Sunday, August 24, 2008


So it appears that even if I imbibe in the barest minimum of alcohol, even if I stay up long enough that I feel fine and sober before I go to bed (and even though I can hold my liquor just fine besides), I will still get hungover the day after, no matter what. 

I don't understand why my body is such a delicate flower in this fashion, but I guess it's just another drop in the bucket of the whole having-the-constitution-of-an-octogenarian thing.

Anyhoo, even though I am 95% sure of the classes (YAY) I will be taking this semester, I'm going to go ogle my new course catalogue (YAY). It's so pretty! I can't wait to superfluously highlight more course descriptions.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

HOW have I not watched 30 Rock until now?

I'm in love with Tina Fey. And finally, there are some goddamn female names in the top creative roles--the first two (edit: er, actually, three!) executive producers are women! Joy! Not surprising for a show that actually portrays its female characters as real people rather than plot devices or decoration, but incredibly and disappointingly rare in television overall. This is seriously awesome.

I have been doing other things with my time besides watching TV, but the implementation of my own personal productivity system (I finally read Getting Things Done) is not nearly so captivating as Liz Lemon et al.

And oh, yeah: I quit my job (FREEDOOOOOOOOOOOM). I've been checked out mentally for quite awhile, though, so contra my repeated listening of Think, I didn't get that much of a visceral thrill out of finally leaving. And even with the start of graduate school circling vulturelike over my psyche, I'm just not that wound up about it yet. Could be that the anti-anxiety meds are working, who knows. I'm sure I'll have a psychological breakdown soon enough, because even though I'll largely be doing the same everyday activities that I've been doing for the past year (going to classes and workshops, reading academic papers, etc. etc.), the implications for my entire life are vastly different now. (I can feel my heart rate rising as I type that.)

Well, no need to rush along the panic attack, when it'll take care of itself in its own time. Until now I'll do what I do best, and just not think about it!

Sunday, August 10, 2008


Greetings. The past few weeks have been unusually pleasant and social for summertime (I absolutely hate summer, at least when without climate control, but at least we only have a month or so of it left), and thus my absence. I'm checking in not because I have anything special to say at the moment (I've mostly been watching a lot of Golden Girls on DVD, via Netflix), but to ensure those of you who may guess otherwise that no, I am still not dead.

Not dead, and I start grad school in less than a month! Insert perfunctory "eek" here, even though I'm not that eek-y right now--mostly tired and dusty.

Anyway, quite enough of my little ramble. Time to go watch Rose deal with her disabled sister Lily.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

I don't understand

how it is that over the course of my recent caffeine detox, downgrading from energy drinks to Dunkin' Donuts iced coffee produced fewer headaches than downgrading the iced coffee from a large to a medium.

Monday, July 21, 2008

Help me I am uninteresting

Seriously, ridiculously boring over here. The heat does not help, as it induces further lethargy and uninterestingness.

Here are a few of the uninteresting things I have been doing lately:
  • Getting paid for being neurotic! Or rather, will be getting paid a cool $50.00, after I complete the second part of a psych study for the self-identified anxiety-ridden. I love living by a research university; I've accumulated at least $400 just doing medical/psych studies like this one.
  • Finally trying out Pandora. It's all right, any given channel gets repetitive fairly quickly, but I've found some good stuff so far, like Madeleine Peyroux and Adele. And it offers me a greater variety of Bonnie Raitt than I've found on YouTube.
  • Procrastinating about my RA write-ups. Adviser Guy doesn't nudge me at all, which is sorta terrible, since I'm a person who needs to be nudged. I'm doing the research, just not the formal reporting on it, as I'm a class A perfectionist and am horribly afraid of the suckfulness that will emerge as I try to write the reports.
  • Finally getting dinner and catching up with a friend who lives literally less than a block from me. She's been there almost a year, and I'd never seen her apartment. We commiserated about how transient our friend groups are, affectionately mocked local activist politics, and made tentative plans to get together and be friends more often.
  • Drinking beer at 2 in the afternoon because it is the coldest beverage in the house amidst all of this horrible, horrible heat. It does make me more sleepy, though.
...And with that I am off to watch the last few AbFab episodes on this disc before I return it to Netflix.

Sunday, July 13, 2008

Clean house, maturity angst

Gifted with an empty apartment this weekend, I took it upon myself to do some major clean-up.

Why? A friend and former roommate visited last Friday, as he was in town to conduct his own apartment/condo hunt. He's a wonderful guy and a great roommate; we're not living together again because the lease was up last month, and at that time he was planning to move a few states over, having been stuck in waiting list purgatory at one of BTU's professional schools. Happily, a few weeks ago he got notice that he's in off the waiting list (huzzah!). Since he's doing a joint professional degree/PhD program at BTU, he's going to be living here about as long as I am. I.e., we get to hang out for forever!

So, he was crashing at my place while he looked at a few apartments, and we got to talking about what kind of spaces we'd like to live in as we continue our studies and as our twenties gradually slip away from us. After this year he's going to give some thought to buying an apartment/condo, which took me by surprise. It seems like such a grown-up move.

This naturally induced me to become vocal about my maturity insecurity, and from there we discussed the distinct post-graduate feel of my current/his former domicile. It's sort of a mess, with a bunch of kitschy accents left over from previous tenants (like the beaded curtain in the living room) as well as our own personal touches added in a like-minded spirit of whimsy over the past year (like the holiday garland draped over the inflatable alligator head) (no, really). And it's dusty and slapdash--our auxiliary TV/internet devices sit on a dining room chair because we don't have a proper stand. And the cords and duct tape. Everywhere!

So, on Saturday, after my old roomie left, I impulsively got to work. I had two discs of 90s sitcom "Living Single" to keep me company as I got to cleaning every damn thing in the living room, in addition to doing several loads of laundry, washing dishes, and going through old clothes I've been meaning to toss out. The living room was the primary focus, though, and, if I do say so myself, the results were spectacular. The floor is so shiny, and the cords are so pretty and orderly, and the dead plants have been cleaned out and their pots cleaned up.
Having a respectable-looking space makes me feel much more like a real person.

We're keeping the alligator head, though.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Indecision 2008

I gchatted (is that a verb? it is now. woo branding) with one of my college friends a few days ago. He's worked a really awesome-sounding non-evil consulting gig for the past year but has been making eyes at law school for as long as I can remember. He took the LSAT last month and got an appropriately fantastic score for a guy who made it his mission to be an overachiever among overachievers in college. And I know from Type A--the two of us actually "met" online the summer before freshman year via the circle-jerk that is the Princeton Review college admissions boards. (My tool roots run deep.)

Anyway, given said fantastic score and fantastic college GPA, he has as good a shot as anyone at getting in to one or more of the top law schools. When we chatted it turns out I caught him on a day that he, glowing with the shallow yet undeniably warm and pleasant affirmation bestowed by a decent standardized test score, was slacking at work in favor of looking up the strengths and weaknesses of various law schools. I contributed what I know, since I briefly considered law school though did not end up taking the dread LSAT. Hearing him so excited and excited in particular about programs with a strong social justice/social responsibility orientation, well--it didn't make me jealous, exactly, but it did sorta make me want to run off and buy an LSAT prep book and start reading law school guides and plan to audit a law school class or two this semester. To keep my options open. Or something.

I'm having the occasional moment,
particularly after conversations with friends like the aforementioned, when I think of how, with very little real-world experience, I'm embarking on a commitment of upwards of six years with few employment options aside from the professoriate waiting for me on the other side (that is, if I can get a job, knock wood)--and it makes me feel like I'm looking into the abyss. Law school seems so much more practical, and a shorter commitment with more options at the end if I turn out to really despise it. And I may not despise it! How do I know! I could just love it to pieces and I'm not giving myself the chance to find out! Fool!!

And then I think of the debt, and I'm back to thinking the doctorate isn't such a bad idea, after all.

Anyway. I doubt this feeling will ever go away completely, at least until I take and subsequently hate a law school class. And I sort of doubt I'll be doing that any time soon. I know it's my natural impulse to want to learn everything about every potential life path before I commit to anything, and of course that's impossible. But still, it seems like graduate school is a particularly harsh mistress in terms of what you give of yourself and what you potentially get back, or where you can turn if you end up not liking it or if you don't get a steady job. Maybe that's just how it looks from inside the fishbowl, or rather, when you're getting ready to dive into the fishbowl.

Given that I will be second-guessing myself no matter what I do, it seems that the best way to go from here is to just shut up the doomsaying voices for awhile and keep my eyes and ears open. I have a tendency to live anywhere but the present, and I'm not going to learn anything about myself or what I want unless I commit to experiencing the situation first. Maybe then I'll start thinking about law school again. But maybe I won't.

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Can I just say

that I really, really hate the "word" "proactive"? What's the matter with just plain ol' "active"?

The worst part is that this non-word is showing up frequently in good-hearted documents produced by good-hearted (well, maybe) people on improving diversity in the academy and effective ways to support junior faculty.

Back to cringing at intrusions of management jargon...

Monday, July 7, 2008

When national politics alienates...

So, I think I'm done with the presidential election. I'm really, really trying to like Obama, but he continues to fuck up royally--regarding FISA, faith-based organizations, reproductive issues, etc. etc. and so forth, all in the interest of pandering to people who would never vote for him anyway. I don't live in a swing state, so for whom to vote doesn't have to be a gut-wrenching decision for me--at face value McCain sucks more on, well, EVERYTHING, and I'd never in a million years actually cast a vote for him, but Obama in this incarnation does not represent my politics, and the amount of misogyny that many of his supposedly-progressive supporters were all too happy to engage in during the primary was incredibly demoralizing. Not to mention, the policy of complete non-criticism and metaphorical wagon-circling to which some of his followers are now subscribing really scares the shit out of me. My vote's not completely committed to the Greens (I still need to vet McKinney properly) or to abstention, but Obama had some serious damage control to do to earn my vote post-primary, and he just hasn't been doing it. But like I said, I'm not in a swing state, so I can feel free to vote closer to my real political stance, which is honestly a relief.

All of this to say that, since I've not been given sufficient reason to invest myself in the national campaign, I'm looking forward to using that energy elsewhere. I used to do a lot more work for our local Planned Parenthood than I do now, and with even the Democrat candidate taking up right-wing frames and religious-y rhetoric on choice, it seems like they'll need as much volunteer power as they can get.

The other thing I'm looking forward to doing is contributing toward graduate students' efforts to unionize when I join their ranks this fall. A few months ago I had coffee and what felt like the beginnings of a very aggressive organizing relationship with one of the lead union people--you know, I understand where she's coming from and am just as pro-union as she, but I found and continue to find the hard-sell approach to these things distasteful; she was trying to get me to agree to head up organizing another department in my first freaking semester of grad school. She's attempting to seal this deal a good five months before I've even enrolled. And then she had the gall to get sort of sullen when I refused to commit to her grand plan, seeing as how I'M NOT EVEN AN OFFICIAL GRADUATE STUDENT YET AND MAY NEED SOME TIME TO ACCLIMATE WHEN I AM jesus.

I mean, obviously keeping people focused on the unionization goals is necessary if you're an organizer, but fucking hell, can you at least express some basic respect for the boundaries that might be necessary for me to draw, depending on how fast I get a handle on this whole going-to-grad-school thing? Oy.

Okay, this is turning into more of a rant than the expression of enthusiasm for the grad student unionization cause that I wanted it to be, but yeah, if you know activists, you know that some of them can be just the most amazingly annoying people, if just in their activist capacity.

Trying personalities notwithstanding, I think I'd be able to make a good, solid contribution to the work the union's presently doing. It's a cause I've been aware of for a number of years, and it would give me another reason to abstractly root for getting a Democrat into the White House (hello, NLRB) in the face of feeling ambivalent about this candidacy in particular. I've thus been trying to more formally acquaint myself with matters of academic labor lately--I'm still in the midst of Bousquet's How the University Works--and I hope that will make me a more effective advocate on the grad student level. And actually, reading a bunch of academic blogs over the past year has been a wonderful education in itself. I really am looking forward to putting that education to good use.

Sunday, July 6, 2008

Good to know I'm keeping it real?

blog readability test

Fourth of July and friends

On the fourth of July I was treated to the news of both Senator Jesse Helms' long-overdue demise and Barack Obama's fucking ignorant and privileged remarks on late-term abortion. On balance, a politically ambivalent day.

Luckily, I had the opportunity to take my mind off of politics, if not the patriotic spectacle of fireworks, and trekked over to a friend's parents' apartment for an Independence Day reunion. This guy whose parents' apartment it was, well, he works far far away in an area that is not the most socially progressive--it was lovely to have him back if just for a few days, and even better that several of our college friends in the area made it there. It was a grand old time, with his mother encouraging us to imbibe in their impressive variety of liquors. And the apartment had a beautiful view--we could see three or four separate fireworks shows over the course of the evening, though the ash pretty much blocked our view after two or three minutes.

I should probably make more of an effort to see my friends, particularly the ones who only live an hour or two from where I am. But it seems that everyone's extraordinarily busy and exhausted, figuring out first jobs and figuring out themselves, and before you know it you're suddenly content seeing people once every six months when you used to see them every day. I suppose with the sense of "I can get it touch with them any time I want" imparted by Facebook and Gchat and text messaging and all the rest, it's not necessarily a dire thing. Time passes so fast that it doesn't feel dire except insofar as once in awhile you get jolted with a thought of "holy shit, it's been a year already? You're totally going to be dead before you know it."

Anyway, I'm rambling now, but summer around here's been lonely, and I have to admit that this get-together was a really nice reminder that there ARE people out there who get me and who are gotten by me, as it were. I just wish they were more accessible.

Thursday, July 3, 2008

My intuition was correct.

In other words, the meeting of which I've been afeared this past week turned out to be underwhelming, as far as sources of potential terror go. Pretty collegial, actually. I think I've gotten a little less on-edge around Adviser Guy--at least I feel freer to be my normal sarcastic, misanthropic self. He seems to find it amusing. Which of course makes me wonder, is this something he appreciates in everyone, or is this part of the process of Golden Child-ification where I do no wrong, or does he find me more amusing/less threatening because I'm a woman, or all of the above?

Yeah, it's sort of stupid. It's better to be liked by the ones in charge than not, so I guess I should shut up and enjoy the fact that my dark humor's appreciated, and that more generally I seem to have become one of the favorites (typing that makes me feel sort of gross, but I'm not the only one who's noticed it, unfortunately). I'm just left wondering what will happen if/when I piss him off. I have no reason to believe he easily dumps students he finds promising or that he's fickle...

On second thought, actually there's some anecdotal things. He doesn't seem to appreciate the decisions of women students (perhaps men students, too, but the anecdotes in question don't involve men) who end up choosing a more family-centered life, like taking a job at a less prestigious university to be close to loved ones or putting their own career on the backburner for a bit to accommodate a spouse's or whatever.

I don't think I'd necessarily make similar decisions (life being what it is, though, that could change). My current ambitions are pretty much in line with what I imagine his ambitions are for his students, him being a professor at a fancy-pants university--I'd like a job at a research university that has a good name for itself, sufficient resources, all that. I'm not so hot on teaching, I don't think. But then again, I've never taught, so who's to say that I won't end up liking it? Who's to say what I'll want, six years from now?

It's this uncertainty that makes me wary. I feel like I won't become a black sheep as long as my ambitions for me and his ambitions for me continue to match. And there's a good chance they'll continue to do so, all the way through the time I go on the market. But the prospect of my life goals' changing, as scary as such transformation can be on its own, has much more dire consequences if the favor of my adviser depends upon their continuing to look a very particular way.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Lazy days of summer &c.

It's been particularly pleasant around my life for the past couple of days, as the office has really gone into suspended animation--I can't do anything on this big important report until we get more edits from the higher-ups, one of the new people has gone off on a planned vacation for two weeks, and the other new person is still getting her sea legs, so it's quite educational for her to be doing all of the things that I could ostensibly helping with. Besides, there's not much to be done in general, so, you know, it's good for her to get in all the acclimation that she can, with me just doing troubleshooting. Heh. Nice work if you can get it...

In any case, it's finally given me more time during the day to do this research that I'm supposed to have been doing. I've been plugging away for the past three days, especially because I've a meeting with the supervising prof tomorrow. Unfortunately it's not going as fast as I'd hope, though it has become significantly more fun for me, for whatever mysterious reason. Perhaps due to my starting to take the anti-anxiety meds again. Who knows.

Anyhoo, I'm quite pleased because it appears that my original slacking intentions for the summer are finally coming to fruition, and I'll get to use my 9-to-5 hours to do a good bit more academicky things. Although, it's going to land me with no real time off, no real summer between now and the start of grad school, if I do the RA gig all the way through. I was thinking I'd ask my adviser for a one-week vacation, officially sanctioned, starting tomorrow. I want to do some Nothing for the tiniest while, you know?

But I'm having second thoughts about that request, especially since I got a slow start on the research. I feel a responsibility to my adviser and I'm disappointed in said slow start, to be sure, but I'm also thinking that having a real initiation into a lifestyle of "get up, work for a long time on research, crap out, go home" on a regular schedule, rather than just the frantic preparation I'm used to doing immediately before deadlines, will be a necessary kick in the ass for me. Plus, I tend to get antsy when I do "nothing" for too long of a time, anyway. So I might not ask for time off until about a month of intensive researching has gone by. Maybe it'll teach me something.

Anyway. Back to summarizing articles. I'm a bit scared of this meeting tomorrow, but I'm usually scared of meetings with authority figures, which then subsequently turn out to be not as horrible as I expected, so I'm hoping things will go relatively smoothly. I know I got some 'splaining to do, but I'm ready to do it and to grovel but good. I also have some interesting new stuff, so I'm hoping that will serve as a successful offering while I bow and scrape, as a cat offers a dead bird to its caretaker.

Okay, I've had either too much or not enough caffeine, off with me now...

Saturday, June 28, 2008


Things that make me sad:
  • having to go back to the DMV on Friday after I had already spent three and a half hours there Thursday
  • that my horrible boss used the slang "sweet" in an email, in a pathetically transparent attempt to ingratiate herself to one of the new, early-20s-aged staffpeople
  • breaking/chipping a tooth on a chicken bone and needing to go in for a mini-filling next week
  • summertime, both for the hot weather that makes me uncomfortable and for many of my friends' having skipped town, leaving me a hermit

Things that alleviate sadness somewhat:
  • that the Friday revisit to the DMV took less than an hour (shock)
  • planning to buy a Met ticket package with my friends for the upcoming season (yay opera! though the number of options is rather paralyzing)
  • that there's a university computer lab with air conditioning in which I can take refuge while I read some continental philosophy
And the hum of the various lights/air conditioning units/computer set-ups in the lab is pretty soothing, as well. Now, back to the books.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

From the deep freeze

About half a year ago (yikes...) I started some entries that never made it through to posting. Here's one of them that I think is sort of interesting as a snapshot of my growing-up angst:

"My mom and I don't talk about the big narrative arc of my life much. She knows I'm interested in pursuing arts, which was my rationale for staying in the same place after I graduated in the spring, but as far as the my other options went, eh. I kept them to myself. Mostly because there were so many other options, the bulk of which were indistinguishable to me in terms of the potential career satisfaction they'd offer. Cause, really, who the hell was I to know?

"Other options," obviously, have grown increasingly important in my life of late, particularly over the past summer. I've got the Ph.D. program to think about--for which I was basically guaranteed admission today, according to Advisor Guy ("not that we're corrupt or anything")--and I'm more and more enthusiastic about pursuing a career in academia. I don't know how I feel about this in the context of my musical aspirations. My job and my auditing of classes just drains me so much, which, along with a lack of practice space and a busy teacher, has really put the brakes on my big plans for how much of myself I was going to devote to music.

That's where it ended, as I am wont to leave my thoughts incomplete. (Bad habit.)

Where I was going to go with that was a phone conversation I'd had with my mom that prompted the writing of the post. In the conversation I told her that I was applying to a Ph.D. program, and for the first time I was confronted with the reality that my mom has little idea what that meant, either as a practical matter (how many years it takes, will I have enough money to live on) or what sort of career path such a course of study routes people into. It was a little weird, correcting her that it's more likely to take six to eight years rather than three or four, and needing to specify that (for all intents and purposes) I'm pretty much bound to becoming a professor afterward (taking good luck on the job market as a given, knock wood).

I think the weird/vaguely queasy vibe I got from the conversation stems from two things. One, it really drove home that my mom and I are quite distant from each other; we make pleasant, small-potatoes talk on the phone, but we're neither of us the most forthcoming people. She has little idea of the specifics of my life or opinions, and vice-versa. I don't think we've ever been entirely comfortable around one another. So, my announcing to her, from her perspective from out of nowhere, that I'm going to get a Ph.D. (when I was supposed to be pursuing this arts career), and her supportive but slightly bemused reaction, underscored that basic wall that's between us and likely always will be.

Two, building on the first thing: it seems that if I enter this profession of which my mom has pretty much no knowledge, despite her being a well-educated person herself, well, it just seems like there really will be no "going home again" (even if such a "home" of reciprocity never truly existed). I mean, perhaps this separation happened to some extent when I went off to an elite/elitist college for my undergrad degree, but it didn't seem that different on the surface--my mom went to college. She skipped two grades when she was a kid, so notwithstanding familial constraints, I'm sure she could have gotten in to as good a school as I did (paying for it would have been another matter, in the days before generous financial aid packages). Heck, she has a master's degree, so she still out-credentials me. But I can't shake the sense that this Ph.D. deal is going to make any efforts at "getting" each other quite a bit tougher from now on.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

RBOC: it's still too hot for my liking despite being overcast

  • When I first started watching Curb Your Enthusiasm a year and a half ago I wasn't too fond of it on account of the relentless pessimism and awkwardness. Now I love it and think that Larry David might be the closest personality-match I've ever had in a TV character. What does this mean?
  • My car is an embarrassment, like a midlife-crisising person trying to hard to retain its youth. "I can go from 0 to 30 in five seconds, baby, and I'MA LET YOU KNOW IT WITH MY MACHO ENGINE GROWL please ignore that the passenger window can't roll down and the AC works only intermittently LOOK AT MY BRIGHT BRIGHT RED PAINT AND MY TINTED WINDOWS RRRR." Sad.
  • Our freezer is so clean, it is surprising. One of my new roommates is quite industrious! She tells me she's a binge-cleaner, like myself, so it will probably work out as long as our binges settle into a complementary schedule.
  • My current credit card balance is particularly scary because I've been picking up the group bill at restaurants lately because I get reward points that way. But this does not reduce the initial scariness of seeing the credit card bill.
  • Despite this, I'm still going to make an online purchase in the interest of doing some street activism. Except I'm not sure if there are any really prominent stop signs around my neighborhood. Will scout this today.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Circadian math

Most of my classes in the coming semester will begin at 9:30 a.m. I went to sleep at 4 this morning. This, perhaps, necessitates an adjustment plan.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Physical (vs. mental) exhaustion

I've never had a very hardy constitution. Had I been born in the 19th century, I totally would have been one of those kids who died of consumption or exposure or scabies. If the temperature's over 75, I wilt, and that's when the humidity's livable. And I've always been a depressive, too, which I don't believe is unrelated to my tendency toward fatigue.

So I've grown worried lately, thinking about not so much the mental but the physical requirements of an academic job. About how I plan on dealing with the exertion (and in my case the almost certainly attendant exhaustion) that seems to be necessary for success.

At the beginning of college I discovered better living through self-medication, the medication in question being caffeine (initially in coffee form, but then on to other caffeinated beverages). I have addictive tendencies/trouble with temperance, so caffeine has on occasion evolved into more of a crutch than a help, but for all intents and purposes I now cannot imagine my life without it: it makes me feel better, at least in certain mysterious doses, the amount of which I unfortunately have trouble anticipating from day to day. When I overload on it, it makes me more tired and more likely to fall into a funk. And even after all this time I haven't figured out what works consistently, though I continue trying to make the most of the whole "your body, your science experiment" motto. I hope I'll learn something one of these days.

All of which is to say that even now, with caffeine a staple in my toolbox (metaphor mixing what?), I am frequently have no goddamn clue what I'm doing with it. And I continue to be sleepy and/or grumpy and/or anxious and depressed.

On top of this, I am not at all a productive worker. I come across, apparently, as rather intense and scary regarding work in real life, and I AM very intense about schoolwork for the most part. The problem is, I spend more time stressing over it than actually doing it. (Even now, I'm writing this blog post instead of doing my RA work.) Nonetheless, the last-minute work on which I've skated by has always held me in good stead. I'm a decent writer, so I rarely did more than one draft of any paper in undergrad--reason partially being that I edit as I go along, partially being that I'd start writing no earlier than the day before a paper was due such that there was no time for second drafts.

But even given the psychological barriers to my doing low-intensity, ongoing work (I need to read more Boice, apparently), I'm concerned about the extent to which my mood/physical comfort affects my ability to motivate myself to work, and how easily I'm discomfited. I read the academic blog posts about the fourteen-hour days, all nighters, running from class to meeting to designated research time, and I just think, even WITH caffeine, how the hell am I ever going to do this? I never was that good at all nighters in undergrad, and honest to God, I'm already feeling my "advanced" age in my early/mid-20s. I've always had the mental outlook of a 50-year-old, and now my body's settling in to match. I now value sleep! Or not so much value as actually need a lot of it to function. Unless I sleep too much, in which case I'm groggy. Meh.

I suppose I'm worrying a lot about this right now because I've been feeling particularly crappy lately--I have never dealt well with heat, and again, when I'm feeling bad physically it will affect my mood, as well. I've never been an equilibrated sort. I also have inklings that I'm falling into depression again.

In any case, I'm trying to deal with this through a few small things. I've signed up for an awesome summer yoga class, of which there are ostensibly two sections, MW and TTh, but the awesome instructor lets us come all four days a week. Class hurts, but in a good way, and I hope it'll add some structure to my day and eventually increase my energy level. I'm also planning to make an appointment with health services to see someone about anti-anxiety medication; I took them freshman-sophomore year and they helped a lot with physical symptoms of anxiety that hindered my ability to concentrate. No clue if they'd still be helpful, but since I strongly suspect that the physical exhaustion has a mental tie-in, I'm hoping I'll hit on something effective.

Even with the incremental changes, though, it's a tall order to turn my fatiguing tendencies into round-the-clock productivity required for professional success in academia. It seems to be a marathon-length run at a sprint pace, and I'm totally uneasy about my ability to handle that.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

A thought from a warmed globe

I don't mind being at the grad student offices doing research on a Saturday afternoon. It means that I can revel in the arctic temperatures offered up by its cooling unit, versus the seasonable warmth I experience inside my apartment. Plus it's peaceful and deserted here, with only the hum of what I imagine is aforementioned cooling system to keep me company. (And the research is fun, too!)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Hey kids.

I have returned (three months can sure fly by), having contracted out my youth to a Ph.D. program at charmingly (?) elitist Better Than U. I'm planning to continue my present work through the summer for the sake of the paycheck, but I aspire to put in as minimal an amount of genuine effort as possible.

I also have some academicky stuff on my summer reading list, but right now it's all I can do to finish up these back-issues of Wired and Bitch and MakeShift for the sake of decluttering my apartment--perhaps it's a good idea to leave off the academicky stuff for a few months, anyway, so I can at least not be totally put off it when I return to reading nothing but that sort of thing when I start classes again in the fall.

It's still not entirely hit me yet, but I do feel like a parenthetical (eek) belongs in that sentence about starting classes again in three months...

In more current events, this primary season has depressed me remarkably. The best articulation for my feelings is the always on-point feminist blog Shakesville, and my link-of-the-day for the past couple of days has been this one.

That's all for now.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Alive, and wrangled

Brief update: although I have not officially contracted the rest of my twenties out to my chosen graduate institution just yet, it is surely only a matter of time.

Cheers and happy daylight savings time to all.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

One of my three wishes:

The power, despite my peon status, to shut down logorrheic superiors so that meetings are actually completed in a speedy fashion, rather than in the niggling, time-wasting, mind-numbing way of the land. (Some disciplines have a greater disposition toward this than others, it seems. Granted, my sample size is small.)

Is there a way to finesse this such that one can make efficiency happen while not needing to be the equal or superior of everyone in the room? This sort of thing seems like it would be less of a problem in the day-to-day life of a garden variety grad student, but this period of relative calm could very likely circle back to bite one on the ass when one finally (hopefully) becomes junior faculty. I imagine it's best to acquire such skills now, rather than later.


Thursday, January 10, 2008

Measuring class: the meme approach

Via many, many academic bloggers.

"Yeses" are in bold, caveats and comments in parentheses:

Total yes: 16
Total no: 18

1. Father went to college
2. Father finished college

3. Mother went to college

4. Mother finished college

5. Have any relative who is an attorney, physician, or professor
6. Were the same
or higher class than your high school teachers

7. Had more than 50 books in your childhood home (A good chunk of them were probably children's books. Mom and I both made copious use of the library.)
8. Had more than 500 books in your childhood home

9. Were read children’s books by a parent

10. Had lessons of any kind before you turned 18

11. Had more than two kinds of lessons before you turned 18 (more than two kinds, but never simultaneously)

12. The people in the media who dress and talk like me are portrayed positively.
(with caveat--there's also the whole "woman" thing)
13. Had a credit card with your name on it before you turned 18.

14. Your parents (or a trust) paid for the majority of your college costs. (HA!)

15. Your parents (or a trust) paid for all of your college costs. (")

16. Went to a private high school.

17. Went to summer camp.
18. Had a private tutor before you turned 18.

19. Family vacations involved staying at hotels. (Never went on any family vacations.)

20. Your clothing was all bought new before you turned 18.
21. Your parents bought you a car that was not a hand-me-down from them.
22. There was original art in your house when you were a child.

23. You and your family lived in a single-family house.

24. Your parent(s) owned their own house or apartment before you left home.
(Nor after. Still have quite a few years on the mortgage.)
25. You had your own room as a child.
26. You had a phone in your room before you turned 18.

27. Participated in a SAT/ACT prep course.

28. Had your own TV in your room in high school.

29. Owned a mutual fund or IRA in high school or college.

30. Flew anywhere on a commercial airline before you turned 16.
(Flights used to visit relatives on my dad's side a few times when I was under 7 or so. Father's funeral was in his family's state, so I imagine I flew then, though I don't remember that far back.)
31. Went on a cruise with your family.

32. Went on more than one cruise with your family.

33. Your parents took you to museums and art galleries as you grew up.

34. You were unaware of how much heating bills were for your family.

(Copyright: Will Barratt, Meagan Cahill, Angie Carlen, Minnette Huck, Drew Lurker, Stacy Ploskonka , "From What Privileges Do You Have?" Illinois State University)

The survey really highlights that there is no one good way to measure class. My family's always been working class by income standards, but the levels of and commitment to education in my immediate family were pretty high, as was my household's general "cultural capital." That, no doubt, aided me in gaining admission to an elite university and being able to seamlessly integrate myself into its discourse, both academic and social. (In other words, tee hee, I can walk among "them" undetected!) In that way, I consider my relatively high score to be pretty appropriate, even though on tax forms we looked a lot "lower-statused."

That said, you can look at many of these items (and many have) and interpret them in different ways, either as being able to indicate lower/upper class simultaneously (e.g. "why would a family go on a cruise twice, when they could vacation in other, nicer places?"; not having television in keeping with an ethical line that it's bad for kids, which seems anecdotally to be a more common view in upper-class households) or as indicating aspects of one's circumstances that are not particularly class-inflected (e.g. I had my own room because I had no siblings; an upper-kid kid who doesn't need a private tutor probably won't have one).

One can also argue over the relative weighting of the items (I personally wouldn't equate having a trust paying 100% of your college costs with having a phone in your room, but that's just me), as well as some significant omissions--being raised by one parent springs immediately to mind. In any case, I'm glad the exercise was developed, and I hope it eventually gets put to good use and discussion in college classrooms.

These things have added so much Zen to my life.

I'm not even kidding.


Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Oh, Gloria

I've seen a lot of people, online and off, comment and/or applaud this piece by Gloria Steinem in yesterday's New York Times. Although I was initially pleased to see a feminist voice in the mainstream media (unfortunate that it's so rare that non-"celebrity" feminists get a pulpit, but that's another story), the piece started to give me real pause starting here:

That’s why the Iowa primary was following our historical pattern of making change. Black men were given the vote a half-century before women of any race were allowed to mark a ballot, and generally have ascended to positions of power, from the military to the boardroom, before any women (with the possible exception of obedient family members in the latter).

That paragraph and the next definitely raised a "my oppression is greater than yours" red flag. I was glad to see that, at least, Steinem does explicitly deny that she's trying to engage in a pissing contest and references intersectionality, though it has a patina of lip service to it: "I’m not advocating a competition for who has it toughest. The caste systems of sex and race are interdependent and can only be uprooted together." But something still bothered me about it, and additionally, I was bothered that I liked the op-ed as much as I did.

Then, I read a post at Angry Black Bitch that expressed very well what the underlying problem is, and that's how Steinem's op-ed basically disappears women of color. The whole post is great, but this excerpt really encapsulated it for me:

What worries me is that this is kind of article that makes some black women wary of feminism…wary of the sisterhood…because eventually, just give it time, it will all come down to black and white or women and men with black women vanished from the equation.

Even if I think that Steinem has an impressive handle on and an accessible way of communicating the gender barriers that are still so deeply ingrained in our society, this kind of erasure of women of color remains pervasive in feminist discourse. I can't deny that the piece was initially very appealing to me (and I do love Steinem's writing style), but I also can't say that that's not at least partially because it pandered to white women's privilege. And that's not acceptable.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

Does it make me a big dork...

...that I'm reading advice books targeted at faculty members even before I've officially been accepted into a Ph.D. program?

...that I would/will totally buy and wear this, without necessarily being 100% ironic in doing so?:

...that today I was struck by an itch for a Nalgene that is, in some fashion, theorist-themed? No, seriously, I swear I saw a fellow undergrad carrying one a few years back whose graduations were marked with major philosophers and some glib remark or another to go with each. (Google totally failed to help me out in my search, incidentally.)

I already know the answers to these questions...

Friday, January 4, 2008

It feels like the inside of my head is trying to escape by pushing through the back of my eyes.

I guess this is to be expected, since it's been awhile since I've had one of my recurring throat/nose-sinus-y affairs. Although I would have thought that recent frigid temperatures would have, I don't know, frozen the germs, or at least made them sluggish, whatever. This is why I'm not a scientist.

Related question: should one be taken ill, but one's body normally functions only with regular infusions of caffeine, does one continue or modify usual caffeine consumption?

Iowa: eh. My preference for awhile now has gone Edwards, Clinton, Obama. I used to like Obama more, but for some reason he's starting to rub me the wrong way. Maybe if I read one of his books it'd make me feel better about his substance. Or I'll ask my policy-wonk friends to convince me. In any case, I am, of course, happy to have him a million times over any Republican. Duh. Speaking of, I don't know whether to be happy or horrified about the Huckabee thing. I had thought that if he by some anti-miracle gained the nomination, he would wither and die in the general election. Cause seriously--have we learned nothing from the past eight years? But it just makes me sick to my stomach to imagine another religious right victory. Honestly, I would have to renounce citizenship, flee to Canada, or something more drastic. I'm actually getting sad thinking about it, so I'll shut up now and distract myself with some DVDs and pills.

Thursday, January 3, 2008


Application sent, fee waiver obtained (How the hell do you justify charging $80 to apply for admission to a training program for academics? Doctors, lawyers, sure, fine, I can see that, but academics?), personal statement beaten into submission by compulsive editing, yep, looks like I covered everything. And now my sleep schedule's so turned around that it's 4:45 in the morning, and I'm really not tired at all. Time to play around on eBay.
Reductionism who in the what now?