...I've only been trying to graduate in the meantime. I'll admit, last October it wasn't looking great: I had a month and a half left of the fall semester, and one more semester after that in order to finish up all my courses, take my comprehensive exams, write my thesis, and defend it. I had already been in graduate school for slightly over two years, and now my third year was nearly halfway gone: I had a goal of submitting a draft of my thesis before the end of the semester, and at the time it didn't seem terribly realistic. I must have broken some world records though: I had my 110 page thesis written in three weeks flat (the week before thanksgiving, and then the two weeks afterward before winter break). What's strange is that it wasn't a total piece of crap either: it only required minimal editing by my advisor (and eventually my other committee members).
Apparently MSU prefers students to NOT take comps and do their defense in the same semester: I spent most of the early spring semester editing my thesis and constructing figures, and didn't get around to my comps until April 1; I did my defense only three weeks later. I am in no way trying to brag: it was hell, and if the same fate befalls you, well, you screwed up. Don't let it happen. That being said, however painful it is - it IS possible to do it all in such a short span of time if you stick to it, motivate yourself, and keep distractions (i.e. PC games, hiking, artwork) to a minimum.
My defense was on April 25 if I recall correctly: I didn't have much in the way of terribly difficult questions (I feared for the worst if certain parties arrived), and my committee really didn't have too many edits for me: many of them were time consuming because I had to look up some new articles. I spent most of finals week going over final edits, and formatting. I spent most of the two weeks after finals still working on formatting. We'll see if my thesis ever gets accepted by DGE.
Then around May 20 I drove out to California: I drove out through oregon to visit a couple fossil sites, and didn't find crap; I was home for about a day until I drove up to Lake Tahoe for the weekend, and then I had to leave there a day early to go and meet Dick Hilton up at Point Reyes, CA for fieldwork (some posts on that later). We found some great, exciting stuff...
I was home for two days after Pt. Reyes until I had to drive ALL the way down to San Diego for the Sixth Triennial conference on the Secondary Adaptation of Tetrapods to Life in the Water (SATLW). In fact, while on the beach in Bolinas in Marin County, I got a voicemail from Tom Demere (curator of the San Diego Museum and co-host of the conference) saying that my talk had been moved up to monday afternoon. I was pretty freaked out, because I had not yet shortened my talk from my 50 minute thesis presentation down to 18 minutes for the conference presentation, and I had two days to work on it.
Anyway, more about the conference soon. I think you can tell that I haven't had adequate time since my defense to do any blogging - but have no fear! The metal bars of my thesis and graduate school have (temporarily) disappeared and I can once again do 'fun stuff'.