How am I going to do this?

Last Thursday night, we dropped off the keys to the first place we have been able to call home. The place we have been living in for almost 8 years. He slipped the envelope with the keys in the slot at the rental office, got back in my car filled with the last of our things, and we drove off for the last time. It was a bittersweet moment. I’m getting a little teary thinking about it. We left our first home. We headed to our new home.

Since I finished my master’s degree, we decided that we cannot keep only seeing each other on the weekends. But he’s still working in Columbus and all of my business is in BG. So we found a new place in between. It’s bigger than the last place – 3 bedrooms instead of 2, and 1000 square feet instead of 700 – and it has vaulted ceilings in the living room, dining room, and kitchen. It is on the third floor, which is taking some getting used to. Although moving helped with that. But we don’t have to worry about upstairs neighbors, and heat does rise.

It’s been nice so far. I’ve been here for over a month now as we slowly brought things up. It’s allowed me to not only be closer to school and get used to the drive, but it’s given me time to get my room/office set up and functioning so I can actually get work done at home. It felt like things had been for the past two years: on my own during the week, home on the weekends. It also allowed me to get things unpacked as I could, keeping things somewhat organized so we can find things later.

It was really useful when we moved the furniture in. We put the couch, TV stand, and TV in the living room no problem. We were able to actually sit down in the living room! We had dinner while watching Leverage. Or at least I watched as much as I could while eating and then came in here to get work done. One of those things I had to adjust to, not being alone anymore.

Honestly, that, not the stacks of boxes everywhere, is what has taken the most adjustment. Not being alone anymore. I’ve become used to being able to make what I want for dinner when I am hungry. I’ve become used to being alone and having no interruptions – aside from my phone. I’ve become used to being the only one here during the week.

It doesn’t help that there’s so much to unpack, go through, decide what’s being kept and what’s getting tossed, and finding somewhere to put things. Unfortunately in the last frenzied week of moving, the living room became the dumping ground for everything that we didn’t already have a space for. Now I make dinner and we retreat to our desks, because they’re the only place where each of us can sit down and have a flat surface to put things on.

During all of this I still have to teach class three days a week, take class three days a week, hold my office hours, drive 2.5 hours a day, and get reading done for class. Why did I think we could move while I was taking/teaching class? Why didn’t we just wait until Spring Break to get the move actually done, giving us 2 months to get everything packed and ready to go in a couple of trips in a truck? It would have allowed us to get everything properly packed and labeled. It would have allowed us to properly go through everything and only move what was being kept. It would have let me keep going to class last week.

If I can just get through the rest of this week and next week, I’ve got all of Spring Break. All of Spring Break to get caught up on my reading. All of Spring Break to get my students’ assignment graded. All of Spring Break to start going through the boxes of stuff. All of Spring Break to get things put away or thrown out. All of Spring Break to recover. But I have to get there first.

How am I going to do this?

 

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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!

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!

De-cluttering

Lately my drive and focus have been lacking. It’s like I’ve had brain fog. This happens from time to time. It’s annoying, but being aware of it has its upside. It allows me to try different ways to get it to clear. But sometimes it clears on its own.

Like this morning. I was struggling to want to get up because I had nothing I needed to do until 1p. Then I remembered I have a bunch of dishes to do. So I got up, got a dent in the dishes, and got some tidying up done in the apartment. The tidying continued into the office.

There have been many different people saying that being organized in your life means you’re organized in your brain. It’s true for me. The more I clean up, the more clear my brain feels, the more focused I feel.

Here’s to de-cluttering! Both physically and mentally!

Look Around List

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

“America the Beautiful

Listening to these amazing ladies sing, while getting to see it beautifully signed? Where are the tissues?

Cooking. I got back to my apartment tonight and did dishes. It’s hard to cook if you don’t have clean dishes. I cooked up a very tasty dinner, and that always feels good.

Groceries on sale. I’m on a bit of a budget right now. So when I got to the store to discover that I could get over 3 lbs of boneless chicken thighs for about $1.50 a pound, as well as peppers and mushrooms for $1 each? I was so happy! I was able to get everything I needed as well as a few wants and got change!

Media apps. I do not have cable. It seems so silly for me to have it since I bought a Roku last year and have had Netflix and Hulu the whole time. But, networks are pulling their stuff from Hulu, which is frustrating. So today I made a couple of changes. First, I finally got CBS All Access. It’s the only place they are going to be showing Star Trek: Discovery, and hubby and I have been discussing getting it for that reason. Luckily, most of the TV I watch is on CBS. So it’s a double bonus for me. Second, I figured if I’m going to get CBS without commercials, I should upgrade my Hulu so I don’t have to deal with commercials, too. That will actually be useful when teaching because I only have 50 minutes to show something. Take out the commercials? It fits!

Technology. All of my love for the fact that I don’t need cable is such a privileged thing. The fact that I can afford to have a Roku stick with all these apps on them and a television and to be able to pay the monthly fees to keep using some of them is privilege. But I’m still grateful for that privilege.

Teaching. As I’ve mentioned many times lately, I am grateful for the opportunity teaching gives me to make a difference in the world. I know that might sound cliche, but it’s true.

Pure Leaf Raspberry Iced Tea. Sometimes it’s the little things. Being able to go to the store down the road to get this instead of giving in to pop…something I am very grateful for.

My hubby. I am always aware of how lucky I am to have him in my life. But this weekend he went above and beyond. He not only set up our haircut appointments, but he sprung for me to get my hair back to red. My hair is now not only shorter, but a lovely shade of red. I love it! Of course, that’s not the only reason, but right now it’s a big one.

Teaching is Activism

teachingisactivism

I know I wrote about this recently, but it’s a very important topic for me. I am friends with a lot of people who go out and do things. They go to protests. They organize rallies. They make speeches. And sometimes it makes me feel like I’m not doing enough. I make sure information is shared on my social media accounts. I lend my emotional support to them and anyone who is out there doing things. But I just can’t. I’m sure if I actually went to something, I would get swept up in the emotion and the energy. But the problem is getting over the anxiety of thinking about going.

Even when it comes to teaching, I sometimes feel like I’m not doing enough. Like I should be directly including what is happening in my class. But I haven’t found a good way to do that. There are certain things that need to be covered in this class and I am determined to cover it all. But because there is so much to cover, I can’t spend too much time on any one thing or else something else may not get covered. The joys of teaching an intro class.

Also, there are theories and history that need to be covered at the start of the semester. It’s not easy to include what is going on right now in those lectures for me. Soon, we’ll be moving on to the other topics which will be much easier to include current events in. Last spring my day on ethnicity (I know, I know, a day is not enough!), we watched “Formation” and discussed it. It worked really well. I’m honestly worried about focusing on just one thing and excluding others; there’s just so much happening!

But, it will all come back the fact that there are undeniable facts that I can teach. Focusing on those facts will always be my go-to. There are opinions and there are facts. Knowing the facts makes it easier to discuss opinions. If everyone knows the same facts, they have a shared knowledge base which allows them to discuss.

And when it all becomes too much, just sit back and listen to the amazing playlist Lin-Manuel made for the world. It really does help one to get re-energized.

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Music

I had made a point of avoiding any news on Tuesday. I have enough on my plate that watching the results would have done nothing but added to my stress. As it got closer to midnight, I checked in on Twitter on a couple specific users (@JMunozActor, @Lin-Manuel, @Kelly_Carlin) because I knew that if anything definitive had happened, they would say something. That’s as close as I got. When I woke up on Wednesday, I decided to check Twitter again.

When I saw people talking about Lin thinking of moving to Canada and his response (both of which I posted yesterday), I knew something did not go the way I had voted and was hoping. Considering I teach a class with 35 students, I knew I needed to know what the result was. I found out. I taught class as planned, partially out of wanting to not have a debate, partially because I knew I would not be able to stay calm about it.

Since we have no class because of Veteran’s Day today, and I have no class on Thursdays anyway, I had a drive home ahead of me. I usually listen to music on the way home. Sometimes it’s an audiobook/radio drama. But this time I knew it needed to be music. So I put on my “Pump It Up” playlist and sang along loudly:

  1. Get Your Rebel On” – RuPaul
  2. My Shot” – Hamilton
  3. Raise Your Glass” – P!nk
  4. La Vie Boheme” – Rent
  5. The Click” – Good Charlotte
  6. Sissy That Walk” – RuPaul
  7. It’s My Life” – Bon Jovi
  8. One Week” – Barenaked Ladies
  9. Don’t Fear the Rabbit” – Frenchy and the Punk
  10. Fe Fi Fo Fum” – Frenchy and the Punk
  11. Caravan” – Frenchy and the Punk
  12. Make Out” – Frenchy and the Punk
  13. Steampunk Pixie” – Frenchy and the Punk
  14. The Doctor Lies” – The Ken Spivey Band
  15. Get the Party Started” – P!nk
  16. Born Naked” – RuPaul
  17. Responsitrannity” – RuPaul
  18. 2112 Overture/The Temples of Syrinx” – Rush
  19. Closer to the Heart” – Rush
  20. Follow Me Down” – Seanan McGuire

It really helped me feel better. The playlist ended before I got home, so, before switching to my Filk/Steampunk playlist (populated by Frenchy and the Punk, Seanan McGuire, Professor Elemental, The Ken Spivey Band, and a few others), I had to listen to a song that has had a place in my heart since it came out, and it’s message is more important than ever now:

Music has a way of healing us. Music has a way of making us feel better. Make a playlist. Put an album on repeat. Do what you need to do to take care of yourself. Music helps!

Together

A lot has happened in the last few days. Everyone is still trying to process what has happened. There have been many different reactions, but I am choosing to take strength and inspiration from some people who are using the megaphone that they have.

First, that image above. That. No one, no matter who you are or who you voted for, should feel afraid right now. Unfortunately that is not the case. I have friends who are international students, and they are reconsidering staying in this country after we graduate in May. There are people who are afraid to go outside because of the bullying they may receive. I will not make myself or my space a place where people need to be afraid. Whatever space I have, will be a place of care and understanding and open to anyone who needs to take refuge.

Second, there are a lot of people talking about moving to Canada because of the result of the election. But let me ask you this, if you move to Canada, who is left in this country? Do you really want to take advantage of your ability to move out of the country and leave those that cannot behind? Do you want to give up on the fact that you have a voice in how this country is run? We still have plenty of work to do here, people. If we go away for four years, what will be here when we decide to come back? If you have no say in how things happen, you have no room to complain.

When you have time, watch the entire thing. It is wonderful.

Lin’s response:

Third, this is important to remember:

The voters selected Hillary Clinton. The electoral college selected Donald Trump. Take from that what you will.

Finally, if you are despairing, take comfort in the fact that you are not alone. Just search online. In these last two days, there have been gatherings of love and support.

This happened today at BGSU. A “Sit In for Love”. It was a space where people were encourage to come to if they were feeling scared or worried or just not good about the results of the election. It got a lot of positive attention from the news. I am friends with the amazing human being who organized this in about 24-hours. From all accounts, it was successful and peaceful. This is happening all across the country. Which makes me think that we need to adopt the following as one of our theme songs right now:

I think the next few days are going to be full of posts of quotes, videos, pictures, music, whatever I have found that helps me be calm, hopeful, and energized. We are going to be fine. We do need to unify. We need to make sure that everyone is being treated with the respect that they deserve as fellow human beings.

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The Other Path

Yesterday a thought struck me. I try to live my life not obsessing over the other path. You know, “the road not taken”. Everyone has one. There are constantly little trails that parallel the path we are currently on. So many decisions create these trails. But every once in a while, there are paths that branch off. Those are the moments where we made life-changing decisions. Those are the moments that we sometimes wonder about.

Some people like to play the “What if?” game. They like to try and think about what their life would be like if they had chosen the other path. I’ve come to dislike that game. I’ve seen many people get hung up on speculating about that other path. Maybe it’s because of loving Doctor Who, but you would not be the same person you are right now. And that’s why I don’t play.

I like who I am right now. Granted, my brain starts to wander toward the edge of my path every once in a while, trying to get a glimpse of that other path through the trees. But I gently steer myself away from it and focus on where I am right now. It’s the only thing that I can be certain about. I can speculate all I want about what life on the other path looks like, but I will never know. And I am fine with that.

I am happy with who I am and where I am right now. I have an amazing husband, a wonderful assortment of friends with whom I can talk with just about anything, and I am enjoying what I am studying and BGSU. I like to think that the theory of parallel universes is on to something, and there is a parallel me who decided to go ahead and go to Gallaudet who is wondering what life would have been like if she had decided to go to BGSU. But we’ll never know.

Unless the TARDIS comes along and we accidentally go to that universe…

Adjusting

Adjusting to life in as a graduate student has been a challenge at times. I’ll probably have it figured out the day before I graduate. 🙂

Being a graduate student is very different than being an undergraduate student.There are times where you have to read an entire book for class. Sometimes you have so many chapters and articles to read that it feels like you’re reading a book. Sometimes you have a week to do it. Sometimes you only have a few days. Many times you have to write something about what you’ve read for the week. Every class you need to be prepared to talk about it.

And then there’s all the added responsibilities of being a Teaching Assistant. You have to go to the lectures with the rest of the undergrads, take really thorough notes on the lecture, and read what they’re reading. You have extra class times where you meet with the professor, talk about readings for that class, and get things ready for the recitation that you’re teaching. You’re doing all of this so you can teach the class yourself next semester.

On top of all of that you have to keep your thesis in the back of your mind. The big papers you write for class can become part of your thesis, so you think about how it can fulfill the requirements set down by the professor while still working toward your personal goal.

That’s just at school. There’s also life off of campus. You need to keep these two thing in balance, which is hard to do. Even harder for me with my hubby and friends two hours away. Also going from having a space that only my hubby and I share to having a space of my own and space I share with three other ladies who have been living there longer than me.

It can be overwhelming at times. Especially for an introvert. But I wouldn’t give it up for the world. I’m finally continuing my education and doing it in a field where I feel at home. I can talk with other students and staff and rarely have to explain things. This past Wednesday, after chatting about various things, one of my professors handed me three of his Daredevil trade paperbacks so I could read them. It’s not just for enjoyment either; it’s research! As I’m reading them I’m putting sticky notes on pages I want to scan so I can refer back to them later.

Adjusting takes time. I’m sure I’ll be adjusted just in time to work on a Ph.D. 😉