Friday, April 27, 2012

I'm a Featured Graduate Student!!

Several months ago the dean of the College of Graduate Studies asked me to write a short statement about my Tarleton experience. I did so, the school photographer took some pictures, and yesterday I received a notification email that the Graduate Studies website had been updated. When I went to check it out, I found this:

I'm not the first entry, but there I am! I was told, initially, that the photographer would email me the pictures he took so I could chose one. I never did get that email, so I guess they chose the ones that appear on the site. I'm just so amazingly flattered to appear on the site that I don't much care that I didn't have the chance to chose the pictures. I really do just feel immensely honored!

Here's what you see when you click through to my testimony:

As usual, please click the images to see them larger--please do, they look better bigger. I really like the second picture better than the first--I look so pale and my arms look huge, by my shoes (which Chewbi has since chewed up) look fantastic and so does that outfit! So, it all balances out. ^.^

If you want to see me on the site, I'm at Tarleton's Graduate Website. Just click the arrows until you find me.

Quick update:  I just clicked around on the graduate website and my picture and short statement also appear around the site randomly. So, when you click many of the pages (only on the graduate site), you have a random chance of seeing me! How amazingly awesome is that?!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Somebody That I Used to Know

I've been trying to resist, I swear to you I have, but I can't resist anymore...

I love this song and I love the video!!  And I know, I know, everyone loves Gotye, but I find him strangely alluring. I can't stop watching this video because I can't stop looking at him. There's something about his mouth I really like, he's just so, I don't know... alluring! I already said that, huh? Sorry.

I just love the way they move, particularly Kimbre, and their facial expressions when she's singing her part. He looks so stung by her vocals, and she's so beautiful, I just love it. I hear that some people are disturbed by this video, but I don't see it at all. If you're one of those people, please, explain it to me.

If you like this song, you'll probably like this version, too...

I love how they all play the guitar together. While I'm still partial to the original, I do so love Gotye, I really dig this group's vocals. It's so beautifully done!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

What Happened to Courtesy?

When I moved to Texas, in 1999, I remember being so enthralled by the courteous people. Everyone was so... nice!  I knew that my outlook on this was somewhat askew, having come from California where being polite makes you suspicious, but I also knew that to call a society that was appalled by the idea of not saying please, thank you, ma'am, and sir anything but courteous was to do them a great disservice. Say what you want about the south, these people understand courtesy. . . at least on the surface. They understand the value of being polite to your fellow man. . . even if they could care less. They know the meaning of neighborly courtesy. . . for the most part.

As I integrated into Texan culture, and anyone who thinks that there's no culture shock moving from California to Texas is out of their minds, I grew to realize that some of the courtesy was superficial. Of course it was, I mean, no one's nice all the time, right? While it never hurt anyone to nod and smile at a passer by, or say hello to the guy behind you in line, the courtesy really stops at small gestures. Anything bigger than that becomes tradition, which they fiercely cling to, often times not understanding why they're doing it.

Take the holidays for example. From California or not, I've always known the meaning of family togetherness at the holidays. I love to spend the holidays with my family, who're genuinely happy to see me and spend the holidays with me, too--for the most part, I mean, my sister and her husband aside. There was rarely anything fake going on around the holidays with my family, even when we had to go to my Grandma R's house.  Even though I'm sure my Grandpa was never happy about all of the company, there was always a sense of family togetherness. Was it always realistic happiness at being together, of course not, but for the most part it was the holidays and everyone tried to put aside their animosity or unease, or whatever, and enjoy the time as a family.  Here, things aren't like that, at least not in my experience. I've rarely met people so invested in looking like they're happy to be together, when that's often the most distant thing from the truth. The divergence is stunning.

Of course, not all southern people are phony. That's ridiculous.  Some of them, I'm sure, have genuine family experiences. This is just my experience.  The point, though, is that southern hospitality isn't always as rosy as I thought it was when I moved here. The longer I've lived here, the more difficult its become to see the southern culture as genuine. And where once people were nice, or at least pretended to be, I think people are getting ruder! Literally, people in the south are becoming more like the people in California; disinterested in a friendly nod and smile.  Matt says it's not just me, that people are becoming more rude.  That the south's reputation for being a place filled with friendly people is more a myth than it is a reality.

I mean, every time we go to Wal-Mart this point is driven home.  People would sooner run you over than let you pass in a cross-walk, and that's just one example, but I was thinking that maybe it's just Wal-Mart. You know, people are cranky at Wal-Mart, I get that, I'm cranky at Wal-Mart!  But it's not just there, it's everywhere.  Recently, its been the people who work at my university. My financial aid counselor has always been rude to me, but I've been able to chalk that up to the fact that we've only communicated via email and maybe she's just succinct.  I have my doubts, given some of the things she's said to me, but still, I try to give her the benefit of the doubt.  But this morning I had an incident with an administrative assistant in the registrars office that made me rethink even how my financial aid counselor has treated me.

I walked into the registrars office with my problems course form, which I have to use to enroll in Thesis hours because it's a special course, and out of courtesy I stopped in at the administrative assistant's desk to be sure the woman I needed to talk to was available. First, she completely ignored me, and when she finally did bother to notice me her attitude was terrible. She gave me a blank, "what?" stare and when I told her that I needed to register for a class she said, "and you can't do that online?"  She didn't even bother to find out what I needed and why I wasn't able to register online.

I was so taken aback, I raised my eyebrows and looked her right in the face. Then, I smiled and said, "no, it's a problems course, I can't register online" and I sort of lifted my forms to indicate that I had to file them.  She said, "oh, so you need to register for a problems course, you should have said that, not that you needed to register."  Wow, what a bitch. I mean really. That is registering for a course and while I can understand people being in a foul mood now and then, this particular woman seems to be in a foul mood all the time. Every time I've seen her she's been nasty... just like my financial aid counselor.

At this point, I'm feeling like people in Texas are no different than people in California, in terms of attitude. Everyone's a jerk these days. Why can't people just be civil with one another and not assume that everyone around them is a dumb shit who doesn't know anything. Because you know that's what that woman thought of me this morning, that I must have been some sad, lost undergraduate who had no idea where I was supposed to be. Just like assuming everyone around you is dumber than you are, that woman wrongly assumed a lot about me. Not only am I not an undergraduate, but I work at Tarleton and have been attending school there since 2004, I know the drill, and I know that in order to sign up for Thesis hours I have to take forms to the registrar.

I suppose there're two cliche morals here: 1) Don't judge a book by it's cover, and 2) Treat people the way you want to be treated. Sad, too, because I really enjoyed living in a culture where people understood the meaning of courtesy.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Now and Later

Yeah, this is me. And would you believe I've actually been entertaining the idea that I might continue to do this? In other words, I've been considering going on to get my Ph.D.  I mean, I know it's not that simple, but I've looked into it and I qualify--at least my graduate work (3.82 GPA) and GRE scores qualify, my sad undergraduate work may not. Of course you're probably thinking that anyone who goes around beginning sentences with coordinating conjunctions couldn't possibly hack it on the doctoral level, and you may be right. *shrug*

The beauty of it is that I don't have to decide for a while. The deadline for TWU's program is February 1st, I'll graduate from TSU in August, so that's plenty of time to mull it over before I have to decide. Initially, I was under the impression that it takes 7 or so years, but Dr. Young--my thesis director--has assured me that it's more like three years.  She said she finished her masters and Ph.D (in a program that goes straight to Ph.D) in five years, which was encouraging to me. Of course, she's remarkably genius, so it'll likely take me longer than it took her.

For now, though, I'm just looking forward to finishing my Master's Thesis.  Check out the meter on the sidebar, yeah, over there to the right, the one that says "Radcliffe's Daughters."  Check out my progress, I'm feeling amazing about it. I've just, tonight, finished Chapter Four, so I'm on cloud 9 right now.  I just have to go back and add some quotes, all good research is supported by other research, and then I have to read through it and make sure my points are as strong as I can make them and that they make sense. So, I still have another day's work tomorrow, but being done with the bulk of it, tomorrows edits notwithstanding, is making me incredibly happy!

When I finish my thesis, and I hope to have the whole first draft done by May 8th, the day before I leave for CA, then I'll have to defend it and edit it, but I'll be pretty much done. I've been pretty concerned about what I'll do after I finish my MA, what sort of job I'll be able to get in this tiny town in this terrible economy, because I've pretty much decided that teaching is not for me. Some people are cut out for it, I'm not one of them. This whole GA thing has been an eyeopening experience, but it also means that I have to hunt around for something ideal. When I started talking about this with Matt, his suggestion was absolutely frightening. You see, he wants me to take time off to work on my novel.

There, I said it.  And honestly, this is absolutely terrifying for me. Having one income, in this economy, is not ideal and it'll be tight. Every cell in my body is screaming "No!!  Go get a paying job!!" but Matt has managed to convince me--one of the perks of being married to a champion debater--that I should give it a try. I actually agreed, which has been really unsettling for me, but with the caveat that I would try to pick up some freelance work on the side.  There're no guarantees with freelance work, but I have Suite101 and can try to bid on eLance and Guru, and sites like that. I also opened a professional website (, if you want to check it out) to try to attract clients.

So, when I graduate I'm going to giving working from home, on my novel and freelance projects, a try by treating it like a regular, out-of-the-house job. I'll make a schedule, work during the day, maybe from 8am to 4pm, and see what I can accomplish. I have a habit of lacking faith in my ability to write, so this should be interesting. I also feel a bit like I'm chasing a pipe-dream with student loans to pay back, but I told him if it doesn't work out by early next year that I'm going to look for a more traditional job.  We're also hoping by then to be looking into moving home, hopefully we'll have a tax refund that's conducive to that goal. Finally, I'll have to decide if doctoral school is for me.

So much to think about. So much to worry about. So much left to do!!

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Brain Spill

A lots going on lately, but nothing so huge that I can, or want to, make one post out of it. So, it's brain-spill time and I'm feeling a little bit under the weather today, so bear with my rambling. While I've had some fairly solid posts about one topic or another, like spring or tattoos, I'm feeling like I just need to ramble.

I've been working on my thesis a lot lately, though not nearly enough, and I'm actually getting it done. Not as done as I'd like at this point, but done nonetheless. Right now, I'm working on Chapter Four and though the deadline is tomorrow (April 13th), I'll probably be pushing it through the weekend because 1) I'm feeling bad today so I didn't get anything worked on and 2) Matt's off tomorrow, for the first time in a while, and I'd like to have a few minutes to spend with him. Since I work tomorrow from 9am - 2:30pm, half the day's gone by the time I get home. By the time we grab a bite to eat and spend some time together the day will be gone. Matt's back to work on Saturday, so Saturday is really my time to focus down and get this chapter done. While he's also off on Sunday (I think), Sunday will also be time for me to focus on my thesis so I can get the chapter to my director by Monday (at the latest).

Of course, I have to finish the whole draft, meaning through Chapter Five, before I leave for CA on May 9th. As work is also coming to an end, I have a ton of end-of-semester stuff to finish up. I'll have 50 papers to grade come April 30, and 50 finals after May 3rd, and I have to get all of them graded and semester grades input also before leaving for CA. So, right now I'm looking at two thesis chapters (about 35 pages), 100 student papers/exams to grade, and 50 student grades to factor and input between now and May 8th. That's less than a month, so I'm really crunched for time.  I really, really shouldn't take Friday as personal time, but in the midst of all of that, time with Matt is really important to me, particularly because I'm going to be gone for two weeks in May.

Of course, while I'm visiting family and friends in CA, I'll also have to work on my thesis corrections, but it won't be as busy as I am right now. I'm really looking forward to the break and getting to see everyone in CA. The trip out there, 35+ hours on the train, should be a good time for me to just relax and take in a book or two. While I'm feeling a little nervous about being on a train by myself for two days there and two days back, I'm thinking it should be okay. I've taken this trip alone before and it was fine, so it should be fine this time, too. Fingers crossed.  Then, when I get back from CA, I'm back on a really tight schedule as I have to have my defense scheduled by June 13th and my defense completed by June 27th.

This is something I am absolutely not looking forward to. I have this issue where, when I'm under pressure, my brain shuts down and I can't think. Since the defense is an hour and a half in the spotlight, answering questions and discussing my work, I'm afraid I'm going to shut down and not be able to answer their questions. Or, not be able to answer them to the satisfaction of my thesis committee. I am absolutely petrified. But you know, I was absolutely petrified about my comps, too, and I did fine. The comps lasted a week (one on Monday, one on Friday), so I just keep telling myself it was a much more intense situation than this will be, this will be done in an hour and a half. My committee chair says that failing isn't a concern, that it's little more than an opportunity for them to visit with me about my research and accept me into the scholarly community; she has a lot of faith in me and I don't want to let her down, because my performance on this thing reflects on her, too.

But once it's done, all that'll be left is formatting, final edits, and paying up all the fees (microfilming, copyright, etc. which amounts to quite a lot, actually). I should graduate in August, but I won't be walking. I just want the degree and the bound thesis, I just want the accomplishment, I don't need (or want) the pomp. What I need, and want, is to finish this thing and to regain my sanity. I'm hoping my mental health improves when I'm not under so much pressure, maybe I can get off the meds... you know, the ones I haven't really been taking because I can't seem to remember.

Of course, being under so much pressure with work and school, and with home as I try to navigate doing all of the housework because Matt refuses to help, I find that I'm super grumpy lately. Not taking my meds regularly isn't helping. I've been very touchy and very internally aggressive. I've been thinking I need to try meditating regularly, not for spiritual reasons, but for health reasons. Time to just center and remember that what's important. Unfortunately, right now, my aggression is manifesting as intolerance of many things in my life, things I shouldn't be intolerant of. I find myself unable to tolerate people I could once deal with, even if I didn't like them, and the people I never could tolerate well absolute disgust and infuriate me. I happen upon things here or there, on Facebook or wherever, that might normally irk me and my automatic impulse, of late, is just anger. I can't handle being this emotionally unstable, particularly right now, but I think once things settle down in the next month or so it'll get better. For now, I'm trying to hang in.

Okay, so I can't really think what else I planned to talk about so I'm off. It's getting late anyway, and Matt'll be texting me during his break soon. So, I'm going to watch The Client List, chill some, and go to bed for work in the morning.  If you made it through all of that rambling, thank you for hanging in with me. Good night.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Springtime in Texas

It's a really pretty day here, somewhere in the mid-70s, and I need a bit of perking up, so I thought I'd share some of the pictures I've taken around town (mostly around my house) of the blooming flowers and signs of spring. Texas has really fickle weather, but you know spring is here when you start to see blooming wildflowers, and even though some of them are weeds, they're pretty when they bloom...

The tulips, planed by the Education building on campus at Tarleton, were absolutely gorgeous. It's been a while, I'm not even sure they're still there, but they were pretty while they lasted! The white flowers were growing in my front yard, so I snapped a picture [IMAGE REMOVED].

The gorgeous pink flowers on the left were growing on a tree between our house and our neighbors house [IMAGE REMOVED]. I couldn't resist snapping a picture. The pink and purple flowers, on the right, which I've been informed are thistles and therefore weeds, are growing around my friend's house.Weeds or not, they're beautiful!

I have no idea what the little blue flowers were, but they were growing around my house so I snapped a shot of them [IMAGE REMOVED]. They were really pretty, right up until maintenance came along with their lawn mowers. The frog may not be blooming, but he was on the doorstep when we came home the other day. When we stepped up onto the stairs, he hopped away, but I was able to get this shot of him by the side of the house!

You know, sharing these has made me feel a bit perked up! I'm glad I did--though I wish I had a few shots of the bluebonnets that're blooming everywhere. I hope you have a lovely week and a happy Easter weekend!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

"Save vs. Reality"

So, I'm thinking I might get a tattoo and no, this is not an April Fools joke (which just occurred to me). I'm never very sure about these things, which is why I don't have one yet, but I think I may be ready. I don't know where I'll put it, but I know exactly what it'll say and how it'll look. . .

Just like that! Short, but it gets to the point. . . and it's just occurred to me that if you're not a gamer, this might mean absolutely nothing to you. Maybe I should explain. Okay, here goes. This really means something to me on many levels, so the explanation might ramble on a bit.

I've been gaming with Matt since June 1999 when he taught me not only what role playing games are, but how to play them. We started with Shadowrun (a fairly difficult futuristic, dystopian system), but it wasn't long before we started playing D&D. In the intervening 13 years we've played almost as many systems, including: four different editions of D&D, 7th Sea, Shadowrun, two different editions of World of Darkness (which is actually four or five systems), Earthdawn, Spycraft, GURPS, Deadlands, Star Trek, and Star Wars. So you see, gaming has been a huge part of my life and something Matt and I both enjoy. It's pretty much how we spend our free time together. It's something that represents the many years of my life I've spent with him, and the ones I will spend with him as we grow older together.

Okay so, the term "save"  refers to the act of rolling a D20 (in D&D) to determine if magic, poisons, area of affect attacks, and death affect your character. It's your character's defense against attacks and "represent the character's ability to avoid or resist the threat" (via). So, the phrase "save vs. reality" represents, for me, an attempt to "resist" all of the hard times reality can sometimes throw at us. It's my defense mechanism. It's my attempt to convey, though three tiny words, the life I've lived with Matt and my ability to overcome whatever obstacles life decides to launch in my direction. And lately, there've been a lot of them.

It also represents my ability to overcome the stereotype that people with learning disabilities that they're not smart enough to make it beyond a certain point--a sad "reality" of the world. I've earned my BA and will soon have my MA in English, and I'm a terrible dyslexic. I have a family and a husband who believe in me, but the fact is, I've been told on more than one occasion--and by people who should have been supportive (like my ex-husband)--that I wasn't smart enough. Well guess what, I was able to make it happen, despite their attempts to make me believe I wasn't good enough, or smart enough. I consider that a successful "save vs. reality," so maybe I'll get it done when I finish my MA as a gift to myself.

So now I have to overcome my fear of the pain it'll take to get it and decide where to put it. I want to put it somewhere I can see it fairly easily, but somewhere that my clothes will cover it up. I've considered my back, or very small on the back of my neck, but I don't want to have to wear my hair down to work for the rest of my life. So I don't know. I've considered getting it on the back on my neck in white ink, so it won't be that visible, but I heard you have to go over and over tattoos in white ink to make sure the color is consistent, so I don't know. I just want to go, spend the half an hour it'll take to do the words, and leave. That's it, I don't like pain.

There's a nice tattoo shop here in town--Monarch Tattoo--I hear they do nice work, so I may stop in there and find out what it'll cost me. . . just as soon as I figure out where I want it. If you happen to have any suggestions about where I should put it, let me hear them (preferably somewhere that's not going to lose shape as I change in weight). ~.^