It took a suggestion from a mutual friend to get JESS TSIMERIS, PhD ’15 and JIMMY THOMSON, PhD ’14 together, as they tell ROSS PEAKE.
“After attending an Engineering ball together, a friend took me aside and bluntly told me just how oblivious I was. After that Jess and I started to spend a lot more time together. “
Jess agrees Jimmy was shy at first. “I was dropping hints all over the place and he was ignoring me,” she says.
“I would always ask Jimmy if we could work together and have lunch together, and we'd chat all the time. He wasn't taking any hints, and I eventually got fed up and I told a mutual friend of ours that I was pretty keen on Jimmy.
“The next day Jimmy asked me to go and see a movie with him and then we had dinner the day after and it progressed from there … it finally got through to him!”
They were both working on PhDs in computer science and first met at an event run by the ANU Computer Science Students’ Association (CSSA).
“He wouldn't even make eye contact with me at that point,” Jess recalls.
After meeting at that event, they hung around within the same friendship groups and then Jess made the first move.
“I was totally oblivious for some time,” Jimmy says. “Looking back on it I was pretty thick and I'm pretty sure that other people thought we were together before I realised.
“I enjoyed hanging out with Jess, but I didn't imagine that I was in her league. This is part of what led to me missing all the signs!”
How was Jess reacting? “I thought he was very sweet and nice from the moment I met him but I always felt like there was something more to him. He takes some time to open up, and it was a fair bit of work to get to that.”
Although both were working at ANU, they say their work was so specialised neither fully understood the research being done by the other partner.
“People say things to us like ‘oh wow, you're both in the same area’ but really, computer science is so broad that I don't feel like we're in the same area, at all,” Jess says.
“We are on opposite ends of the spectrum when it comes to our research and interests. He's a lot more logical and theoretical and I am a very practical, hands-on person.”
When it came to marriage, Jimmy says: “We actually got secret double-married!
“After I completed my PhD I had a job at Microsoft in Seattle, and before I left to go to that I proposed to Jess.
“When Jess was about to finish her PhD, we had a small wedding in Adelaide, with just three friends, so we could get visa paperwork started.
“We then had a larger ceremony in July 2015 with friends and family, also in Adelaide.”
Jess says the second ceremony was more enjoyable because she had submitted her PhD thesis and could relax.
“It was so great to have our family and friends around us, and especially because I went to Seattle soon after, and then to Sydney.”
Now Jimmy is living in Seattle where he is a software engineer at Microsoft, while Jess is living in Sydney working as a contractor UX research assistant at Google.
Jess spent some time in Seattle when she was writing up her thesis before she won the job in Sydney.
“It's my dream job, so here I am – but Jimmy’s still at Microsoft in Seattle,” she says.
“We're currently deciding whether we want to live in Sydney or Seattle – and it’s not an easy answer.
“They both have their advantages, and we both love our jobs. It really could go either way at the moment, or maybe we'll head to an unknown third city.
“But I aim for us to be living in the same city within the next three months. It's going to happen!”
Jimmy agrees: “Our main hope is to get jobs in the same city and live together.”
Jess says the next step after deciding on the city will be to buy a house.
“I'd love to get a second cat but I'm not sure Jimmy agrees on that!”
This article was originally published in ANU Reporter.