Monday, December 15, 2008

10 lords aleaping

So, I'm trying to keep up this maddening pace of finals, grading, seminar papers, etc.

Here's today:
wake up and realize the hubby and I have both been pressing snooze for about an hour
bake my famous spicy chicken
prepare chicken and veggie stew for crockpot
submit final grades for both classes

finish Hair paper
find my enormous stack of Wilkie Collins articles
sample stew, say "damn, I'm good"
drive to school, with only a very brief Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf detour
work at writing center 7 p.m.-10 p.m.
make huge pot of coffee
start working on Wilkie Collins paper for 19th cent. seminar
wallow in self-pity
drink last sip of coffee
wish I were at home in bed

Sunday, December 14, 2008


As I sit here at the library typing my seminar papers for this semester, I can’t help but wonder at how I made it this far without crashing and burning.

Simply, I’m tired.

I’m trying to hold down multiple jobs, all in this crazy sub-culture called academia, trying to complete three graduate seminars, and trying to be the perfect wife (which I’m slowing discovering is a fantasy). Because I’m torn—yanked, prodded, pulled, you get the picture—in so many directions, I’m not really doing any of them justice. I do not get to spend enough quality time with my husband. I do not keep a clean house. I do not have a perky get-up-and-face-the-day attitude in the mornings. I do not love my jobs as much as I appreciate having them.

No, unfortunately, our townhouse is a mess. This isn’t because Scott or I are particularly messy people, but because we are so busy that we are never home. And, when we are home, we are usually only there long enough to throw down our backpacks, books, and papers, change clothes, pick up another stack of books and papers, and run out the door again. When we finally collapse with each other at night, we have some amazing moments of solidarity and companionship. And then we sleep far too little before we have to get up and do it all over again. Ah, grad school.

Scott has been my rock for the past four years, and every part of me wants to make him proud. I never would have been emotionally stable enough for grad school without him standing behind me, reminding me of my strengths and cuteness. I want so badly to excel at my current jobs and graduate studies so that, once we (if we?) finally finish, I’ll be able to get a job that is both financially and emotionally satisfying. That way we’ll be able to appreciate each other more and appreciate all the work we’ve been killing ourselves for out here. We’ll be able to look back and know that these hard years of our Ph.D.s were 100% worth it, no regrets, no what ifs.

Here’s my grateful list for today:

  • husband’s fuzzy pajama pants
  • yummy cheese and cracker snacks
  • other harried-looking students in the library, proving that I’m not alone in the world
  • my CGU partners in crime, Jan, Stefani, and Sharone
  • Holiday Blend coffee
  • hair long enough to braid so that I don’t have to think of anything original to do with it
  • free food in the library
  • husband’s warm hugs after chastising me for wearing his fuzzy pajama pants
  • books about hair, black hair, long hair, African American hair, literary hair, kinky hair, political hair, and Janie’s hair
  • our nice apartment manager who keeps trying to give me free lemons
  • the thought of sleep tonight, however short it may be

I’m almost halfway through one paper, with one more to go after this. Earlier this semester, Sharone and I turned in our 80-page Jazzwomen project, which was half our grade for our Jazz Transdisciplinary course. I’m glad I am finished with that class and only have to complete two more. Two more. Two more. Two more.

To be continued…

Wednesday, November 26, 2008


KarenBeth is an elf: SIftKBDsPv.

Just trust me and click the button. :D You'll laugh so hard you'll cry!

(I'd like to thank Jan, Stefani, Sharone, and Scott who graciously and unknowingly lended their mug shots to this fine work of art. I'd also like to thank my mother who didn't institutionalize me even when she knew I was a little crazy. Finally, I would like to thank the, don't play the music, wait, wait, waaaaiiiii---)

Sunday, November 23, 2008

God's love

I'm trying to pace myself with posting my students' funny sentences, but the truth is that they are just too good to keep to myself. The following are laugh-out-louds, head scratchers, or just plain bad:

"David also worked very closely with Robert Moffat, who arrived a few weeks after him. He had a daughter named Mary and they were deeply in love. They got married on January 2, 1945; they had four boys, and a daughter who died on the mission field due to sickness."

Okay, besides the correct use of a semi-colon here, there is not much about this sentence that is good! Of course the daughter died, if the diction is to be trusted! My student commited the unforgivable crime of creating an incestuous relationship for unsuspecting missionary workers!

"These feelings were all about to be reversed in an event that would change his lives."

Hmmm...just for the record, exactly how many lives does this man have?

"According to The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Augustine was raised in a Christian atmospheric home."

Well, if The Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy says it, it must be true!

And my personal favorite...

"Anyone can come out of the deepest depths and God's love reaches every corner of every bottom."

Yes, indeed.

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Oh, the funny just won't stop

from a student's recent essay on Sojourner Truth...

"Like her mother and many slaves had done, Isabella watched as her children were torn out of her fingerprints and sold to other farms."

First of all...ouch! Second of all...thesaurus much? Ahhhh. I just LOVE this time of the semester.

Thursday, November 13, 2008

My friend Timmy

Anyone who can look this adorable this often deserves some web recognition. I miss him...
Here's Timothy Elijah, the cutest little squirt in my entire family.

And here's the handsome little dude after a hair cut.

And here's Yoda trying to impersonate my nephew for Halloween.

And here's how big he was when Scott and I moved to California (3-4 wks old).

Awww, Little T and Auntie KB!

Here's to all out there who miss their loved ones...

Friday, November 7, 2008

arrrrump pa pa pummm

KB’s Christmas (gift) Wishes

The Declaration by Gemma Malley (book)
Coffee Shop by Landon Pigg (CD)
We Sing, We Dance, We Steal Things by Jason Mraz (CD)
Season Three House (DVD)
Hideaway by The Weepies (CD)
6. Sterling Silver earrings (hoops or studs)
7. lap pillow with a hard top to write on
8. sitting pillow (perhaps
something like this?)
9. lip gloss or lip balms that smell like fruit or baked goods
10. lotion or candles that smell like baked goods
11. an empty spice rack
12. a muffin cookbook
13. flavored coffee (especially Candy Cane Peppermint from
Day Break Coffee Roasters in Lubbock)
14. bookends

15. soft pajama pants and/or fuzzy socks
16. mints of any kind
17. sparkly bobby pin hairclips
18. colored ink or gel pens
19. flavored hot cocoa
20. wine stoppers

November 13 additions:
21. Die Hard collection
22. Season 3 of 24

Sunday, October 12, 2008

These snozberries taste like snozberries!

My husband is my main source of laughter, which is sweet, I know, but what I love the most is that the jokes have not gotten old. In fact, we laugh about the "same old stuff" more and more. I love that his belly button lint and my premarital pink socks continue to be sources of hilarity. And I love that he gets frustrated with the avocado every single time. I love that.

My students--on the other hand--crack me up in other ways. In spelling ways. Here are two examples of laugh-out-louds:

"Unhappy couples get caught in the viscous cycle of divorce."

"Many types of symbolism in Bram Stoker's Dracula are berried in the text."

You see, dear reader, I have a wonderful life. I have a job for which I am paid to laugh, cry, and grit my teeth right alongside the kiddoes (only they don't know why I'm doing it). And that's the best part.

Friday, September 5, 2008

Two households, both alike in Karen Beths

Two households, both alike in Karen Beths, in fair San Gabriel Valley where we lay our scene. Ahhh, if only Shakespeare was alive for that one! Moving is one of the hardest things about life. But even harder than moving is living out of two different residences while the moving is taking place! (Even harder than that? Planning for in-laws in town while the moving is taking place.) But...they actually ended up being a huge help to us.

Scott and I are finally moved all the way into the new place! We started looking about halfway through the summer because we needed more space and more privacy. The apartment we were in was in a great location and came at a reasonable price (if anything in SoCal can be called reasonably priced), but we didn't like the noise from upstairs neighbors, and we didn't like not being able to make our own noise as musicians...

We found the perfect place for us. It's a two-story townhouse in Glendora. We have two bedrooms, so one will be an office/studio for us to do schoolwork and practicing. The other will be our master bedroom. We have three bathrooms for some reason, we're still not sure why, but very excited about it. We have a garage, balconies, a patio, a bigger kitchen than the last place. All in all, as soon as we get more boxes unpacked, we'll be VERY happy and cozy in our brand new place. The best part about it? We don't share any walls! We live in a townhouse community, but our little place stands all on its own. We still rent, but it's progress!!

(note--hey, if you need our new address, just drop me a line by email)

I'm blessed to have a loving husband who only complained a leeeetle bit about carrying my many many many boxes of books up the stairs. In total, we probably had about 600 books to move from one place to another, and it was a huge chore. I don't feel too bad about it since at least 200 of them were his. Still, what a sweet hunk.

School has started again, which makes this whole moving/unpacking process even more stressful. However, I have so many things to be grateful for.

1. A fresh bunch of students with eagerness and expectations written all over their faces.
2. New books!
3. Getting back in touch with good friends.

4. Making new ones.
5. Carpooling with the hubby to school.
6. New classes=New challenges
7. New reasons to try my very hardest.
8. did I mention new books? :)

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

The freedom of silver

My mom is the most patriotic person I know. I am the 2nd in line. :)

The summer olympic games are memories that I carry with me from my entire childhood. My parents get very excited about the competitions and broadcasts, and I have always carried on the tradition of cheering on my team USA. Now, I know that just about every household at some time or another during this twenty-ninth olympiad will be glued to its television set, holding its collective breaths, and yelling at the screen ("GO MICHAEL, GO GO GO GOOOOOOOO!!!!!!!"). I know that I'm not unusual in loving the olympics. This is America, after all. But I believe that I do have more stamina than most for watching as much as possible, and I get really personal about the games. It's a family thing. My mom and sister and I--and daddy when he got home late at night--used to watch every minute of the television coverage. But that's not all. We would decorate the living room with USA paraphernalia, wear our red, white, and blue USA shirts, make olympic-themed meals and desserts, create scrapbooks out of newspaper articles on the athletes (esp. the gymnasts), and it would consume us for 15 entire days, and then many days after.

The '96 olympics in Atlanta, the XXIV Olympiad, were and always will be my favorite. Who can forget the "Magnificent Seven," the USA women gymnasts who won gold in their home country? Kerri Strugg vaulted with an injured ankle and landed on one foot! Coach Bela Karolyi carried the small star up to the medal podium to receive her gold medal, a picture which was probably on the front page of every newspaper in America the next morning. Michael Johnson with his shiny gold tennis shoes won gold in both the 200 and 400 meter races, setting a new world record in the 200 at 19.32 seconds! Amy Van Dyken won four gold medals in swimming, and she was the first American woman ever to do that in one olympics. Andre Agassi (my favorite tennis player of all time) won the gold medal which earned him the always coveted Career Grand Slam (all four major tournaments + olympics). Carl Lewis, who was only surpassed this year by Michael Phelps for the number of medals won in the olympics, won his fourth gold in long jump at age 35. It was the first olympics for softball, beach volleyball (which is about all they show on NBC this year--errr), mountain biking, women's soccer (we won gold!), and lightweight rowing. Muhammad Ali was chosen to light the Olympic torch and was given a replacement gold medal from his 1960 games. Medals were won by a whopping 79 countries, and a record 197 countries participated, including Palestine, which was admitted into the Olympics as a nation for the first time. I LOVED the 1996 Olympics. (Even if it was a two-week non-stop Coca-Cola/ Kodak commercial.)

There were memorable tragedies, though, and I remember how saddened my family was to hear about the bombing during the games in Centennial Olympic Park, which caused two deaths and 111 injuries. The games were also marred by the continual question of doping, which had become more and more prevalent in athletes' drug tests. [sigh]

But, nonetheless, I look back on Atlanta and think of how proud I was of my country--how proud I was of their patriotism, athleticism, and sportsmanship.

Here we are (fast-forward to 2008) in Beijing (well, not me, but my heart and soul...and my secret crush Bob Costas). I see the Chinese being very proud of their nation and their accomplishments. I see them waving their flags and pumping their fists in the air with victory. I see the Great Wall, the ancient relics of dynasties, and the strong people with an even stronger dictator. No viewer doubts that the Chinese are very proud of their Olympics debut.

But at what cost? These "games" are no longer games anymore! They are showcases of fear and hardship. I've heard horrible stories about how children are taken away from their parents at age 3 if the parents are "genetically superior." That's what happened to NBA basketball player Yao Ming. His parents had good (tall and strong) genes, so he was breeded to be a star. Little children are taken to be gymnasts or divers if their parents are small, strong, flexible, and graceful. They are taken to be table tennis champions if the parents have excellent hand and eye coordination. I am not making this stuff up! Chinese toddlers are ripped away from their parents (who, by the way, still are not allowed to have more children even if the government takes theirs) in order to represent their country. They live in sports facilities like dormitories or boarding schools and train from age 3 to be gold medalists; these are places where 2nd place is not acceptable, and 3rd place is unthinkable. I watch these little girls compete on the Chinese gymnastics team with fear in their eyes. It's even worse for the men's team. One missed step, one missed hand hold, and it's all over. The only joy came when they won the gold, and it didn't look like utter and complete happiness. It looked like from whatever punishment or embarrassment would have come from winning anything less glitzy than gold.

Personally, I like silver better. If I know that my country's athletes have good lives, love competition and the thrill of doing the best they can, are treated well, have no fear of public shunnings or private beatings when they return home, and can have semi-normal lives when they aren't off being olympians, then I would much rather all of the Americans bring home silvers than golds. Gold isn't worth the cost of freedom and human rights from age 3 on.

[Side note: Of course, I personally am THRILLED that Michael Phelps and the rest of the men's relay team on Sunday night blew the France team's hoity toity opinion of themselves to smithereens. But, for everyone else, second place is plenty high enough if it means that my fellow Americans can compete with true excitement in their hearts instead of fear. WE are team USA (thank you, Bank of America, for inspiring this idea with your incessant commercials), and we love our teammates no matter what.]

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos

When Edith Wharton labels a little book the "great American novel," it's no longer a little book--it's one that deserves notice. I had never read Gentlemen Prefer Blondes or heard of Anita Loos before a few weeks ago. I had heard of the Marilyn Monroe movie, but hadn't seen it. All in all, until last week I was thoroughly deprived of an amazingly funny story that made me snicker, giggle, chortle, laugh uproariously, and probably grin mischievously when nobody was looking.

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is the story of Lorelei Lee, along with her friend Dorothy, on a journey across the eastern United States and especially the big hits in Europe (London, Paris, etc.). Lorelei's more pertinent journeys, though, are her attempts to gain upward social mobility, "education" of the mind, and--of course--convincing men to buy her as many sparkly, expensive things as possible. She's hilarious in her honesty (the novel is written as her own diary), just as naive as she is cunning, and possibly the smartest idiot in literature.

The ending was so-so, but the first 90% of the book had already made me fall in love with Loos's writing style and spunk. I recommend this book! I'm not necessarily condoning Lorelei's behavior, p.s. Just loving it between the pages.

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Classics Challenge 2008

My good friend Trish from my master's program has posed a reading challenge, and I am very excited because it will be my first online challenge! Trish is a very experienced blogger and book reviewer, and she has met a lot of interesting people online through her different challenges and blogs, which sounds like something I would LOVE to do more of if I weren't knee-deep in coursework right now for my doctorate. That said, however, I think if I do some more snooping around, I will be able to find some interesting challenges that I'm already reading for, whether I know it or not. For now, I'm thrilled to join...

The Classics Challenge July-December 2008! The following are Trish's guidelines:

  • Classics: We love them, we hate them, now we are going to challenge ourselves to reading more of them. Because there are so many different types of classics, different genres are acceptable and encouraged--for example, novels, short story collections, non-fiction, poetry, essays--I'm open for other suggestions!RULES (keep reading for the bonus):
  • OPTION 1: Read FIVE classics.
  • OPTION 2: Read FIVE classics from at least TWO different countries
  • OPTION 3: Read FIVE classics with any combination of at least TWO different countries and TWO different genres (see above for genres).
  • Cross-posting with other challenges is allowed (and encouraged!); Audiobooks are fine; books must be finished after July 1st to count for the challenge although re-reads are acceptable.
  • Lists don't have to be set in stone; you can change your selections at any time.
  • Have Fun. Oh ya...there will be a drawing for a prize or two. To be entered you must complete any one of the above options. You do NOT need a blog to participate.
  • Am I going to define what a classic is? Nope! There are lots of definitions offered on the Internet, but essentially we all have different opinions so don't stress too much--and see the bonus below.
  • BONUS!! (optional)
    As you can see, I'm requiring FIVE classics for six months. For the sixth book, I would like the participants to offer suggestions for books that may not be considered classics but that you think should be or books that you think will be a classic one day. Leave your suggestions in the comments below. I'll compile a list of the suggestions and you choose a book from the list and make that your sixth read. I realize this means you may have to wait to make your list if you choose to participate in the bonus round, but I'm hoping this is a modern twist on the old classics challenge.

Okay, so, I'm working on my reading list, but I'm pretty certain it will resemble closely the syllabus for Dr. Redfield's Nineteenth Century lit course for the Fall. I have a few other ideas, but nothing is solid. YAY BOOKS!!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Catching up since the world won't slow down...

This has been a wild few weeks at the beginning of summer. Scott and I are trying to get back in shape, so we bought tennis rackets and have been playing tennis at a cute little park near the school. Scott’s Wilson racket is red and black, and “endorsed” by Roger Federer, according to the package. Mine is called the Wilson Hope Racket. Every time someone purchases a Wilson Hope racket (that has the pink ribbon symbol on it for breast cancer), Wilson makes a donation to The Breast Cancer Research Foundation. Since I have lost two precious family members to breast cancer, this meant the world to me. I was glad Scott picked this specific one out for me. I love it. It has a plum-colored floral design on the sides, and a soft, gray grip. I also bought some brand new tennis shoes (more on them later) that complete the look out there on the court. I’m not by any means a good player, but at least I am trying, and that’s half the battle. Maybe next year, for Wimbledon. It might be too late for me this time around. [insert wink here] Scott has been a sweet and patient coach for me (and he’s very handsome all at the same time). Most importantly, we’re doing something together, and we’re having a great time.

Of course, within the first two weeks out on the court, I hurt myself. That’s always how it goes in my life. Every time I try to get back in shape, I somehow hurt myself. It’s not bad—only a strained ankle—but that meant that I was unable to really get any exercise for about the past week while I’ve been letting it heal. I think Scott and I are going to get back out there tomorrow, though. It feels so good to be outside with the fresh air and the Claremont trees and the gentle breezes (as opposed to the dust and 50 mph gusts in the Texas panhandle). For the first time in a long time, I’ve gotten really sweaty doing something other than packing up trucks and moving across the country multiple times. And, boy, it feels good.

Pre-injury, Scott and I were going through a week of detox, which means that we put ourselves on a strict diet to try to repair our livers and get our bodies back in gear. No salt, no sugar, no carbohydrates, no caffeine, no alcohol, no fats except a tiny amount of olive oil on salad. This is a detox we’ve done in the past, and it definitely works for shedding the pounds and making us feel better. We only cheated a tiny bit, and I had lost about five pounds after eight days. I have gained back 2-3 of those pounds since we’ve been eating regular food again, but I think most of that is just the inability to exercise like I was before, since my ankle was in so much pain. So, here’s to shedding the pounds one at a time.

As I mentioned above, we have been wildly busy. We’re now officially 9-5ers, which means that our
summer jobs completely bombard our schedules and our hopes of getting very much else done. But, as we just got our first paychecks yesterday, it turns out that we’ll be getting decent wages and good work experience, and we get to spend all day every day side by side at computers, poking each other and making innuendos the whole time. Now, it’s a redundant, exhausting job. Don’t get me wrong. But, I get to be with my husband all the time, and that will be the best part about my summer.

We went to the mall about a week ago to look for some tennis shoes and shorts for me, since we had a $10 off coupon for JCPenney for a father’s day sale, and we certainly had no intention of buying our dads clothes. Get this: we got me a pair of jeans, a pair of Capri pants, a pair of shorts, a pair of snazzy tennis shoes, and 2 pairs of jeans for Scott all for under a hundred dollars. And, I had a coupon! So, all in all, even though we spent money, we spent way less than one would have expected for all of our purchases. And now I have some cute shorts and Capris for summer. I love the shoes, too. They are New Balances, mostly white, with dark pink and silver trim. They make me feel sporty.

I have been reading a ton—every chance I get when I’m not at work or cooking or spending time with Scott. I am reading quite a few books right now, but almost done with several. Expect updates when I finish! I’ll tell you one thing, though. Gentlemen Prefer Blondes by Anita Loos is now officially on my list of books I would want with me if I were stranded on a deserted island. I laughed out loud more times than I can count, and I LOVE books that are clever enough to make me laugh. I may not be a gold-digger like Lorelei Lee, but now I know how to bat an eye-lash or two when I need help with the dishes. The book is witty, satiric, and utterly entertaining. Two thumbs (and a strained ankle, you know, to help with the swelling) up.

I am going to be telling you about my upcoming reading challenge soon. I am still formulating my list, but for now I’ll just tell you that I signed up to read (at least) six classics for this challenge between July and December. No sweat for a doctoral student! Plus, one of my very best friends from my master’s program is the challenge maestra, so here’s to catching up with old friends through reading/blogging!

Okay, now I have to go check on Scott. He’s been shouting things at the TV for awhile now, but as far as I know, he’s only watching golf. [Just one of the many things I never experienced in the pre-matrimony days!]

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Red, White, and Blue

It's been a while since I've written, so I wanted to let you all know that I have survived the spring semester and am joyfully starting summertime. I finished my Gothic papers (yes, there were two of them that I had to do. My major seminar paper plus a rewrite from a close reading that I wrote earlier in the semester). I turned them in at 4:59 last Thursday. :) Whew! I couldn't have done it without Scott's help. We were driving around in crazy flash floods trying to make it everywhere on time (including out to Azusa so that I could sign my new contract for the fall classes I'm teaching). I haven't received my Gothic grade yet, but I got my American Film Music grade and my Women in Love Film Adaptation grade--good news for both!

Once that was done, after a sufficient amount of recovery time, Scott and I started cleaning like maniacs to get our apartment back in shape. We moved all the furniture and swept and mopped. We clorox bleached every surface in the kitchen and bathroom. We unloaded tons of boxes and put them in our storage. We vacuumed our rugs, carpets, mats, couches, and chairs. We did about 6 loads of laundry, in addition to the 4 Scott had done earlier in the week. Four of those loads were sheets and towels, and now we feel very fresh again! We have our pictures up on the walls, and although we're still in the process with that, at least we have our engagement ones up the way we want them. The office and the bedroom and my desk area are still "iffy" as far as begin organized goes, but they are way better than before! We cleaned so much that we just wanted to collapse when we were done. So...

In the evenings we've been watching season 2 of 24. Now, I have never seen any of these shows on TV, so do NOT tell me anything. I don't want to know ANYTHING. We received season 1 as a gift from Christy and Nick for Christmas, and we watched that very quickly. I got season 2 for Scott for his birthday, and now that our papers are done, we can finally watch it. It's fun! There are parts of the show that are just awful, but everything with Jack makes up for it 200%.

Scott and I are also in a "let's try to get back in shape" mindset since we've gained weight this year. Graduate school is not rear-end friendly, so we're really going to try to do better about being more active. We bought fun new tennis rackets (mine is AWESOME, it's a women's racket with purply flowery designs, and Scott's is red and black...more about the rackets later). We're going to sign up for lessons and lose some of these doctoral pounds!! I am kind of nervous since I'm not very coordinated, but I've played "baby" tennis before. This is something I really want to do, though.

Speaking of doctoral pounds, we probably gained a few more over the last few days. We finally got Scott's grill put together, so we have been having tons of fun barbequing. We had Claire and Dave over for Memorial Day (GO USA!!), and the food was so yummy. We had cheddar wurst hot dogs, hamburgers, a big ole' fresh salad, chips and salsa, beers, margaritas, and...(drum roll please) my freshly made sour cream and berries pie! It tastes just like a cheese cake, and we topped it with a homemade blackberry/raspberry/strawberry/blueberry topping. Oh MAN. I am definitely getting my pie fix this month! We had a lot of fun with Claire and Dave. It's always so great to hang with them and spend some time together. We watched Stranger Than Fiction after dinner. By far, it's my favorite Will Ferrell movie. I loathe his stupid ones.

I got the postmodern syllabus for the class I'll be taking in the fall. I am really looking forward to some 20th century stuff. It's been too long! And as soon as I get my Gothic grade, I'll email Redfield for his syllabus, too. I don't want to bother him, since he probably hasn't even finished grading my stuff for this semester! Plus, I'm overwhelmed as it is. BOOKS!!!!!!!!!

Scott and I start our new jobs at the Digital Libraries tomorrow. We are so happy to be working together. It will be good job training and experience, plus we'll get to spend more time together and carpool--two awesome things--and we have heard that we'll be getting a large amount of hours. I have so many more things to talk about, since it's been awhile, but let me try to finish quickly.

Scott and I finished 101 Dalmations, and we're now reading The Wizard of Oz. On my own, I'm also reading George Eliot's Middlemarch (since Sharone convinced me to give it one more try), Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice, Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man, and Francis Burney's Evelina (for the paper I'm writing for my incomplete course--I need to get that done!). I am ALWAYS the kind of girl that has 10 books going at once, so this is actually a short list for me! Of course, it will get much longer very soon, now that I have the pomo syllabus. Eeeeshk.

I hope everyone had a wonderfully red, white, and blue day yesterday. Now if you'll excuse me, I need to go relax on my last free day before I start my new job.

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Pie, part deux

Oh man...seriously?? This is the best pie I've ever had in my life, and I've had me some goooood pies. Everyone needs to go out to the nearest Baker's Square and pick up a FRENCH APPLE PIE immediately. Your mouth will thank you. Over and over and over.

You can see...I really needed some pie.

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Gothic Paper, pg 17

Page 17 of my Gothic lit paper is really scary. That's where I am right now. Page 17. I think that the reason I've had so much trouble getting through it is the subject matter--not a fun one to talk about. I'm writing on the gothic trope of women who are attacked in their sleep or in their bedrooms, and these attacks come from anywhere from pirate ghosts to vampires or just plain rapacious men. It's a terrifying subject, but one that has surprisingly little academic criticism as of yet. Everyone talks about the sexual nature of the attacks, but not the "sleepy" nature of the attacks. These women are asleep for some reason, and I have to figure it out why the authors made this such a usable tool for evoking fear. It's my job (or, at least, I've made it my job until I get done writing this paper) to figure out all sorts of scary things. My theory is that the gothic women should have had more caffeine.

I'm trying to do it without looking over my shoulder too much. I get spooked. But Scott is here to protect me. And keep me awake.


Scott and I bought a french apple pie tonight because I've been complaining and craving and begging for pie for like a month. Just thought you might like to know that complaining and nagging really does work.

Saturday, May 17, 2008


My brain may fizzle if I stare at a computer screen any more than necessary today, so this will be a short one...

I missed my deadline for my Gothic paper, and my film one is also due Monday, so I have a LOT to do this weekend. I was promised a breakfast excursion by my loving husband last night, but I've been up for three hours and he is still asleep. :( To wake, or not to wake? That is my eternal question!

I am excited for all of my friends graduating this weekend. Congratulations! I still have at least three years to go before I'll be Doctor Karen Beth Strovas, Ph.D. [ enter big sigh here ]

Okay, back to my papers.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

starting over

Well, hello there, it's me--KB. I've taken a lot of medicine, a LOT, over the past three days, so I'm very loopy at the moment. I'm also on my second roll of toilet paper (aka substitute Kleenex). About an hour ago, I started over on my Gothic paper. Started completely over. I was really sucking on the path that I was on, so I am taking a new angle. Same topic, new angle. I have a ton of good research done, and now I have a new plan to go with my new angle. So, as long as my angle doesn't screw me over, we should be okay.

Things that make me happy even though I'm deathly ill:
1. hyperbole
2. my new hot pink mini-teapot
3. husband rescuing me from the library at 3:30 in the morning when I wasn't strong enough to get home by myself

Monday, May 12, 2008


So, I'm sitting here with my sexy sexy roll of toilet paper since we're out of kleenexes. Yes, boys and girls, I am sick. Scott caught a cold, and then I caught his cold, and both of our immune systems are shot because of this semester, so it's hard to get over them. Might I just add one more word? Achhoooo.

I'm having a very hard time getting going on my Gothic paper, but at least I have a few pages. I need to work like crazy today, but I'm just not feeling well enough to think straight.

Also, it was about one in the morning when I realized I hadn't called my mom back in Texas to wish her a happy mother's day. I'm the worst daughter in the world. I guess I'll be calling tonight... :( It's been a rough weekend, and now it's Monday. Joy!

Friday, May 9, 2008

One down...

I turned in a huge paper yesterday, one of the longest I've ever written for something that wasn't intended to be an article or part of my thesis. My film music seminar professor required a 20-25 page 11 pt. font (how weird is that??) essay, and mine ended up being 31 pages. Whew! The amazing thing was that I typed about half of it within 24 hours of it being due. I am tiiiired. I can't believe it's over. That was one of the best classes I've ever taken at the graduate level. I really enjoyed it!!

I took last night to recover, of course.

Now it's full speed ahead for my next paper--one for my Gothic and Romantic Literature seminar. I think this one is supposed to be 20 pgs. I have a really good idea and it's been brewing and stewing in my brain for about a month now. Unfortunately, I haven't had time to do a lot of research because I've been working so hard on my Sunset Boulevard paper! But, I digress...I am looking forward to getting something coherent on paper, because it hasn't happened yet. However, I think I have a good idea, so we're just hanging on to that for dear life and seeing what comes from it.

We like to speak in first person plural today.

Scott interviewed for the same job I did a few weeks ago. It looks like he'll be hired there, too! We'll be working for the digital libraries office at CUC and trying to earn some money this summer instead of spending it. (Fingers crossed!) It was a blessing to find a job for both of us that is so close to where we live. (and pardon me for being a nerd, but I LOVE LIBRARIES.)

I am so exhausted that I might just cry a little today, but at least I've gotten some things done while pondering that which is Gothic.
1. washed a kitchen full of dishes that had accumulated for the past week while Scott and I wrote our film music papers
2. boiled potatoes and then made spicy/cheesy mashed potatoes for tonight's dinner
3. steamed some ground beef in our big fat steamer that we got for our wedding...again, for tonight's dinner (enchiladas)
4. cleaned kitchen
5. sorted some laundry (which was wishful thinking, because who knows when I'll have time to do laundry!)
6. juiced watermelon, pineapple, apple, grapefruit, and carrots for a healthy snack...thanks to my handy power juicer and the incessant fear that I should be eating more fresh stuff.
7. wrapped Scott's b-day presents for the big day tomorrow!!

I feel like I've spent a huge percentage of the day in my kitchen, but I guess not spending ANY time in the kitchen this past week evens things out. I need coffee now. And I need a brilliant idea to shoot through my mind so that I can write a masterful, original, breathtaking thesis sentence sometime tonight.

Tuesday, May 6, 2008


Only 47 more pages to go this semester!

Talk about a frantic intellectual workout...

My saving grace today is that Redfield is taking our Gothic/Romantic lit class out for beer and nachos while we talk about Dracula. I need little happy moments like that to keep me from going bonkers.

Monday, May 5, 2008

you win some, you lose some...

P.S. I finished grading on Saturday--yippee!!

P.S.S. I still have 55 pages to type before my semester is over...

Joni Mitchell, IHOP, and another long day

I love discovering something new about someone whom I've known for quite awhile. I love that I'm not the only one who was hooked on Ally McBeal in high school. I love IHOP coffee. I love eating breakfast for dinner.

I do not love rude IHOP servers who talk bad about their customers.

I love pushing through page breaks when I'm writing papers.

I do not love the frigid air in the library.

I love Joni Mitchell's voice. It's so raw and original. And beautiful. Not over-produced.

I do not love realizing immediately after making a large salad that we have no salad dressing.

I love my homemade spicy ranch salad dressing.

I do not love writing papers.

I love creating knowledge.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

in response to Stefani's recent trunk trauma...

One of my friends recently walked from her work out to her car only to realize that she had left her trunk wide open while she had been inside. Luckily, her backpack, books, and everything else was still there waiting for her. I have a similar experience of embarrassment... About halfway through the semester, Scott and I were walking back to my car in the APU parking lot after I had taught my three-hour lit course. When we got to my car, my passenger side door was wide open. Apparently, I had gotten out of the car (Scott was driving) and gone back to get something out of the trunk, not closing the door yet because I was still getting organized. Well, I must have forgotten to close the door at all because it was still open when we got back more than three hours later. The inner dome light was on, exposing all of my belongings in my cluttered car to the world. I raced over to my car and checked everything. My stuff was still there. Everything in the car, the trunk, the glove compartment...nothing had been touched. Even my battery was still good though the light had been on all that time.

Little things like that make me want to thank and pray and praise and cry out to God for thanksgiving. also makes one wonder why nobody shut the door (or Stefani's trunk for that matter), if they weren't going to steal anything! Hmmmm.

Anyway, that just goes to show how tired and frazzled we all are. Grad school is powerful enough to make one go CRAZY.

Friday, May 2, 2008

I just won first place in the "What was I thinking???" category

What was I thinking? I'll tell you what I was thinking: I was thinking that I would be just fine grading an entire Freshman Writing Seminar class's portfolios (15 students, 4 final drafts each, essentially 60 papers to grade...). Well, I was right. I could handle it. I actually did okay with that part. I am about 5/6 done with the portfolios! The HARD part of my life right now is grading my Intro to Literature class's final exams AND their final fiction essays at the same time as trying to write 3 seminar papers of my own. The verdict? Not freaking possible.

That's 32 final exams (4 pg. exam plus three essays), 32 final fiction essays (5-6 pages each), plus any work that anyone turned in late. I am just about to go nutty. If I see one more person cite sparknotes in their Dracula essays, I might just cry. SPARKNOTES IS NOT A REPUTABLE SOURCE!! Pllleeeeeeaaaase, people. For my health, I'm begging you...just don't do it!

I'm about a third of the way done with the fiction essays, and then I have to get cracking on the exams. I have a 20-25 page, 11 pt. font essay for my film music seminar due in 6 days, which has been on my brain for a long time, but isn't started in "real" life. So, the moral of this story is, what was I thinking???

This semester flew by and forgot to tell me. No sleep for me. Again.

You know what the sad part about all of this is? Don't tell anyone, but I really enjoy grading for the most part. It is hard, it is exhausting, it is mind-boggling, it is sometimes hilarious,'s part of my job and I love it. I just wish I had more time to devote to each student, each paper, and each idea individually. Right now, I'm just trying to stay sane.

Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Puppy Love

We're accused of being mushy and too lovey-dovey in public, but I say who cares! I love my husband!

Over the past few weeks, Scott and I started reading to each other every night before we fall asleep, which is such an awesome little tradition that I hope we keep alive. Our first book is Dodie Smith's 101 Dalmations. Yeah, it's a kids book. Yeah, it's like a fifth grade reading level. But, honestly, who wants to read something difficult or philosophical or critical right before bed? We get enough of that during the day. Our nights deserve to be a little less complicated and a little more fun. So, we're going to be reading children's books to each other--books that either one or neither of us have read that should be in our repertoire as future (VERY future) parents. It's nice to fall asleep listening to each other's voices. Relaxing. Reassuring. Romantic.

The next book that I hope we can read is either Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, The Wizard of Oz, or perhaps The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe. I suppose Scott must have a vote...

Monday, April 28, 2008

Finals Week

It's finals week for my students, and I wish them all luck. I actually loved finals week back when I was in undergrad. First of all, you don't have to attend any of your usual classes, so you have so much more time to study. Second of all, you know that it's almost over...if you just wait one more week...

Claremont still has a few more weeks of school left, so I'm working hard to get in gear and get my work done. I've been reading a lot, grading a lot, thinking a lot, etc. Mostly, I am excited for the summer to begin so that I can start reading some new books!

I already know that Victorian novels and Postmodern Novels are at the top of my list, since I'll be taking those courses in the fall. But, I have some other books on my nightstand that have been waiting patiently and collecting dust. So, I'll be very relieved when this is all over. By "this" I mean papers. Even after the semester is over, I'll still have one more from last fall to complete, but at least I'll be one step closer to completing coursework like the responsible and studious girl that I am.

In other news, it looks like I'll have more classes with my friends in the fall! I am happy about that because this semester I didn't have a single class with Sharone, only one with Jan, only one with Stefani, and that's not enough for me! I think I fare much better when I am surrounded by people I care about. How's that for motivation? Apparently the good grade is not enough...

Friday, April 25, 2008


I'm not going to claim overwhelmedness because I know with undying certainty that my life will get even more hectic in the next three weeks than it is right right now I'm just extremely whelmed, with a helping of tight jeans on the side.

I just got out of a successful interview for a student worker library position. It's not your usual sit-at-the-desk-checking-out-books-and-checking-facebook library job. It's a job in the digital library. I don't know a ton about it, but I am hoping that this will turn out to be a good summer opportunity for me to learn a lot and make some much-needed money. But...right now there is SO much else looming over my head; I can't really think about summer just now.

Here's my to-do list for today:
1. grade more Freshman Writing portfolios
2. grade Intro to Lit Dracula essays
3. reply to student emails
4. bear hug my husband
5. nail up those picture frames that are sitting on the couch right now
6. wash dishes that are piled in the sink
7. read a few more chapters of Turn of the Screw
8. get a good outline going for my Sunset Boulevard essay
9. fold clean clothes and sort dirty ones
10. read another chapter in Billy Wilder's biography
(I could go on and on, but these are just a few priorities...)

Here's my list of things that made me happy today:
1. Yummy Trader Joe's coffee
2. discovering that my new nail polish dries quickly with no stickiness
3. Brief back rub from Scott
4. grapefruit-scented body splash from Bath and Body Works
5. my very high tan high heels
6. finding easy parking at CGU (you know, since I was wearing my very high tan high heels...)

Signing off now. I miss my baby nephew...they say he's talking a little now!


Monday, March 24, 2008

Karen Beth's "new" year

As a first-year Ph.D. student, a first-year adjunct instructor at a college, a bride, a new aunt, and recent transplant to a different state, I have been feeling somewhat out of my head (out of my league? out of my gourd?) about the many changes that have occurred in my life this year. I am loving most of this new-ness (especially being married to my wonderful husband Scott!)...but I must admit that I feel nervous about everything I've tried to take on in the academic world so suddenly. This is where my books come in. :)