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!

Advertisements

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.

It’s bigger on the inside!

Yesterday, I decided to start outlining for my final paper while at work. I had my 2-in-1 laptop, my sole laptop in the past year, to work on. It’s a great little machine. It’s 11″, small, lightweight, and also works as a nice tablet – especially now that it has a matte screen protector. But I’ve always had a bit of an issue when it comes to the keyboard.

I think it’s that I’m used to more traditional keyboards. The keyboard I have on my desktop is a mechanical keyboard. I had read that it’s better for your hands and wrists because you don’t have to push as hard on the keys for it to register. I guess I’ve been using it long enough that it’s affecting my typing. The keyboard on my 2-in-1 requires a little more pressure. But I don’t use the keyboard for much outside of logging in to websites, so it normally doesn’t pose a problem. Yesterday, it got annoying.

I was finding there were letters missing left and right, and in places where Word wasn’t catching them. I kept working because it was something to do while at work and I just couldn’t get into the book I need to have read for class this week. I decided to go ahead with a thought I’d been having for a bit. I still have my old laptop. It’s a 15″ and much heavier. But it has a full keyboard and keys that are more responsive to my typical typing.

20171128_164335.jpg
The 11″ 2-in-1 sitting on top of the 15″ laptop. Big difference!

I replaced it with the 2-in-one partially because of the weight, partially because of the problems with the hinge on the right side being broken. But mostly because I had gotten my desktop and didn’t need as much computer on-the-go anymore. The laptop had been my sole computer for a couple of years. But because of that size and power, I had been thinking of pulling it out and making it my portable writing desk. It also has a program or two still installed that make writing projects easier.

Last night, after getting home from work, I pulled out the laptop, plugged it in, and got working. Definitely the right move. I don’t worry about missing letters because I can feel the keys depressing and registering on the screen. But it’s been an adjustment going from an 11″ to a 15″. Everything on the screen is so much bigger (yay!!!). The keyboard is more responsive – as well as having the number keypad to the right (yay!!!).

I still love my 2-in-1. It’s going to be my everyday laptop. But, for larger writing projects away from the desktop, my 15″ laptop is going to be my go-to. Now I just need to do some research so I can get the parts to fix the hinge and be able to keep it working overall. New skills!

Row, Row, Row Your Boat

More wisdom from The Dude.

Row, row, row your boat,
gently down the stream.
Merrily, merrily, merrily, merrily.
Life is but a dream.

Imagine that you’re rowing down a stream and you’re trying to figure out how to do it. Do I row with the right oar and then with the left, or is it the other way around? What does my shoulder do, what does my arm do? It’s like Joe, the centipede with a hundred legs, trying to figure out which leg to more first.
…He can’t get anywhere, just like the person in the rowboat. And while he’s hung up with all those questions, the stream is pulling him on and on. So you want to row, row, row your boat – gently. Don’t make a whole to-do it. Don’t get down on yourself because you’re not an expert rower; don’t start reading too many books in order to do it right. Just row, row, row your boat gently down the stream.
– Bernie Glassman, The Dude and the Zen Master, p. 21-22

I was worried that I was doing that and I had screwed things up again. Because when I get stressed or anxious, especially when I have to take an essay-based exam, my mind goes into overdrive and I go off in directions that don’t matter. I’m flailing trying to move my boat forward when all I’m doing is staying in place.

In the book, they continue talking about boats and streams and other bodies of water. We’re always rowing to reach a shore. But there is never going to be the shore.

But if you are going somewhere else, let me say this much: At least change the boat and the oars. Say I get to the other side, what do I do? Well, I got here thanks to this beautiful boat with the set of oars, so I’ll just hold on to them and carry them wherever I go. Isn’t that weird? Now I’ve got the burden of carrying around whatever got me here. Instead I get rid of it, and I’m free. Time passes and now I want to get to the next shore. I’ll probably need a new kind of boat and different oars, because maybe now the other shore is on the other side of the ocean and that requires a whole other mode of transportation.
– Bernie Glassman, The Dude and the Zen Master, p. 38

I was trying to get out of the one boat to the shore so I could get into the next boat. Instead I had one foot in two boats and was trying to keep both by the same shore.

Now I am fully in the next boat. It’s a different boat because I’ve got a different body of water to cross. It’s going to take longer. It’s going to require changes in life to get to that other shore. But, with my husband’s help and support, I know I can get there. And this time, I’m going to get to spend at least a little time on the shore before getting into the next boat. Even if it’s just a weekend, I’m going to enjoy that shore. But for now…

I’m looking forward…

When I got to campus today, I checked my mailbox, as usual. Nothing. Again. More than a month after taking the Comprehensive Exam and still no sign of whether I passed.

After class, I went to the office to check if there was any word. Our amazing secretary/therapist/caregiver was just getting done letting me know what she was told – that it would probably be a week at the earliest – when the phone rang. She turned to me, gave me a thumbs up, and mouthed “You passed!” I was partially in shock and partially not sure if I read it right, so I waited until she hung up. She said, “You passed!”

I have finally passed the Comprehensive Exam! I can finally graduate! I get to stay in the Ph. D. program! I get to stay at BGSU!

I bought that lanyard last spring when they were on clearance. I bought it with the determination that it would be true. I am so happy that I can actually say that now! And as much as I want to work on decorating my cap (I have had plans for months), I’m going to start working on my readings for class next week because I’m leading class and I’m really excited about it!

I don’t know if I can truly say I’ve been excited about class yet this semester. I know part of that has been this weight and fog surrounding me, freezing me in place that has now lifted. I’m looking forward to writing my paper for class. I’m looking forward to being in charge next week. I’m looking forward to my three classes in the spring.

I’m looking forward, and there’s something definite there!

"Listen to the Mustn'ts" by Shel Silverstein

Distractable

It’s never a good sign when I’m so distractable. Last night I sat down to do reading, I ended up organizing binders of my readings and notes from the past two years. Today, I’ve organized the files of readings from the past two years, as well as killing time online. I just got off of Facebook because I realized I didn’t know why I was still on there. And I’m writing this.

Even with my wonderful tea (gets distracted again)…I cannot focus on these readings. It happened last week. It’s happening again this week. I keep trying to get my readings done before Tuesday so I can sit down and have time to write my response paper and make sure it is good and makes sense. Instead I end up rushing to get them read and throw together a paper to get in just before the deadline. I’ve found some summaries of a few of the readings. I’m hoping they’ll give me enough information that I can get everything else read and get a good paper written.

I’m starting to worry about this. I don’t know if my attention issues are getting worse or I’m noticing them more now that I have more work and really want to get good grades. I have gone this far without seeking medical intervention, but I may have to if I want to get through the rest of my life. Spending hours at a time watching television when there is so much that needs to be done is not a good way to go through life. I know that you need to take a break from things and take care of yourself, but I feel like I’m taking a break from that to actually do things instead of the other way around. Grrrr.

Goals

This past Saturday I took the comprehensive exams for my MA, again. There are three areas in which we need to answer a question. Now I – and my fellow exam-takers – await the results. At least two graders will read each response and give a pass or fail. If they don’t agree, a third person weighs in. If I don’t pass all three this time, I don’t graduate in December. I don’t graduate in December, I don’t continue in the American Culture Studies Ph. D. program. I don’t continue, I’m going to have a small breakdown and see what needs to be done to start again in the fall.

I am not going to let this stop me. Ten years elapsed between graduating with my BA and starting graduate school. In those ten years I worked jobs I really didn’t like because I needed a job. I am going to become a college professor. I am going to teach Disability Studies and Popular Culture. Together. Separate. Either. Both. I’m happy.

Last month I had a meeting with the director of the program. He does this with all the incoming students every year. He mentioned concern about me getting two interdisciplinary degrees in a row – Popular Culture and American Culture Studies – having a negative effect on getting a teaching job. I’ve asked other professors their opinions and they disagreed. I’m not letting this discourage me. I’m going to work hard, present papers at conferences, get papers published, and make a positive name for myself in the world.

I will become a college professor. I will continue to educate minds – young and old – so they have the ability to make fully informed opinions. I will continue to empower people and continue to be an activist. I will not stop.

teachingisactivism

This semester…

If I can get through this semester, I can get through my Ph.D. I knew that living 2 hours away from campus and going up for class would be hard, but I didn’t think it would be this hard.

Honestly the thing that is the hardest is having to leave immediately after class on Thursdays and drive straight to work. That is really starting to take a toll on me. Drive 2 hours, be in class for 3 hours, drive 2.5 hours, work 2.5 hours. Unfortunately there is no one who can work on Thursdays. I would be tempted to try and get them to find someone if this was going to be a thing past this semester. I have no plans to still be working there next semester. I am going to be taking 3 classes in the Spring, which is not going to allow for working 4 evenings a week and Saturdays 2.5 hours away from campus.

Work is keeping me not only from seeing my cohort outside of class and socializing and getting to know them better. It’s keeping me from all sorts of things on campus that would probably be useful and informative. There are talks about what you can do with your Ph. D. outside of academia. There are colloquium series. There is the easy access to the library, instead of having to wait and pick up 10 books at once and remembering to bring them back before they’re due when I’m on campus.

Thankfully, right now I’m listening to The West Wing Weekly while also doing another rewatch of the series. I’m watching season 3, but listening to season 1. Probably when I get to the end of season 4, I’ll go back and watch the episodes I’ve recently listened to. It’s helping me stay sane. Well, that and Hamilton.

But first, I have to graduate with my M.A. at the end of this semester. Thankfully, I am confident that I can pass the comprehensive exam this time and get it done so I can continue to move forward in my Ph. D.

Who is Jesus?

This week’s Gospel reading was the one where Jesus asks “Who do people say I am?” and then “Who do you say I am?” and gives Peter his name. Much of Fr. Joe’s homily centered on those questions. Who do we say Jesus is?

It made me remember one class this past spring. When teaching about heroes and celebrities, we teach the 20-point mythical journey of a hero. I usually end up talking about the story of Jesus that we have in the Bible because it’s the one I’m most familiar with. This year, as I kept referring back to him, I had one student say she was uncomfortable with it since she is Christian. I tried to explain that I am Catholic and I am looking simply at the story that has been told, I’m not trying to disrespect anyone. She didn’t look like she believed me.

But that’s something that we, as Christians, tend to forget. Yes, the Bible is important and has much wisdom contained, it is a collection of stories. When we call something myth or mythology, it doesn’t change people’s beliefs or spirituality or religion surrounding it. We think of myth as fictional, but it’s not. Hercules was viewed as a demi-god in Ancient Greece. Myth does not equal fiction. Myth is another way of talking about a story, which is often rooted in reality. When you tell someone about your day or something that happened to you, you are telling a story. It’s not fiction, it’s what happened to you. The same thing goes for the story of Jesus. He was a man who lived 2000 years ago who did wondrous things. The things he did are a part of not only Christian mythology, but Jewish and Muslim as well. But calling this mythology doesn’t change how each religion views him – son of God/Messiah/Christ, prophet, prophet respectively.

If I were teaching this semester, I’d be explaining all of this in class. Hopefully I’ll get to teach it again and add this. But for now, I’m sharing it with all of you. Look around, there’s mythology everywhere!

The Defenders

On Friday, the culmination of DaredevilJessica JonesLuke Cage, and Iron Fist – so far – came out: The Defenders. I have been looking forward to this since they announced it. But even more so since Iron Fist. I felt like IF wasn’t bad, but he would be better in this group setting, especially with Luke. If they did it right. But I’ll go into that later.

I’ll keep the spoilers for later and clearly marked. I know not everyone has had the chance to sit down and watch it yet. But between my love of these shows and friends who were planning to marathon it on Friday, I’ve watched it all and I love it! There are so many things to love and some of them aren’t going to spoil anything about the show.

First is the opening credits. Thanks to being a Cultural Studies scholar – specifically Popular Culture – I have many friends who look at the shows differently. One friend wrote and presented a paper on how the city of New York is a character in all of the shows. He explains it much better than I ever could, so I won’t even try. But because of him, I almost squealed with joy over the opening credits. The use of the maps and overhead views of the city in the characters’ silhouettes, which are in the color scheme of the character are brilliant.

Also, when we see each hero on their own, the scene maintains their color scheme. Matt/DD’s scenes are more reds. Luke’s are warm and yellow. Jessica’s are cool and purple. Danny/IF’s are greens; a color scheme I wasn’t quite able to identify in the series, but is clear to me now. They also maintain their own feel, including music. Granted, that’s the most obvious with Luke, but it’s there with all of them. It’s great that they let each character maintain their individuality when they’re not involved with the others. It makes it feel like we’re jumping between shows, instead of just between characters in a show.

Which leads me to the last non-spoilery well-done thing. It’s the combination of the two. When they do the transition scenes between characters, they keep the color scheme. It definitely tones down when it’s more than one character. But if you pay attention, you’ll know who they’re going to next. It’s so well done!

After this point, there are spoilers for throughout the series. Keep reading at your own discretion.

Continue reading “The Defenders”