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….

Tea Joy!

With all the problems going on in the world, I feel like adding some joy to it. Recently, I put in an order to resupply and add to my tea stock.

In there are two types of tea cookies, Irish Breakfast tea, a free filter for my water pitcher, a free sample pouch of Earl Grey Lavender – which I try to gather to delay needing to actually buy more, more Amber Sugar Crystals, and new tins!

I love Adagio’s storage tins. I love the colors. I love how they function. Until the shipment arrived, the blues – Earl Greys – were a tin higher than the others. When I decided to get the Irish Breakfast tea, I realized I needed another red tin – my Breakfast teas – but you can’t buy just one. You have to order a 3-pack. So I ordered my third set of the variety pack – red for the Irish Breakfast, green got my all-green Far Out blend, and yellow is empty because I don’t have a straight black that needs a tin. There really is a method to my madness. 😀

Then there is the wonderful Amber Sugar Crystals. I was down to this:

Now I have this, again:

There really is a simple joy in having so many delicious teas to choose from. Sometimes I just sit there and look at my teas. Also, by using my former desk/coffee table as my tea table, I have to sit calmly on the floor. It turns making tea into a conscious pause in my day. A wonderful, sometimes zen-like pause in my day. It’s been meditative at times. The other day I sat and watched tea and pieces rise and fall in the water as it brewed. I reached a meditative state for a few seconds. It was really cool.

I guess the point of this whole thing was to share some joy in these times of stress. We need to remember to take joy in the small things and take care of yourself. Between hurricanes, earthquakes, politics, and whatever is going on in your life, it’s easy to get burned out. Take time to watch a show or movie, read a book or magazine or comic or blog, listen to music, make some tea or coffee. Do something to take a break from everything. Self care is important! Do it!

In case you hadn’t noticed…

There has been an increase in peaceful protests before sporting events at all levels. It is all over the Internet. I had someone on my Facebook feed honesty asking “Why are they protesting the anthem?” After sharing a picture that I have just shared on Facebook, I tagged the person and eventually posted the following:

We as a country are still treating people who are not white – and many other things – as The Other, less than, not the same, not equals. The song is the Anthem of the Nation. It is the same as the gentlemen raising their fists on the Olympic Medal stand when The Star Spangled Banner was played. We are still living in a country where we are not all equal. They feel that taking a knee is a peaceful way to bring attention to this continuing problem. Some wear t-shirts. Others give a statement to the Vice President when he attends their show. It is a peaceful way to continue the discussion about equality that we forgot has not ended. A massive shift in our culture – our ideology – has to happen before we no longer need to kneel during the National Anthem or wear pink kitty ear hats and march in Washington or the many other ways in which people are protesting inequality.

I have ❤’d many posts on Twitter and retweeted others, including some of the following:

I found an article that discusses the spread, especially to the younger generations: Do kids really understand meaning of taking a knee for national anthem?

If you’re not sure why they’re doing this, go, do research. You don’t have to agree with them, but understanding where they’re coming from is good for everyone.

 

DragonCon Day 1

Things definitely got better. I think that’s the longest I have spent away from the room in years. Usually I come back at some point in the day to either watch a panel on DCTV because I couldn’t get in or just to take a break.

Not today.

Once Nathan Fillion’s amazing panel was over, I started my loop of the hotels. First, it was over to the Hilton for “Brit TV Classics You Should Be Watching”. It kind of evolved into “Brit TV You Should Be Watching”, but I’m not complaining. I have a new list of shows to find! Then I had a gap between panels, but the next one was still in the Hilton, so I found a great place to hang out near the front doors. They’ve added a bunch of benches with outlets for people to relax in near the front doors. It was so comfy. I even made a friend!

After that, it was panel to panel to panel. First, “Doctor Who Series 10: In Focus”. So much fun spending an hour talking about this past season. It was a little funny. Everyone said that this was Peter’s best season and it felt like they finally figured out how to write Twelve, but they weren’t beyond critiquing the episodes overall. They’re right, Twelve and Bill and Nardole were awesome, but the episodes could have been better.

I left and pretty much immediately got in line for the “Star Trek: The Next Generation Guests”. Despite the long line, I got a fairly decent seat. I also got to ask the second question of the panel! I asked what it was like working with Howie Seago in the amazing episode “Louder Than a Whisper”. Brent said he was amazing to work with. He talked about how he had to learn to sign and got a little goofy about it, but I could tell there was truth in there and told him he did do really well with his signs. It was awesome to ask them that question!!!!

Then, another long line for “Wig Out: Synthetic Wig Styling”. Dax Exclamationpoint, who competed on season 8 of RuPaul’s Drag Race, was one of the panelists!!! They simply fielded questions for an hour instead of possibly telling us what we already know. I don’t know if I picked up anything new, but it was a great panel to be in. If anything, it reinforced much of what I’ve looked up online.

Finally, I went to my first panel of the Comics and Popular Arts Conference, CPAC, “Racial Representation in Marvel”. A friend of mine from grad school was on the panel, so I had to be there. It was awesome. He presented on the differences between the comic and portrayal on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. of Robbie Reyes. It really has me wanting to do two things. First, read that run of Ghost Rider. Second, start working on a paper about the differences in portrayal from the comic to the series of Daredevil and The Defenders. That may be what I’ll present at PCA in the spring!

Now, I’m in the room, enjoying the Friday Night Costuming Contest on DCTV. I want to say one of these days I’ll actually go to it. But it’s kind of become tradition to watch it in the room, same with the masquerade. Yeah, the costumes typically look better in person. But the video gets closer than I could. And we will sit and comment as it goes. Granted, hubby’s not here…yet. When I mentioned that Gigi Edgley was hosting – in basically a bikini top – I got a text that might indicate he’s coming back soon.

There is another CPAC panel I wanted to go to. But it starts in 15 minutes and 1) the costuming contest is still going, and 2) the day is catching up and I’m getting tired. Since I have to get up early to do my make-up and get into costume, I should probably stay here so I can crash easily.

Tomorrow is going to be so much fun!