I'm done. I'm really done. It's been a long, long road, but I finally made it. I graduated and now have a degree in architecture that I can proudly hang on the wall next to the others. I was driving home after one of the last classes and I thought "why did I do this?" Don't get me wrong, I am glad I did it. I enjoyed it, I excelled at it, and I know it was the right path for my life. But let's be clear. I would never, ever, under any circumstances encourage anyone in their right mind to study architecture, especially anyone with kids. You would really have to have something wrong with you to try that. Take me, for example.
Here's the thing. I didn't know when I nonchalantly signed up for my first architecture class what an architecture degree entailed, and I don't think most people do. Let me try to explain. It's not that you have to be the least bit smart, or read a lot or write brilliant papers or even take huge exams--you don't. You are just required to do an astronomical amount of work (and give up any social life or sleeping requirements you may have thought you had). And not just any work, it's time-consuming, tedious work. Every week you must come to class with new models, new drawings, new research, new conceptual ideas, new sketches, new layouts, etc. Okay, it doesn't sound like much, but you can spend 4, 5, 8, 12 hours on just one drawing and even a little cardboard model could take you all night to build, let alone the final drawings and models. Then you pin your hours of work up on the board and try to explain meaning into your model while teachers and classmates tear you to shreds. This begins the next round of changes, new models, new drawings, more all-nighters, more stress. And then you do it again the next week and the next, and the next year and the next, until you find yourself driving home one night wondering why on earth you did all that! Like I said, nobody in their right mind would do it.
I don't wish to put down any other degree. I know some of them are very demanding. Medical school? Dental school? An MBA? And Law school? Heaven knows I could have never lasted three weeks trying to digest any of that. All I know is that when I did my first bachelor's degree, I only stayed up all night when I was hanging out with my roommates passing around the pan of communal mac and cheese or when we had cleaning inspection the next day (those were the days). Architecture? People have refrigerators, microwaves, blow up mattresses and razors at their desks because they literally stay at school for days working on projects. I still don't understand why they haven't installed showers yet. It's insane. Just listen to me when I say that nobody should do architecture!!! Spare your friends.
All that being said, I did do it and I feel proud to be able to say I did. I only have a few pictures of graduation because, as life usually goes, the camera ran out of batteries while I was walking across the stage. When I went to get my robe (the day before), they were out of my size (5'6"-the most common height) so I tried on the 5'9" and was about to take it when one of the workers insisted the sleeves were way to long. So she convinced me to get the 5'0"-5'2" size which pretty much looked like a lab coat instead of a graduation gown. Looking at the few pictures I do have, maybe it's better there aren't more of me looking so ridiculous.
Of course it doesn't help the the one-size-fits-all hat kept sliding off my puny head. And no, we did not take "crazy baby" to the 2 1/2 hour ceremony, thank goodness. Not sure what's up with Erin's face.
This is a picture of about half of the architecture graduates this semester and some of our professors. Also shown is my "smock" which stands out even more next to the normal length, and might I add ironed, gowns (was that lady at the bookstore trying to make a laughingstock out of me or what?) And of course I stand in the front. Also just so you know, that is the actual color of my legs, not white nylons. Yeah, I live in Florida but I can still blind people with the pasty's.
The best part of graduation for me, besides finding out that we had a school song and what our mascot was (Owls--who knew?), was the fact that I got to wear those cool cords. I didn't think about it till I got there and saw my name card which said Magna Cum Laude. I was the only architecture student to graduate with honors (unlike the 50 million nursing students... not to compare degrees, but seriously, something's got to be different if that's the case) and the director said there have been very few architecture students to do that. To me, those dorky yellow cords gave me a small sense of satisfaction for all the hard work I've put in. And not to dwell on technicalities, but I was .02 grade points away from being Summa Cum Laude and yes, I am still bitter at a couple of teachers for giving the undeserved non-A's. But I guess Magna Cum Laude is still pretty cool.
I also found out last week that I won the thesis prize for all of the Design 10 projects this semester. At least I think that's what I heard over my screaming children. For future reference, 18 month olds do not belong at university GALA's (hence the term "crazy baby"). I guess that was pretty cool too, especially after my lousy review, but not like wearing the goldenrod cords. Here's a condensed version of the final project.
P.S. I promise to spare you of too many more posts about architecture. It's almost out of my system.