The Big Day

I took my first class at Penn State on April 29, 2002. I took my last class August 27, 2005. I received my diploma back in September or October of ’05. Last Sunday, I went to a brunch where I was honored with a certificate of academic achievement for getting a 4.0 GPA. And all of that pales in comparsion to how nervous I feel today, when I finally commence at a ceremony at 7:00 tonight.

Realistically? I don’t even have to go. I already have the diploma. I’ve already been honored for my achievements. It’s just pomp and circumstance. My sister talked me into doing it, because she likes pomp and circumstance.

But there is something to be said for real closure – the feeling that this is done, it can be put away now, and there are other things to do. And after today I can say without any doubt that I am a Master of Software Engineering, which has a pretty hefty ring to it.

That’s kind of cool.

a poem

subpar, but i’m out of practice.

fun house

I’m an engineer now-
capable of conversing extemporaneous
on the relative merits of
agile development, refactoring,
and whether we really should
clean up the bad smells in that code.

I, who embraced an unholy fear of offending,
convince total strangers that they made mistakes
and get paid to do so.

I spend my free time programming,
or watching science-geek shows on cable
with my husband and my dog and my computer.
I eat too much for my already round frame, and
I work out.

I, who cannot draw, publish online comics.
I, who fear the world, publish my journal.

I haven’t read a book since December,

I haven’t written a poem since 2003.

sometimes, even I don’t recognize myself.

August 10, 2005

The suspense is killing me

I know perfectly well that my grade won’t be up yet – it’d be insane to think my grade would be up today when class only ended on Wednesday…. still, I’m reloading the gradesite for PSU students about once an hour… no luck yet… dangit!

It’s like playing some warped slot machine – I really want to hit the 4.0 jackpot, I’m terrified I’m going to bust out with an A-, and so far all I’m getting is “free roll, try again”.

So, it’s done.

My last class is finished.

My professor assures us that we’ve all passed.

I’d party but I’m too tired to do much more than eat a celebratory bowl of ice cream and sit like a lump on the sofa. Very shortly (once we’ve determined if Nighthawk’s car battery is dead) I’ll be going to bed.

All at once I feel like a huge weight has been lifted from my shoulders and that the whole world is open to me… and also that I’ve lost a little something, not having class to go to anymore.

They say that these are not the best of times
But they’re the only times I’ve ever known
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of our own

For we are always what our situations hand us
It’s either sadness or euphoria

(billy joel)

I’ve been assured that this will wear off… I’ve also been assured that just because I’m a Master Engineer I won’t necessarily be allowed to drive a train. (Apparently, Conductors do that. I pointed out that I’m mostly water and trace minerals, and they’re both pretty good conductors, but that was not enough.)

And despite fears that I won’t have enough to do, it looks like I’ll be pretty busy. A webcomic to re-buffer, a website to re-revise, my brother-in-law’s birthday / high school graduation party this weekend, Virginia Beach next week, visits from some ideaphiles the week after that, and so on and so forth. And then there’s the floor to finish in the 2nd bedroom and then bathrooms to remodel, etc. etc. it goes on and on. Still, graduation frees up about 10-20 hours a week of my time, so I should be a little more relaxed.

Next Monday my shift changes – I’ll be working 5 days a week for the first time in a few years, 10:30am-7:00pm. Very odd.

To all of you who’ve helped me stay sane these past three years, thank you!

I did it! It’s done.

3 am for close to the last time

I’m currently uploading the last of the changes to our class project website — at least, the last ones I plan on making… at least, the last ones tonight. We’ve reached the stage where we’re rapidly writing documentation to try to get our deliverables together, and discussing lockdown dates. If all else fails we lock down at 6pm on Wednesday, because that’s when we hand all our blood, sweat, and tears over to Dr. LaPlante. At that point, three of the four members of my group (myself included) are done, finished, kaput, end-of-Master’s.

Meanwhile, it’s 3am Sunday and I’m not going to wonder why I feel like hell all day later when I get up.

At least if I’m up until 3am coding in the future, it’ll be for either money or my own insanity.

I love the buffer.

I was up until 1:00 this morning working on class stuff. Made a lot of great progress, which is good, because the thing’s due in 8 DAYS. eek.

Dog had me up at 2:30, when she drained her water bowl, begged for more water, drank that, fought me when I tried to send her outside to pee, finally went out, peed like a racehorse (only maybe not so tall) when she finally got out there, came back in, and promptly threw up most of the water on the rug.

To be honest, throughout all this I’d quite forgotten that today was Tuesday and I had a comic to post. For what little (4.5 hours) sleep I got last night I spent most of it dreaming about PHP programming and about work — no pressure there. But since I’d managed to slog together a few half-assed comics (no, not my best work) into a buffer during vacation, I didn’t *have* to worry, and that was a feeling I’d missed.

Goal one when all this is over (in 9 DAYS! eek.) is to rebuild my buffer into at least two months. And hell, if I get that done, maybe I’ll even go to a three-day-a-week schedule. But no promises. There’s no guarantee I’ll make it through the next eight days with these shreds of my sanity in tact.

ps. a quick thank-you to ideaphile Jamie, who sent me some fan art in April when I’d put up a call for it – your art’s finally going to be run a week from now. And believe you me, I’m glad it’s there for me to run!