I stared at that scene for a good minute and seared it into my memory. I'm sure that my eyes will never forget what I saw that day.

I chose not to attend the commencement ceremonies. I had no family visiting me for the occasion, and I didn't know anyone else who was graduating this December. I regret it only slightly, because I'm sure it would have felt damn nice to put on those graduation robes, and crisply snatch away that which I have rightfully earned. Perhaps that is the dramatic climatic ending I was hoping for? No matter. I bought myself a 2006 tassle as a momento at least, to hang next to my 2000 (high school) and 2004 (bachelor's) tassles.

Its amazing how much lighter my body is now. It feels like a 20 ton weight has been lifted off my back after being bound to me for nearly 2 years. I've lived this weekend in a constant state of disbelief. Somehow, a part of me believes that I'm still in that firey pit of hell, and that some other seemingly impossible task (or combination of tasks as is usually my case) is going to fall into my lap. But slowly, I think I'm subconciously starting to accept the truth. For whatever reason, I've been sleeping very deeply ever since I graduated. The dreams I have in that state of deep sleep are.....phenomenal to say the least. I can only remember bits and pieces, but they are very long stories where I assume a different role and struggle in a different way. Maybe I'm still fighting subconciously, I don't know.

So, what am I going to do now that I have absolutely no commitments to anyone or anything? I don't know, live a little maybe? I'm starting by cleaning up things in my life, and throwing away that which I no longer need. I had about 50 print-outs of academic papers that I've read over the past two years, which I had originally intended to file away, but I said screw it. I don't need this dead weight anymore, so I recycled them all instead. I'm also cleaning up all the junk that has accumulated on my hard drives over the past two years, since I never had a breathing moment to clean them. After all this cleaning is over, I'm going to attempt to build a social life once again. I really, really need to get out more and have fun with people my age for once. Not only do I deserve it and desire it, but it would be good medicine for my recovery as well. It goes without saying, but of course I'm going to work on Allacrost a lot now that I can finally afford to. I'm going to go home and see my friends and family in Phoenix for 3-4 weeks over the winter holiday as well.

Well that's enough rambling on about life from me. My brain is still pretty fried, to a degree that it really makes my writing a horribly poor read (compared to my usual ability anyway). I'm not really thinking about the long term too much yet, but I'll most likely seek an engineering job somewhere in Austin in the future (I don't wish to move out of the city right now). One thing I know for sure though is that I need a new goal, a new purpose for moving forward. I just don't know where to find that goal right now, or what form it is going to be in. But for the time being, I'm just going to continue to use as little of my brain as I can.

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Blogger Sean said...

CONGRATULATIONS! If you want to hang out (and celebrate) sometime, give me an email or ring.

9:39 PM  

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