Well. It's been a long and difficult roller-coaster ride, but somehow I passed both of my qualifying exams. At different times during the past 2 months, I was fully convinced that
(a) I had no chance of ever passing,
(b) I might pass later on my 2nd attempt (you get up to 2 attempts on each exam, and it is very common to have to take 2 attempts to pass at least one exam), but definitely not on my first, or
(c) (only in a few rare instances) that I'd be totally fine and pass it on my first try.
I guess it turned out the answer was (c), but at times I genuinely wanted to just quit so I wouldn't have to stand there for 3 hours in front of 4 professors and demonstrate my ignorance. I owe a lot to Sharayah, who continually encouraged me and assured me I could make it, and to God who gave me the ability to persevere and understand enough. It was a pretty scary experience, especially the first exam. Apparently I knew just enough, however, so I passed. That being the more difficult test (in my opinion), it gave me the confidence that I could pass the other. So I guess (subject to some paperwork being filed) I am now a PhDc. I think that's a largely meaningless title, but I've only had it for a little over a week so I can still enjoy it.

The hard part now is accepting that the exams were not the hard part. While I likely won't have to do something that scary and intimidating again (I think usually when you do your thesis defense it's not so scary, because if you weren't ready then you wouldn't be doing it yet), I still have a lot to do. In this illustrated guide to a PhD, I'm just reaching the step where you reach the boundary and begin to focus. Realistically, I'm more at the place where I can see the boundary and I have most of the tools to understand the boundary, but I still have a few months of reading and studying before I reach it. And I don't know yet exactly at what point I'll hit. Somewhere within a few degrees of my current trajectory, I suppose. Anyway, I'm sure in reality the "push at the boundary for a few years" step is much harder than what I've done so far. But! I believe I can do it this time.

I have also apparently had another birthday. Sharayah made a treasure hunt with riddles and clues for me to search for all my gifts. She's a pretty cool lady. First I had to solve a crossword puzzle. Some of the letters from the solution were a scrambled clue to the location of my first gift. At that location were 4 mechanical pencils, each with a single letter on a piece of paper wrapped around the base. Those letters were a clue to the next location, which was 5 more pencils with letters. This continued until I had 24 pencils from 5 hiding places. That was my first gift, the 24 pencils. Since I lose 2-3 pencils a day, these should last me until the end of the month. Actually, it is a good gift because I do lose my pencils a lot. I had actually lost my last pencil right before my birthday, so it was perfect timing. I will try not to lose these. I'm sure I can at least make it to my next birthday. The last set of pencils led me to the new Owl City CD. You may recall I have something of an obsession with Owl City. This CD is also really good. It's kind of different and evolved from the earlier CDs, but it's still distinctly Owl City and very catchy and enjoyable. And then finally, inside the CD case was a clue which led me to my final gift (which was closely guarded by her stuffed dog Puppy, who I got her for her birthday a few years ago), the Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Collection, which contains 6 or 7 of his most important and/or well known works, which I am really looking forward to reading. It will take a while, because C.S. Lewis wrote very densely. Not that he was dense. Anyway. Apparently, inside the book were supposed to be tickets to a hockey game sometime later this month between the Flyers and Stars, but those dummies are still on strike, so that part is not going to work out. But since it's really the thought that counts, I appreciate that gift, too. It would have been a lot of fun. So as I said, Sharayah is a cool lady. You should tell her that if you see her.

Last Sunday our soccer team had our first win. There have been games we should have won, and games we had a fair shot at, but this was the first one where we actually kept it together and won. That's actually a little sad. But we let anyone play with us, whether they know what they're doing or not. And we're old. I just had a birthday. So, we won, and it was a good time. I think there are a few teams we have yet to play who lost to this team, so we might even win a few more. Who knows.

Is it illegal to throw eggs at a tree? We looked on the google, but it just tells us whether it is illegal to throw eggs at a person, or a house, or a car (moving or otherwise), or if it is illegal to shoot at someone who eggs you or your house, or if it is illegal to throw pine cones at a person, etc. We really need to know. Urgent. Thanks.

Also, I might have accidentally typed hows instead of house up there. Twice. But my brain was already on the next sentence and my fingers just don't know how to spell on their own.

neither knowledge nor understanding