Friday, May 7, 2010

A blog in which many exclamation points are warranted

Today was certainly my day of super extra awesome nifty-ness.  And it started off kind of sadly, so I really didn't have very high expectations for my day.

Today was the last day of school.  Normally, I'm really excited about the last day because it means I'm almost done grading.  And, as any college English instructor will tell you, freedom from grading is lovely.  And it will be this year too.  But I'm really going to miss my students.  I had a lot of fun teaching this semester, and it was really hard for me to say goodbye to them.  However, I'm really going to enjoy my grading-free time next week, and every week until summer session starts.  I will work on my prospectus, she says hopefully.

But, I digress.  Today was also the day of our end of year First Year English meeting.  They had free food, which is always a bonus to poor graduate students like myself, and we talked about First Year English-y type stuff.  And, best of all, I won a Best Practices Teaching Award!  For the second year in a row!  For a skill I've been really working hard at helping my students build!  Yes, that's right, I'm awesome!  So are my students!  Because I wouldn't have won that award without them! Okay, enough exclamation points.  You get the picture.  It's a big deal to me, and I was really quite pleased.

So I left school today in a pretty darn good mood.  After all, I had my shiny new award in my backpack.  And when I got home, I put my shiny new award on my mantle and settled down for a lovely Friday afternoon of watching Murder, She Wrote, playing The Sims 3, and surfing the internet.  And then I got an email from my advisor--I had been awarded a dissertation fellowship for the fall!  (Yes, more exclamation points--this is all very exciting, I can assure you)  I don't get any money, but I do get a course release.  And as my friend Rachael pointed out to me, the gift of time is just as good as the gift of money.  Plus, since I'm teaching at 8am in the fall--I'll be done teaching at 9!  I'll have all day to work!  On my dissertation!  This is worth exclamation points because I do not have good time management skills, and I am an expert at procrastination through teaching (example: I have already written both my summer and fall syllabi--and it's May!, but only two and a half pages of my prospectus).  Since I'll have less teacher-y stuff to do, this will give me more time to work on the all important dissertation, which will be even more awesome and fabulous now that I'll have all of this extra time to work on it.  And since apparently my brain has decided that the only place it wants to work is in my office, I will be at school at 9am every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday done with teaching and with all of this lovely time to devote to my dissertation.

But now, I'm going to take the weekend off from schoolwork and watch a cheesy rom-com on Netflix streaming (which is about five thousand times more awesome now that I can watch it on my TV) and bask in the glow of my day of super extra awesome nifty-ness.  Have a great weekend ya'll!

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Book Review: Jasper Fforde's Shades of Grey

Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron (Shades of Grey, #1) Shades of Grey: The Road to High Saffron by Jasper Fforde

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
I'm a big fan of Jasper Fforde's other work, and Shades of Grey is certainly no exception.  The world he creates here is simply fascinating--everyone is colorblind in a sense.  All of society and culture is centered around color, and this has created a kind of dystopia where the people live in ignorance of the past. Thus, their world is quite a bit different from ours.  I will say that at times the book can be a bit confusing, particularly when trying to figure out certain terminology the characters use or practices that they do.  However, for me, trying to figure all of that out is part of the fun of reading the book.

I will say that I didn't like Shades of Grey as much as Fforde's Thursday Next series, but I think that's because I'm total literature nerd so I really appreciate Thursday's world. However Shades of Grey is still a great book, and I definitely plan to reread it.

View all my reviews >>

Monday, May 3, 2010

That One Extra Box Makes a Big Difference!

My prospectus isn't shrinking! But it's not grown much either.  It's now 2 1/2 pages, which is about three quarters of a page more than I had yesterday.  I'm also now fairly certain that it will be five chapters long.  But blah, blah, blah...I find myself getting bored with this even as I write it.

So, anyway....  As I said in my last post, my chair is crazy awesome and probably the most brilliant woman I've ever met in person.  And because her brilliance is so, well, brilliant, I have a tendency to get very nervous and/or feel like a complete slacker in her presence.  I've lost count of the meetings we had where I felt like I spent the entire time babbling about what I hadn't yet done, making gross misreadings of texts, or generally feeling like an idiot.  Today we met to talk about some program called DS-PRO where I have to fill out my goals for the next year.  It's kind of a pain in the rear, but I have to say I like this program because it made me feel a little bit more accomplished than I did before.  Part of the program asks me to check off my "previously accomplished goals," which was nice because I have achieved things like finishing my course work, forming a committee, and taking my comprehensive exams.  But what was particularly nice was that beginning the research for my prospectus and beginning to write my prospectus were actually two separate goals.  So, in short, my 2 1/2 pages and tentative research and bibliography totally count as two separate separate goals!  So even though I really can't do one without doing the other, being able to check off that extra box as achieved made me feel pretty darn good.  And, in addition to honing my mad box checking skills,  I spent an hour writing my prospectus today (which is why it's now longer),  and I confronted a student who had plagiarized a paper, so all in all I feel like I've gotten stuff done today.

So, now I'm going to relax, watch some Murder, She Wrote, and, since my friend Rachael has decreed today Chocolate Cake Monday, eat some chocolate cake.  Imaginary readers of my blog, you go eat some chocolate cake too!  It is Chocolate Cake Monday after all.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

My Dissertation is Killing Me! Or, at the very least, it's the bane of my existence.

Well, it's not killing me literally, but perhaps all of the stress it causes could potentially kill me.  And I might mention that I'm only in the baby stages--I'm still working on my prospectus, which is a whole two pages long (four if you count my tentative bibliography).  So I've got a long road ahead of me before I defend.  But the whole darn shebang is so stressful because I'm FRUSTRATED (so frustrated I had to put it in caps).  Because....I've got writer's block.  Writing my two pages was like pulling teeth.  And a dissertation is book length!  This trend just can't continue.

Maybe it's just this time of year.  The end of the semester is always stressful, and I feel like everyone is breathing down my back to get absolutely everything done--particularly my chair.  She's not really breathing down my back because she is crazy awesome, but there's a tiny version of her living in my head (wearing a a very bright multi-colored poncho) who's constantly telling me that I should drop whatever it is I'm doing to work on my prospectus.  .

I have a meeting with her on Monday.  She wants me to fill out some university computer program thing that's designed to help me set my goals, which at the time will seem super helpful (because I know I need guidelines and structure) but will cause me no end of stress later on.  And we'll probably talk about my prospectus too, which is shorter than it was the last time I talked to her because I took out the sucky parts.

I have to constantly remind myself that I VOLUNTEERED for this.  I love what I do, and there is nothing more that I want than to be an English professor so that I can spend my life sharing the literature I love with others.  But I'm not there yet, and I've got a long way to go.  So in the meantime, I'm going to watch Doctor Who, and not think about my prospectus until tomorrow because I've just now made a vow that I shouldn't work on it  or think about it on Saturday nights.

So, imaginary readers out there, you go enjoy Doctor Who too.  It's an awesome show, worthy of our love and adoration.