August 08, 2009

Signed, Sealed, Delivered

Well, yesterday was quite a day, if you're us. Sarah turned in her dissertation to the Northwestern English Department. Her dissertation defense happens in one week. She could soon be Dr. Mesle.

Short paragraph! Long summer.

Sarah's been working toward this day, with afterburners, for probably 12 to 14 hours a day, since June, with literally one or two days slacking off for vacation in Utah. Weekends mean nothing around here! Work in the morning, work in the afternoon, dinner hour, and work into the evening until 11 or 12 or 1. I don't know when the last time was the girl got 8 hours sleep. We had to buy her a brace for her right hand, because of the cumulative effect on her wrist & tendons of all that typing & mousing.

The final document weighs in at about 200 pages, but I don't know how many pages she had to write to get to that 200 -- maybe 500, maybe more, who knows. And it's entirely composed of dense, scholastic argument, threading its way through some fairly uncharted and neglected literary-historical terrain. The last chapter came particularly hard, and took months longer than expected.

For you birth-nerds out there (and you know who you are, and I hope you count me as at least an honorary member), our standing house joke this summer was that Sarah was delivering this dissertation after a big shot of pitocin and no pain meds of any kind. For you Bill Cosby fans out there, you're supposed to imagine grabbing your bottom lip and pulling it over the top of your head . . .

So we printed out two copies, last night, and hand-delivered them to doorsteps well after dark. With a blazing-fast new laser printer which can spit out 32 pages per minute, the print job took almost 15 minutes and nearly a ream of paper. Elliot came along for the delivery ride, in his pajamas, because his father had the bright idea that the child might fall asleep in the car. But of course not; he naturally found our behavior incredibly stimulating, not to mention confusing, and wasn't going to miss a trick. He ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and asked a lot of questions. Sarah gripped a single, gigantic sunflower (from me) between her knees and stared around like Robert de Niro in Awakenings. We were in the suburbs, so it was unusually (to us) dark. A night of low clouds over the city; Elliot kept remarking that the sky was orange.

The real meaning of this writing, this laboring, this delivering, is that (barring any unexpected turbulence, touch wood) Sarah will be able to begin a post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Michigan in one month's time. The meaning of THAT is that we'll be moving to Ann Arbor at the end of this month. So yes, in case you hadn't already heard, we're taking our exit from The City of Big Shoulders.

The excellent preschool which Elliot landed a spot in -- last month -- after a year or two on the waiting list -- has now handed over his spot to someone else. He'll be starting over at a preschool associated with the U of M. (Fortunately, we think that the new preschool will be excellent also.)

We've rented out our condo out to a Northwestern professor. They'll take it over on September first.

And we've rented a little house for ourselves in Ann Arbor. It has 3 bedrooms, a garage, and basement, a white . . . picket . . . fence (!) (WTF, who am I?) and probably some other things we're entirely unused to.


matt said...

I am so excited and proud of you guys. In this case maybe Sarah a bit more but I know B will have played a pretty significant part. Congratulations! Chicago will be a poorer place for your departure. xx

w. wilson said...

We are so happy for you all! Give us a call when you are settled in enough in Ann Arbor for us to visit. I will busy myself finding a job for Sarah in Boston for the next fall.

xoxo Whit, Jen, and G

Be Like the Squirrel, Girl said...

Wow, amazing news! Congrats to Sarah for the birth and delivery of the dissertation - looking forward to more news about your move and the new digs and the new preschool.

It also seems like this will put you a lot closer to TJ, and that makes me feel very jealous.

Brandon said...

We are going to be so up in TJ's business he won't know what hit him. Come anytime, dear ones, and bring the childers; we have lots of room for a while. Kati, you guys should come out on a big road trip or something. I'll take you on in the new Wii tennis.

Roxanne said...

Sooo happy for you Sarah (an dBrandon for supporting her) this is HUGE!! YOu are a rockstar, so much work. Will pray for teh defense. I alos LOVE the birth analogy and the Bill many times I heard that growing up:) Love you all adn best wishes for your time in Mi, as long as you are back when we come around to visit the Chi :)

Amy E said...

Wow! Congratulations! I thought about you guys so much while I was out in the wilderness. I was hiking too hard and fast to speak, I only had breath for thinking, for 35 days, and I thought a lot about you because I had just seen you in Utah and because you're going through such huge changes!

I likely *will* come visit you know in Du-twah and AA, maybe even in October, if I can swing it with the bucks. Tay is interested, too. Who knew - AA is the new EssEff SF?

Lots of love and kisses and hugs and congratulations :)