April 4 - The day three little letters were tacked onto my name. Granted, the first few hours of the day found me more nervous than I think I've ever been before. But the rest of the day, starting with the minute I started my defense presentation, were amazing. I enjoyed my defense, that time-honored ritual in which you walk into a room a lowly grad student and emerge a Ph.D. I loved having my mom and step dad there to cheer me on as well as to take us out for a celebratory dinner and some much needed letting loose.
April 19 - My surprise Girl's Night (+Deano) on the town. Di and then-pregnant Geb flew to Tampa to surprise me as a congratulatory gift for graduating. Di and I realized pregnant women make the best designated drivers but have the appetite of someone who's been drinking heavily. And it was awesome that Deano could be there. It used to be no guys allowed but that became impractical when we started marrying off. But usually it's Paul (Mr. Geb) that gets to witness the spectacle. This time, Dean got to be an honorary "Girl" for the night and he had a blast.
July 19 - Our weekend getaway. My birthday present from Deano: a hotel room in downtown St. Pete along with tickets to the Rays game and the MC Hammer concert afterward. It was an all around perfect day, you can read all the details here. But what wasn't in the original post was something else that happened that day. I got a text message while at the game that my two cat friends had finally trapped the limping wounded kitten I had found two days earlier. McLovin would turn out to be my best birthday present and definitely one of the best things to happen in 2008.
September 7 - My last full day in Paris. At the start of 2008 I would have never guessed I would have spent a weekend alone in Paris. But we never know what life is going to throw at us. And even though I was terrified I'm so glad I did it. That Sunday I felt like I belonged in Paris. I went to the little bakery next door to my hotel for un pain du chocolat (a chocolate croissant) for breakfast. I took the ferry to Musee d'Orsay. I went to la Tour Eiffel and l'Arc de Triomphe. Yes, I felt like a tourist at these places, but my little bit of French, and my increasing confidence at using it, left me feeling like more than the average American floundering among the French. And my dinner! Not only was the braised lamb and mashed potatoes to die for, but the cute, flirty waiter and his willingness to speak French with me while resorting to English with the other tourist patrons was a major coup.
November 4 - Of course. Totally predictable, but I would be seriously remiss to leave it out. Now that the euphoria of that day has passed, I will confess. I almost voted for John McCain. Dean, another ardent Obama supporter begged me to vote for McCain. Shocked? Well, until November 4th 2008, every single candidate for major office that I had voted for had lost. Like any devoted baseball fan I was willing to take one for the team. But in the moment it counted, I went with reason instead of superstition. Hope instead of fear. That day in the lab we had the cable news feeds on the internets, listening to interviews of voters and their experiences and how they felt casting the most important votes of their lifetimes. I was so proud to be an American that day. We were both crying after the announcement. This unlikely candidate, who we both followed from the beginning, had won it all. I put my voice out there, and it wasn't always comfortable. But it was all worth it. Truth be told, I'm still giddy. And our next president is a big reason I feel good about 2009.
Happy New Year, everyone!