Wednesday, November 30, 2005

A Whole New Kind of Hell!

I had to decide today (well, actually yesterday, but I forgot) when my next candidacy exam would be and whether I'd do the take-home (again) or the on-campus. I chose the on-campus. Why would I do that, when the only experience I have is with the take-home exam? I have a few good reasons: A)I am more comfortable writing about Victorian literature as it's home turf; B)3 hours of hell is less ulcer-inducing than 3 days of hell; C)I thought my last exam went really well, but my examiners did not. And I'm afraid the same thing will happen if I do the take-home for my major field exam.

Yes, C is the major reason, but what would you do? I was pretty pissed off after the last exam, but maybe with different expectations I will perform better -- fuck that, I will be graded better if I do the on-campus exam. The major downside is that the exam will be a whole new kind of hell, one I've never fully experienced before. One that will involve much less anxiety during the actual writing (I won't have time to be anxious in a measly four-hour time slot) but perhaps much more afterwards, when the markers may decide that I didn't write off the top of my head but more out of the ass region. Good news is I get to use the department's Apple Powerbook to write, so I will be able to email myself a copy of my answers and reread them obsessively while I wait for my mark. If one considers that a good thing, of course.
doctor T 9:49 a.m. | 1 comments |

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Nothing to do with School but...

My friend Michelle of The Bun is in Your Mind posted this on her blog so I figured why the hell not?

If you read this, if your eyes are passing over this right now, even if we don't speak often, please post a comment with a memory of you and I. It can be anything you want - good or bad. When you're finished, if you so choose, post this little paragraph on your blog and be surprised (or mortified) about what people remember about you!

So go to it folks.
doctor T 6:48 p.m. | 6 comments |

Monday, November 21, 2005

Possibly a Good Omen

I just got this email from a scholarships clerk at the uni:
In going over your SSHRC Doctoral application, I notice that you have not included a Bibliography and Citations page as required. Could you please prepare this and send it to me by Wednesday of this week.

Thank you in advance.

I have never included a bibliography and citations page before -- it's something you do when you're in the more advanced stages of your project. Hell, I'm at the beginning of my second year -- I'm not even writing the prospectus yet. But this might be a good sign. The last two times I submitted a SSHRC application it didn't make it through the uni and it seems that this time IT ACTUALLY WILL. Which is effing amazing. I may actually get a SSHRC this year!
doctor T 2:38 p.m. | 0 comments |

Friday, November 18, 2005

English Majors Get No Respect

From Toothpaste for Dinner

Although I can't speak for all the English Majors out there, I can honestly say that I found grad school far more alcohol driven than the undergrad years. I think this is because when you decide you want to attend grad school, and in English you tend to figure it out fairly early, you almost always have to commit to an Honours undergraduate program. That's a lot of work, but one is usually still filled with a naive enthusiasm for English and the importance of the humanities to society. It doesn't take long for this feeling to fall away once grad school begins, in part because you see so many social science, science, business law and medical students getting way better funding and being written up in alumni mags and campus newspapers. They make the money, after all, and even some social sciences are borderline in that respect. One will also inevitably butt heads with one or more idiotic, self-important, pompous profs in the first semester of coursework, after which one will come close to complete nervous breakdown, post nasty comments about them on and begin to question the purpose of getting this stupid effing degree in the first place if one's colleaugues will potentially be just as assoholic. Hence pub nights, potluck nights, mixers -- whatever -- and 3 am pizza on the streets of Kingston in February when it's -30 and noone wants to go home yet. Aww -- sing it with me, Archie Bunker: "Those were the days."

Oh, and yeah, one eventually does get over the MA negativity. Or you just forget it and decide you're ready to commit yourself to 5 more years of grad school because it'll be different during the PhD. Yeah. Or not so much.
doctor T 10:50 p.m. | 1 comments |

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Happy Birthday Mike!

Today is Mike's (aka "the hubster") birthday. I won't tell you how old he is, but I will say he's over 28 but not yet 30. Ha. I have yet to buy him a present but I'm pretty sure I know what I'm getting him as at least part of his gift. Hint: it's made of paper. And we're English geeks. Enough guessing? Yep, it's a book. Wildly original, I know, but I actually have put some thought into the choice of book. It's not like I just randomly found it on a bookshelf in the UVic bookstore and thought "hey! Mike would like this" and then forgot to buy it for about 3 months or anything. Not at all.

It's also my gramma's 91st birthday today. As she says, any day above ground is a good day, and I think that's a pretty good philosophy to have.

I'm supposed to make a fancy dinner for Mike tonight but he has not told me what he wants to have. I'm betting it will have something to do with chicken, though, and perhaps pasta. It'll probably be a weight-loss disaster recipe, but you only turn over-28-but-under-30 once, right?
doctor T 8:50 a.m. | 1 comments |

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

What I Should be Doing... writing another effing conference proposal, which I was supposed to have done yesterday and, of course, procrastinated my way through instead. Aargh.

It's not that I don't have an idea -- I do, and it's a decent, interesting idea that totally fits into the proposed panel. And I've got an excellent chance of getting accepted. The problem is that much of proposal writing involves arbitrary nodding of the head to what other people have written on the topic, or what they have written on topics tangientially related to the topic, or not related at all but I have to mention just so people know I've read them. It's a bloody annoying hoop to jump through, and it's a huge part of why I love my dissertation research, which is almost entirely unresearched. My reasons for disliking graduate courseowork were hugely related to the silly nodding procedure that profs expected, especially in courses on subjects I did not intend to teach or research in the future. In three months, do they really expect you to become an expert in a field you really couldn't give a damn about? Well, some profs do -- and they are usually very boring, pedantic, self-important folks with no respect for fields they aren't an expert in because that would mean they can't lord their self-importance and impressive knowledge of a subject area over your head as an intimidation tactic.

Perhaps I should see what happens if I just write the proposal I have in my head and submit it as is. The worst that can happen is a rejection, after all, and I'm barely affected by them now. Oh what a couple years in academia will do for your emotional armour.
doctor T 1:33 p.m. | 0 comments |

Saturday, November 12, 2005

Life is Calm

Lately life has been pretty calm. I'm reading for my next candidacy exam and have no immediate conferences or talks in sight. Mike is still working PT at Hansard and going to classes, and our sleep/work patterns are fairly normal. So yeah, not much happening. Pretty soon Mike will be busy applying for grad schools across Canada, and I will be busy getting conference proposals together in preparation for the busy spring conference season, but until then I'm enjoying the downtime.
doctor T 6:16 p.m. | 2 comments |

Friday, November 04, 2005

They Aligned After All

In case anyone is wondering, the "plantets" (ha!) did align and I passed my first doctoral candidacy exam, so I'm 1/6th closer to being able to put "PhD ABD" beside my name. The breakdown, in my head, goes like this:
Year of coursework = 1 part
Secondary field candidacy exam = 1 part
Primary field candidacy exam = 1 part
Special topic candidacy exam = 1 part
Special topic oral exam = 1 part
Dissertation prospectus = 1 part
So 6 parts total to reach ABD (all but dissertation) status. Then the joy (really!) of writing begins.

I have this weekend off, although not really -- I have no conference to attend, no grants to write and no immediate exams to prepare for. Mike and I are going to read, hang out with the girls, sleep in and enjoy some of our newly bottled wine.
doctor T 7:05 p.m. | 2 comments |

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

The Waiting Game

If all the plantets are aligned towards normality (no, that doesn't actually make sense, but whatever), I should have the results of my first candidacy exam tomorrow. I'm nervous, although I wasn't when I wrote it. Once something is out of my hands I tend to second-guess myself -- a bad habit but hard to ditch. I ask that everyone send good thoughts in my direction.
doctor T 7:21 p.m. | 0 comments |