Monday, August 23, 2010

What a difference a year makes!

Psyche!  This is not a wedding anniversary post.  For that, you'll have to wait a couple more months.

This is a doctorate anniversary post.  Equally significant in my mind.*  The last academic hurdle: now I get to learn to be the expert.  Sure, there are other hoops to jump through:  tenure/ contract renewal, The Book, this #@$)~*%# article that's been torturing me all summer.  For now, it's nice to know that I've got the Seal of Approval, entitling me to take on such projects.

Last year, I didn't even know it was summer.  The only evidence of change was the creep of the afternoon sun up my office walls, where I was cloistered, 12-18 hours a day, pounding away at the dissertation that I had rashly promised my future employers I could complete in a year.

That hasty promise, made months before I began writing, before I even began analyzing the data, while I was, in fact, still in the field collecting data, came back to bite me in the butt** last summer as I typed furiously to meet a deadline that my advisor had initially said was impossible.  I met it without a day to spare.

As 18th century author and lexiographer Samuel Johnson said, the prospect of a hanging concentrates the mind wonderfully.  Indeed.  I've always been deadline driven, and the biggest writing project of my life was no exception.

But, I missed some of my favorite things in life: ice cream on warm evenings, chatting with friends over cold drinks, travel, mountain hikes.  All was put on hold for the tyranny of my final academic deadline.  The constant panic and anxiety I felt spurred me on to work harder - when it didn't paralyze me. I was happy to have wedding planning as a constructive distraction when the dissertation felt just too weighty.

This summer, though, this summer... it's SUMMER!***  Though Eric had his own major deadline this summer, we've made the most of our freedom from strict schedules.  We started out here, in May, following a work-gig that took Eric to Milan:
Bonus points if you know the locale.
Hint.  (They clearly have great taste!)

By early June, we were soaking in art in Florence.

On a tour of a Tuscan castle winery, surrounded by a bunch of 20-something honeymooners from the States, we realized that it wasn't too late to consider our trip Part III of Multi-part Global Honeymoon Tour.
Former family home to the namesake of the Verrazzano Bridge

Next stop on the Global Honeymoon Tour was Seward, Alaska, where the food didn't exactly live up to that of Italy.
 The best and biggest dinner around.

We earned our dinner by hunting the ever-elusive Loch Ness Monster...
(Ok, you got me.  It's really a mother and baby humpback whale playing.  Nessie prefers the Atlantic.)

....communing with friendly marmots (which apparently could grow to super-size with climate change)...

and visiting yet another receding glacier****...
Where it was in 1926
The Seward Exit Glacier today.
One of my work projects this summer took me to this spectacular spot, where people live off the grid, dependent on the sun for all their energy, and the mountain snowmelt for their all their water, including for the organic gardens. I was able to unplug from internet and gaze at the Milky Way each night for an entire blissful week.  What a treat to have work that requires being in these beautiful mountains!
Lama Foundation, New Mexico
Finally, back home, we took in some local nature, at the awesome National Seashore just north of our wedding site.... more on that tomorrow.

* And all the sweeter (and way more bearable) for having someone to share it with.  I cover my ears when he makes noises about getting a PhD.  Does he really want to enter that special hell???

**Quite literally. I developed a tailbone injury from spending so much time sitting!  My one break from the desk chair was to see the physical therapist who insisted that I get more exercise.

*** You'd never know it from the foggy, chilly weather here in the Bay, though.

**** The cynical among you may be asking what my contribution to climate change is, with all this flying around.  This issue continues to vex me.  My work and family life are both international in scope, and it's hard to reconcile keeping up with my family and my field while being worried about climate change.  When I'm home, I rely on my bike and hope that it offsets my plane travel a little.


La Historiadora de Moda said...

I just came across your blog via your agreement with my comment on The Cohabitating Closet. I'm loving what I see!

I was just in Italy this summer - Venice, Florence, Padova, Siena, and Rome. My husband and I had a small wedding in the middle of the academic year so we waited until the summer and after our PhD defenses for our honeymoon. It was well worth the wait!

I see you are interested in eco-friendly weddings. I donated my wedding gown and wrote a post about it a while back:

elizabeth said...

Hey, thanks for stopping by!

Seems like all the cool kids were in Italy this summer! Would have been funny to have a bloggers meet-up over there.

Congrats on donating your wedding gown. What an awesomely generous and eco-friendly thing to do! My much-beloved gown still awaits a decision about its future.

lois said...

I am so hooked on your blog. That's a good thing, no? And the travel pictures, while my friends were touring Europe I was raising baby. He grew up, left home, took the dog and now I need to travel. But for now Your photos and stories will have to do.