grad school, politics, knitting and other meanderings. And not enough time for any of it.
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Monday, August 29, 2005
So I spent the weekend doing nothing. Well, I did do some things. I watched like 5 movies with Jo (among them The Terminal, Kinsey and Boogeyman). I made a huge fruit salad and ate too much of it. I made jalapeno poppers for a snack (from scratch). I chatted with my parents, and my sister, randomly surfed the internet and read blogs. I didn't work on any websites, I didn't reply to school-related emails. I kept thinking that I should be doing something constructive, but I held back the urge.
Sure, taking a mental and physical break this weekend was necessary and generally appreciated, but I don't think I am very good at not doing anything. It almost gives me more anxiety now to realize there are things I could have done with that time. On the other hand, I feel like now that I have had a break, I can imagine being more productive and actually getting work done without forcing myself to do it (which is usually what I do).
I kept thinking this weekend about a quote that I heard someplace a long time ago; "do without doing and everything gets done." While that doesn't apply literally to everything- there is something to be said for just not doing. Also this weekend I realized that since I gave up a while ago on "fitting in" someplace, that now all of a sudden I have actually found myself in a place where I "fit." There was no struggle to get there- it just all worked out.
posted by knit wit | 8/29/2005 05:18:00 PM
Friday, August 26, 2005
I spent the day yesterday busy, glum, and sleepy from insomnia. So, last night I did something completely different from anything I would ever usually do- thinking that taking myself to a new place to meet new people would at least take my mind off of things. So, Jo and I went to a poetry slam at our friend's music studio. Let me say, I generally dislike poetry. And what little experience I've had with poetry open-mic nights were also not so much fun. Recently I've discovered 1 poet that I like quite a bit, so we went to this poetry slam to see him (and I found out he knows this blogger too).
Well this poetry slam was very different than anything I usually do. It was a small group of really interesting and very friendly people. Beer, chips, dip and watermellon. And the poetry was very, very good- surprisingly good, and therapeutic to listen to. We left kind of early because the beer and a lack of sleep made me too sleepy. And I actually slept through most of the night. Maybe getting my head out of academia every once in a while is a good thing.
And this weekend? No work at all. I am taking 2 whole days off. That is hard to say. When I think of taking the weekend off, I think "oh- I could do some reading for my article," but I am going to try to resist the urge. This girl just needs a serious mental break already.
posted by knit wit | 8/26/2005 05:44:00 PM
Wednesday, August 24, 2005
I may seem like I am doing okay, but really I am in a funk that I can seem to shake. I see the positive side of things- I know everything is a learning experience, and I am so thankful for support from caring people around me. I just feel kind of blue- thrown for a loop, beaten down a little, and just plum disappointed. I am so busy right now with doing a million detail-oriented tasks, and I am so grateful for that to keep me busy. I'll just keep plugging away and hope that this mood is just some passing phase.
And I'm trying not to think of my work load for this semester (my job, coursework, stats exams, and studying for the prelim). When I think about that too long my head starts to spin and then I have to remind myself that I always get by and I always get things done. I usually love the beginning of the semester. I love new notebooks- maybe getting some of those will lift my spirits. I also need to clean and organize my desk. I feel disorganized and not in control of everything, so maybe that will help out.
posted by knit wit | 8/24/2005 05:42:00 PM
Tuesday, August 23, 2005
one of those days
Yesterday was just one of those days. It was frantic- I wasn't ever in the right place at the right time and I didn't get half of what I wanted to accomplished. And on top of it all I was going on like 3 hours of sleep- insomnia. ugh.
I stopped by financial aid on my way up the hill to work. Every year has brought new and different financial aid issues for me to spend the end of August dealing with. This year I have funding, but the financial aid office forgot to process one of the forms that I so carefully turned in before leaving for the conference last week. So, I had to make the guy at the financial aid desk call up to the correct office, and I waited until he heard that everything was going to be okay. Now I just need to keep an eye on that online.
After that I walked up the hill to work. I checked my email, put my sandwich in the fridge, and sat down to get some work done. I barely noticed that no one I work with was in yet.
I decided to call the on campus tutoring center for a recommendation. I knew they wouldn't be able to help me, but I figured they could point me in the direction of someone who could. Why? I figure that to get through stats and 2 prelim exams, it wouldn't hurt to deal with whatever testing anxiety I have that makes tests not measure what I actually know. I got some very young sounding (and kind of snarky) undergrad on the phone. I explained what I needed. She was totally missing my point and kept telling me that they had volunteer tutors that helped with testing anxiety. I asked who these tutors were, and she said volunteer undergrads. Yeah. Like an undergrad is going to be able to help me with my doctoral prelim exam anxiety. Right. I explained that wasn't even an option- how could an undergrad even begin to imagine such stress? She continued to not get my point and kept recommending undergrads to help me. I got off the phone as soon as I realized how very fruitless the call was.
Then it dawned on me why no one I worked with was in yet (it was 10am already). The Dean's retreat!! I totally forgot that the big retreat was that day and had begun at 9am. I ran down the hill and joined everyone right smack at the end of the Dean's opening presentation. The rest of the day was spent doing some group activities, and talking about work that I could have actually been doing if I was sitting at my desk instead.
After the retreat ended it was back to work for a couple hours of frantically trying to get something accomplished. I walked quickly down the hill to catch the bus (carrying a box of papers). The #5 bus came, I put down my box to get out my wallet, and looked back up and the bus was gone. He just drove off with a bunch of people standing there. We all started to run down State St. to catch him. Missing the 4:24 means waiting for the 5pm bus which really doesn't get me home until 5:50. So I ran. The #4 came up behind us and offered to give us a ride and to track down the #5. This was successful after following the bus and honking for what seemed like an incredibly long time. I mean, was the driver even paying attention at all?
Finally I got home. I got some sleep last night. I have too much stuff to do today. Today will just have to be better, right?
posted by knit wit | 8/23/2005 07:41:00 AM
Sunday, August 21, 2005
I am no good with endings. I can't even think about watching the final episodes of shows like M*A*S*H, the Golden Girls, or Mary Tyler Moore as I know I will just cry the whole time. And the episode of All in the Family where Edith dies-- forget it. Saw it once and I never plan on watching it again. (I'm not just terrible with fictional endings-- real life endings are impossible too.)
So tonight was something like a 16+ tissue night with the series finale of Six Feet Under. It remained an incredibly fucking brilliantly genius show all the way to the very end. And I don't think I have cried that hard in a long time (ok, well, since last week, but whose keeping track?). It is truly amazing how a show that is all about death can say so much about life. I'll need to own all 5 seasons on dvd.
posted by knit wit | 8/21/2005 09:19:00 PM
my so-called boring life
I love it- this weekend my life just seems wonderfully boring. Friday night I fell asleep on the couch watching Columbo with Jo, still just exhausted from the last couple weeks. Yesterday's highlights include sleeping in (for me that means 8am), cleaning off my desk, and going grocery shopping at the co-op. I started getting some work done but mostly just spent the day getting organized. A neighbor brought over tomatoes from his garden, and I made a wonderful dinner of yellow squash, zucchini, fresh tomatoes, sheep's milk feta, and parmesan, all tossed with pasta, olive oil, and garlic. Simple and very, very yummy.
Today's plans? Well right now I am watching Sunday Morning and drinking coffee, but I really do have to get some work finished. I need all my work/academic stuff to feel under control again. We plan on some canoeing as I think it will be in the 70s. I also have to watch the second-to-last episode of Six Feet Under before watching tonight's series finale. That will be very emotional, I'm sure. I just adore that show and just want it to go on forever.
posted by knit wit | 8/21/2005 08:08:00 AM
Thursday, August 18, 2005
finally I am home for an evening. Just home. Granted I love to travel, and I even love conferences, it is just good to be home. The last couple weeks before I left for Philly are a blurr of so much, and since I got back I have just been walking around half asleep. Thank goodness my "day job" doesn't require much mentally. My mind is also just filled with so much. So much to think about and so much to process. Not bad things- just focussing on movement forward- just so much is on my mind right now.
Someone mentioned taking a meditation class to me this summer- with my blood pressure issues and such, they thought it might be a good idea. At the time I thought there was no way in hell I could turn my brain off to meditate for even 2 minutes, but now I think it isn't such a bad idea afterall. I re-discovered how wonderful it is to read a great mystery this weekend (I finally bought this book tonight to read when I am finished with this one), so I feel good about letting my mind get all wrapped up in fiction- giving myself a break from everything else that keeps it busy all the time.
posted by knit wit | 8/18/2005 09:00:00 PM
Wednesday, August 17, 2005
ASA: conference in a nutshell
127+: the number of awkward conversations I had with people I don't know very well mostly at ASA
(this is what is truly exhausting about the ASA conference and why I spend tons of time with SWS)
Countless: the number of conversations with wonderful people I knew before or had just met
(mostly at SWS)
5: the number of section receptions I attended in 1 night
(yes, I was reception hopping-- the theory reception had the best food and also the smallest number of women in attendance. that last part must change.)
4: the number of ASA sessions I attended
(my strategy of only going to sessions where big name people I wanted to see were presenting worked out nicely)
4: SWS meetings attended
5: the number of presenters at those sessions and my sessions who didn't have their presentations ready
(they read from papers- flipping through in a disorderly way, they ran out of time, had way too many powerpoint slides etc...)
2: the number of times I presented
0: the number of times I was nervous about presenting
(after the prelim nothing is scarey anymore)
4: the number of times the hotel screwed up our bill
(I have to call them in the morning b/c they still charged me the wrong amount)
4: hours spent reading next to my advisor while waiting for our flight to leave 3 hours late.
236: pages read in The Alienist.
(I highly recommend this book.)
1.5: hours spent sleeping and listening to music on the airplane on the way back to Milwaukee.
2: yummy warm chocolate chip cookies eaten on the plane
(although they didn't get alone well with my nearly empty stomach at 1am)
1.5: hours spent alternating between chatting and sleeping on the way from Milwaukee to Madison.
2am: the time I got home
3am: the time I fell asleep.
(I was strangely wide awake as soon as I got into bed.)
8:30am: the time I got to work this morning
2: the number of hours spent in a v.i.p. meeting this afternoon.
Feeling okay, supported, stupid, smart, overwhelmed, cared for, tired, and so much stronger all at once: Priceless.
(that's grad school in a nutshell)
posted by knit wit | 8/17/2005 09:35:00 PM
Friday, August 12, 2005
Yay for free hotel internet!
Not only can I check my email from here in Philly (who am I kidding- everyone who ever emails me is here!) but I can even blog from Philly, thanks to the free internet in our room!
So I am here in Philly. The traveling this morning was really good for me. I can't describe it, but there is something about the movement of traveling- the state of being between 2 places and heading someplace that really helps to ground me so much. I even kind of like flying- that is when there are not screaming children, theatre troups, or people having loudly irritating conversations about fishing (yes, I endured all those things on various flights last year).
Even flying on the very tiny plane that took me from Madison to Milwaukee today wasn't so terrible. Yes, it was the size of a minivan, but at least we were only in the air for like 10 minutes. And the guy behind me (all 8 of us were just so close to each other) kept cracking jokes like "hey- we all get both window and aisle seats!"
I also got to listen to a conversation between a guy in an army uniform and a woman who befriended him by asking a lot of questions about where he was going and whether or not he was being deployed. He was being deployed- in the army reserve "to fill in and help out" in Iraq. This guy was literally a kid. Just like 19 or so, and all gung ho about being deployed. He explained his speciality was engineering-- "blowing up bridges and buildings." Great. The woman responded with "wow" and "oh- you are quite the young man" and a hearty "we're proud of you." It just made me incredibly sad to listen to them. Just so incredibly sad for this kid and others like him... and for those people who live in and near the buildings and bridges he prides himself in blowing up.
I arrived in Philly and hooked up with Trina. After finding and then checking into the hotel we went to Philly's historic district for a little bit of siteseeing. Both of us are tired of going to cities and only seeing the freakin' hotels! We did a speed-through tour of the liberty bell, Independence Hall, and the Congress Building. All the history of where the Bill of Rights and Constitution was signed also just made me sad- all I could do was say "look at what Bush is stomping all over." What can I say, my day was somewhat about just feeling blue.
But, I'm here, among some of the best people I have ever met. I have a couple presentations to get through, but nothing seems as frightening as going through the prelim. I even forgot all about that for about 4 hours this afternoon. It will be a good weekend, I swear!
posted by knit wit | 8/12/2005 08:10:00 PM
Thursday, August 11, 2005
Even though the lyrics of "joyful girl" make me feel better, I don't want to leave my blog on what might seem like a sad note. I leave for Philly in the morning. I have plans to meet a friend at the airport and then to explore the city. I also have plans for dinner/drinks with other great people while I am there. For about 20 minutes yesterday I didn't want to go to this conference. Now I am really looking forward to this weekend. It is exactly what I need.
I have 1037 things to do today. I did really nothing last night- but I guess that's fine. Thanks to everyone I spoke to/got emails from yesterday. With each one I felt better. And life goes on.
So just to let everyone know the way I feel about grad school-- I am leaving here with a PhD or I am leaving here in a box.* Those are the options. And I am really very serious about that.
*I can't take credit for that phrase- its a quote by ja. But it applies perfectly and I couldn't have said it better myself.
Update: I just got 2 emails from readers worried that I am leaving the blogosphere. I'm not- I didn't mean it to sound that way. I'm just leaving for Philly for a few days and otherwise I'm not going anywhere!
posted by knit wit | 8/11/2005 07:37:00 AM
Wednesday, August 10, 2005
this is pretty cryptic and it is all i am saying here for a little while.
i do it for the joy it brings
because i'm a joyful girl
because the world owes me nothing
and we owe each other the world
i do it because it's the least i can do
i do it because i learned it from you
i do it just because i want to
because I want to
everything i do is judged
and i mostly get it wrong
but oh well
'cuz the bathroom mirror has not budged
and the woman who lives there can tell
the truth from the stuff that they say
and she looks me in the eye
and says would you prefer the easy way?
no, well o.k. then
and i wonder if everything i do
i do instead
of something i want to do more
the question fills my head
i know that there's no grand plan here
this is just the way it goes
and when everything else seems unclear
i guess at least i know
i do it for the joy it brings... -joyful girl by ani difranco-
posted by knit wit | 8/10/2005 01:46:00 PM
Tuesday, August 09, 2005
things to do
I haven't felt much like blogging. Nothing is going on worth blogging about. Just lots of work (I was actually so bored with all the link-updating I was doing at work today that I almost fell asleep at my desk). And lots of getting things done. Little things- dropping off stuff at the financial aid office, returning library books, planning my upcoming presentation, and checking my email for prelim results a million times a day- things like that.
Jo thinks that I should at least tell you a traffic story. Last night we were stuck in like 5 minutes worth of traffic in the mess of construction on E. Washington. The guy next to us was complaining loudly on his cell phone about how terrible the traffic was. We started talking about bad traffic experiences and Jo thought that mine pretty much would win any bad-traffic-experience-competition. Here goes.
I was coming back from visiting Jony in New Jersey. The bookstore I worked at was having yearly inventory that night and I was expected to be there at 9pm, ready to oversee the counting of every cd in the music department. Jony lived right near the Outer Bridge Crossing, and usually that would be the fastest way to go home. Usually the trip would talk about 1-1.5 hours. I left around 3pm. I was driving my old 1983 green volvo station wagon (may she rest in peace). She overheated only when sitting and idling- if the car was in motion than she was fine as the breeze cooled down the engine. It was muggy and in the 90s out which didn't help, but what can I say, the car was old.
The traffic going to the Outer Bridge Crossing was insanely backed up, so I decided to try the George Washington Bridge. Perhaps this was a bad choice. After sitting in traffic on the Garden State for well over an hour (turning the car on and off so it wouldn't overheat), I finally was able get to the GW. I chose the lower level. Also probably a bad choice. I inched along the lower level for literally 3 hours. I wish I was joking about that but I'm not. Not only was my car overheating, but it was so hot if I didn't keep the windows down I would die of the heat. Then we had thundershowers. Hot summer rain- not the kind that cools anything off. Yucky, hot, dirty water poored from the upper level of the bridge onto all of us on the lower level. We're talking really gross. And I had to use the bathroom so badly I thought I was going to die. And I had no food or water with me so I was starving.
I had a cell phone so I was able to call work and explain that it was 7pm and I was still sitting on the GW and most likely wouldn't make inventory. They were totally not pleased. I think I got in around 11pm. Yup- 8 hours from NJ to LI. No one in Madison can really ever complain about traffic.
posted by knit wit | 8/09/2005 05:17:00 PM
Sunday, August 07, 2005
another day of summer
Today I accomplished nothing. And it feels really good to just unwind. We went canoeing (after carefully removing like 25 spiders from our canoe) and that made me sleepy. I watched random TV all afternoon- mostly cooking and travel shows. I started watching the remake of The Stepford Wives but it was so terrible I had to turn it off. Skip it and watch the original instead.
Now I swear I have to accomplish things tomorrow after work (like put together a conference presentation!!) But tonight is just for strawberries, raspberries, coffee, and Six Feet Under.
posted by knit wit | 8/07/2005 07:08:00 PM
It was the beginning of summer, it was nearly the end of summer.
Yesterday I didn't do anything that related to sociology. Actually, aside from thinking about whether or not my committee was spending part of their Saturday reading my prelim, I didn't even think about that much either. The day actually felt like summer, but at the same time I felt like it was too late to begin summer-- summer is almost over. This Friday I head to Philly for the conference, and then by the time I get back on the 17th it will be time to think about buying books and notebooks.
What did summer look like yesterday? Well, we woke up late. I made a feta cheese and chive omelet. We went to the co-op. We drove out to Verona and ended up driving around Wisconsin farmland for a while. That drive through the farmland was unintended though, we were lost on our way to visit a friend who runs an animal shelter out there. We spent the afternoon hanging out with her a bunch of kittens- and managed to not come home with one! Once we were home we cleaned out the car, inside and out. Jo swears she didn't intend to squirt me with the hose but I don't believe her at all. We ate summer salad with flowers from our farmshare and then went to see a show a friend of ours was in. The all female-musician concert was down at UW on the lake. I had a beer and just relaxed. The music, the beer, the lake, sail boats and the kids running around in bathing suits just felt so wonderfully like summer. It felt like the beginning of summer and it is really pretty much toward the end.
Today I really do need to get some things done though...
posted by knit wit | 8/07/2005 08:27:00 AM
Saturday, August 06, 2005
reading my mind
It is as if Dar Williams peaked into my itunes library... Jony emailed me before the prelim this news that on Dar's new album she collaborates with Ani Difranco on a cover of Pink Floyd's "Comfortably Numb." And a cover of Neil Young's "Everybody Knows This is Nowhere." Wow. Could it get any better? I'd love to hear Ani and Dar cover Zeppelin's "the Rain Song." Maybe some day!
I actually watched a movie last night. Hide & Seek- it could have been great, but then it wasn't- Jo and I should stick to old movies as we are constantly let down by newer movies. I also saw Charlie and the Chocolate Factory the other day. It was okay. It was closer to Dahl's book in its creepy-British-let's-mess-with-kids way, but much further away in terms of the actual plot, which I didn't think was good. I thought it was very (I laughed where no one else in the theatre did), and I pretty much enjoyed it, but it was missing something the first movie head. And I'm sorry- but Johnny Dep pulled out some serious Edward Scissorhands moments- not original. I didn't enjoy his take on Willy Wonka at all. But the scene where Veruca Salt is dragged into the garbage by squirrels-- always classic.
And I slept in this morning (for me that means 8am) without the sheer panic of waking up and thinking only about studying. We are going to give our volvo some TLC today- cleaning her inside and out.
posted by knit wit | 8/06/2005 08:32:00 AM
Thursday, August 04, 2005
family vacation sans me
My whole family is taking a vacation this week. They rented a cabin someplace in the Maine woods on a lake between Belfast and Bangor. They've been swimming, hiking, canoeing and building campfires. My dad and brother spent the first part of the week there and now my mother and sister are there too. Way to take a vacation without me!
My brother and sister called me last night sitting around a campfire toasting marshmellows. I'm jealous!! I'd love to be sitting by a campfire on the edge of a lake among pine trees! No internet, no email, no work to do, no laptop (although cell phones make the whole thing different than it was when I was a kid- we never had cell phones sitting around a campfire). Just a super-rustic cabin with 70s furniture and a porch. Granted, my preference would be for the cabin be on the ocean and not in the middle of nowhere on a lake, but still it just sounds so wonderful! Maybe next summer Jo and I will go in on this cabin-in-the-middle-of-no-where rental too, even if the idea of a "cabin in the woods" makes us think of the really creepy cabin in the movie Evil Dead. (see on the right).
I think next summer, although I'll be taking another prelim, I'll plan on spending some time both at the ocean, and in a cabin in the woods...
posted by knit wit | 8/04/2005 07:36:00 AM
Wednesday, August 03, 2005
and now the summer begins...
Yeah right! I can take some time off- but I mostly just have a lot to do.
But, in post-prelim land, at least I don't feel that constant tug of "ohmygod I can't be doing this, I have to study..."
We spent well over an hour at the Half Price Books last night. I went in search of fiction to read. I wanted The Beekeepers Apprentice and they didn't have it. I looked at this one and almost bought it, but I couldn't decide if it looked good or not. I just couldn't make up my mind at all. Has anyone read it? Anyone read any other good mysteries/fiction? I did walk out with The Alienist, which I have always been interested in reading. And Jo wants to read it after me, so that will suffice for right now.
I have to head into work soon. Today my new mini ipod will probably arrive. No, I didn't just buy it, my mom is getting a new ibook (no one should run a business on a crappy PC!!) and the ipod comes free with the ibook. She doesn't want it, and my very old 1st generation ipod is finally feeling its age and so she is giving it to me. Yay!
I think waiting for prelim results is going to be terrible if I don't try to forget about it now. I couldn't sleep last night and I kept going through everything in my head trying to decide if it was good enough to pass. I go back and forth. I think something I did were great, but I'm not sure about other things. I also know I am way too hard on myself so I don't know how that clouds my judgment either. I honestly think I did my best with what I read and studied but I don't know if that is good enough*. Obsessing over it won't get me results any sooner so I think I'll try to stop thinking about it. After today though, as I know everyone I work with is going to ask me how it went.
*'Good Enough' is a great song by Sarah McLachlan. Maybe it will be the title song of a new itunes mix for the rest of the summer. I think the mix I listened to over and over while I was studying needs to be retired.
posted by knit wit | 8/03/2005 07:47:00 AM
Tuesday, August 02, 2005
The prelim was today and it is now over.
I'm okay, it was okay. I thought I did great on some parts, on others I'm not so sure about, and others, well, yikes. Did I pass? I don't know- it could go either way. If I have to take it again, then I'll chalk this up to a learning process. All in all I think I did the best I could given the questions. Now is the waiting gain. I really hope I find out before going to Philly. . .
Putting aside whether or not I passed, I do feel good about how I have handled this whole process. I really didn't freak out. I kept myself pretty healthy. I remained confident even though today. I outlined every answer with headings, I had arguments and positions on everything (some of them may creative/convoluted arguments). Intros and conclusions. I didn't run out of time.
So, hey that counts for something, right?
I'm heading out for dinner with Jo. And a much deserved beer. And then to buy some fiction. That's what I'm reading for the rest of summer- fiction.
posted by knit wit | 8/02/2005 05:10:00 PM