Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pomp & Our Circumstances


For the entire 8 years we’ve been married, Jack has been a full time student. To put things in perspective, when his cub scouts ask him what grade he’s in, he says, “Twenty second.” And he’s being completely serious.

On Friday, his doctoral dissertation was filed after receiving approval from its committee of advisors. In layman’s terms: He’s like, totally finished.

Jack said that being a PhD doesn’t feel any different. But actually, our lives have changed quite dramatically.

For instance, we just moved from a two bedroom apartment built in the 1960s, to a two bedroom apartment built in the 1970s. And our rent doubled! You may not be able to see the difference between our new place and our old one, but I am certain we are enjoying the luxury of unseen seismic upgrades.

Since graduation, I have also found it necessary to come up with new things to complain about. As residents of student housing we went six years without a dishwasher, washer or dryer - Something I loved to lament, particularly in my journal. (200 years from now my posterity will want to discuss the hardships of their ancestors - I always thought it would be fun to be cited as a reference). Now that we have home appliances, I’ve been testing out some new material (“Dear Journal, I miss the laundromat, and am so tired of emptying this dishwasher!”)

One thing that has not changed, unfortunately, is my inability to explain exactly what it is that Jack does. The title of one of the papers in his dissertation, for those who don't believe me, is “Accurately Sized Test Statistics with Misspecified Conditional Homoskedasticity ??????” (question marks added for emphasis).

Now, he is employed as a Lecturer of Game Theory. If you are wondering what Game Theory is, or why it takes 6 years of home appliance deprivation to earn a degree that qualifies one to teach it, you will have to ask Jack himself. I will give you a hint: It has nothing to do with designing an NFL offense.

And thus begins the next phase of our lives, and the end of a 22-year phase of Jack’s. I will spare you the details of how proud I am of him. But as a few of you know, graduate school has been a very winding road. More than his degree, I will always be impressed by the way he handled the process of obtaining it. He demonstrated a lot of integrity when he didn’t have to, and a lot of persistence when he didn’t necessarily want to.

Plus, contemplating Misspecified Homoskedasticity is no small feat when your ivory tower looks like this



I snapped this picture a few years ago while Jack was working on his dissertation. I can’t tell you how many hours he spent studying while wearing a fussy baby in the Bjorn, or how many lectures he prepared at the park, while pushing the kids on the swings.

I think that’s what they call graduating with honors.


(*Editor's Note: The author of this post acknowledges the possibility that at the time this photograph was taken, Jack was not actually working on his dissertation, but rather managing his Fantasy Football team.)

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