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. But...it 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, but...it'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.