Class is done

About fifteen minutes ago, the last exam was handed in. My Spring 2018 Introduction to Popular Culture class is gone. I’m kind of sad.

It’s been a great semester. I know all teachers say this, but they really did help me to become a better teacher. Just asking them their opinions helped on that front. Around spring break, I made an anonymous survey that they could participate in if they wanted to. I took all their feedback into account, but I implemented the more common responses. I integrated more videos into class. I integrated discussions into class – instead of lecturing for a day or two and then having a whole class just for discussion. I learned to release my grip on the control of class just enough to let them have some input. I was still the instructor in the end, but letting them bring up examples worked so much better than me trying to explain my own at times.

I know there were days where it was mostly lecture, and that tends to be kind of boring. But there are some topics where you have to get the basic information explained before you can discuss it. But, once we were able to discuss it, off we went! I’m looking forward to grading this last exam and seeing their feedback from the course evaluations. I can’t say I’ve ever had that feeling before. I’ve usually dreaded the evaluations, but not this time.

So if any of you reading this were in my class, thank you for a wonderful semester. And thank you for helping me to become a better teacher!

Now to get their papers and exams graded, and write three papers of my own – of varying lengths – so my semester can be done!

Panic and Stress

My life is a mess right now. Or at least that’s how it feels. I’ve got a job that really doesn’t pay the bills, but I’m somehow making a paycheck stretch. I still don’t know if I’m graduating in December with my master’s degree, which means I don’t know if I’m going to still be in the Ph.D. program in the spring.

I’ve been watching Better Things on Hulu. It’s a great show. I just watched episode 5 where the oldest daughter is worrying about her future at age 16. Sam points out to her that even if you just have a job and get by, you’ll be fine. You don’t have to actually have your shit together to look like you have your shit together.

I needed to hear that.

I needed to hear that just finding a job that doesn’t drain the energy out of me on every level isn’t a bad thing. I needed to hear that I can still do what I want with my life without the degree to “back it up”. I can be an independent scholar and work at Barnes and Noble. I can write about Doctor Who and Bitch Planet and Hamilton without Ph.D. after my name. As much as I do want to teach, I don’t have to teach.

I feel so much better. I have been stressed and in a fog lately. I had a great weekend at the Midwest Popular Culture Association/American Culture Association (MPCA) Conference last weekend. But somehow, after getting back, this week has been a mess. But I feel so much better. Allowing myself to think that everything will be fine no matter what. I feel so much better.

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

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”

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!

Effect of Popular Culture: The West Wing

At this moment, there is a filibuster happening in the U.S. Senate. Click here to watch it while you do whatever. Thank you @Lin_Manuel for sharing the link! This filibuster is in response to the senseless violence that happened this Sunday morning in Orlando.

I’m writing this post for two reasons: to make people aware that this is happening and to watch it; to share how popular culture has impacted me in regards to this particular action in Congress.

I’ve done the first, now for the second.


My parents watched The West Wing. I watched The West Wing. I have watched the entire series multiple times. I have learned so much about government from this television series. When given the opportunity to give a presentation about a celebrity and their influence on politics and the government in my HS government class, I told my group we were going to focus on Martin Sheen.

But that’s beside the point. There was an episode, “The Stackhouse Filibuster”. When the current filibuster is over, go watch it. It does not simply show a filibuster as part of the plot, it explains the rules of a filibuster and how the person leading the filibuster can be aided by colleagues to keep it going.

Honestly, that is why I am watching and enjoying it right now. I’m seeing these things actually happen in our Senate. Right now. Colleagues are asking long, multi-part questions to allow the Senator a break to gather his thoughts. It is a beautiful piece of American government to watch. All thanks to a television show.

I just hope something good comes from this. Not simply knowledge, but legislation that will prevent or make it much harder for this to ever happen again. I can’t find it right now, but a friend posted something on Facebook that shows that stricter laws make things like this harder to happen. People point out that taking away the guns won’t stop this. No it won’t. But it will make it much harder. After Timothy McVeigh’s action, it became much harder to buy that much fertilizer and to park as close as he did to a government building. After 9/11 hijackers used box cutters to hijack airplanes, stricter restrictions on what passengers can bring onto planes, and airplanes and their crew changed to make it harder for hijackers to take over.

With that, I’m going to leave you with something that has gone viral, for good reason:

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. 😉

I can breathe again

Today I got an e-mail from the Department of Popular Culture at Bowling Green State University. I applied for admission to their master’s program starting this fall last month. At the end of May their site said they were still accepting applications, and with support of friends and family I applied. I figured if I didn’t get in, I could quickly reapply for next year.

Turns out I won’t have to. I GOT IN!!!!!

Starting in a little over a month, I will finally be starting graduate school! Almost ten years after graduating with my bachelor’s degree I am finally continuing with my education. And it’s going to be in popular culture. This is the last field I thought I would be going into. I didn’t even know it existed until the end of May. But my mom and I were talking and she said she had a couple of thoughts for potential programs for me to apply for instead of Linguistics. One was Library Science. I flat out told her I could not be a librarian. I love to read, but I’m not a librarian.

Then she told me about Popular Culture. I’ll let the Department of Popular Culture explain it better than I could. But as she was describing it, two things kept running through my head. First, “I’d be a professional geek!” Personally, that is what it means for me. Being able to be a geek and get paid for it. Which leads to the second, “I’m already doing this!” I took a few classes at Ohio State that would have been in Popular Culture at Bowling Green.

My whole theory that superheroes and supervillains are disabled and that the mutant community is the Deaf community of the comic book world started in a Disability Studies class. Currently my blog Deviate from the Norm is my way of continuing to pick away at that theory and expand on it. Needless to say, that blog is going to be seeing a lot more posts soon.

During the past two months of applying and waiting, I’ve realized how much I can do with this degree. I just hope I can stay focused and coherent while I’m there. Bouncing around from idea to idea isn’t the best thing for graduate school. But ultimately my goal is to go on and get a master’s in Deaf Culture from Gallaudet (I haven’t given up on going there, just put it off a little) and go on to teach at Ohio State. Between my two degrees, there is going to be so much that I can get done. More importantly, my ultimate goal of helping to strengthen and add to that bridge of understanding between Deaf and hearing can still be achieved. Which makes me so happy!

But more importantly, after two months of applying and waiting, I can finally breathe again! I know what I’ll be doing for the next two years. I don’t have to wait anymore. And, even better, I’ll be in graduate school!

Reconnected

For the past month, we have been without cable or internet. We still don’t know why. There was an outage and our service never came back. After a month of TWC not doing what they needed to do to get it fixed, we switched to another company and we got hooked up today! We have cable and internet again!

My life is so crazy right now. Working only at Jo-Ann’s is not quite enough of a paycheck, but there’s no point in getting a second job if I’m going to have to quit it at the end of August to start grad school. I feel like I’m holding my breath and I can’t let it out until BG lets me know about the fall. I’m hoping the fact that the department finally got everything recently and I haven’t heard from them is a good thing. It would be kinda short notice, but I would love to finally get my academic career moving again. Also I’m looking forward to getting into Popular Culture. It is going to be great!

If I don’t get in, then I get the ball rolling for next year and start looking for a new job. I need a full-time job if I want to have any chance of getting my debt under control. Right now I’m just getting minimum payments made every month. But that doesn’t leave much left over to play with. It’s really getting on my nerves.

But maybe that’s because I haven’t had the internet and television to distract me from obsessing over my budget for the past month. Yay for the return of the distraction!