Just a few notes on the ceremony: it wasn't anywhere near as painful as I was expecting it to be. We were lined up by major (there were 12-15 linguistics students), so I got to reconnect with some classmates I hadn't seen since last year, and we kept each other amused throughout most of the looooong list of names by chatting, making fun of the errors on the tele-transcript, eating dark chocolate, debating whether or not the alma mater was 'blasphemous' (with its use of such phrases as 'thy glorious name we praise'), and looking out for former high school classmates (I think half my Stanton class was there).
They snapped a picture of each of us in front of a plain background while we were waiting in line; then we handed white cards with the proper pronunciation of our names to the announcer and got our turn to walk across the stage and shake the hands of Neil Sullivan (the dean), Senator Bob Graham (the keynote speaker - he was good) and Bernie Machen (the UF president), in that order. It was a pretty memorable walk, for a couple of reasons. First, a couple of friends of mine were sitting onstage with the prestigious '4.0 GPA' group, so they were calling my name as I went. Then, when I got to Bob Graham, instead of just saying 'congratulations' and moving on like he did with everyone else, he started up a little conversation, "Congratulations. So where are you going from here?"
"Chapel Hill," I said, a little surprised.
"Grad school?" he asked.
"That's great. Good luck to you."
Odd, that he had a chat with me and nobody else. Guess he could sense I was a Democrat. ;)
And then, during the walk up to Bernie Machen (formal handshake #3), I passed Albert Matheny (my favorite advisor in the whole world, who always solves my seemingly earth-shattering problems without breaking a sweat and has saved my academic butt multiple times) sitting in the front row of stage chairs, so then he jumped up and shook my hand and give me a big hug and kiss on the cheek and said his congratulations too. I think I took up a lot more time than most others did, but I must say, it made me feel very popular. :)
Afterwards, we took the obligatory pictures, and then it was time to eat. But did we join the crowd and rush out to Olive Garden or Carrabba's? Oh no. The Weather family always has to be different. So, we tailgated in the parking garage. Yes, in our fancy suits and dresses, we opened the back of the minivan, turned on the Jimmy Buffett music, and ate hors d'oeurves of crackers, smoked salmon (with cream cheese, onions, and capers!), cheese, cold shrimp, and chocolate cookies. The perfect graduation lunch - no reservation required.
The award for Quote of the Day goes to Mom. Vaguely nibbling garlic Melba Toast, during a break in the conversation, she suddenly announced with great certainty, "I think it's fitting that you move the tassel from right to left. Because as you get more educated--" Way ahead of her, I collapsed into Dad, giggling madly. Mom and her politics. Gotta love it.
So now I'm sitting on the couch at home in Jacksonville, and the UF chapter of my life really is completely over now. But it was a great day to end it with.