Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Closing Doors

When I walked out of my dissertation defense, and the door closed behind me on my committee, I accepted the hugs and the congratulations.  I accepted the flowers and the support of my loving husband and friends.  I accepted high praise and nice words for a job well done.

But you know the hardest part is about receiving praise and love for a job well done?  It's that the job is done.

This coming month, I face a world of changes--of doors that will no longer be open to me.  The university library is making me return all my books (sob!) and fill out a request for a weenie alumni card with diminished book privileges and no remote access to any electronic journals.  The health center wants nothing to do with me as of Friday.  No more counseling.  No more professional development workshops or writer's bootcamps or Thanksgiving student potlucks or random and often dirty foreign language film screenings.  No more picking up my bi-weekly work study checks (bearing my stubbornly institutionalized maiden name) that my department refuses to mail to my home address.  No more registration for classes or independent studies.  No more auditing classes.  No more deferring of loans.  No more loans.

As much as I really am proud of myself for completing my dissertation and defending it successfully, for meeting my goal and pushing myself further than I thought physically or emotionally possible, and for getting through all of this and still being able to stand to talk about it without having an emotional breakdown...

...I am sad that the door is closing.

I am thrilled that the closing of this door means that new ones will be ever so slightly more open to me than they would have been otherwise.  But, at the end of this week, in one hand I'll have a fancy diploma, and in the other hand, a lot of uncertainty about what comes next.  I think, even more so than having my doctorate degree in hand--literally, in hand, as I get to pick up my diploma on Friday!!--I am looking forward to the day when my question marks will be erased and I'll be able to tell you exactly which open door I chose to walk through now that all the ones behind me are closed.

(Clarification--all the doors behind me except for my car door are closed!  November 7, 2011.)

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Quiz Time

So, last week I gave my annual reading comprehension quiz on research and source use, and the answers came directly out of their reading assignment.  It was a simple quiz, or so I thought...the same one I gave last year with hilarious consequences.  Below are some of the quiz answers that made me laugh out loud.

1. What is a primary source?
-A primary source is the source you really want to use in your essay.

2. What is a secondary source?
-A secondary source is really just a backup in case the primary one doesn't work out.

3. What is the difference between an abstract and an article?
-An abstract is something off the internet that is not normalAn article is like a book or a quote.

4. What is one way you can tell if a source is biased?
-A source is bias if you agree with it.

5. What is the difference between paraphrasing and summarizing?
-Paraphrasing is when you use the same words as the author, and summarizing is when you scrunch them together to be smaller.

(A number of my students did really well on the quiz.  These were just the answers that cracked me up.  I love my kiddos!)

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Losing Weight

Since April, I've given away roughly 40 books to my budding literature students and another 50 to a book collection fundraiser for a student's trip to Kenya.  I have donated a full large garbage bag full (about 30 lbs.) of gently-used but too small clothes to a charity collection for women and children who had been victims of sex trafficking.  My husband and I recycled a TV, remote, scanner/printer, and old VCR at Best Buy.  We took an almost* full set of hand-me-down dishes to Goodwill.  And I finally went through my filing cabinets and folders that I started filling at the beginning of grad school and teaching jobs, and out to the trash went more large bags of evidence of six years of academic blood, sweat, and tears clutter, not counting the reams of one-side-used paper we kept to recycle for unimportant print jobs.

I'm definitely losing weight, one day and one cleaning task at a time.  It might not be the weight around my mid-section or my thighs, but it is weight that has been emotionally and spatially heavy in my life for too long.  This summer, I'm all about losing.  Only when I've lost the excess will I be able to find myself.

What kind of weight do you need to lose?

*I let my dear husband keep a mug from the set, which has bass fish painted all over it, handed down from my husband's brother who received the dishes as a gift from his ex-girlfried from a decade ago.  Need I say more?  You're welcome, Goodwill.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Sweet Child O'Mine

My second dissertation chapter was not always pretty, nor was it always clear.  But as of today, it is painfully beautiful and incessant, just like a power ballad.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Choosing him each day

Today I am celebrating love, not with a special date.  Not with Hallmark cards or anniversary motives.  Not with homemade cookies or the light of candles.  But with more "I love yous," more kisses on the cheeks for no reason, more pulling him close and whispering how much I appreciate him.  More ways of telling him, I married you.  I chose you as my partner and best friend.  And I'm going to choose you every day of my life.

What are you celebrating today?

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Summer and writing

Last summer I wrote an article, and this summer I'm writing a dissertation.  Next summer I'll be writing a two-volume encyclopedia.  (I'll be writing it this winter, too, but it is due to the publisher in August 2012.  Still not ready to talk about it on the blog yet...)

Summer is always writing time, it seems.  When the rest of the world heads out to the parks, the beaches, the amusement parks, I head to my office or bedroom or quiet corner of the library with my laptop.

And it's not that I won't have a summer--it's just that summer is different when you're an academic.  The school year is usually consumed by teaching, and the summer usually consumed by researching and writing.  But the entire year is consumed by deep thinking and a constant attempt to synthesize and understand the world.  I love that part.

So if you see me sporting my library tan and my over-full bookbag, don't feel sorry for me.  I'm working hard, but making progress (a sentence at a time!), and having the time of my life.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

How did you get here?

I'm totally laughing out loud, and not the LOL kind, the actual audible kind.  I just checked my statcounter account (after about a year of forgetting I even had one).  You can do a keyword analysis to see what people type in to Google to discover how they arrive at your blog.  Most people are googling "pink bookmarks" and winding up here, probably experiencing general disappointment that I'm not selling the things, but there are some really funny Google searches.  Here are some of my favorites, with no editing involved on my part:
  1. grad school turned down what next?
  2. bookmarks of squirrels
  3. how to make a my own bookmark with pink
  4. baby shower bookmark saying this bookmark is to remind you
  5. tsa prohibited pink items
  6. the coolest pink bookmarks
  7. workcited
Now you're the one laughing.  I kinda feel sorry for the poor person rejected from grad school who ended up at my blog.  Especially since the only thing I really know how to do well is be a grad student and teach students.  What's next, they ask?  It seems like there's a market for selling pink bookmarks.  I would start there.

Thursday, May 19, 2011


My spring went by in a whoosh-blur-bang.  I flew home for a very quick trip in February to be with my family for my grandfather's funeral, a mere month after we found out he had cancer.  I still have not sorted out my thoughts about the trip and the experience, the sadness, the confusion...but I am moving forward each day and praying that my mother's strength has been passed down to me.  She is like Wonder Woman, except my height.

In the meantime, my father's elderly mother has had a stroke and is now in a health facility for therapy and day-to-day care.  My heart is breaking for both sides of my family.  I can't be there with them, but my thoughts are there.

So much happened this semester, but most of it was a blur of busyness and pain, strength and progress.  I was teaching, writing, tutoring, researching, working what felt like every minute of my existence.  Scott and I flew out to Florida at the end of March for our annual CEA conference.  We had a much healthier time of it this year--no major illnesses involved, no Kleenex-box-carrying and Day-Quilling involved.  It was a special trip for both of us, and we presented well-written papers that inspired hearty and thought-provoking discussions.  We both felt like it was a successful trip, and I'm so glad we were able to go together.

I have submitted two articles to journals this semester (which are not part of my dissertation), and an article I wrote last year has been accepted for publication as a chapter in an edited collection of essays.  I've been hired for a large book project that...I won't really talk about yet.  Maybe soon, once I figure out how I feel about it.  But I have high hopes for my two articles that are under consideration right now, and I'm thrilled about the third one that was accepted.

April happened and somehow so did a dissertation chapter.  My advisor has already sent me positive feedback with helpful advice.  I'm already working on my next section. Stay tuned!!

It's May, actually quite late in May, and Scott and I have finally started getting back into a writing schedule now that our grades are posted and our school-year jobs are complete for a few months.  We celebrated our friends' graduations and are working with every effort we can muster toward our own graduations.  (If I can afford the gown and hood!  $700+ seems a little cha-ching, don't you think?)

Every day is one day closer.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

What I will say because I can't say all I need to say

I have been in a funk for a few months, and half of me knows exactly why.

(Fear. The kind that wakes me up at night...listening, wondering.  The kind that stops me in a cold sweat while I thought I was thinking about something else.)

The other half of me keeps saying that my fears are irrational, or just excuses to worry.

But wouldn't you be afraid, too, if your mother's mother and sister both died of breast cancer within ten years of each other?  And then just when life seemed to be moving beyond the aching pain of your loved ones' deaths, your mother's father was diagnosed with liver and lung cancer?  And then your mother's aunt was diagnosed with cancer only a few weeks later?

And what if my fear is not cancer itself?  What if my fear is not being able to help my mom through her fear? Her own pain?  Her own questions of when her father, my grandfather, will die?