Sunday, September 09, 2007

Look Ma, I created a new self!

I successfully completed my thesis “defense” this past Friday. On the way out of the building, I used the word, “ascertain,” and my friend from the Biology Department who participated in the defense as the “Observer” from another College, said, “See, you’re smarter already.”

“Welcome to the community of scholars,” called out one of the art professors from my department as I drove up to the house where Women’s Studies was conveniently having a party that night. She was enacting a mild parody, and I understood that, but I do feel different, somehow.

My decades-long recurring dream of having a baby (however deformed or non-human it turned out to be, and even if I accidentally lost or destroyed it later) recurred that very night, after the party. This time, it felt as real and true and as non-surrealistic as a dream can be. I was pregnant, and had gone into labor, and realized that my identity would soon change forever. Then someone in the dream reminded me that most women are mothers, and it’s not really anything special in terms of human achievement. But of course it’s special for each mother. And, it follows, for each master’s degree candidate, although they are legion.

Since I don’t have any “real” children, my “baby” has always been something like a thesis, some project or other. Perhaps this is the first time the "baby" was legitimate and had all its proper parts: brain, legs, arms, chapters, endnotes, bibliography. It certainly wasn’t premature. It took me six years. Ten years before that I was merely thinking about returning to school for English literature. In between, I somehow got halfway through an art education master’s but changed my mind. (From that experience I learned not to pay for graduate courses by credit card.)

Yes, I am one of many. I am officially in the circus-like “community of scholars” now, and for some reason, although while I was “pregnant,” I very much wanted to quit, I now want to “have” another one. Someday. Or, maybe I’ll adopt.