I actually have a PhD now!
There's so much to say about the trip back to NH for the event - seeing 2 U.S. Presidents speak, what my advisor said about me at the luncheon, getting hooded and walking around town in the garb, recovering my golf clubs from the storage unit, the lost luggage (including the PhD diploma!!!!) . . .
My dad came with us to NH for the event and was a good sport about traveling. He hadn't been on a plane for decades. The weather was crap, but typical NH. We got in at about 2am and had to wake up early the next morning for the "new PhDs" luncheon.
The luncheon was interesting. Evidently it's the occasion for advisors to talk about their students and their students to rebut. I was a little worried about what mine would say about me but she was amazingly complimentary. I was genuinely surprised.
The Graduation Ceremony
We took my dad out to the coast for lobster that night and woke up bright and early the next day to get to the stadium for the graduation ceremony. We left at around 7am so that we could park for a ceremony. We had to walk about a mile to the stadium. Then we waited, got rained on, and waited some more. I was off by myself with the other graduating PhDs.
Bill Clinton and George Bush spoke. I had an amazing seat - at the edge of a row right in front of the stage. I had only one person in front of me. I hoped that the Presidents would walk down our aisle but they went down the next one, shaking hands along the way. It would have been so amazingly neat to be able to meet them, but it didn't happen. While waiting to get hooded, I was so full of anticipation. Not knowing what these ceremonies are like, I invented a picture of what the hooding would be like.
On one hand, I hoped that one or both of the Presidents would assist with the hooding like Gore did years ago when he spoke. On the other hand, I hoped we would get the same kind of hooding that the honorary doctorates received, but nope. They did have us go up on stage, and have the hood placed on (by our advisors), but they just read off our names, put the hood on (two seconds) and that was that. Once we had all walked across stage they did the whole "By the power invested in me by the trustees of the university.... blah blah blah, I pronounce you blah blah blah" while we were seated.
I have to say that I was disappointed by how perfunctory the hooding was.
The Presidents took off right before all the PhDs got up on stage to be hooded. That was a disappointment too.
Oh well. I think I just expected too much.
-- Kind of sounds like graduate school!
We walked around town afterward; my dad really wanted me to keep the garb on so I did. I figured why the hell not; it cost enough! While we sat and had coffee and bagels several people came up to congratulate me and say they saw me on TV. Apparently it was televised on NH public TV. According to my family I was the only graduate who got a close-up shot on the big-screen projector.
To celebrate we ate at my absolute favorite restaurant. I had my absolute favorite food: lobster ravioli. And, for the first time I ate the whole serving. I was so stuffed, but it was worth it. Who knows when we'll be back again.
We had clam chowder at our favorite clam shack the next day, went birdwatching at Plum Island, and showed my dad the Bush compound in Kennebunkport, ME.
The Golf Clubs
On a whim we stopped at the apartment buildings we lived at TWO YEARS AGO to see if the golf clubs I had forgotten were still around. Much to my surprise they were. They had been in an unlocked area in an UNLOCKED shed. We also spotted a dining room table, chairs, and lamps we had to leave behind because we didn't have space in the U-Haul. I thought about checking the clubs but ended up giving them to my friend who came up from Baltimore for graduation. She's more likely to actually use them. I just asked her to give them back to me if she ever doesn't want them anymore because they are the clubs I used throughout high school when I was on the golf team and the sand wedge and putter were graduation gifts (for my BA).
We flew home bright and early. I had to check my bag at the door of the airplane because the flight attendant insisted there wasn't enough space. I never check luggage for fear of them losing my stuff. So, what do know? They almost lost the bag and also my dad's bag. My diploma was inside! I wasn't terribly worried because nothing in my bag was truly irreplacable. I could get a new diploma printed (at a significant charge). What really made me anxious was that they had the bag I was planning to use for our Japan trip. Fortunately we got the bags back a day later. The airline had a courrier drive them to my house - about 200 miles away from the airport. My diploma was still inside, unharmed.