Wednesday, January 28, 2009


This month's Scientiae Carnival asks, "What do you think a better, more equitable society should look like? What are your dreams for your life? For the lives of others? How close are you to living the life of your dreams? What would make you able to live that life?"

I'm going to answer the last part of this question, as it relates to things I have been thinking about lately. I recently kind of hit rock bottom in my feelings about my dissertation and things I have feared would happen with it happened. Despite that and the fact that I am in a new city and missing old friends and also that I insanely took on a huge teaching load, I have been really happy. I think I am really happy for two reasons. 1) We know we will be here for awhile. R will be in his PhD program for 5,6,7 or more years. After I graduate and he finishes classes I might get a tenure track job elsewhere, and we might spend time in between two cities, but he will be at this school for the foreseeable future. It gives us some stability we have not had for a long time. 2) I realized that if I spent all my days like I did now with the addition of more money and a PhD, I would really be exactly where I want to be. I really love teaching, and this semester I am teaching some upper level classes which are giving me more of a taste of what I might get to do in a full time job someday. I also think I'll be teaching at these schools for more than 2 semesters, so I'll finally get to see what it is like to settle in a little somewhere, learn the student culture, know where to eat lunch, etc. I have been striving so long for the goal of a PhD, I think I forgot a little what I wanted it for. I wanted it so I could teach and research, and I am teaching and researching (or at least writing up research) right now. I already have my dream job in a way, and if I keep doing it, the diploma will come.

So I am so so close to living the life of my dreams. It is pretty awesome. And what do I want for others? I would really love if everyone could have the space to figure out what they want and then the opportunity to try it out and see how that kind of life fits them. I have so many students who have interests in one area, but feel compelled for financial reasons to follow a path they are less interested in. I wish they could follow their dreams for awhile, to see if those are their real dreams. I know how lucky I have been to end up where I am now, to be encouraged to get into a profession that is not at all 'normal' and that is risky in someways, and I wish everyone could have the encouragement and support I have had.


Monday, January 19, 2009


6. Patty Jane's House of Curl by Lorna Landvik
I was given this book for free, and it is kind of just standard "women are strong and survivor's" fluff. Think of Steel Magnolias set in Minnesota. It was a fun read and the characters were engaging.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

New Year

I have made some New Year's resolutions. They are mostly about exercising, but here they are:
*run at least 2x a week
*run in at least two races
*yoga or pilates 2x a week
*be more social and get out of the house more
*don't stress so much

And since it is already Jan 17, here is how I have been doing. I have been doing great on the running. I got a Nike+ (Santa got me an ipod Nano for Christmas) which is a huuuuuuge motivator for me. R laughs at me, but knowing the Nike+ is watching me makes me push myself harder. Also, I love graphs! So I am on track for my running. We'll have to see about the races, but I have a whole year ahead of me. I have only done yoga twice and I still need to figure that out. Basically, I need to get over being embarrassed to do yoga with R in the house. I am not home enough when he is gone to get two half hour practices in a week. I am still trying though.

We have done great on the social front! I am so happy about it. We went out two nights last weekend, had people over during the week, and are going out two nights this weekend. woo! Go us!

Finally, I have been having serious issues with my dissertation which I cannot share here. BUT I have learned an important lesson which is that I need to go easier on myself, and stop beating myself for not reaching expectations I had that were ridiculous to begin with. To this end, I dropped my spring hours which means I definitely cannot graduate in May. That is ok. I am approaching the dissertation more as a journey. I work on it, and one day it will be done. I do not know when that day is. From now on, when people ask when I am going to be done my answer will simply be, "when I am done." I have lots of things I would probably do differently if I could go back and do grad school over, but one of the biggest is that I would not be so fixated on getting out fast. I was too obsessed with finishing and that made me get so upset when I missed deadlines and therefore caused me to procrastinate more. So I am working more on enjoying the day to day. And the lack of pressure has not made me work less, but actually more, as it is less of a chore now.

Saturday, January 17, 2009


I read about 87 books in 2008. I petered out keeping track at the end, so I am not sure of the exact number. I've already read 7 books in 2009! Here's the first set:

1. People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks
This is the story of an Australian book conservator who works on the Sarajevo Haggadah. The haggadah is the text used at Passover and the Sarajevo Haggadah is an actual illuminated manuscript. This book tells the fictional story of what the conservator finds, and how the book intersected different people's lives over its long history. I really enjoyed this book.

2. Once Upon a Time in the North by Phillip Pullman
Another book by the author of the Golden Compass. This one is in the same universe as those books but set earlier in time. I really enjoyed this short, adventure-filled book.

3. The Second Summer of the Sisterhood and
4. Girls in Pants by Ann Brashares
These are the 2nd and 3rd books in the Traveling Pants series. I read the first books years ago and feel like I was kind of 'meh' about it, but I really enjoyed these two. The writing is good and the characters are really interesting and I think pretty true to life descriptions of teenage girls. I am definitely going to read the 4th book.

5. Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
A novel about a small town in Central Florida after a nuclear holocaust. This book was written in 1959 and holds up pretty well. It is very interesting and was fascinating to see what someone in 1959 imagined about living after a nuclear war. I also really liked the Central Florida setting. If you like end of the world novels, this one is really good.

Saturday, January 10, 2009


OK, I went temporarily mad last year and signed up to teach 3 classes and 3 labs this quarter. The money blinded me. Anyway, to do this I have to get up at 7 am, which is exceedingly early for me. I know all you guys get up at like 4 am and all that, and have no sympathy, but this is hard for me! I just finished my first week of just one class and some meetings and I was sooooo tired.

This is to say that I am not sure how much I will blog through mid-March. We will see. But I felt guilty about not blogging, and one of my new things is not thinking about things that make me feel guilty. Also, I dropped my 3 credits for the Spring so I will definitely not be graduating in May. I am working hard this quarter/semester on not stressing, not thinking about deadlines, just doing my work and letting things happen as they happen. We'll see how it goes. But since I will exhausted from my crack of dawn wake up time, I may blog less than we all wish. We will all survive though, and emerge at the end of March with more money and a stronger character. :)

Sunday, January 04, 2009

Fun is over

Alas. The fun is over for me. I have not done anything work-like since December 22. It was amazing. It was maybe a little toooo long of a vacation and I am now finding it hard to give up my life of leisure. After 7 days I was a little wanting to work, but I got past that and now I don't want to work ever again at all. Oh well.

R and I rented a car and drove to Iowa and Missouri to see family. It was a good time, although in the future I might not choose to drive 8 hours, wait one day, then drive another 8 hours. I think a 2 day rest is needed between 8 hour drives. In St. Louis we got to see Laura and Shannon and Ellen at an awesomely old school pancake house where Shirley was our waitress. She looked like she'd worked there since 1961, when the place opened.

After St. Louis we came back home where I was totally slothful for a night and just watched bunches of TV and read Twilight. After a two day rest at home, R and I got on the train and set out to see Melinda et al. The train trip was awesome and easy, and we had a great time in Melinda's town watching Movies Where "People" are Saved in and Awesome Way, playing Rock Bands I and II, and teaching Cletus the Former Fetus to sing, "Flash! Aaaaah Ahhhh!" We were sad to leave and return home, where no Wii or singing toddlers awaited us. But we are soldiering on. I rewrote my monkey class syllabus today and went for a run, and R went to the library. Alas. Back to the grind for us.

Saturday, January 03, 2009


Happy 2009, all! I am returned from my excellent holiday travels. I will post more about them later, but we went to two adjacent states, saw lots of family and some friends and ate a lot of junk food. In the meantime, here are the first posts of each month of 2008:

January: Hello! Happy New Year!
February: The description is nice, but any day I am up that early is a bad bad day.
March: Well, that title might be a little too cheery, but lately I've felt like everything is falling into place for me.
April: It's a metaphor.
May: Look at this awesome necklace I got from this Etsy shop.
June: Sorry for the lack of posting.
July: 50. The Last Colony by John Scalzi
August: I am alive, R is alive, the cats are alive.
September: R and I had an awesome time in Minnesota.
October: You know you all know the words.
November: So, I already missed a day, but I am going to try and post every day in November.
December: So I had a hold on my university record.