Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Life is what happens to you when you are making other plans.

I feel like I just stretched my legs for the first time after the 10 hour drive from Nashville to DC.  I still haven't unloaded all the books I brought with me, the car still needs to be washed, and I have yet to conduct an official interview, surely I am not over half way done with my stay...

I sent my first update to my faculty advisers this afternoon.  I should have used this quote as the email subject line: "Life is what happens when you are making other plans."  This post is dedicated to all the life that's happened in between emails, classes, and pages of journal articles.

First things first: happy hours, day trips, and incessant laughter among friends.  I am so happy to be  doing my dissertation in a city with friends (both new and old).  After spending the day staring at computer screens in a cold library, or weeks on end wrapped in a blanket coughing on the couch (as has been my life for the last 3 weeks), seeing the smiling faces of these people brings me back to life again.  Sarah, Ashley, and I have all enjoyed a few libations and giggles at local pubs about town.  Here's a shot from my first reunion with the delightful Miss Sarah Glynn.

Adventures with these women have taken me around the District to a handful of happy hours, shopping trips, sweaty metro rides, a concert filled with shenanigans, and most recently to Old Town Alexandria in Virginia--perhaps the strangest outing yet.  (Let's just say that an elderly frog disguised as a belching woman on our trolley was the highlight of our journey into Alexandria.)    

Sometime between my first happy hour with the girls, and my most recent round of antibiotics for the cold that just won't go away, my aunt Pam, uncle Bruce, and cousin Rachel stopped through DC for a few days before Rachel headed back out on her world travels.  (Remind me to be Rachel in my next life: she's on her way back to Turkey to work for a few weeks before starting her next semester abroad in France.)  While they were in town we gorged ourself with food, danced along with the Wii video game, and extended our 4th of July celebrations with some sparklers.  

That same week Serena performed in her much anticipated Musical Theatre Camp's final production.  Lauri and I had spent the prior 2 weeks watching Serena's at-home rehearsals, with both of us spontaneously bursting out with "Let Me Entertain You" at the dinner table.  Needless to say, everyone was excited to see the full performance.  Serena's entourage included Lauri, Pam and myself (Bruce and Rachel were off to the airport by this point.)  The three of us stood in the back of the small performance space in Rockville, Maryland with 7 pieces of audio/visual equipment pridefully recording the budding Broadway star.
As a surprise, the kids signed the last verse of the final song: "Happiness" from the musical, You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown. Even though Lauri, Pam, and myself all knew this surprise was coming, the three of us sat in the back of the room with tears in our eyes as we watched Serena stand front and center leading her fellow campers in sign.  As the only Deaf child in her camp, she is so clearly proud
of who she is and of her language, it couldn't be any more beautiful.  

Below is a shot of Serena signing "HAPPY."  (The sequence of photographs I took during this final verse could easily be edited into a video in and of itself... I love the continuous capture setting on my camera.)

After coming back home and reviewing the video and still photographs from the day, Serena continued to make us all laugh with her constant song, dance, and gymnastic performances.  It's never dull when that girl is around...

 Sometimes I am asked to spot her.  Here's a rare shot of me helping without tickling her in the process. I told Serena that because she is an only child it is my responsibility to show her what it is like to have an annoying older sibling.  I've had enough first experience to know just the best ways to best annoy her...tickling.

It's amazing how a drink with friends, a shopping trip gone awry, fireworks with family, or a child's Broadway musical performance can make some of the recent criticism of my work easier to take.  I guess Serena's right: "A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down."  

Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places, and from people who have no idea that they are inspiring you.  Like this message my dad sent me recently....

And speaking of him...aren't my parents cute?  They've been enjoying their summer on a footloose and fancy free vacation up and down the California coast this summer.  

Amidst all of this life, I actually have made some progress on the dissertation.  Although at this point its hard to see just how much closer I've come to a specific research question, a dissertation proposal, or even a completed reading list, I do know that its been a good summer.  I'm enjoying letting life happen instead of focusing so much on the planning right now.

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