Monday, May 08, 2006


I thought it would be majestic. I thought it would be full of ceremony. I thought that the ritual and commraderie would be transformative. What it really was all my graduate school anxities piling up. I spent most of the two hour ceremony sitting on an aisle, separated from the rest of the English PhD's because of my last name being, well, last, trying to get my mortarboard to stay on my head. I think my hair is slippery. I don't think my head is particularly small, (you can't get a PhD with a SMALL head). My mom said that the band was overstretched. Thanks mom.

My name was not in the program which made me think I wasn't actually graduating. I kept looking up at my family but I couldn't see them very well and they couldn't see me and I was sure they were freaking out more than I was that my name wasn't listed. It was all very grim with speeches and honorary degrees until the hooding of the PhD's--then, three of my professors came up to hood me--which entailed not the K*K*K-like hooding I'd imagined. In fact, it's more of a draping, or perhaps a shawling. But regardless of the dumb name, I felt summoned and enveloped and invited. And photographed. Badly. I'm very very worried about these pictures. I'm pretty sure I look like a frog with a square on her head, set off in squareness by my square face.

Then, the 982,217 undergrads were given their diplomas. I about had an anxiety attack waiting for the names to be called. I kept watching the rows, thinking now we're 1/3 done, now a half, wait a minute, I said half over 789,212 people ago.
Apparently, my mother, whose chair was being kicked by a thirteen year-old who was playing his gameboy, was also made anxious. She turned around and stared at the kid for 7 entire minutes and then asked why in the hell did he bother to come. My mom loves crowds even more than I do, let me tell you.

Afterward, we had the lovely Batts and families over for drinks. Then, to the Metropolitan, sans husband who couldn't get off work, but all six of us (mom & SO, mom & dad in law & Thirty one, in one car, The Chrysler Pacifier, to support eco driving.
4 of the 6 of us ordered the prix fixe.
Amuse bouche of Porcini Fritter with Truffle anglaise.
Then the 7 courses:
1. white gazpacho with celery leeks & parsnips (Mom & MIL had spring vegetable consomme where the tiniest veggies in the world came in a tiny bowl and the servers brought out a teapot full of broth and poured it on top of the veggies on site.)
2. Chilled seasonal vegetables--baby squash, radish gelee, micro basil (pretty good but the radish jello didn't dissolve as I hoped it would)
3. seared foie gras with black truffle ice cream, balsmic vinegar, & microgreens. (much discussion about animal cruelty and the foie gras ban in Chicago. Ate it all anyway. Not eco-eating. Loved it though the truffle ice cream tasted a lot like vanilla. I do love those tiny veggies)
4. Butter poached giant prawn with shrimp crisps, cilantro (micro, what else) & savory bisque. (One of the best courses, though the shrimp was about 2 seconds overcooked).
5. tangerine sorbet (you call this a course? OK, whatever.)
6. tenderloin surf & turn with wild ramps (like baby onions), dungeness crab, horseradish hollandaise (pretty good though the tenderloin was a bit mushy. I stole thirty-one's bigger portion then ended up giving it back).
7. dessert sushi (Metaphorical sushi-the ginger was candied, the nori was granache, a sliced strawberry was ahi, a sliced mango was hamachi, the pistashio creme was wasabi.

Did I mention we drank some wine? About 18 bottles? Maybe not quite that many.....

The whole day I was reminded of my college graduation. where I had been invited after to Emeritus Professor Kaspar Locher's house. I was one of 8 students invited, plus a guest. I took my ex-boyfriend. We sat on the back deck, drank champagne and ate cocktail shrimp as spring blossoms fell into our glasses.

Ah, maybe Spring is the ritual I was looking for. That or being invited to play with the big kids.


Trista said...

Wow, glad you had a good time. Maybe it feels better when you get a PhD, or when you really graduate, and not just walk on the pretense that the Graduate Assistant will not fuck up and not get the stuff turned in so you CAN graduate on time. Or whatever. I'm not bitter. Oh no. Not at all.

Oh, and the food? WOW. You had big shrimps garnished with little shrimps? And Ice Cream made out of fungus? Wow. The mind stumbles.

val said...

You forgot to mention all the things that COULD have happened that didn't! Like, mom did not hit the teenager. You did not fall down in those large and gorgeous heels. No one fell down those cement stairs. There was not the bomb scare I was hoping for on about undergrad number 786,459. No firearms were detected at all. You WILL however have to show me your diploma as I'm pretty sure you COULD have faked the whole thing.

Dr. Write said...

Congrats Dr. Otterbutt, PhD, ma'am.
It may feel real when
a) you receive your diploma in the mail
b) you recieve the pictures in the mail, which are never as bad as you think they are
c) one of your students calls you "Dr. Otterbutt" and you have to stop yourself from correcting said student by saying, "I'm not a Dr. Just call me Otter" because . v . . .YOU ARE A DR!!!!"
I'll take you out for a pomegrante mojito. You have to have one this time!!