Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Is this really it?

Yesterday afternoon at approximately 2 p.m. I completed the last step of my master's degree: dropping off five copies of my thesis at the university bookstore for binding and filling out roughly two pages of paperwork. It was all quite anti-climatic, really. The clerk at the bookstore said "congratulations," and I walked back into the sunlight a completely different person, but nobody seemed to notice. Maybe I didn't even notice. All I did was get on my bike and bike home.

But when I arrived at my house some five minutes later, I found myself lacking one identity as a student as well as one certain purpose in life. It was a little disorienting. For the last four years whenever I meet somebody and they say, "what do you do?" I have always been able to answer, "I'm a grad student." It's a satisfying answer for someone of my age. It seems to fit my station in life. But now when strangers ask, what do I tell them? Unfortunately, being a "graduate," only seems to get one so far. People expect you do something more. Instead of the follow-up question of, "Oh, what's your major," now I get, "So what do you do for money?" The distress was enough to motivate me to post my resume on Geez. I guess I'll be exploring this in subsequent posts. Also, I have to fill you in on the last month of excitement. And then there's the little issue of my top-secret, new website. More to come!

Monday, July 14, 2008

G is for Graduation

It's funny how during the most exciting and eventful times of my life I am the least likely to write. Understandably it's because we are the busiest during our most exciting moments, but it is a little sad for the pasttime of blogging.

And so I must apologize. During my absence I have been transformed from miserable grad student to near-alumnus.

To my left, is a pile of paper. It's nearly a foot high. It is five copies of my completed thesis waiting for Monday morning to roll around so that I can drop it off at the bookstore for binding. In about nine hours, I should be done forever.

Certainly, the "final days" have been fun and eventful. And I will make my best effort to recount them soon.

BTW, I have started a new blog for the new and improved chapter of my life. Sharing it with you will involve sacrificing my anonymity. I'll have to think about that one for a while.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

IN THE NEWS: TA spotteed at bar

This happens to me all the time, except I'm on the other end. How embarrassing...

T.A. Spotted At Bar

September 15, 1999 | Issue 35•33

STATE COLLEGE, PA—Drew Phelan, 26, a Penn State University graduate student and teaching assistant for History 107: Introduction To Western Civilization, was spotted at the Bulldog Brew Pub last weekend, Section Four sources revealed shortly before class Monday. Read more

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

STUDY ANTHEM O' THE DAY: goes on a field trip

Too much classical musical driving you crazy? Sometime when studying, you need to hear some words. But words in English would be too distracting. That means it's time to hear a song with words you don't understand, you know, like, in a foreign language. In the grand ol' USA, we often forget that people speak other languages. But they do. And sometimes they even sing in them, too. Here is a great example of just that. This song will chill you out, take you to Ibiza, and return you to your college town just in time for your deadline.

José Padilla - El Sueño De Ibiza

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

VIEW FROM THE IVORY TOWER: my thesis just killed a tree

Here is a paper draft of my thesis as seen on a background of Denny's Formica. Yes, now both my thesis and my waistline are measured in inches, and unfortunately, both of them are rapidly growing. Would you like a Moon's Over My Hammy with that rambling lit review? Yes, yes I would!

(Photo by me and my camera phone)

Monday, June 9, 2008

The Study Music Solution Have you heard of it? It has changed my study life. It's like a radio station that you can program. You tell it what you like, and it will guess other music that you like. And you can create multiple stations, for your multiple moods. And it has preprogrammed classical music stations, for when you need a little serious studyin', but you don't know Bach from Beck.

PS. If you're really nice, you can ask me privately, and I'll maybe give your the address to my personal music stations...

Music Quiz
Can you identify the musicians above?
(Hint: Could be either Van Halen, Mozart, Jimi Hendrix, Chopin, Bach or Avril Lavigne)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Another Weekend, Lost Forever

(a poem)

There once was a mis'rable grad student

who always tried to be prudent

but when friends knocked on the door

or called him a boor

He’d drop his books though he shouldn’t

Saturday, June 7, 2008

Getting the Most of your Degree

Now that my time as a miserable grad student is almost up, and soon I will return to the "real" world, I want to get the most out of the university experience. Too little, too late, you say? You're probably right.

But I bet you didn't know that my university offers ... wait for it ... drum roll please ... WATER AEROBICS!!!!! And I bet yours does too! For a mere $15 I have bought myself the opportunity to enter the all-you-can-aerobic buffet line.

As long as you don't mind entering the university grounds in a swimsuit, it's one hell of a deal. I tried it this morning, and other than a case of chlorine-skin, it was a blast. And after I was done, I laid out on a pool chair and worked on my thesis/stared at the hot, undergrad lifeguards. It beats the library, trust me.

What's the weirdest program you have joined at your university?

(Photo by Tim Ross)

Friday, June 6, 2008

Study Stomach Ache

Ugh... I just ate a full bag of extra butter popcorn to help me write the conclusion chapter. And at my house, popcorn is not a matter one approaches lightly. My roommates hate the smell, so i have to wait until all three of them are gone (which is almost never). Then i open all the doors and windows, and get to popping my contraband.

In this extra-stressful situation, extra butter is not enough. So I drenched the little explosions of goodness in tabasco sauce and poured on the salt. Needless to say, the food high was fleeting, but the stomach ache is here to stay. At least it's a whole grain, and it least I got a little studying done in the process.

Photo by Fir002

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Graduation Scavenger Hunt

A couple days ago I (gasp) applied for graduation. According to the ticker at the top of this page, I am about 28 days early. ... Or 2 years late. Depending on the way you look at it.

The process of applying for graduation led me on an Alice in Wonderland round of adventures. I started at the registrar, line No. 7. Wrong line. I was rerouted to the bill collector upstairs, who is either the Queen of Hearts or a lady straight out of a Seinfeld episode : buffont hair, glitter claw nails, a real witch's wart on her check. And the whole time she processed my graduation fee, she was singing along to 70s easy listening in a Jersey accent ... or yelling "Off with their heads!".

Along with my receipt, Ms. New York gave me a "how was your time in college?" survey and a golf pencil. I checked "highly dissatisfied" on the "how long did it take you to graduate?" box. But I also felt guilty doing so, since the tardiness is my fault, not the university's.

Back downstairs to registrar, line No. 10. The college worker took my receipt, my survey and my golf pencil and gave me a different receipt, this one said "congratulations" on the top. Except that my name, which will appear on my (gasp) diploma, was misspelled, so I had to go back to the registrar, line No. 7 to fix it. Then to another building to pick up a 70-page thesis format manual. And finally, to the student gym to sign up for yoga. The yoga classes are not a required portion of the graduation process, but i figure that after all this stair climbing and form filling out-ing, i'll need to stretch a little.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

Concluding Anxiety

All I have to do is write the conclusion. And yet I am trapped at a coffee shop staring at a blank page and feeling the bile rise in my stomach.

Ok, the page isn't exactly blank. I have an outline. But it doesn't do much good. The entries say things like "results," "implications," and "future directions." But, there is nothing under those headings. So now it's time to figure out what exactly are the implications of this 200-page document.

(Photo by Thomaseagle)

Thursday, May 22, 2008

IN THE NEWS: why this blog is anonymous

I was going to write about the funny thing my adviser said to me today. But after reading this article, I think I'll just keep the joke to myself. This article is chilling. And if you write a blog or put any portion of yourself on the internet, you must consider this cautionary tale.

You should also check out the comments to this article. The "people" have some pretty interesting reactions. Also, what are your opinions on the paradox of her self-disclosure? The article is about how it ruined her, and yet it also gave her a NY Times byline. Are contemporary intellectuals not a little forced to "overshare," as she calls it?


Published: May 25, 2008

Back in 2006, when I was 24, my life was cozy and safe. I had just been promoted to associate editor at the publishing house where I’d been working since I graduated from college, and I was living with my boyfriend, Henry, and two cats in a grubby but spacious two-bedroom apartment in Greenpoint, Brooklyn. I spent most of my free time sitting with Henry in our cheery yellow living room on our stained Ikea couch, watching TV. And almost every day I updated my year-old blog, Emily Magazine, to let a few hundred people know what I was reading and watching and thinking about. read more

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

READERS SPEAK: study music

Ahoy bloggerinos! You guys and gals are slacking off. So few of you voted in this poll. And nobody likes rock 'n' roll? What's your problem? Perhaps I need to replace you folks with some newer and cooler readers? Nah, I'm just joking. You guys are great and I love you! Anyway, I'm the one that's been slacking off by not posting. I guess I'll have to be a little more diligent next time. Well, I've chatted enough, here's your results: 

What is your study anthem (by musical genre)?
Classical 33%
Jazz 16%
Rock 'n' Roll 0%
Electronic 33%

Monday, May 19, 2008

STUDY ANTHEM O THE DAY: in the summertime

Back when I first quit my job to finish my thesis, the trees were bare and the women were covered. It was February, a cold, dark and studious month if I've ever heard of one. Yet even then, when the weather was on my side, I found it hard to study. Now the thermometer conspires against me. It's certainly that much harder to study when it seems like everybody else is having fun. But hey, if you can't beat 'em, you can at least study by the pool, right? No? OK, well you can at least listen to today's study anthem to imagine all the fun you'll have post-graduation! I dreged this baby up from the funny facial hair days of the '70s. Which leads me to ask, is there anything that YouTube doesn't have on file?

"In the Summertime" by Mungo Jerry