It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat. -Teddy Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic”
It’s been raining birthdays and celebrations around here for the past few weeks, which has made it a little hard to find time to write about it all. If you combine my constantly being on the go with the fact that this past weekend I was in Tennessee for a wedding and also that I’m in a dissertation writing groove (oddly, I hit my stride with poetry and not prose, thereby proving that the world is a funny old place), the sum total is that this space sadly gets a little neglected. But let me stress that neglected is not the same as forgotten; not only do I have a rhubarb recipe in the wings, but I took a ton of photos in Nashville, i.e. my new favorite place to visit, as well. I just need time to get it all on the page.
In the meantime though, I wanted to share some photos from the whirlwind that was the second half of May. You see, six days after my birthday, the Greek turned 28 (yes, a true young’un, as they would say in the south). To celebrate his day we drove north to Marin County with the pup, a baguette, antipasti, cold cuts, cheese, beer and fruit. The day was gorgeously sunny, but, as things tend to go in northern California, the sunshine masked the reality of the brisk breeze that, even in May, can make you long for mittens and a thick scarf.
After gorging on all kinds of treasures from Berkeley Bowl, we took our beloved beast, who had been anxiously prowling for anything we might drop, for a run on the beach. Needless to say, after being denied so many treats, she had a lot of aggression to work out.
She ran and ran and ran, exploring all that Muir Beach had to offer. Although we had to run with her and lack the stamina of our pup, all of the exercise was ultimately a good thing since the next day, my graduation, she would spend most of the day on her own in her crate.
Believe me when I say that it’s a strange thing to “graduate” when you’re not yet officially done. How can you celebrate the end of something when you still very much feel like you’re in the thick of it? But I suppose I wasn’t celebrating as much as I was marking the end of an era–the end of my Berkeley years, the end of living my life according to academic time, the end of carrying half my weight in books on my back…It doesn’t even matter that I’ve been going to the campus almost on a daily basis to write since the ceremony; walking across the stage was a rite of passage and one that gave me the nudge I needed to restart the writing process and finish this thing once and for all.
Forward, comrades! I’ve been feeling this for a while, but there really is no turning back now. My completion of the program is practically official. I ate a piece of the graduation cake, my hand was shaken and my oath of service was proclaimed (seriously, this happened; it was like a marriage ceremony, although an unnecessary one since I’m pretty sure I’m filing for divorce); one of the department administrators even gave me the white chocolate Campanile since it was my special day. I don’t often put pictures of myself on the blog, but for graduation I’ll make an exception. This is what seeing the light at the end of the tunnel looks like.