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30 October 2008


How is it possible that the exam I felt MOST confident about now has me terrified and panicking with unpreparedness? Huh?

29 October 2008

Day Two


Done with.

No turning back.


Home Sweet Upstate NY

FYI ...

This is what "home" looked like last night.

My parent's didn't get too much. But still ... It's sunny and seasonably warm here in the Carolinas with a projected high of 54. That's 22 degrees ABOVE freezing. Um ... yeah.

Ambling toward Awesitude

A few pearls of wisdom to grant me inspiration today ...

click it to see it clearly.

27 October 2008

Phase 1

1 down, 2 to go.

At the risk of sounding confident, I think I did ... okay? Maybe ...

Anyway, the big one is over.

26 October 2008

Comps are upon us ...

Exam #1 - 19th Century American Literature - begins in 16 hours. Ugh. I've felt like throwing up all day. Seriously. Of course, I couldn't because The Boy had filled me full of yummy foods and throwing up would just be rude.

But I still feel like blowing chunks.

24 October 2008

Urgent News!

FYI ...

Free Icey Cream for Voters!!!

(I wonder if you get two scoops for voting Dem?)

Ice cream makes me happy! I've already picked out my flavour ... Seven Layer Bar ... mmmmmm

(FYI ... the Ben and Jerry's website is just plain fun ... almost as fun as their factory!)

21 October 2008

Ode to the ones I love

It's five days out, and I'm kinda panicky. (I really hate how that word is spelled. I always have.) I had dinner with MealyMel last night and made it through without crying. Of course, the tears came when I got home. How lame-o. Oh well. This shit has been looming for over a year, and it's finally culminating. That's a lot of pent up anxiety and emotion that has to find it's way out eventually. I haven't broken down and sobbed, but that's only a matter of time. I guess I'll have to get used to studying with tears in my eyes, right? Such is life.

This whole process has really revealed how important our support networks are. I have amazing friends and family, and I am so thankful to them all. They are always there to cheer me on and support me no matter how insane I am. I've got my Post-Comps People -- MealyMel, The Queen of the West Bank, Kristen -- telling me how great it is on the "other side" and that I can make it through the ordeal. I've got my Pre-Comps Friends --Rae of Light,The Good MB, LL -- cheering me on and offering words of support and strength and hugs! I've got my Distance Friends --Kiki and Kia -- sending warm wishes from far off distant places. I've got the family -- Mom and Dad -- who call every day to let me know that they love me and believe in me and are ever of proud of me. And last, but certainly not least, I've got The Boy, who is a category all his own. He loves me and supports me and regularly talks me off ledges with his ridiculous rationality and levelheadedness. It often pisses me off how rational he is, but it is usually what I need since I tend to be far more emotional (damn ovaries!) than he is. He really is fantastic, and I sometimes wonder if I deserve him.

Without all of these unique and interwoven networks, I wonder how much I could actually accomplish. Not much, I'm thinking. If I didn't have all these people loving and supporting me, I'm pretty sure I would still be a middle school teacher in Upstate NY (not that it was a bad thing! I loved it!) wishing I had taken the chance to earn my PhD, a distant dream from my freshmen year of college. But because of you guys, I feel like I just may be able to do this. It's gonna be rough, and, even if I falter, I know you all will be there for me. I appreciate that. More than words can say.

20 October 2008


The pressure behind my eyes won.

Let the games begin.


My stomach feels like a clenched fist.

There is a constant pressure of tears behind my eyes.

I want to pull my head inside of my shell and never come back out.

It's been a great day.

19 October 2008

Lazy days of Autumn: Or, My Life as an Invalid

Yesterday was an amazing day. Seriously. I didn't leave bed except to pee until 6pm. No joke. The Boy and I had a late night with a few bottles of wine and an amazing dinner at home of Friday night, and we slept in late on Saturday. He finally got out of bed around ten am and brought me up a fantastic breakfast-in-bed. Pancakes, tea, juice, fruit spreads, pumpkin bread ... the works. It was mucho yummy. After we ate breakfast, we both got back under the covers (I never actually got out of the covers) and slept until 1ish. After our nap, he got up and took care of the house (clean up from last night, tending B's every need and whim, going to the post office) and played around on the computer. I stayed in bed and read ... for PLEASURE! I actually finished a book! I was impressed. I kept my comps work next to me, hoping to feel inspired to do a little bit of work. But, alas, no such divine inspiration struck. The Boy brought me "lunch" in bed as well ... a bowl of warm squash soup with Goldfish crackers and some amazing rosemary-sea salt bread. I read some more, and then The Boy came back upstairs around 6 to invite me downstairs to watch a movie before we drove to Durham to hang out with the Durham friends. I obliged, given that I didn't do ANYTHING all day. He seriously waited on me hand and foot all day. For no real reason other than I was a bit crampy (you know, auntie made a visit). He's really friggin' awesome, and I'm such a pain in the ass. Anyway, ,I took a quick shower, dressed up in some Red Sox gear, and watched half of a movie with my boy until we left for Durham around 7:30.

We didn't get back from Durham until 2:30am (after a Red Sox win, cigars, rum, and Playboy Radio on the Sirius ... it was hysterical!) and then slept in until 10 today. The Boy went to mass, I read and then did some dishes and tidies up, and then we cooked our weekly lunches. It was a great day.

On the comps front ... it was less than super productive. I didn't study at all yesterday, but I will be putting in a few hours today/tonight. And I am studying ALL DAY tomorrow, so that should be productive. Part of me feels like if I don't know it now, I never will. I know that it's important to keep practicing and reviewing and studying, but I kinda feel that I'm as ready as I'll ever be. Which is scary. I'm trying not to count too heavily on seeing expected questions on the exams, but how else can I prepare? It's the only thing that I have going for me. I just need to get through this. I'm hoping I'll knock my 19th exam out of the park, and that will give me some good confidence for the 20th century. But all I can do is practice, right? I guess.

Check back in exactly one week for the panicky ante-comps entry.

12 October 2008

A good, non-comps weekend

I didn't study a word of exam crap this weekend. Ahhhhh .... very nice! On Saturday, The Boy had some car issues (which will be all a-ok, hopefully) and, after we finished at the dealership, we went to the Farmer's Curb Market and Earthfare for our groceries. We got a bunch of great stuff at the farmer's marker (it feels good to support local agriculture!) and some awesome pork chops (the humane kind!) from Earthfare. I then worked all day at AT and came home to do some pumpkin beer and Octoberfest testings with The Boy.

This morning was awesome. The Boy got up early to go to mass and, when he returned, he made me pancakes and tea and served it to me in bed. Very nice! After breakfast, we did our weekly cooking and then went to see Duchess. Very good movie. We both really enjoyed it. When we got to the theater, the marquee had the times and titles listed. I guess the word "duchess" was too long so they had "duche" listed. Too funny! Way too similar to a female cleansing activity if you ask me!

After the movies, we came home and cleaned the fish tank (ugh) and then I went off to work. He headed back to Winston at some point, and, after my meeting, I attended mass. It was a really great way to end the weekend. While I love Sunday morning mass, I sometimes really enjoy Sunday night mass because it really provides a calming and centered way to end the weekend and start the week ahead.

And now, tomorrow afternoon, I am back at the comping. Ugh. Well, it was good while it lasted!

10 October 2008

Comps Cram Week Comes to an End

Here we have Friday, the end of my "cram" week for comps. I've been mostly successful. I got everything done that I wanted to but not anything more. That leaves me a little disappointed. It also leaves me scared. As of today, comps are 17 days away. I get a stone in my stomach whenever I think of that. I want it to be over, but I'm not ready for it yet! I think the prep I have remaining is manageable but it still leaves me feeling ... icky.

I spent the week outlining and drafting parts of essays for each potential question. I say potential because I gave KK and the barraCuda questions that I would like to see appear in some form or another, but there is no guarantee that those questions will appear. Anyway, the drafting of outlines definitely helped me to start thinking about these authors and works and the different ways that they connect. I did this for all three of my areas (to the third area as much as I could given that I only hvae areas of questioning for that topic not actual questions). I've typed them up and flagged areas that need further development. I've also developed a plan for the next 17 days. I need to:

1. Finalize outlines by filling in holes and firming up positions
2. Create some notecards with important information for quizzing myself
3. Go through my lists in quiz style to see how well I recall each and every work on it.
4. Memorize some significant passages/quotations to stun my committee with.
5. Practice, practice, practice

I'm sure there are more things that I need to do, but that is all I can think of right now. I feel a little better knowing that there are only a handful of things that I need to do to finish preparing.

I need to go drink now.


08 October 2008

Rear Window

I'm trying really hard to be productive today, but it seriously isn't working. I keep getting caught up in naps, Google messenger, Facebook ... anything but studying.

My desk at home overlooks the side parking lot and the apartments across the way. I happen to look directly at the apartment occupied by two teeny-boppers (and, yes, I did just use that phrase) living "in sin." They are fun to watch because they are young and dumb. On the hottest days this summer, they would sit on their back "porch" with their back door WIDE open and smoke their cigarettes. Clearly the concepts of energy conservation and pest-avoidance are foreign to them. It's funny thought. They'll camp out on their "porch" with their camp chairs (you know the kind that are made of canvas and collapse for easy transportation ... like to a CAMPsite) with their laptops on their laps and cigarettes hanging out of their mouths. All with the door completely open. Dumb kids.

Today Tweedle Dee and Tweedle Dum decided to do laundry. Tweedle Dee is a very tall, rather stalky (is that how you spell that word in that context?) toe-headed man. Tweedle Dum is his arm-candy, cheerleader-eque girlfriend. So out comes Tweedle Dee to open up the trunk of the car and directly on his heels is Tweedle Dum carrying a HEAPING basket of clothes that probably weighed more than she did. He watches her carry the basket to the trunk (where he is standing, ever so patiently) and then watches her try to stuff it into their tiny trunk. He helps her out by tosing a pair of pants back onto the pile while she jams the basket in. It clearly won't fit (because they haven't done laundry in 6 months by the look of it) so she takes the basket out and attempts to reposition it. While he watches. Finally she gets it in and he helps her by closing the trunk. As he climbs into the driver's seat, she scurries back to the house to shut and lock the door.

Um ... wtf?

Back to avoid working ...

Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhh barraCuda

I had a meeting with the barraCuda today. I left it feeling really confident and capable. That's a first. I normally leave his office feeling unprepared and lost. But he was really reassuring and complimentary. He told me that he feels good about where I am right now and likes the things that he is hearing from me. It was a wonderful affirmation of all the crap that I have been working on for the past few weeks (Especially the last three days ... I've been hitting the comps hard core!). While I don't want to take my comps tomorrow, I feel that if I had to, I could do reasonably well. Of course, a few more weeks of study won't hurt anything. I'm trying to set up a Fall Break study date with MealyMel. We'll see how htings pan out.

Yeah for productivity! : D

Boo for exams in 19 days! >P

07 October 2008

Back at it again

I just finished my remaining 1/2 outline for my 19th century list and plan to jump head first into my 20th century list. I want to get at least four outlined today. Of course, trying to be productive, I chose to outline four that I haven't completed sample essays on. I figure I need some fresh material.

But my tummy is rather rumbly right now. Yuck. I think I'm going to go lay down until 2 and then jump in the shower. I'll be back at the grindstone by 2:30/3:00. Since I have the whole afternoon and evening off, I can work until 7 or 8. It kinda ruins my plans, but I'm starting to feel like shit.


06 October 2008

Are we ready for liftoff?

Study area cleared and neatened? Check

Pad and pencil out beside copy of lists and questions? Check

Pot of tea beside desk and candles lit? Check

Sirius Pops playing quietly in the background? Check

All negative thoughts and worries pushed far from the front of the mind? Partial check

Houston, I think we are ready to study.

04 October 2008


Today's been rough. It's supposed to be the feast of St. Francis (The Boy took B to be blessed today), but it's actually a rather somber anniversary. It's been 11 years. I can't believe all this time has passed. I didn't think it would still affect me this way, but it does. No matter how much we grow and change, old scars still remain.


01 October 2008


I had a rather productive day yesterday. I worked at the office in the morning, came home and dealt with the Gas Man (had to get the gas turned on so I could have some heat, you know!), ran some errands (dry cleaning, quick stop at HT and AT) and then returned home to study. I worked for a while, but found that I was increasingly sleepy. I decided to take a nap for a while (45 minutes), and that nap turned out to be a little longer than expected (90 minutes). It wasn't on the schedule for the day, but it was my body's way of telling me that I needed some rest. After my nap, I got up and finished my designated study tasks for the day. All in all, I was happy with my progress. So, when New Neighbor called to go get some wine and dinner, I was happy to join her. I felt accomplished and productive!

After wine, we grabbed dinner at Fish Bones, and, happily, the Lord of the West Bank was there. We chatted for a bit and I called up the Lady and she joined us. It was nice to visit with friends because I seem to be doing less and less of that.

Of course, as with all PhD people, the conversation quickly turned to comps and, by extension, MealyMel (who is currently under the torture of this arbitrary and antiquated device). The Lady of the West Bank revealed that MealyMel was not feeling too hot about her experience. She went into detail, and, the more detail she gave, the less comfortable I felt. MealyMel is one of the smarter people that I know. If comps shake her up, they will decimate me! The Lady was reassuring and comforting (having recently survived the experience herself), but I still felt a little (A LOT) less ready after dinner. I know this was not her intention, but I went to bed last night feeling overwhelmed and under prepared. Ugh.

So much for my productive and relaxing day.

I am now leaving the office to go study some more. There will be no nap today.


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