I flew in on Sunday -- actually, I had a direct flight Sunday morning, but they bumped me to a long indirect flight through Denver, so I spent four extra hours travelling but got a free plane ticket voucher out of it. I'm honestly not sure I would have volunteered for that, given the need not to be tired the next day, but they didn't give me any choice about it, and now I'm happy to have the voucher (WorldCon? Strange Horizons Oregon workshop? So many possibilities!), so it all worked out. I arrived at the airport around 4-ish, took the shuttle to the extremely pathetic (but dirt-cheap) travellodge (which didn't even have any food in the building), and crammed for four hours, until Jed arrived. I mostly reviewed my contemporary novel list -- I had brought about two dozen of the books with me, the ones I'd last looked at last summer. Review was very helpful.
Jed got in around 8, and we took a cab over to the Sugarhouse area, had dinner at Wendy's (due to lack of time), and saw the 9:10 showing of Two Weeks Notice -- Sandra Bullock and Hugh Grant, much fun. Not any kind of blockbuster, but a delightful little flick. We laughed plenty. Afterwards, pretty much went back to the inn and went to sleep.
Monday morning, I finished up reviewing the contemporary books while Jed went out to scavenge pancakes and eggs. Good Jed. Around 11 I started getting ready -- shower and sober grey dress (v. comfortable and professional-looking) and subdued makeup (which actually seemed to function as armor, oddly enough.) Then more reviewing. Around noon we headed to campus, with Jed quizzing me on crit stuff in the cab. I was too nervous to eat any lunch, but I got some chai on campus and then took Jed to my department, depositing him and his powerbook in the grad student lounge, where I proceeded to review crit for another hour or so, with intermittent breaks for Jed to quiz me, or me to ask Paul (in the neighbouring office) about Hegel and Heidegger, or simply to pace. Ran into N. in the hallway on one of my pacing trips and she told me I looked good, which was all that actually mattered, so I didn't need to worry. Good N. -- it's silly, but that did make me feel better.
Around 1:20, I went to the restroom and ran into Katie, my committee chair. She asked how I was, and I said good but jittery, and she paused long enough to show me that if you tighten the muscles just above your stomach, you get calmer. She claimed that this was a yoga thing, that you were controlling the flow of adrenaline. No idea if this is true, but it seeemed to work, so I was simply grateful. Back to studying. By 1:40, I absolutely couldn't study any more, and was perilously close to freaking out. Snuggled with Jed for ten minutes while he tried to distract me by showing me photos on his powerbook. Eventually that stopped working, and at 1:50, I gave him a kiss and went to go check e-mail -- I hadn't checked it in two days, so that seemed a suitable distraction. It worked well enough that I didn't actually throw up, even though I felt like I wanted to. I have not been anywhere near that nervous since eighth grade, when I used to do piano recitals with twenty-page memorized Rachmaninoff pieces that I really hadn't practiced quite enough, in front of a massive crowd of strangers. It was hideous.
At 1:59, I walked over to the room where the exam would be, and walked in, and sat down at the big conference table. Vince and Robin were there already -- Kim came in a minute later, and the three of them proceeded to trade stories about how much worse the exams *used* to be, and how much worse their own exams had been at other schools. I'm not sure it actually made me feel any better, but I appreciated the distraction. I was a tight little ball of tension; I was actually almost physically curled up, with my hands tucked tightly under my thighs. Katie came in with a bottle of water and asked if I was okay, if I needed water or anything, and almost before I could answer she went out again and got me a mug of water. Good Katie. Then they all sat down, and we started.
(I need tea. Going to go make some. Actual exam in next entry.)