grateful list: friends, not an exhaustive list by any means

While visiting with my grandmother in Ft. Walton she asked me how I became interested in teaching and in going to graduate school. I said in my last post that my parents influenced me a great deal, and helped prepare me for a life of intellectual pursuits. While that is true, I became a professor because of my friend, Maria Lombard-Farooq. I met Maria as an undergrad; she was in my final Shakespeare class my senior year. We did not hang out but I knew who she was, so when I walked into the graduate school info session and she was there, I felt relieved that I knew someone else. We took our first graduate lit class together: British Romanticism, a course whose research project not only altered my thinking but provided the topic for my first presentation at a National conference, an experience I shared with Maria.

Maria has been the person for me who challenged me in the best way. She created a good kind of competition for me in that if she was doing something scholarly she wanted me to be in on it, too. I probably would not have heard of half of the opportunities in my Master's program without Maria. She is one of those great friends who truly wants you to succeed and pushes you in ways you can't push yourself. I am so grateful to have met her when I did. And even though she is halfway around the world, I know she is in my corner and I am in hers and always will be.

I'm lucky to have kept friends from home like Maria and like Joe who have supported my evolution and help me to remember where and how far I've come. I will always think fondly of pizza and movie nights with Joe, the crazy trip we took to Seaside, and all the nights of poetry and drink in between. Joe helped me piece together my thesis and survived his first year of Ph.D. with me as his roommate, yikes! What I love about Joe is that he is always his own person and he encourages and requires such a level of reflection and honesty of his friends; like Maria, he has always made me think about things from a new perspective. I'm lucky to have such amazing and diverse friends who stand the test of time. And who still talk to me after all these years.

I have also been incredibly lucky to have fantastic friends throughout graduate school and in my move to Illinois. M's friends and loved ones embraced me and I consider many of them friends of my own, now. Brianne and her family welcomed me into their lives and I will never forget our TV and dinner nights that really got me through the weeks during grad school. It's been amazing watching her children grow up and being part of their lives. I can't imagine my life without any of them, including Dustin. :)

I know that I would not have finished my dissertation process without Marie. She always straightened me out and gave me interesting things to consider. I spent many nights and days on her couch, talking, thinking, sharing ideas. I practically camped out at her house for a week to edit and print and put the finishing touches on my dissertation. The late night, panicked phone calls I made to her precipitated the need for our Fave 5 calling plan.

And I never would have gotten through the WPLT or the end of my coursework without Oren. Oren and I are both from the South and it's been wonderful to share that with someone who gets it. I'm always able to flex my theory muscles with Oren and I love our Denny's/Applebee's/Barnes & Noble conversations. I was able to end my writer's block with his help and I will forever be grateful for his insights and encouragement.

I have fantastic neighbors who I know I could call any time of day or night for help. I'm thankful for the opportunity to get to know them, to share bbq's and late night talks and I know my parking spot will always be protected with their help.

I'm thankful for social media and technologies that help us to connect with one another. I'm thankful for the opportunity to reconnect with old friends, to peer into their lives a bit and feel connected to people all over the world. I know social media is problematic and there are huge societal implications for how much time we spend online today but I am also impressed by how we use technology for good, too.