Re-learning how to read

As a graduate student, and an academic, I have to do a lot of reading. Reading for the classes I take. Reading what I assign to my students. Reading for my thesis. Reading for papers. But it wasn’t until recently that I figured out I’ve been taking the wrong approach to reading.

Let me take a moment to say this: do whatever works for you. This is simply how it is working for me right now. Everyone learns in their own way. But if you don’t know how other people learn, you don’t know what options you have.

Recently, I can’t remember where, someone said that you need to read things twice. First, just read through it. Don’t pause to take notes or tag or underline. Just read through it. Then go back and read it again. This is when you pause to jot down thoughts, make note of a page, etc.

It is working for me. I feel like trying to read through and take notes at the same time wasn’t the most effective way, but I didn’t think there was another way of doing it. I feel like I’d be on a roll and that pause would completely throw me off. Sometimes I would even put the book down.

But last night I read about the last 1/3 of Uncanny X-Men: The Complete Collection by Matt Fraction Vol. 1 and all of Vol.2 in this way. I simply read. To give some perspective, these trade paperbacks are around 300 pages each. But now I feel like I can go back and read them again and be able to take better notes for my thesis. It also allowed my brain to process the story in a way that gave me a new perspective on something for my thesis.

Hopefully this weekend I’ll be doing that with my reading for class on Tuesday. I think this is going to help me with the mountain of reading I have every week. And it might free up time for me to get writing, too.

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I Feel Good!

HAPPINESS IS...quiet time

I am an introvert. I get drained by too much interaction. I need somewhere that I can fully relax and be myself so I can recharge my energy. This past school year I was living in an apartment with three other lovely ladies. I had my own space. I could shut the door. But I was never able to fully recharge.

But all that has changed.

This week I moved into my new apartment. My apartment. It’s all mine. I’m the only one there. I have space! I have an area for working/studying. I have an area for relaxing and watching TV. I have an area for sleeping. I have a kitchen all to myself! It has been a wonderful week. I didn’t realize how drained I was until this week. I knew I wasn’t getting a full recharge, but not anymore!

Since I moved in on Tuesday, I’ve cooked multiple meals from ingredients in the fridge (I went to BW3s a few times). I’ve listened to music loud-ish and sung along loudly without any reservation. I’ve not had to worry about running out of hot water or if someone else is also showering. I can soak in the tub (which I plan on doing next week)!

I hadn’t realized how much better I felt until I was heading home to the hubby today. I set my iPod to shuffle my Favorites playlist and had a blast driving those two hours. I got home and felt really good. Usually I have to recover from the drive. This time I’m recharged; I can just enjoy being home.

Hopefully all of this will lead to a productive weekend home before I head back up on Sunday to get ready for the week. This coming week is Graduate School Orientation, which means the new cohort arrives and we all mingle and get to know each other. It also means one last week before classes begin. Ack!

I just have to remind myself:
That which does not kill me only makes me weirder and harder to relate to.

Write more to write more

I posted that quote last month (yes, I mean May. It’s June! ACK!) on one of my Tumblrs. I plan on framing it and putting it in my eyeline at my desk. It’s also my wallpaper on my laptop right now. I really need that inspiration right now.

I’m working on getting the thesis started. I’ve gone through all the X-Men books that I have. I’ve realized I may have to see if I can read a few others to get some more to work with. Then there’s all the theory and Deaf studies stuff to read.

But I’ve realized something else, this is going to involve a lot of writing. And what better way to hone one’s writing skills than by writing! So hopefully you’ll see more stuff on here over the summer. If I go quiet, hopefully it’ll be because I’m writing the thesis and can’t spare any words.

I’m hoping to have some good news soon. But now, I need to go get some food! I’m getting hungry fuzzy brain.

It’s complicated

Graduate school is both harder than and just as hard as I thought it would be. The work for class is about as hard as I thought it would be. In fact, I’m enjoying being in class more than I thought I would.

It’s the time outside of class work that is harder than I thought it would be. Granted, I have made some amazing friends that are making it easier, but they can only do so much. I can’t think of another way to put this, so I’ll put it bluntly: I am an introvert who has lived with the same person for the past 10 years. That is not an easy thing to live with.

As an introvert, I need a place where I can recharge. A place where I can get away from everything and recharge. I don’t really have that right now. During the week I spend most of my days on campus, either at class or in my office. I’ve got all of my tea in the office, along with all the supplies I own to make said tea. Once I either get exhausted or hungry or notice the time, or any combination of the above, I head back to the apartment and go to bed. There’s not much else I do there. It’s a place for me to store stuff that doesn’t fit in the office.

The weekends are usually spent going somewhere. Usually back home to the hubby. That’s when I get a chance to recharge. But I can’t completely relax and kick back because there are things that need to be done on the weekends. I need to get my stuff put away so it’s not taking over the living room while I’m not there. We have to get groceries to at least get through the weekend so we’re not living on fast food. I’ve spent the whole week away, we want to spend time together. And then there’s any work I need to get done before Monday.

And none of this is anyone’s fault. I had to scramble to find somewhere to live, and I got lucky with the roommates I ended up with. I am very grateful for them. But, at the same time, I am really looking forward to having a place of my own next year. A place where it’s all my space. A place where I can close the door to the apartment, change into pyjamas and TARDIS robe and K-9 slippers, brew up a pot of tea, and relax on the couch if I need to. Somewhere that has enough space for me to have a desk with a chair that will allow me to get work done without having to worry about my legs going to sleep. Somewhere where I have a kitchen all to myself!

I think that’s probably another thing that’s really messing with me. Again, after 10 years of having a kitchen of my own, having to share is really weird. Also, since I have a kitchen already, I can’t go out and buy a whole bunch of new supplies. But, with a kitchen of my own, I’ll feel better about bringing stuff from home to use in it so I can cook instead of relying on fast food. I know this fast food dominated diet is not helping things. But, again, it’s not anyone’s fault.

I guess I’m just looking forward to the next school year. I’m going to have an apartment all to myself. I’m going to have a different desk with plenty of shelf space for my numerous books (anyone surprised I have more books than space for them?). Then again, it’s going to be stressful since I’ll be working on my thesis in earnest and teaching and taking classes. But, who knows, maybe having the apartment will help. Maybe having somewhere that can be a sanctuary away from the chaos of the world will help me to deal with everything better.

I guess we’ll find out.

If you’ve made it this far, thank you. I know that was a long post, but I just needed to get that out. And, to those who are a part of my day-to-day life, thanks for putting up with this stressed, introverted, graduate student.

Okay, classes can start now

I know there are many students who are thinking I’m crazy right now, but I am past ready for the semester to begin!

I’ve been like this since high school. I distinctly remember having a week of snow days and being sick of staying home! Granted it was also in January, so we weren’t back from winter break very long.

Anyway, as much as I do enjoy being home and having time with my hubby, I am ready for the semester to start. The way I approach break is that it’s time to rest and recover from the previous semester and prepare for the next semester. Well, I’ve recovered from the previous semester. I had some time of enjoying break and just being in between the two phases.

Now, I have my lectures for next week ready and a start on the week after that. Readings and the syllabus for that class are approved. I’ve got the books for my class. I’ve had time to think about my thesis and I have questions for professors about it. I miss my friends at school. I’m ready for the semester to start already! I’ve been ready for at least a week, but I felt like waiting until the weekend before to bother you guys with it. I am so ready to go back to my spaces in BG and get some more work done, both for me and for others.

Bring on the spring!

Create Your Yardstick

When I started my second year at Columbus State, I had an amazing ASL 3 teacher. But something I kept finding myself doing was really annoying me. I kept comparing where he was in life to where I was. He had 2 bachelor degrees, a master’s degree, and was starting on a Ph. D. before he decided he needed to get out into the world and get some experience.

Have I mentioned he’s two years younger than me?

Then I realized I needed to stop comparing myself to other people. There was nothing wrong with the fact that I was two years older than him and working on an associate’s years after finishing my bachelor’s. Now, there are times the phrase “I wish…” floats into my mind, but I’ve learned to banish it every time. If I had done something differently, I wouldn’t be the person I am now: happily married and happily working on a master’s degree in Popular Culture.

The reason I’m telling you all of this is because you need to do what is right for you. What is right for you isn’t what is right for someone else. But that’s not what society says. Especially when it comes to education. You’re supposed to finish high school, immediately go to college and earn a four-year degree, do whatever further education you need to get a job in the field, and go get a job.

That is not for everyone!

There are so many things you can do when you have graduated from high school. Immediately entering the workforce is not the worst decision one can make. There are plenty of jobs out there that need to be done to keep the world going, and you don’t need a college degree for it. If you like fixing machines or taking care of trash or want to deliver the mail, there’s nothing wrong with that! We need people to do that!

Take a year off! A gap year is becoming an option that is viewed as more acceptable in society’s eyes, which means it’s happening more. It gives you time to adjust to the fact that you’re not in high school anymore. The time to think about what you might want to do next. It also gives you time to set some money aside before embarking on the next phase of your life.

Community College is not a bad thing. Community College gives you a chance to get two years of college in before deciding what to do next. Sometimes it’s to transfer to a four-year college and get a bachelor’s degree. Sometimes it’s to graduate and start working. Either way, I feel it’s an option that gets overlooked until it’s too late.

Of course, there’s also the four-year college or university. But even then, four-years to get a degree is not a common occurrence anymore. Many degrees take longer than that to earn. Also, there’s the chance you might change majors during your time there. I did. This is one option where you really don’t want to take too much time to decide. The longer you’re in college, the more money it costs. But if you’re not sure, there’s nothing wrong with leaving until you decide what is best for you. It can be a waste of money to stay while you’re trying to figure it out.

Anyway, the whole point of saying all of this is you know what’s best for you. Be your own yardstick. I have friends who started college and left when they knew they needed time to figure things out. I started out in Engineering, got my BA in Speech and Hearing Science, took 6 years off, went to Community College for interpreting, decided interpreting isn’t for me, and now am working on a MA in Popular Culture. A friend of mine’s oldest took a gap year, and her middle child is planning to take one too. My parents decided on their majors and now have bachelor’s degrees that they don’t use.

Don’t compare yourself to someone else’s progress. You are unique. So is your progress!

Home

This one word rarely has as much meaning behind it as it does now. On Saturday, the last of my responsibilities for the semester. It was the end of my first semester of graduate school, and I survived!

I got everything I would need for the next three weeks packed up and drove back home. After a semester of coming back on weekends and living out of my suitcase for those weekends, it felt so good to really come home. To put my things away in the bathroom. To put my things away in the bedroom. To not have a paper to write, a class to prepare to teach, readings to do for class, anything to grade. Freedom.

I still have some work to prepare to teach next semester. But I have time to do it. I can relax and take my time and it get done well. I can look over all my notes and incorporate what I’ve been wanting to. I can take the time to remember what I wanted to explain better. I can think about what was used this semester and figure out what I felt worked really well and what I felt didn’t work with me.

I am so glad to be home where I have a hubby who is happy to have me here, a bed that is off the floor, a kitchen that is mine, and space. My space. Our space. Space where I can just chill and recharge my introverted self. I am so glad to be home.

Prep work

This weekend I was trying to figure out how to stock up on food for the week. I’m mostly going to be writing papers, until my students take their final and then I’ll be grading that. Basically I’ll be spending most of my time in my office. I wanted to stock up on foods that I can either just reheat or be eaten cold.

When I went to the grocery store today, that’s pretty much what I kept myself focused on. I managed to really hit it this time! I decided that instead of focusing on foods that I just need to eat, I went with stuff that needed just a little prep work and it’s ready to go. It also helped that I already have stuff at home that fits that. Between getting mostly non-processed, non-prepared foods, and using what I already had bought, my grocery bill was so nice and low.

Lesson: unprepared foods cost less than prepared foods!

Anyway, tonight I’ve been prepping things. I’ve just got a few more things to prep and I’ll be ready for a week of writing and grading armed with healthy options! I’ve got:

  • Chicken tenders
  • Pico de Gallo (pre-prepped by Lucky’s. It is so good!)
  • Avocados
  • Tortilla chips
  • Farmer’s cheese cut into strips
  • Black and Kalamata olives
  • Everything flatbread crackers
  • Mangoes
  • Chicken Sausage
  • Roasted butternut squash
  • Roasted sweet potatoes
  • Romaine lettuce
  • Cesar dressing
  • Croutons
  • Grape tomatoes
  • Calimari

It may seem like a lot, but it’s for at least 6 days. And I figure I’ll be going for more of a lot of small meals rather than three large ones. I just hope it works.

I almost forgot one important thing: tea. Lots and lots of tea.

Caring for Myself

This semester has been really intense. I have a feeling that it’s on purpose. If I can survive this semester, I can survive the next three. But there is something that I haven’t been doing such a great job of recently: taking care of myself. I’m working on fixing that.

The week before Thanksgiving, my air mattress died. Considering it had been constantly inflated since the end of August, it’s amazing it held up that long. So I got myself a new mattress to sleep on. It’s foam and it folds up into a small couch.

It’s great! It has completely transformed the feeling of my room in BG. During the day it gets folded up which gives me two things: a place to sit and get work done, and floor space. It’s given me somewhere I can comfortably retreat from the world while getting work done! It’s really helping me recharge at the end of a long day.

On Facebook, I’m in the group Introverts are Awesome. They post great pics and articles for and about introversion. It’s a wonderful source of positivity. I recently went through the pictures they’ve posted so far and saved quite a few. I also saved a number of desktop wallpapers. I put all the wallpapers into rotation on my desktop and the pictures as my screensaver. It’s amazing how much they are helping me to relax and recharge, even while I’m at my office.

There’s just one space left: my room at home. It’s an absolute mess right now. I need to do a serious cleaning, on so many levels. I’m realizing how much I need my me-cave again, and the state it’s in right now is very useless. But I think I know how to make it extremely useful again. Unfortunately that is going to take more time than I have right now, but I should have that time over break, which starts in a few weeks.

It’s strange that I have to remind myself to take care of myself. I’m glad I did, well with the gentle reminder of a friend or two I did.

Wacky weeks

Last week was Graduate Student Orientation. It was exhausting. But I found out that the IT department here works with Dell and can do any repairs needed on a Dell. I took in my laptop to have them fix it. Hopefully I’ll have it back by the end of this week. At least I have other computers I can get on and use, but I really, really miss my computer!

Now I’m going to go take advantage of having nothing else to do on campus for the rest of the day and get off campus! At least I have my TV and Roku stick to keep me entertained until the computer gets fixed!

Ah, the life of a grad student.