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

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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.

Walking on Water

Today at Mass, Father’s homily struck a chord with me. The Gospel reading was Jesus walking on water and Peter doubting and starting to sink. He talked about how we have all walked on water at some time in our lives. A time when we feel called to do something but we have a sinking feeling, we aren’t sure if we can do it.

Tomorrow I start Graduate Student Orientation, again. But this time it’s for me starting my Ph. D. Starting my Ph. D. while I study up so I can complete my Master’s and graduate in December so I can continue with my Ph. D. This is one of my walking on water times. I know that this is the right thing for me. But I’m worried that I’ll get in my own way and won’t pass the comprehensive exams so I can graduate with my Master’s degree. I’ve passed two of the three parts before, I know I can do it again.

But a little part of me keeps popping up and messing with that faith. Thankfully, it’s getting less frequent. I’m still worried that it will pop up at the worst time – during the exam – and I will start to sink. I know that if I put the work in, study, and have faith in myself, I will walk through those exams and finally be able to move forward with my studies.

At least this week is simply about getting to know my cohort, the faculty I don’t already know, and get a good solid start to the semester and my Ph. D. And I am really looking forward to it!

Look Around List!

“Look around! Look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!”

The semester is done! I have survived both being a student and being an instructor. I’m ready for the break that is summer to get recharged for fall!

Doctor Who paper. For my International Popular Culture class, I wrote my final paper on “The Day of the Doctor”. Well, that was my intention. I allowed too much background in and it kind of took over the paper. Now I can look at it and see where to separate it into two and develop both!

Amazon Video. Hubby and I have been discussing cutting cable for a while now. Thanks to Hulu and CBS All Access, most of my shows are covered. But there have been a few hold outs. Until now. Amazon Prime has been charging for the new episodes of Doctor Who for a few seasons now, and the past seasons are available for free for Prime members (aka me!). This means I have season 9 for free, and I decided today to go ahead and pay for season 10. I’ve got the episodes aired so far, and I’ll get the new episodes as they come out. Commercial free!!! Which is the best way to watch Doctor Who, especially since it’s not designed for American television and it’s numerous commercials. They do the same thing for Orphan Black, which I’ll be paying for as soon as the season is available. The only big thing I was holding out on was RuPaul’s Drag Race. I love my Drag Race. I was so happy to see it on VH1, since we no longer get Logo. But Amazon Video has it!!! So I paid for this season today, and it is so nice to have it legally without commercials. While it is about $30 per season up front, it’s much more than that per month for cable. Totally worth it.

I’m Home! Now that I’m (mostly) done with my master’s degree, I am home with my hubby for good. Wherever we end up for my Ph.D., it will be together. It feels so good to be home. Seriously, this has been running through my head the last week or so:


I’m Mandy/Nina and my hubby’s Chris/Benny

Marcon! Marcon 52 was so much fun! I got to hang out with friends, fellow geeks, and be on panels (sometimes in charge of them) to talk about the things I enjoy! Seriously, I know for now it’s over Mother’s Day weekend, but I highly recommend Marcon to anyone who enjoys being able to hang out with fellow fans in a more relaxed setting than what I’ve heard anime cons can be like. Nothing wrong with them, if that’s what you like! Marcon 53 is May 11-13, 2018. Registration will hopefully be up soon.

More playlists from Lin!! Seriously. If you haven’t already, go to Lin’s Spotify and be ready to have fun! He is just pouring creativity into each one.

Remember, despite the chaos that is going on in the world, remember to “look around” and realize “how lucky we are to be alive right now!”

Look Around List!

“Look around! Look around at how lucky we are to be alive right now!”

It’s been a while, to put it mildly, but I’ve been so busy with school. But that doesn’t mean I forgot to look around!

Comic books. I am having so much fun going on comic runs again. I probably could just do them once a month, but right now the two X-Men series – X-Men: Gold and X-Men: Blue – are alternating weekly releases. Aka, there’s a new one every Wednesday. But I’m really looking forward to tomorrow. At least 3 new comics tomorrow!

Bitch Planet. If you like good writing and some serious commentary on patriarchy, read it! The first trade paperback has been out, the second is coming, and next week’s issue is #10. I can’t wait!

Native deodorant. I’ve been using it for over a month now and I have no intention of stopping. I do have sensitive skin under my arms, so I have to be careful how much I use so I don’t dry out the skin, just absorb the sweat. It’s awesome! I highly recommend it to anyone. If you click here, both you and I get a free travel deodorant if you order!

New Playlists! Since the last time I posted, Lin has created 8 new playlists! His awesome wife has created two of her own inspired by his! Both of them are exposing me to music I would probably not have found on my own. I love it!

Moana. Every time I watch it, I need tissues. Sometimes due to the plot. Sometimes due to the accuracy and reverence for the culture. This is Disney’s best movie yet! Hopefully this is just the start.

Finishing my thesis. Yes. It’s done! I had to make some formatting changes, but it’s done! I’ll probably post about it sometime soon. I’m so glad to have finished it. I just hope that I can use it as a starting point for a more in-depth book on the topic later.

My church. This year there were 15 individuals who joined the Catholic church through the RCIA program at my church. 15! When I mention that, most people are surprised at the high number. I like to think that is because of the openness and welcoming nature of the St. Thomas More Newman Center at The Ohio State University. There’s a reason I’m going to miss going there every week when I start working on my Ph.D. at BGSU.

My hubby. There is a lot that has been going on, which is mostly why there have been no posts, and he has been my rock through all of it. I don’t think I’d be sane at this point if it weren’t for him.

Just remember, no matter how crazy the world may seem, look around and remember how lucky we are to be alive right now!

Knowledge is Power!

Image is from the cartoon Schoolhouse Rock with schoolhouse Rocky holding up the ! to keep it all from tumbling over.I have been struggling with something. Ever since the election started heating up, before election day, I was not talking about it with my students in class. Part of me knew I was avoiding it so we wouldn’t have an argument on our hands, since this is a topic that can easily spark one. But part of me knew that I should be bringing it up. I’m teaching about popular culture. The election and everything leading up to it falls into this. But I know I’m not great about keeping my emotions separate and my mouth sometimes runs without checking with my brain first. Especially when I’m nervous, which is usually when I’m teaching.

Today I may have come up with an answer for myself. I have always believed in the power of knowledge. That knowing the facts will allow you to be able to at least understand what is going on if not the people who disagree with you. That is what I am trying to do in my class. I am trying to teach my students about the role popular culture has in our lives, but also the facts so they can better understand the world in general. I’m thinking about how to say something about this in class on Monday. I want them to know that I’m not ignorant or ignoring what is happening. That my approach to dealing with everything going on is to be as well-informed as I can be, and making sure they are as well. I don’t get upset with someone who disagrees with me. I get upset with someone who is ignorant of all the facts and thinks they understand what is going on.

Knowledge is power, people. Knowledge is power!

New Semester High!

This is going to be a great semester! It started on Monday, but the two classes I’m taking meet on Wednesdays, so today was really the first day of class for me. I am feeling so good for so many reasons.

First, my students. I’m in an interesting classroom that has four tables for my students to sit at. It’s great because they’re already grouped up, which facilitates discussion so much easier. They don’t have to move their seats into groups and then back once they’re done discussing. They also have really great answers to my questions. Granted, today was the first day we discussed anything, but it was a great first day. I have a feeling this semester is going to be fun.

Second, my classes. I’m taking International Popular Culture and Superhero Comics & Critical Theory. I have been looking forward to taking these classes. International Popular Culture is a required class for the degree, so I’ve known it was coming. Superhero Comics is a class I have been vibrating with excitement over as soon as it was hinted at being taught! It’s a Comic Studies class! My thesis is Deaf Studies meets Comic Studies! I finally get a class that directly speaks to my thesis. It helps that the professor is on my thesis committee…for that reason, actually. He is the Comic Studies person of the department. We have a long list of graphic novels we are going to be reading in addition to almost as many articles. Tonight, he told us to just relax and enjoy reading the comics. He also said we should feel free to reference other comics as we see appropriate. We were basically going over the syllabus, but it felt like we were at a convention panel, not graduate class! It is going to be so much fun!!!!

But, before that I had International PopC. I knew I would enjoy this class. I’ve known what I’m going to write about for the final paper for a while now. But I honestly did not expect that we would be talking about so many theories that I can use in my thesis! It is going to be a good semester for my thesis. Which is great because I’m going to need all the help I can get to finish it on time!

Anyway, the last reason I am feeling so good…I’m not broke anymore! I have been lining up bill payments, getting books ordered for classes, ordering a ton of tea, and generally relaxing about money. It’s so nice to not panic about it. And I am really looking forward to that tea getting here. I have a bunch of blends that I put together but I haven’t had the money to order and test out yet. So many of those got ordered. I am looking forward to tasting them all and knowing that they’re good. I could go on about tea forever, so I’ll save it for another post.

But at least I’m off to a great start! Bring on the semester!

Solid start

As you all know by now, I am trying to get my thesis off to a good start. It has been an exercise in trying to figure out how to write it. I have been reading books and graphic novels and taking notes and figuring out exactly what I’m looking at.

And I was making no on the page progress.

I wanted to have a rough draft of my first chapter done before Monday. Until today I didn’t think that would be possible. I felt like my break was wasted in that sense. But it really wasn’t. I needed to take a break from it and let my brain relax. I needed to remember that I am trying to get a rough draft done, not the final draft. Giving myself the permission to simply sit down and include everything I can think of has opened the floodgates.

Both yesterday and today I spent about 2 hours at Starbucks with coffee and Hamilton to add to the lack of distractions and help me focus. I have finally laid a solid foundation for me to build the rest of the draft off of. I think if I take the time to work on it tomorrow, and hopefully on Sunday, I will get close to if not have a flat out done draft by Monday. That is going to be a great way to start off the semester!

I have a brain again!

This past week has been a checklist that is slowly being checked off. Paper for class. Done. Presenting in class. Done. Other presentation. Done. Last day of teaching for the semester. Done. Last day of attending class. Done. All I have left to do is give my students their final exam.

That’s part of why I’ve been posting so much lately. I’ve had more time to allow my thoughts to be about something other than school. But there’s another reason for that.

I should also be working on my thesis. Which I have been doing. But I’ve also been posting here, getting materials ready to teach next semester, getting caught up on the dishes, getting prepared to do the laundry, generally tidying up, watching TV and movies, and avoiding working on my thesis. But strangely, saying that makes me want to get working on it! After I go get my laundry started. Seriously, I’m running out of clothing.

Ahh, the life of a grad student.

Time Management

I have never been good at managing time. I’m one of those people who has piles of projects everywhere. I know what is in which pile, but they’re everywhere. My problem is I look at all those piles and get overwhelmed. They’re all important piles. So nothing gets done.

But today I realized I have some built-in scheduling I can use. The one class I am currently taking is on Tuesday afternoons. We get done with plenty of time for me to get work done before heading to bed for the night. I’m kind of ashamed to admit it took me this long to realize that I should use that time to get work done for that class. It makes sense! We just spent 3 hours talking about the topic and all the various tangents related to it. After class is the perfect time to work on the final paper for it!

I guess the point of all of that is pay attention. The solution to your problem may be right in front of your face!