Every year, late in November, I’m surprised that I didn’t remember to celebrate the day on which I defended my dissertation and so entered the next stage of my life. What day was it? I think it was the 17th. I woke up, early and anxious, and before I knew it, I was wearing a suit and tie and standing in the Frank Dobie room of the Flawn Academic Center. I had wanted to hold the defense in the lounge, a smaller room to the side which features a fireplace, a cowhide rug, and a stool made out of longhorn horns, but one of my supervisors balked and moved the proceedings to the adjoining room’s long, forbidding conference room tables. I let her have it. It wasn’t the right time to stick up for the longhorn stool and the cowhide rug. A couple of friends attended: my friend Christian came in from Houston, my most recent ex-girlfriend was there, my former roommate Kevin showed up; I was especially surprised to see Buddy Burniske show up. At the time, he was more of an acquaintance from grad school and would become a good friend later on. I had a set introduction, talked for a bit, and then endured some grilling — nothing that left scars, just enough to make me feel worked over. Honestly, at the end of it I wanted more of a workout. I’ve broken more sweat doing yoga. People talk about their defense as a trial that produces intense intellectual endorphins, but no skies parted for me. It all kind of plopped and skidded, then ground to a halt. I may have taken notes, I don’t remember. Afterwards, a couple of us went to Chango’s for lunch, and that night to Deep Eddy Cabaret with a bunch of folks who were happy I wouldn’t be a graduate any longer. I got good and appropriately drunk, woke up in an inappropriate bed, and got on a plane later headed to Detroit for my uncle’s wedding.