This brings back some memories.
“So, I returned most of my checked-out books to the Cornell library last week.
“For those of you who haven’t written a dissertation, I can’t really explain how big a deal this is: some of these books have sat on my shelves for upwards of three years, thanks to Cornell’s six-month checkout term for graduate students and online renewal system, and I’d really grown to think of them as mine in a certain sense.”
–Josh Greenberg, “Beginning to Say Goodbye“
I finished my thesis over the summer, and the closest I got to serious rituals marking its end involved lots of little logistical things: going to Kinkos to make all the necessary copies of it; putting in an order with UMI; getting my advisors’ signatures on the title page; then having the graduate school secretary count the pages and measure the margins, say, “Looks good. You’re done. Congratulations”– and having five years of my life be done.
I think I then went to a lunch truck, thus managing to keep several of my cohort who’d bought a bottle of champagne waiting in the seminar room for me to finally turn up. But they did wait, which was nice.
The weird thing about finishing your Ph.D. is that, unlike graduating from college, it constitutes a very big change in your life, but unfolds much more slowly, as Josh’s elegant post makes clear.
[To the tune of Billy Joel, “Captain Jack,” from the album Greatest Hits Vol. 1 (Disc 1).]