Monday, April 9, 2012

Becoming Dr. Lyon

This journey towards Ed's doctorate began a long time ago. In fact, as I've shared before, I met him his very first day here in Santa Cruz. I had just come back from a long run when the housing R.A. asked if I wanted to meet the new person moving into our building. I caught Ed just as he and his brother were moving in some furniture and we started chatting. And, we just kept talking. I couldn't believe my luck that such a good looking and seemingly normal guy was moving in right below me. Apparentely, Keven, Ed's brother, got a little frustrated that his brother had stopped to flirt while he was still moving Ed's stuff. At the end of our conversation, he invited me to go for a run (a good bet, since I was wearing running clothes at the time) and I gave him my phone number. 

(Ed right before he began his presentation, looking cool and collected)

After our amazing 7 mile run in Nisene Marks (though why I thought  7 miles was an appropriate first date length run...) I had a really good feeling about him. When we talked on the phone later that night, we talked so long that the battery finally gave out on my phone. At that point, I had the realization that I could just walk down the flight of stairs and actually talk in person. We talked for hours longer, until it was finally time for me to go home and to bed. As I was about to walk out, we kissed for the first time. And, from that point, we were inseparable.

(Delicious homemade pumpkin bread made by a woman Ed works with. She explained them by saying that "the smell of pumpkin makes everyone relaxed. It's aromatherapy!")

Now, I start this story of Ed earning his PhD here, because our blossoming relationship was also when Ed first started exploring this new career. I'd work on my credentialing homework while Ed read papers, both of us exploring a new field of learning. I have such fond memories sitting in his apartment while it was raining outside (this seemed to happen a lot that year), with a hot pot of tea and both of us poring over our work. 

Over that first year, we spent some of every day together, cooking dinner together at his place, buying groceries together, enjoying getting to know one another. By January of that year, we knew that this was something special and serious and that we were in this for the long term, and we began talking about living together when I graduated. 

His second year, he really got into doing research, working on his second year project and getting more involved in his research projects as well. He was no longer teaching at this point, and being a student really was his job. This was also the year Ed proposed. 

(Ed with three out of four of his committee - the people responsible for accepting or denying his dissertation defense. Jerome, the man on Ed's left with his arm around Ed, has been instrumental in Ed's PhD journey (and important in our life as well - he is the one who married us). Ed is his first graduate student to graduate, and it was a very proud moment for him.)

Ed's third year was when he had his qualifying exams, and had to convince his committee that is idea for his thesis was a good one, and that he was ready for the next phase of his education. Of course, he passed with flying colors and became a PhD candidate. The fourth year was more writing, and traveling, and researching. It was a tough year full of lots of hard work. But, we started seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. 

(Ed walking on a beautiful trail through campus on our way to lunch. I'd forgotten how breathtaking UCSC was and what a privilege it was to live here for a year)

This last year was more nerve-wracking than all the rest. The End was in sight and, with that, the prospect that very soon, our lives would be changing dramatically. We began talking in more earnest about all the places we'd love to live and then, as job openings began being posted, these talks became more real. Would we do well in Philadelphia? Kansas? Michigan? Colorado? What was important for us as a couple? Would we even have a real choice or would it just be wherever Ed got offered a job? Could we stay in the Bay Area? 

(One of the many deer all over campus that we had the joy of seeing)

Ed applied for about 40 positions all over the country and then we waited, and waited. He got lots of phone interviews at some desirable places (CSU Channel Islands) and some not so desirable (some small Jesuit school somewhere in the south). And, after flying out to Temple University in Philadelphia, Kansas State in Manhattan Kansas ("the little apple"), and Arizona State in Phoenix, ASU made the first move, offering Ed a great job. While there was some deliberation, especially after Ed got a phone interview at San Jose State, we knew ASU was the best choice for his career, and for us as a family.

With the future in sight and definitive, it's gotten exciting. Visiting Phoenix, getting a realtor, getting pre-approved for a home loan, applying for my jobs. In just a few months, our new life will begin. 

But first, Ed had one last step. He needed to defend is work. Prove to his committee and his university that he was ready to graduate. 

Which brings us to this past Thursday, in one of the presentation rooms in the education wing of the library. Seeing my husband in this pivotal moment in his career, getting to hear him explain in a confident, clear way what he had been discovering and creating in his work the past five years was such a privilege. It made me think about my own work and decisions as and educator and want to be an even better teacher. He did amazingly.

After his presentation was the most stressful part, the Q & A. For 45 minutes they asked him questions, at varying levels of difficulty, about his research, his findings, and his work. They asked him why he argued certain things, to clarify other points, and even his opinion on the best way to reshape the teacher credentialing program as a whole. They pushed him, as they are supposed to, and Ed did a great job of handling every question exactly as he should have. He has such a confidence about his work and you could tell, from the questions his committee asked that they had a lot of confidence in the importance of his work, too.

 After that, the committee retired to the next room to "deliberate" and less than 10 minutes later they were back, announcing that they had unanimously voted that Ed should receive his PhD. Even though Ed had told me there wasn't a chance they would fail him, I think we both still breathed a sigh of relief. The tension dissipated and the committee invited me to pull my chair over to their table and join in on the conversation. Everyone was so much more casual and relaxed. Trish, one of the committee members, started joking about how long it'd be until we had kids :). She shared a very cute story (that Ed denies wholeheartedly) about how a few years ago, when another woman had her baby at work most every day, Ed was so taken with her and talked about how he couldn't wait to have kids. However, first needed to come the degree, then the job, then the house. Then, he could have kids. Trish commented that, of course, all those things would be checked of the list very soon....

They talked a little more about next steps for Ed (he has to make some minor edits) and then it was time for lunch. We headed to a nice place on campus and continued conversations about what it would be like to be a professor for Ed among other things. It was great to hear more about what I can expect for my husband this coming year.

After the end of the meal, we said goodbye to two of his committee, and then headed to Jerome's house to celebrate a little more and to start planning our celebratory party. 

Jerome has so kindly offered to host a party at his home, and took us to the party rental store to pick out all the many details that go into a party, apparently. Thank goodness for Jerome's guidance, because neither Ed nor I were very good at picking out flatware or linens. 

Now, with a little over 2 months left and Ed's PhD all but finished. We're ready to start transitioning. To say goodbye to this area that we've called home these last 9 years. To soak in the bay area beauty by visiting as many special places as we can before we leave. To enjoy time with friends that we won't live near for much longer. And, to plan. To plan for our future home, our future careers. And our future life.

So, congratulations to my husband, Dr. Edward Geaney Lyon. I love you so much and couldn't be any prouder to be your wife. 

1 comment:

  1. That was beautifully written. Love the picture of you kissing his cheek. Congrats again to you both, it's such a huge accomplishment.