For many things, there are both good forms and bad forms. In the past three days, I have had both here in Aberdeen. Because I like to end on a positive note and thus not spoil the rest of your day with negativity, I'll tell you about the bad grilling first.
Today was, for me, the dreaded day. Each year, us PhD types have to undergo twenty minutes of hell-- namely, trying to prove to the head of the department and the postgraduate officer (or some variety of professors in formal roles such as these) that we have done work this past year, we do have some idea of what we are talking about, and yes, we will finish. We all hate these days, and pray that they will not be as bad as we expect. Sometimes, God answers those prayers. For me, last year He did not-- it was not a pleasant experience, as I was pretty much told that they (the two powers that be, that day) did not see any way that I would possibly get done in any kind of reasonable amount of time. And this despite the fact that both my supervisor and I were pleased with my progress, and felt I would be done. It was horrible. So this year, I have been refusing to think about this interview or to let myself worry. I'm too close to being done to let those stuffed shirts tell me what I am or am not capable of. I tell myself that often enough, thank you very much. So I wasn't nervous at all. I didn't really want to go, but I wasn't dreading it, or feeling any signs of nerves.
Until I was sitting outside the door to KCG10. That's when I started shaking, and my heart started racing, and I felt like I was going to pass out. But then again, that could just be me and not the nerves at all. It was this time last year, after all... but that's another story.
I was nervous. Despite all my big talk that I wasn't. Now I was. I didn't want to get grilled, and to come out burnt. Eeek! But this year, God did answer my prayers. Thank you, God, for small miracles! It went so much better than I had expected. My two assessors were supposed to be Professor Schaper, from the Old Testament department, who was notorious last year for really raking people over the coals. I did NOT want to be one of those people. But apparently he's not that way to us girls-- he is very polite and encouraging. God knows why he's hard on the boys and easy on us, but who am I to complain? So that was good. I was also supposed to have Francesca Murphy, who I have had every single year so far-- and she is NOT easy on us girls. I don't think she's easy on anyone. So when I walked in and it was Phil Ziegler instead, I was quite pleased. He was very polite, as well, and talked so fast it made me giggle at the thought that he was more nervous than I was. I'm sure that's not true, but it was still funny to me. Whatever works, man. It helped. Brian was there, as well, to back me up and support me-- or to tell me off, if there were any problems that we hadn't talked about yet, I guess. But so far that's never been the case. Whew. So they asked me a few questions, like what my last chapter is about, and what other than that I have left before I'm done, and whether this last bit is all theory or all practice, and about how I think the whole thing might hang together. I answered as best I could, a bit tongue-tied due to my sudden attack of nerves and a little incoherently on the things that I haven't gotten all worked out myself yet. But they seemed happy enough, and there wasn't anything I couldn't answer at all-- and no one called me a liar when I said I would be done. So that was a plus right there. Whew. I signed my little assessment paperwork, and I came home. And collapsed on the sofa. I would say I was well done last year, slightly charred, even... this year, a nice medium rare. Much, much better all round, but still not the most pleasant of experiences. I think the cow would rather be alive, no matter how tasty it will be once grilled. =D
To end on the positive note, here's my happy grilling story. I went away with my book club on Friday for a mini-retreat (which is another story), and came back on Saturday to meet friends at ASDA for a barbecue on the beach. Hannah and Cam are leaving Aberdeen in about a week, and they wanted to have one nice night on the beach with food and friends. Since the weather last week was so fantastic (another story, as well), it should have been perfect timing. Except that Saturday decided to be chilly, and then the harr came in. Stupid harr. It's this really lovely thick misty fog that comes in off the sea, especially when the weather has been warm. All the nice lovely warm air goes up, and the cold misty foggy air comes rushing in under it. It's seriously like pea soup, it can be so thick, and everything gets damp. But if they wanted an Aberdeen experience, they couldn't have done any better! ;)
I met Hannah, Cam, Jayne, Shawn, and Iain at ASDA, where we did our shopping for the evening. We bought little mini grills, and loads of meats and crisps and wine and a few salads. Nothing too healthy, just some slaw. =) Then we walked down to the beach and found a little stone pier to camp ourselves on. It was pretty, but the longer we sat, the more the wind chilled us to the bone. So we drank wine, to keep warm, of course. We had to. We would have frozen otherwise. Honestly. The boys grilled and played with the fire (a feat in itself, to get the grills going in the windy dampness), and the girls sat on the blanket talking, drinking, and eating crisps. Ben and Lizzie showed up in the midst of the fun, which added to the fellowship. And they brought Doritos and guacamole. =) It was really a lot of fun, even though our lips and fingers were blue. I was flat exhausted from the night away on Friday, but I wouldn't have missed it for the world! Grilled steak and chinese ribs and sausages and turkey breasts... yum. When we could stand the cold no longer, we all walked home. I swear, it's lucky I didn't get pulled over for drink walking (as opposed to drink driving, as they call drunk driving here)... but all that wine did keep me warm. Warmish. Something like that. It was quite the Aberdeen summer event, and thank goodness Lizzie and Ben had their camera there! Sadly, my internet tonight is being persnickity and won't let me download the copies they sent. So I'll have to post them later in an edit, when I can get them. For now, picture this: the cold and grey north sea behind, with the tide going out; limited visibility due to the lovely thick harr coming in; eight of us perched on the little ledge while the camera perches on its makeshift tripod in order to snap our lips frozen nonetheless in sincere and real smiles. Makes you wish you were there, doesn't it?
Seriously. It was a great night. I love that kind of grilling!