Tag Archives: grad school

i’m still alive, among other things

i thought that writing about a new book that no one’s written about would be FUN and EXCITING and LIBERATING, but really it’s just hard.  and i find myself making these large crazy gestures of interpretation (metaphysical life after death through narration!  associative families!  streams of omniscience!  …goodness, it hurts.) as if to compensate for the fact that i am writing about this one tiny aspect of this massively complicated book.

i will return to the blog-o-sphere, i am sure, when i am done with papers/ grades/ stupid research job of stupidness.

never fear.  supper.

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brainz

Now comes the long blue cold

Now comes the long blue cold
and what shall I say but that some
bird in the tree of my heart is singing.
That same heart that only yesterday
was a room shut tight, without dreams.

Isn’t it wonderful—the cold wind and
spring in the heart inexplicable.
Darling girl. Picklock.

—Mary Oliver

i have crashed, as far as studying goes.  i can’t read any more.  i need to take this week to regain my ability to write more than a sentence without totally wearing myself out.  the good news is, i mostly know stuff.  and i just have to keep focusing on that.  because i’m not stressed out.  i’m just exhausted.  all the time.  i wake up exhausted, i fight off the exhaustion and still try to plow my way through a couple of books, i go to bed so exhausted i can’t sleep.  please, exams, go die.
our exam has been compared to the zombie apocalypse: barricading oneself in the gll conference room, armed with machetes to beat back the professors who have come to eat your self-esteem.  and brainz.
the better news is that there’s light at the end of the tunnel, in the form of my sister coming to visit in just over 2 weeks, and my parents after school gets out.  which means excuses to host fancy brunches and go out to try ethnic restaurants and take walks.  and see my family, though in some ways their planned visits make me even more homesick.  blah.  but i am looking forward to them.  and to summer, post-high school boot camp: rhode island beach vacation, possible vt trip (fingers crossed!), denver road trip, drinking wine on the porch before dinner.
my new addictions: the show numb3rs (don’t judge!) and, far worse, diy home improvement sites.  the pantries!  the laundry rooms!  the neatly compartmentalized entryways!  roses on the bathroom vanity!  the built-in shelving… ye gods, the built-in shelving!  please someone get me my vermont b&b post-haste so i can make it beautifully retro-perfect!

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fish are jumpin’ and the cotton is high

i forgot to say in my last post that i was chatting in german with a few native speakers at my conference at georgetown over the weekend, and one of them asked me where i was from, and she was shocked that i wasn’t a native speaker.  after, like, a lengthy conversation in german.  HUGE ego boost.  still occasionally floating from it, even though MA exam prep + homework + teaching + coping with life is right now making it so i can hardly string together sentences.  i am sometimes competent in my language, yay.

and last week it snowed, big fat fluffy flakes sticking on the grass, which would’ve been thrilling and white christmas-y in november or december, but in mid-march, it’s annoying.  luckily, a certain special someone braved the columbus drivers (who turn of their brains at the first sign of moisture, possibly for fear of short-circuiting) to come pick me up from school.  tonight and all day tomorrow, we’re supposed to get blustersome bad thunderstorms.  april showers bring may mugginess; welcome to ohio!

april, though!  9 more weeks of winter school.  a box from h’s parents, a box from my parents (my mom goes into hallmark to buy me a birthday card and inevitably emerges with beanie babies that were just too cute for her to pass up), and a card from the lovely miss a all arrived the morning of my birthday!  and i was sung to over the phone more than once, though never well.  and we made pizza for supper, and in some distant eventuality, i will make myself a cake.  meanwhile, extensive (3 times in 2 weeks) eating of frozen yogurt.

i met with some of my fellow MA-examinees on friday to go over practice questions, and i was by far the most prepared of those present, and found myself able to answer the questions pretty easily, despite the fact that german literature pre-1700 (actually, pre-1950 or so) isn’t really my bag, baby.  so that was also a boost in the direction of i know i can pass these exams, it’s just a question of to what quality, at this point.  and it will be okay.

i just reread “i am a little church”, and it was lovely and brought tears to my eyes, as always.

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just this…

1) i am so addicted to hadestown.  if you like folk music and haven’t heard it, you should.

2) potato and caramelized onion tart currently in the oven.  sprinkled with fresh sage.  house smells heavenly.  plus i made mine in my pretty fluted tart pan instead of as a free-form galette like it is in the recipe, which was very gourmet cook of me.

3) this makes me happy on so many geek-and-gayness levels:

Love is Love: Threadless tee

Love is Love. Note the wizard and the alien.

4) i spent all morning pounding away at my reading list for MA exams (t-minus 902 hours), and now have done all my medieval and early modern works except for poetry.  and then i read walter benjamin, and now my brain is broken.  plan of attack for the rest of the week (because if i post it here, i’ve committed to it, right?):
~wednesday: finish der schimmelreiter and walter benjamin outline
~thursday: make medieval and early modern poetry flashcards, make literary history flashcards
~friday: study all pre-1700 flashcards, start adorno texts and outlines

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gearing up for spring(ish)

after a very early morning and several near-panic attacks on the way from home to the airport through check-in and security to my gate, i was richly rewarded by an AMAZING view: it was still overcast and barely getting light when we taxied away from the gate, but when we broke through the clouds, it was this incredible sea of pinky-orange and grey-blue with the sun just coming up.  trying to take advantage of my couple of hours strapped to a seat without access to facebook, i’m now (or i was, until i started writing this post) working on the paper i need to present at my next conference in a couple of weeks.  unfortunately, the combination of up at 5am + no coffee + attempt to articulately express my thoughts = me writing very silly sentences.  to wit: “this sexual relationship is both sexual and forbidden.”  holy extended felines, batman!  long cat is long!  blah!

also, my tray table sags on one side, which is both annoying when i’m trying to type, and a little terrifying as my cup of orange juice teeters on the edge between my laptop and the lap of the sleeping gentleman next to me.

spring break was lovely lovely in many ways.  having z out to visit made it so that i could relax (which i would’ve done anyway) without feeling guilty about it (which i wouldn’t have been able to do).  we didn’t do much that was terribly exciting: lots of cooking (french toast!  sweet potato gnocchi with gouda cheese sauce! tofu spring rolls!), *lots* of eating, lots of TV watching (she’s now thoroughly hooked on castle and understands my girl-crush on beckett, hooray!), sleeping in, taking walks, shopping, cuddling (and memorably, washing) the cat… everything i needed to recharge my mental and emotional batteries before plunging into spring quarter.

i’m approaching spring quarter with a lot of anxiety.  for one thing, i remember being totally burnt out about 2 weeks into spring quarter last year.  and i really can’t afford to be anything but Totally On Top Of My Shit for the next 10 weeks.  in addition to the obvious pressure of MA exams (fridays of week 6 and 7), there’s conference 1 (today and tomorrow), conference 2 (in 2 weeks, for which i am currently (not) writing my paper), visiting prospective grad students, another visiting professor candidate*, a part-part-time research assistantship, and upgrading my one class from a novel a week to a novel and a short philosophical treatise a week.  it makes me feel a little ill to think about it all.  it makes me want to dive under the covers and watch a whole season of dexter and eat a whole pint of jeni’s ice cream.**  …taking of deep breaths.

finishing this post up sitting in tarsi’s office – we’re off in a few minutes to grab lunch in chinatown and see some cherry blossoms around dc before i head out to my conference.

*oh my goodness, if my professors don’t start acting like PROFESSIONAL ADULTS instead of pre-schoolers, i will smack them right in their faces.  slash i (and all the other grad students) really want them to hire one of the candidates who has already visited, and i will be severely peeved if they do not.

**i would seriously regret the last two of those three things, one for the nightmares and the other for the digestive consequences.

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things to do and places to go

being as it’s the end of week 8 of 10, the checklist begins:
– article review/critique on demian, 1000 words
– 24 independent project essays to grade, 500 words each
– read a novel, a book of short stories, and 2 plays
– 24 “character sketches” to grade, 200 words each
– cult fiction paper, 2500 words
– epic theater paper, 5000+ words
– 24 final exams to grade

also, i made you a mix tape! here ’tis:

http://8tracks.com/mixes/246834/player_v3

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if you liked it, then you shoulda put a jingle bell on it

the adventure of the cat hairball remedy: mal’s been coughing oddly for a couple of weeks now, and we thought it might be that he has dust in his throat from the heat system, or that he’s having a hard time hair-ball-ing.  we called the vet to ask about this, because we are Worried Cat Moms, and she said either it’s asthma (please don’t be asthma) or hairball-type irritation.
solution: tube of essentially brown, malt-flavored vaseline.  cat eats brown goo, brown goo lubes up throat, no more coughing.  right?  wrong.
if the cat won’t take the goo off your fingers (which, of course, he won’t, being feline and widerlich by nature), you’re supposed to smear it on his paw pads, which will irritate him enough to lick it off.  or just, you know, shake gobs of it all over the kitchen.  so you try glomming it onto one of his favorite treats.  which he extracts from the middle of the goo, carries over to another part of the kitchen, and spits out.  and then refuses to touch.
glom it onto his pawsies again.  he shakes it off.  all over.  collect the bits.  really rub it into the furry bits between the paw pads; careful to avoid sharp kitten fangs.  …eventually, he licks it off.  and then decides, purring, to lick some of the gobs off the floor.

…repeat 3 times a week.

i don’t think i’ll ever be able to handle having babies.

i’m planning a somewhat independent study-like thing for next quarter, in which i will be reading theory relevant to history and memory post-war.  and for which i was told in a meeting today that walter benjamin just… isn’t kb’s bag.  haha.  anyway, kind of excited.  and now thinking about writing on paul celan, because the idea i had about peter weiss would be better for jd’s class next fall.  (next fall?  wait, didn’t i just apply for two jobs this afternoon?)

also, so that i don’t forget to put this (not in as many words, or even the same language) in the composition i have to write for my cult fiction class next week: you can call max demian the fischerkönig all you want, but the only way i’m buying demian as a grail novel, *especially* as specifically parzifal and not just archetypally grail-ish, is if you mention the harmony/unity of two worlds bit (the safe, home, allowable world vs. the corrupt outside world in demian, the world of court vs. the spiritual world in parzifal).  trust me, it’s gonna be big.  but then again, i said that about my theory that parzifal was a pseudo-bildungsroman, and apparently it’s been done.  by, like, thomas mann.  bastard.

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