It was quite a quick weekend in North Carolina, but it was spectacular. If you've never been to Chapel Hill before, it is a beautiful place. Lush greens, old-time southern homes, weather in the 70's, sweet tea, and people with silly accents. I've been lucky to have gone a few times before, but this weekend, it was spectacular.
The best part, of course, was watching my sister defend her dissertation in front of her peers. It's fascinating work to see. She was obviously enthusiastic, even mentioning, at one point, "And this is why I'm jazzed about science." Yup, that's right, she's "jazzed" about science. I guess in order to become a PHD, you have to be "jazzed" about what your studying, I guess. (I won't let her live that one down)
One small complaint about her defense: at the end of her presentation, she went through to acknowledge all those (with an accompanying slide show) who helped her/supported her throughout her years of work. It was incredibly emotional. Amazingly, she kept her emotions in check pretty well, but at times, would break down and her voice would suddenly crack, and she'd begin talking in a high, squeaky voice.
As it came time to thank me, she noted, "I want to thank my brother, Brian, who is everything a big brother should be." At this point, she was still composed. Completely unemotional, until she added, "And, I also want to thank him for bringing Heather into our family." The mere mention of Heather sent her over the edge. How could this be? How dare she not break down as she said my name!!! She claims, "I was holding it back and just let it out as I was thanking Heather." That's an excuse, if you ask me. (And no, Erin, I'm not letting you live this one down, either)
After she did her defense, we had to wait for about an hour and a half as a committee of people from her department continued to question her. Finally, she came out as Dr. Erin McCarthy Campbell. To say that we were proud of her would be an understatement. We celebrated that night into the wee hours, and I learned about all sorts of cell experiments that her colleagues are working on. I think I understand what they're studying...okay, maybe not. I ain't such a smart one. (On a side note, as we were partying, the head of Erin's lab, Bob, came up to me, got on his knees, and prayed to me like a God because he liked a show I worked on a couple of years ago. It was quite flattering and, of course, Heather happened to be in the bathroom and missed it).
Throughout the weekend, we went to some fantastic restaurants famous to the area (Mama Dip's, Crook's Corner) and had some amazing food (grits and shrimp are a new favorite), visited an amazing store for cooking junkies (A Southern Season), and drank our share of heavily sugared iced tea.
Hell, I even had a celebrity sighting. As we walked around the town on Thursday night, I spotted Ben Folds walking down the sidewalk. (He is from North Carolina). I am a huge fan and was tempted to stop him, but he was with his wife (I assume) and didn't feel like bugging them. Everyone was pissed that I didn't point him out. To that, I say, "Pay more attention!"
It was a great weekend to have as a family...even if my sister didn't cry when she mentioned my name. Congrats, Erin!