I went to sleep last night in no mood to work, so I decided to set my alarm for 7:30. the plan was to could get up early, have breakfast (to avoid the tummy-butterfly-syndrome) and then leisurely get ready for the presentation. Naturally, I didn't factor in the inevitably self destructive urge that made me set the alarm for 7:30 PM. By lucky coincidence, at 9:58, a friend of mine messaged me to confirm that the presentation was, in fact, at 11:00AM. And that is when I woke up. I, literally, fell out of bed, rummaged through wardrobe discarding clothes willy-nilly all the while realizing that I've completely forgotton what all 78 pages of bloody-thesis are saying. I was so sure today was going to be a disaster that I considered not making an appearance. This would be, my cunning mind told me, the perfect time to develop swine flu. Or any other piggy influenza that wanted to come my way. Or not.
Anyhow, I looked at bloody-thesis and the words looked alien and unfamiliar, like somebody else had written them. A part of me was fairly impressed, thesis actually looked all professional despite lopsided paragraphs and a million grammatical mistakes. But I still, for the life of me, couldn't remember what it was I'd spent seventy-eight pages arguing out. Realizing that the odds were stacked against me, I did what any self-respecting person in my position would do. I checked my email, had a hot shower, spent some time on my make-up and then put the ipod volume on as loud as possible, grabbed bloody thesis and waltzed into class totally intent on faking it till I made it. I had hoped to present last, because by then I'd have a chance (if I ignored everyone else) to re-read bloody-thesis, but no such luck. I was scheduled squarely for the middle.
As I slowly walked to the podium - yes there was a podium - I registered with mild apprehension that the people before me had slides, and video-clips, and printed out pages of presentation speeches that they had painstakingly outlined before the audience. I had bloody-thesis in one hand and a notebook with a bunch of random scribbles on it in the other. At the back of my head I realized that this may be a *bit* of a problem. I took my place in front of the podium, put thesis on it, and put empty notebook aside. And I looked at the audience, who looked back at me. And as our collective gazes met, I realized this was BLOODY-THESIS I was here to talk about. I have devoted three months of my life to this thing which threatened to consume my soul before it was done. It dawned on me that no matter WHAT I said to this group of people sitting here today, I knew more about the subject, about my argument, about MY WORK, than they ever would. And I smiled.
I told them that this project forced me to define and re-define conceptual boundaries over and over again. I told them that bloody-thesis (which now has a name by the way) had consumed over three months of my time, and in a lot of ways it had written itself while I played glorified typist. I told them that I had intentionally chosen not to use slides or to read out a speech (*hah*) but that I'd go extempore and keep the presentation conversational so that I could take as many questions as they wanted to throw at me. And then I began to tell them what it was I was preoccupied with, and why. What conundrum I was battling, what questions I had raised, what conclusions I had reached, or not, and why. Before I knew it, twenty minutes were up, and the Q/A began, and went on, and on, and on, and on. And I had FUN. I loved every minute of sitting there defending my work, telling people what I thought, letting them know WHY I thought it. Throwing out theory, and facts, and figures as if it was my birthright.
I sat there, in a room with my professors and my peers and I held my own. More than held my own actually. Bloody-thesis was referred to as "conceptually interesting", a "challenging project", "absolutely fascinating" and according to someone who will - hopefully - send me details on how this can be done, I "should consider editing it for publication". After that - thinking it was about time - I went out and bought the blue gown. And right now, right this minute, even as I give myself a mental-pat-on-the-back-for-a-job-well-done-despite-everything, I can't help but wonder... what do I want more right now: my paper to be accepted for publication, or double chocolate cake? :P