Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Well, y'all, it finally happened. The day that has dangled far in front of our noses, like a distant phantasmic carrot, for four long-yet-short years.

The Aspiring Professor successfully defended his doctoral dissertation this morning! I think I am going to promote him to The Professor. Here was his general topic: Developing an innovative sensor to measure the soot output of diesel engines. Don't ask me for any more details. I had to practice that one 50 times in front of the mirror already.

My editor had given me the heads up weeks ago that it might be considered customary for me to bake something for this event, based on her own experience with a defending spouse. Accordingly, I thought to myself, What Would Jenny Do? And of course, I made pumpkin muffins.

Actually, there was a fairly decent spread, especially considering the early hour (8:30 a.m.). I sort of have this paranoia of underfeeding people.

We had a bit of drama when The Prof's laptop was incommunicado with the LCD projector, and they just couldn't make amends. My poor guy was nervous, I knew, and the committee members were gathering, and his parents and I could do absolutely nothing to help him, but finally at 8:29 a.m. someone swooped in with another laptop for him to use. Whew.

He then proceeded to dazzle us all for a solid hour by speaking in fluent Swahili. Who knew? I didn't even realize he has a grasp of that particular language, but I'm pretty sure that's what it was. And he was REALLY awesome. At least, that's my best guess, based on the comments from people in the room who understood Swahili -- i.e., the total population of the room minus my mother-in-law and me.

I did my best to channel Nancy Reagan, smiling adoringly at him every time he glanced my way but no doubt revealing the vacancy behind my eyes.

Then they opened the floor for questions. My mother-in-law was such traitor: She asked a question! The first one! And it was an intelligent one! No fair! I'm not supposed to be the only idiot in the room! I had to give her the evil eye.

(Well, not really. But STILL.)

Then I raised my hand and asked my question, which was, "How did you get to be goshdarn cute in addition to being crazy smart?" At which point they ejected me from the conference room.

(Okay. I know. I think SOMEBODY needs a N-A-P.)

In reality, his advisor did usher all the supporters out so they could grill him like a rotisserie chicken for what seemed like five hours, before spewing him out into the hallway so they could deliberate about whether to pass him. (My guess? They were placing bets on the upcoming A&M game.)

This has been such a journey, a long and winding road full of hidden treasures and sandpits and lessons I hope we have learned and God's manifold grace. And today I heard with my own ears my husband's advisor, not known for wasting a compliment, utter the words, "We're really proud of you." And then his parents said similar things to The Professor and me, and lo, I became a salty puddle on the floor. Right now it all just seems so surreal, and yet so weepily real. And now before the flood begins again I think I will excuse myself to go partake of some celebratory refreshments with my sister and our husbands.

Graduation is December 5! Please send pallets of Kleenex (TM)!


Eclectic Mama said...

Big, big congrats! You finally finished the long, hard road! Now you get to turn off onto the next road that leads to job applications and moving days. Hopefully that road will be free of potholes and car crashes. :) We're so proud of you too!

Jenny said...

What would Jenny do? ROFL!

Congratulations to Dr. Diller (and to you for surviving this process as well). :)

Vanessa said...

I thoroughly enjoyed reading this post. I think maybe I should throw you a party for surviving these past 4 years with the kiddos, working, and the very limited budget. By the way, the spread for the professors looked great.

Tim said...

Yes, Hannah is awesome, yesterday, for the past four years, and ever since I have known her!
I could count on a smile at the back of the room. The pumpkin muffins totally rocked. She kept me light-hearted on the way to the defense.

Kristen said...

I already need Kleenex(TM), just reading this post.

Raji P. said...

Congratulations!!!! To Dr Diller and Mrs Dr Diller, who helped everyone survive it!

Era said...

Congratulations Dr. Diller!!! That does have a nice ring to it. And of course, congratulations Hannah and family. You all did it. Now if I can just reach into the blog for a pumpkin muffin ;)

cjoy said...

Woohoo! Congrats!! It is such a journey, and I've only traveled that way once for my hubby's BS...I cannot fathom this. Congrats to all of you! (You earned it as much as he did!) ;D

Bear Creek Mama said...

I know I'm a little late, but HUGE Congrats....and thanks for the salty puddle on this end too...