I defended this Thursday, and it was great.
For the first part of my introduction before my talk, my advisor read the opening paragraph of my personal statement from when I applied to grad school here, which was embarrassing but in a good way – I was such an earnest little language-dork! Then he proceeded to damn near make me cry, in telling everyone that he’d never been prouder of or more impressed by a student than he was of me, and saying a little bit about some of the health difficulties and other obstacles I’d had to overcome to get where I was. It was just huge to me to hear him say that in front of the whole department, to have my very hard (but not always visible) work acknowledged in that way.
Then I gave my talk. It went well – my “I’ve given a million lectures/workshops/etc” experience kicked in and I was very comfortable. And then, with 7 slides to go, Keynote crashed. HARD. Like, “forcibly restarted my computer and then wouldn’t come back” hard. So I gave the last bit of my talk sans slides and notes, which was actually kind of fun! I think I actually did really well. Even pantomimed a graph. Ha!
The oral exam was also pretty fun, if a little nervewracking. I buttered them up with homemade apple cake (my great-grandma Alice’s recipe, which my advisor loves), and then they each took turns asking me 10 minutes worth of questions (which weren’t exactly easy, but also not “gotcha” questions – they were interesting to think about and it was more like, “hey, we’d like to hear what you think about this”, not “hey, we’re making sure you’re not actually stupid”), and then we chatted a bit, and then I was DONE! Every single one of them told me how beautiful my dissertation was, how much they appreciated the clear and engaging writing, and I don’t actually have to do any revisions except fixing a handful of typos, and then I can submit it to ProQuest and be truly finished.
My advisor had a party for me at his house in the afternoon/early evening, and it was just a really mellow event, which is what I wanted (sometimes post-defense parties in my department can get a bit raucous and that just doesn’t suit me at all). Such a good day.