Good News/Bad News time!

On Friday I got a call I had been hoping to get but never thought I would. They needed someone to teach Intro to Popular Culture this semester! I had the weekend to get things ready, which wasn’t hard since I had the class half planned already. So I now have a job, an office, and I’m teaching the class one more time! Which adds to my three class load. So that’s the good news/bad news. Good news: I’ve got a job teaching! Bad news: less time to blog here. So, basically back to the usual around here. Hehehe.

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The Next Chapter, aka 2018

While I have technically been an American Culture Studies (ACS) Ph. D. student for a semester, now I really feel like it. I am really looking forward to starting this new chapter of my life. And a new chapter it will be.

I’m going to be taking three classes this semester. Back to full time student!! I’ve got Geneology of American Culture, Critical Approaches in Film Studies, and Global Popular Music. This is going to be so much fun! The first class is required for all ACS students, MA and Ph. D. The second is required for the Media concentration in the Ph. D. program. The third is my choice for the Media track. I am really looking forward to having more than one class. Hopefully I’ll do better at getting the readings done and being able to contribute consistently in class. I’ve been working on it.

We are also working on moving closer to school. Which means no more long drives – especially since I’ll be in class three days a week. We’re trying to find a bigger place as well. More changes. More new. More excitement.

I’m going to be going to BroadwayCon in a few weeks. I’ll also be seeing Hamilton, again, the night before. Then, of course, there’s Marcon in May and DragonCon in September. I’m hoping to be attending/presenting at 3 conferences this semester, 1 over the summer, and 1 in the fall. At two of those conferences, I’ll be presenting chapters of my thesis. I’m hoping to get useful feedback on how to better expand/explain/polish the information. And the rest are looking deeper at topics I’ve written about before. Conferences are a great way to figure out if you’re headed in the right direction, or if you’re just indulging your own interests. So far, it’s been the former. I hope I continue that way.

Hopefully I’ll be able to take 2 classes over the summer. That way when I take my 3 classes in the fall, I’ll be almost caught up. One of my fall classes is one that I should technically have taken this semester, but was told by the professor who teaches it that I could put it off a year so I could focus on Theory and getting the comps passed.

It’s going to be a year of seeing old friends, making new; making new professional connections; adding more to my knowledge bank, and putting it all to use; and so much more that I don’t know about. This is going to be a great year!

Reflections on 2017

Well, the year is almost over. It’s that time of year when we take the time to look back and think about what has happened over the past 365 days. For me, it has been quite the rollercoaster.

Mostly it has been focused around school and classes. I started out the year with a rough draft of one chapter of my thesis done.  A thesis that needed to be completed, approved by my committee, and uploaded by April. Yeah, no pressure at all. But I also was taking a class about the superhero genre in comic books. Yay! I was also studying so I could pass the two parts of the comprehensive exam I would be retaking so I could graduate in the spring. All while continuing to serve as the president of the student organization for Popular Culture scholars and helping to organize our yearly academic conference. There was just a little stress going on.

I buckled down and got my thesis finished. Is it the final product? No. But it is a thesis that satisfied my committee, which was the most important part at the time. Hopefully, I’ll be able to start picking away at revising and expanding it so it does reach that final product and I can start looking at getting it published. I went to another graduate student run conference at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. I got to present my paper on “my descent into Hamilton fandom” and make new friends. I presented my first paper on the intentional representation of Deafness in comics at the Ray Browne Conference on Cultural and Critical Studies, which I had quite the hand in organizing and it went off successfully!

I managed to pass one part of the comps, but still failed the other. I was given one last chance to pass it, and managed to fail again. The bottom dropped away from me. I had worked so hard to get my thesis finished and I wasn’t going to be graduating? How would I start in the fall as a Ph.D. student? I could not take another year off. I had taken so much time off already, I wanted to keep the knowledge coming in. Things finally settled and the fall was laid out for me: I would retake the entire comprehensive exam again in the fall (all three parts), I would also start the American Culture Studies Ph. D. program, I would be able to continue in the spring providing I passed the comps in their entirety. In order to prepare for the comps, it was suggested that I only take 1 class in the fall: theory. I also worked with a wonderful professor over the summer to better prepare for the comps.

Still, I was crushed. I wasn’t graduating with the rest of my cohort, my friends. I had to pass this exam that has been kicking my ass repeatedly in order to graduate and continue my studies. I wouldn’t have a job on campus since I was only part-time. Also, it made sense to simply live at home and just drive up for class once a week. That was great for my budget and for being at home with the hubby. But it also meant only seeing my new cohort/classmates/friends once a week. It sucked.

But as the semester went on, things got better. I gave successful presentations at CPAC and MPCA. I finally passed the comprehensive exams and graduated a few weeks ago. I successfully completed my first semester as a Ph. D. student. I have begun a new research project that I can continue to pick away at in addition to my dissertation work, and has been suggested as the topic of my dissertation, if I didn’t already have one.

There were also the more leisure-fun times. Soon after the year started, I had my adventure in NYC. I went to my first (the second ever) BroadwayCon! I got to be in the same room as so many talented legends, learn so much about Broadway, both in front of and behind the scenes, and enjoy being with fellow fans. And, thanks to giving in to an impulse, I finally went to see Hamilton. It is an experience I will never forget. To really experience the show, you need to see it performed. It truly is a combination of music, acting, choreography, staging, lighting, words… Knowing only one aspect does not paint the entire picture.

Which is part of why I went and saw it in Chicago in September. That and gathering more observations on the audience and the performance. It was completely different and completely the same. That cast has really made it their own. I only wish I could see the tour’s Angelica company in LA.

I had so much fun being on panels and just being at Marcon in May. I got three new costumes together for DragonCon in September. If only I had taken the time to make sure the one fit before calling it finished I could have worn all three! I had a blast at DragonCon, making more friends/professional connections. I even managed to amaze someone that a scholar they highly respect – with very good reason – was on my thesis committee. I watched many cool movies (including seeing Star Wars twice!), and even went to see Doctor Who: Twice Upon a Time in the theater. I have met many new people and made many new friends. I have added many books to my shelves – both academic and for fun. I have added so much to my knowledge bank. I have so much more to learn.

I am grateful for all my experiences this year, from the very exciting to the extremely depressing. I am looking forward to everything that next year is bringing. But I’ll save that for another post. For now, thank you 2017 for quite the ride. Bring it on, 2018!

Total Tomboy!

After graduation, I found myself with some spending money. In my cathartic spending spree, I finally indulged in a site I have known about for a while, but haven’t had to funds to shop at: TomboyX.

TomboyX

They have all kinds of bras and underwear – from bikini to boxer briefs – in a variety of colors and prints. Their products have wide, no-roll bands, are eco-friendly, are made in factories where workers are paid a living wage, and they are QUILTBAG friendly/supportive.

My order arrived today. I figured I would order a decent amount of undies – mostly boy shorts with a few 4.5″ trunks to see what the difference is in fit – and a couple of racerback bras. Guys, I’m in love. As soon as I felt the band on the bra I had to put it on. I’ve had trouble with bra bands rolling up on me. And these are not cheap cotton bras either. This one stays put. And it’s so comfortable, I only kind of notice I have it on.

After that I had to try on some boy shorts. Seriously, these may be the best undies I have ever worn. They don’t dig in. They don’t even hint at trying to ride up. They are so comfy! I’m looking forward to trying on the trunks, but I am so happy with the boy shorts. I can’t wait to buy more and really start replacing my underwear with them. They have a new very loyal customer!

This post is in no way sponsored by TomboyX. Just a very happy customer who wants to make sure others know of this great site. But if they ever want it to be, I’d be very happy to!

Holy Matcha!

I get an e-mail notifying me that a package was delivered via USPS this afternoon. While driving home from work, I was trying to figure out what the package could be. But also knowing that I’m only half of the equation, especially this time of year. When I get home and check the package locker, I see something much bigger than anything I have ordered, so I assume it’s the hubby’s. But upon checking the label – and looking at the box – I see it’s for me. From Adagio Teas. After a quick panic over accidentally ordering something and forgetting, I calm down and wonder if someone sent me something. I open it and find that I am right. I’m still stunned over the contents. This is what was in the package:

The message on the other side says:
“Courtney,
Please enjoy this gift as our thanks for being an awesome customer in 2017!
Happy Holidays!
Ashley”

I have had my eye on this gift set, which includes a 2oz tin of matcha, bowl, and bamboo wisk, for a few years now. But I’ve never wanted to spend that much on myself.

MatchaSet

I still can’t believe I have everything to make matcha tea now. I will forever be grateful to whomever sent it. Now I need to go learn how to make matcha. It couldn’t have come at a better time. I have the time to relax and enjoy while I learn and work on perfecting my skills. I’ve got the physical tools, now for the mental!

Time for Time Off!

Yesterday I officially started my winter break! I finished revising my final paper for class, got it properly formatted, and turned it in. That was the last thing I had to do for the semester. I promptly started relaxing and enjoying it!

I finally went through photos I took at a wedding back in September. It was so nice to loose myself in the rhythm of editing photos. Somewhere in there I decided to watch Criminal Minds from episode 1 again. I used to watch it when it was on, but then Mandy Patinkin left and I just couldn’t keep watching. After watching Mindhunter multiple times, it’s made Criminal Minds completely different to me. Mindhunter looks at the beginnings of what becomes the B.A.U., aka Criminal Minds. I may just keep watching this time.

But it’s been more than just binge watching a show I haven’t watched since it was on TV. It’s about not having anything class-related to worry about. I got some neatening up done in my office. I pulled books to take back to the library. I’m looking forward to loosing myself in Chernow at work again. I’m looking forward to reading some of the academic books I got out of the library that I’ve been interested in reading, but class work was more important. I have yarn and new needles on the way for a new knitting project. I don’t know how much I’m going to get done over break, but I know I’m going to enjoy what I do accomplish.

Aren’t breaks a wonderful thing? Which is why Hamilton really should have taken one when Eliza told him to….

Oh duh!

One of the joys of being an academic is the academic conference. It’s a great place to present papers and get feedback from a wide variety of people that you would probably not see otherwise. The problem is figuring out what you want to present by the time the submissions are due.

Since 2015, I have been attending the Comics and Popular Arts Conference (CPAC) that is held at DragonCon every year. Since 2016, I have also been a presenter at the conference. CPAC is a great conference to present at because it is open to all at DragonCon to attend. So not only am I presenting to academics and scholars, but to fans and individuals who may not have thought they could be scholars as well. It’s great for getting feedback, especially in regards to accessibility of your work to the general public.

Just last week I had submitted papers to three conferences that are happening in the Spring. But, I forgot that CPAC’s deadline is next Friday. I was going “What am I going to present? I don’t have any idea what I’m going to write for classes next semester. I’ve submitted my paper for this class to a Spring conference. I don’t want to represent a paper, even if it is a different conference.” I was panicking. Then I remembered, I have a whole list of paper ideas I’ve come up with while working on the paper for class. When you have 8-10 pages, you need to focus. I am so glad I did that.

It’s a good habit to have as an academic and as a student. You’re never going to be able to fit everything into one paper. Keep track of the things you want to talk about, makes notes on them, make note of authors you’d use for that paper. You never know when it will come in handy!

Stressed the F out!

This has been an intense semester. I thought it would have gotten better by now. Nope. It’s worse.

The semester started out with the stress of not knowing if I would be continuing in the program and the stress of passing the comprehensive exam so I can graduate with my master’s degree. The exam was at the end of September, so that’s when the stress switched from preparing for it to whether I answered the questions to the graders’ satisfaction. Last month I found out that I had finally passed!

I was so stress free for a week or so. I finally passed! I’m finally graduating! I’m going to be a full-time PhD student in the Spring! But then the stress began to creep in again. I need to find a job for the Spring that will work with my class schedule and not cost me much more in gas every day. We need to find somewhere to live that’s closer to campus but not far from here so he can keep working. We need to agree on where we’re moving to and when. We need to get things packed.

Then, of course, class. That’s been the underlying stress of the semester. It’s not like it’s an overly hard class. It’s a theory class for all ACS graduate students, masters and PhD students alike. But I can barely find/make the time to study like I should. I started to wonder why, then I remember last school year.

Last year, I had a studio apartment to myself in BG that had only what I really needed. I used the dining table they provided as my desk. I brought my TV, Roku, and some DVDs and player. I had my former desk, now coffee table. I brought my Sumo beanbag chair so I’d have somewhere to sit other than my mattress and “desk chair”. I was teaching three days a week. Teaching a class I had already taught alone and had a good idea of what I was doing. I had office hours once a week. I was able to keep my schedule flexible enough that I could get my studying done for all my classes with no problem. Then I’d go home on the weekends. Both hubby and I would be off of our respective work and could spend time together.

Now, I’m home with all my stuff, all our stuff, all his stuff. I’m home with cable and all the channels that come with it. I’m home where my room is so full of my stuff, I don’t have a lot of space to have different places to sit, away from the computer, when I need it. I’m home sharing the space with my hubby 24/7. I’m home with a part-time job that lets me study while I’m there and there’s nothing else I need to be doing. But that’s the trick, there needs to be nothing else. There needs to be no residents who need my attention for whatever reason. And, of course, that drains me on a different level, so when I get home, I veg out in front of the TV and get nothing done. Then I have to time getting dinner ready so it’s done but not cold so we can eat together before he heads off to work.

I only have one real day off every week – Tuesday – because I have class on Thursdays – involving 4 total hours in the car – and I have Church on Sundays. Tuesdays are the only day in the week that I can sleep in and don’t have to worry about it affecting anything. And of course, if there’s a movie we both want to see, somehow Tuesday mornings are the only time that works for him.

Like yesterday. We went to see Thor: Ragnarok, finally, at 9:30am. I remembered at 2:30am that we were going to see the movie and checked with him when we were going. Of course 9:30am was the only time that worked for him. Which means I got up at 8:30, 6 hours after heading to bed, got dressed, and got another half-hour of sleep. I made stopping by Starbucks part of the plan so I could get a London Fog Latte so I would have a chance of making through the movie. I knew I would be that tired and I was. Thankfully it did its job. On the way out to the car I could feel it wearing off – which is why I bring tea with me to class on Thursdays. I crashed when we got home and spent a good chunk of the afternoon trying to wake up, eventually giving up and taking a nap, again.

It’s not that I don’t love my hubby – I do, so very much – or that I didn’t want to see Thor without him – I didn’t. I just wanted to get some sleep and be able to spend proper time getting my reading done for class. It’s just hard adjusting to this new dynamic. For both of us. Being married and in grad school is not easy. I’m just finding this out now. I hope that we can get things figured out over break and I can start this next part on solid footing. I’m tired of scrambling to get both feet steady.

Hella Healthy Habits

Since going from living on my own during the week and only being home with the hubby on weekends, I have had some struggles with my eating habits. When I was on my own, I was doing really well. Mostly because I only had enough food in the apartment to get me through the week. I didn’t keep much in the way of snacks around. I also was living on tea, with my utiliTEA right on my desk. It made making tea so much more convenient.

Moving back home changed things. There’s more food in the apartment because I’m not the only one buying food. I’m also making dinner for the two of us, not just me anymore. Which means I need to take his tastes into account. **I am not complaining at all. I love my hubby. It’s just going from living single to living together again.** There were plenty of times during the past school year when I would make chicken thighs for myself every night and not get tired of them. Not only does he prefer white meat, but he wants more variety in his main dishes, which is fine. I was also drinking less tea because it isn’t right in my face all the time anymore.

20170526_135831.jpg
Because my tea is all on it’s own table now! And as I type this I realize how much this has changed since I took the picture…

Basically, I had developed a set of habits while I was at school, but hadn’t brought them home with me. I was snacking out of boredom. I was drinking Pepsi (made with real sugar, delicious!) instead of tea or water. I was creating mounds of food on my plate for dinner and eating all of it, despite being full. I was eating a small meal when I got home from work so I wasn’t starving while waiting for hubby to get up for the day (he works third shift). I was eating candy and fast food at work.

But, over the semester I’ve noticed these problems and worked to change them. And I’m noticing the effects. I’ve been making a point of having at least one travel mug of tea for work each day. The caffeine wakes me up and helps me stay focused. Having something healthy to drink keeps me away from the pop in the break room. I’ve been working on snacking less at work. It’s better for my waistline and my wallet. I’ve also been making an effort to drink more tea at home as well. Both from my vast stores of tea and pre-made cold tea from the cooler at the grocery store. Yes, it’s not as healthy as drinking tea I’ve brewed, but it’s still better than drinking Pepsi.

I’ve also been changing up my eating habits. If I stop by a drive-thru for food, I am making healthier choices. I order only the amount of food I actually need – usually a sandwich and a drink, no fries – and it’s not a double cheeseburger with bacon every time. But, more importantly, I’ve been changing my eating habits at home. I’m keeping lots of healthy snack choices/meal components around to keep me from overdoing it. Like the bag of LÄRABAR Bites. That way when I want just a little chocolate – like last evening – I can have one or two, instead of going for the Snickers. I’ve got fruit cups and cheese crackers and cheese sticks. That way I can have one or two things to tide me over until dinner without being full once dinner’s ready.

I also noticed that I don’t necessarily need to go gluten free, but I need to be careful about how much bread I’m eating. I feel better overall when I’m not eating a ton of basic breads. Breads like pumpernickel and rye and sourdough are friendly breads. Multi-grain bread too. I’m also putting more thought into dinner. I’m trying to make things from scratch more often. I’m also allowing myself to be okay with leftovers. I put as much food as I want on my plate. I can always go back for a little more if I want, which is better than forcing myself to clean my plate.

Since being more mindful of what I am eating, how much I am eating, how I feel about what I am eating, I feel so much better! My clothing is fitting much better. My skin is clearer – both from acne and eczema. And, most importantly, I don’t feel like I’m starving myself or denying myself anything. I’m letting my body tell me what to eat and it is really appreciating it. Listen to your body. It knows what it needs. Eventually it’ll get through to your brain and you’ll feel so good!