You are currently browsing the category archive for the ‘anxiety’ category.

  • I just woke up from a nap after having stayed up until 3 AM grading annotated bibliographies.
  • Week seven is hell.
  • I am almost finished taking classes – forever and ever — two more weeks and one of those is the week of Thanksgiving.
  • Apparently some college freshman have never heard of apartheid. I’m adding that to my long list of things students are too young to remember.
  • Also, students only vaguely remember Hurricane Katrina.
  • Lack of sleep makes me want to eat carbs.
  • Grading makes me want a glass of wine.
  • I wrote a draft of my comps questions and sent them to my advisor, but he is sick, so there has been no word.
  • Our comps process takes six weeks. (WTF.)
  • I am so ready to be done with classes and focusing on my research.
  • I don’t have funding for my research, so I need to get moving on the fellowship applications.
  • If all goes well, I will spend April-August “in the field” and be ready to start writing in September.
  • This time next year I could be sending out job applications.
  • I really need to find a post-doc because I doubt I will be “ready” for a TT job by next winter.
  • Some kind of Oprah Christmas present special just came on the TV and the people in the audience are screaming like they won the lottery, which they kinda did. But it is still creepy. Sort of like a revival meeting, only consumerism = god.
  • My Spanish skills are finally returning to their 1992 levels. Between homework and classes I have been spending several hours a day working on this. Too bad that after this quarter is over I have no way to maintain or improve these skills since I need to focus on my comps and dissertation research.
  • I still don’t have down the names of all 66 of my students. How do other people learn their students’ names? (I think it it must be some sort of learning disability on my part.)
  • That is all for now.

Tonight I am grumpy for some reason. I think it is because I have spent the last six months teaching and struggling through language classes. I like teaching, really I do, but my department doesn’t assign me to teach within my specialty area. This spring I was assigned to teach a gen ed class that has literally been called “the impossible course” because you are expected to cover the globe in a quarter. I got very little done spring quarter. Then the first four weeks of summer I spent in an intensive grammar course for my foreign language. (Two more third year language classes for me in the fall.) The last three weeks I have been teaching the same technical course as I did last summer. Last summer it took me a ton of time and energy to prep that course. Thankfully, this summer it was basically all ready to go. I’m just not motivated to teach. Research is calling me…only it has been so long that I have lost track of what my dissertation is about and what my next steps should be.

I also have a small research project that is related to the dissertation which I am suppose to be getting done for a regional conference in September…problem…the project proposal is stuck somewhere in the office for the protection of human subjects.

Basically I’m busy beating myself up for not getting enough research done. At the same time I would really like to have a few weeks vacation. Instead, I agreed to write a book chapter that has to be done by the end of the month. Publications are good, so I can’t really be picky, but I now have three different projects to deal with between now and October (when classes start.)

I have also been thinking a lot about my research and trying to imagine what my next research project would be after my dissertation is complete. Now it may seem premature considering that my comps aren’t done and I still need my committee to approve my final dissertation proposal, but I have been doing research related to my dissertation project all along, so I feel like I have already learned some things I like and don’t like about this project. Reading Notorious PhD’s series on the fox and the hedghog in research has gotten me thinking. I’m definitely more of a fox. My research interests are all over the place. But the question that keeps bouncing around inside my head right now is how much I want to subscribe to one particular line of social theory. I know what I like, what research resonates with me, but some days I’m feeling postmodern and other days a bit of traditional western Marxism seems more appropriate. Also, how much can I let current fashions social theory dictate the direction of my research? Hopefully all will become clear through the initiation process that is called comprehensive exams. Duh, duh, duh….Epiphanies will abound.

P.S. I don’t know if I will ever get back in the habit of blogging here on a regular basis.

This term I am in a seminar with an unusual twist. We are using about half the class time for a sort of writing workshop. Each week we turn in a bit of our term paper and get feedback. I should be very excited about this because I have been in grad school a very long time and have rarely gotten any feedback on my writing. The professor for this seminar is a very well know, senior scholar in our discipline so it’s exciting to get help from him. His logic is that normally we would all write our term papers during the final week or two of the quarter anyway, so we might as well just spend some time each week on our writing and get some actual feedback so that the final paper might be publishable. He also laid out which sections we were to turn in each week: abstract, outline, introduction, literature review, and so on.

This all sounds great so far, except I’m finding in practice it’s not. Here’s the thing, that’s not how I write my term papers. It’s true that I don’t get started on the actual writing of the paper until the end of the quarter, but I spend my spare moments all quarter researching, finding “data”, and reading through articles to build my literature review. By the end of the quarter I usually have a good idea of how my paper will be structured. Sometimes I write it from the beginning straight through, but often I start writing and then discover that the point I’m making needs to be moved later. My original intro is usually crap because I have to write some overly general rubbish in order to get to the heart of my argument. I don’t write a complete outline first, although I do write down some sections headings and points I need to make. So getting feedback on pieces of my paper before I have finished doing the research I need to come to a conclusion and make a solid argument is somewhat pointless. It’s also somewhat embarrassing because  it makes me look like I don’t know how to make an argument.

I’m only writing this now because I don’t know how to proceed with the next section of my paper which I’m suppose to be turning in today. My paper is tangentially related to my dissertation, but is something that I haven’t researched at all before this quarter. This specific topic hasn’t been written about much in the academic literature. Historical information about rural parts of this country is not easily available outside of local historical societies, and the one I need happens to be closed for remodeling until next spring. Arg!

It’s now Week 5. Yay, the quarter is half over. I’m super overloaded taking two seminars and finishing up second year Spanish. When I start to feel depressed and overwhelmed I tell myself this is the last quarter I will have a full load like this. Spring quarter I will be teaching a large entry level class and taking one seminar. (That will most likely be an overwhelming amount of work, but I’m trying to convince myself the opposite.) During the summer I will be taking third year Spanish and then take my qualifying exams next Fall! I keep telling myself that I’m making progress because sometimes it seems my writing and thinking is getting more confused rather than less.

Beorn’s health is improving. The Embrel seems to be having some positive effect on his RA.

In other news a friend visited last weekend. She and I went out Saturday night to a concert/dance with some great live music. Since I hardly ever go out or dress up, I decided to paint my nails.  Unfortunately I forgot the depths of my clumsiness. After getting through one hand, I got distracted and suddenly I had spilled the nail polish all over the table, the floor, and the cat. Poor BOK was very upset. We tried to wash him off, but of course it wouldn’t come off with soap and water. Then I decided that the only thing to do was to shave off the affected hair. Beorn held BOK and I used to clippers on him. He wasn’t happy, but he didn’t try to bite us. When I got down to the skin I discovered that some of the polish had gotten onto his skin. I got worried that he might get sick from licking his skin, but it was Saturday night, so I decided to call the animal hospital to see what the vet would say. I think the vet tech was a bit amused, but she asked the vet for me and then reassured me that the cat would be fine, but might have some skin irritation.

That’s all the excitement I have to report for now.

Just drinking a glass of red wine and trying to figure out what to do with myself now that my quarter is officially over. I just spent the last five days writing two ten page papers. The good news is my writing is getting faster. The bad news is I’m not sure faster is producing better quality. Both papers focused on themes I’m developing for my dissertation, so it wasn’t like I was creating them from scratch. I had been researching them for weeks. On the other hand, getting the actual writing done was left until the last week. I hate it when I procrastinate. I need to impress my professors with my insightful writing, not turn in stuff with typos or organizational problems.

Also, teaching, what’s up with that? I’m great at helping students with their work. That’s important, I feel good about it. On the other hand I suck at recording grades. I only had 40 or so students this quarter and yet I couldn’t keep track of all their paperwork. It’s true, they turned in a lab every week, so that’s a lot of paper, but still! I can’t believe how many time students have pointed out that I haven’t managed to get their grade into blackboard. One or two mistakes, ok, but this is getting close to double digits!

This brings me to my own academic ambitions. In my heart of hearts I would love to get a job at a SLAC (small liberal arts college) and yet, the idea of a job at a research U. where I would never having to do my own grading again is appealing. I need a research assistant to help me stay organized. In this economy I will be lucky to get any job, but a girl can dream!

Years ago I made a joke to some coworkers that I needed a wife. One of them was not amused by my comment. I was just saying that my husband was crap at keeping the house organized and I’m no good at that type of thing either. I would really value having someone around who could help me stay organized. If only I could afford to pay such a person well!

Related book:

Waring, Marilyn. Counting for Nothing: What Men Value and What Women are Worth. 2nd ed. University of Toronto Press, 1999.

Waring, a MP from New Zealand, outlines how the accounting systems of nations (like GNP) systematically discount the work of women.

Best quote: “when a man marries his housekeeper the GDP goes down.”

Also, as heard on NPR:


Need to show off your multicultural-ness? This is the website for you! Buy the book today!

I really shouldn’t be blogging right now. Nothing brings on the urge to blog like having a really difficult paper to write. This quarter has turned insane. I can’t really keep up with all the reading I have to do and now I have to write a paper comparing the theories of Gramsci and Lefebvre.  Cross your fingers for me, as I have really had very little time to read deeply and reflect on their work. The good news it that I have a lead on a possible case study for my dissertation, which is what gets me excited. I’m enjoying my classes this quarter, but so far it’s been feast or famine. Fall quarter there were very few classes I was interested in, then winter there were too many to choose from. Next quarter there are a few classes that might be interesting, but I’m not sure that any of them will really help me get my research done. Also, there are quite a few departmental requirements that I need to get out of the way. I also need to pick committee members and try to test out of as many spanish language classes as possible.  I need to have three years of spanish by the time I take my comprehensive exams, hopefully a little over a year from now. I took four years a spanish in high school and then conversation classes in college. Unfortunately, those classes were so long ago that they don’t count for my PhD. Although I may use some spanish in my research, most of my work will probably take place in English, so this all seems somewhat “academic.”

I hate sitting in class, listening to those painful silences that indicate that no one has done the reading or that they tried to read but didn’t understand what they were suppose to be getting from it, or whatever. Breena tends to be willing to say something stupid rather than have to sit through the silence.
One of my classes consists of many painful silences and I’m just making myself the annoying person who talks too much. Yuck! Next class I’m going back to extensive doodling, it gets me in less trouble.

Here’s my basic question – Under what conditions would you (as a grad student) consider applying for welfare programs like low income housing or foodstamps?

Here’s my situation. One of the main reasons that I decided to switch programs and go to Crunchy U. is that they offer the option to buy health insurance for your spouse and dependents. Ever since last summer when we were living in an attic filled with black mold Beorn has been developing unexplained health problems. He is always exhausted and his blood test show that he is anemic. He also has constant joint pain and a high “rheumatoid factor.” We are having more tests done. Needless to say, having continuing health coverage for him is essential.

He feels fairly bad on a day to day basis and so may have trouble working full time unless we figure out what is wrong. In the mean-time, we are living on my stipend and student loans. Last night we discussed applying for disability for him and investigating the possibility of food stamps. I’m having some difficulty with this because if I dropped out of school with my master’s degree I would likely be able to find a job that pays more than my TA stipend, so it seems somehow wrong to apply for assistance. On the other hand, I have no way of knowing what kind of work I might find or whether my new job would offer health insurance for Beorn. Most likely it would be difficult for me to support us on one salary and pay off my monumental student loans.

If I stay in school I know I have a job for the next three years at least and health insurance. Given the unstable state of the economy at the moment taking risks doesn’t seem wise. Mainly, I want to stay in academia. I love my new department and love the privilege of teaching and researching topics that interest me. If I was to quit school I know I wouldn’t find a job I love that would pay me what I need to be paid, at least not right away.

I know many people would never consider applying for welfare while in school, but apparently there is a long tradition of graduate students on welfare, judging by this thread on College Confidential. But here are a couple of vignettes from my week to fuel your thinking about why someone might consider it.

While riding the bus home this week I overheard a conversation between a couple of undergrads. They were discussing the stock market crash. One young guy was telling the other how bad it had gotten for his family. His dad had told him that he might have to get a part time job because his stocks had been so devalued. I sat there shocked that his dad wouldn’t require him to a least work a few hours a week for spending money.

Later in the week I ran into one another woman in my cohort – a woman of “non-traditional student” age who had returned to school to earn a masters degree. She told me a little about her background — how she started living on her own a week after her highschool graduation. She had dropped out of school because her parents hadn’t been willing or able to help her pay for college. This attitude is common in working class families and yet there is no way for students under the age of 25 to prove that they aren’t getting help from their families. So she dropped out of college and went to beauty school. She joked that she should have just got married or “knocked-up” because then at least she wouldn’t be counted as her parents’ dependent. After a number of years supporting herself doing manicure and pedicures she decided that she was really tired of massaging strangers’ feet. Since she was now 26 she could qualify for financial aid as an independent. She went back to school, got her B.A. and a job she really enjoyed. Now she’s supporting herself working as a research assistant in a lab while she gets her M.A.

I also know a number of international students who are in a financial pickle because their spouses don’t have work visas. Back in 1998 in the Chronicle, David North from the Department of the Interior urged universities and graduate students to admit that grad students are the working poor.

It is interesting to compare two populations being supported by Uncle Sam: Buck privates in the Army and graduate students working as research assistants on federal grants. While the compensation packages for both groups are complex, unmarried first-year privates receive an average of $17,000 a year, and married ones about $1,000 more.

In comparison, the median stipend for the 41 unmarried graduate students whom I interviewed (in 1996-1997) was $14,000. Universities do not grant larger stipends for students with families; in fact, the median stipend for the 46 married students I interviewed was actually smaller — only about $12,000.

Most graduate students have to live on their stipends; a few have help from their families or from a working spouse. Many, particularly U.S. citizens, go into debt.

He goes on to advocate that universities should counsel graduate students to use public assistance that they qualify for:

As a policy matter, I believe that universities should pay their graduate assistants at least as much as privates in the military earn — a step that federal agencies could encourage by slight increases in their formulas for calculating research grants.

Failing that, graduate schools should accept the fact that their Ph.D. candidates are members of the working poor and help those students figure out how to use federal assistance programs. Perhaps graduate students in social work could be hired part-time to help the Ph.D. candidates apply for those programs. Why should the working poor among our graduate students continue to lose out on benefits that they are legally eligible to receive?

The issue of graduate students taking public aid has also been extensively debated on MetaFilter. More recently, an article on the US News site reports that the number of college students receiving food stamps in Florida is up 44% when compared to last year. Considering the current state of the economy, I wouldn’t be surprised to see this trend continue. Given the number of low income and working class students that drop out of college should we really begrudge these students some extra help?

Had a not very satisfying orientation/assessment meeting with the departmental chair last week in which she told me that I needed to take a bunch of classes because I don’t have the proper “breadth” classes in my field. This despite my master’s degree. Apparently, if the courses don’t have the correct three letter prefix, despite their content, they are of no use.

Luckily after that I met with my advisor, who maintained that no one would care one bit what courses I had taken during my job search, but rather what I will know and what I will have (is that the proper tense?) written. Thank the gods! He suggested that I avoid taking classes just to fulfill requirements, and came up with ideas for more interesting things I might take. He even offered to come up with a reading course for me tailored towards some of our joint interests. Yay!

Now I have to get to bed. Teaching a “lab” tomorrow morning at 8AM. Fun, fun, fun!

I am very grumpy after my “entry evaluation” with the faculty graduate adviser of my new program. Despite having something more than 72 credits of courses through my program at BA U, it looks like I will have to retake many classes. The problem is that most of my classes at BA U, weren’t officially listed in “head studies”. That’s because there was no department of “head studies” so now they want me to take five out of seven breath requirement courses as well as the language requirement. Seriously, it’s like my MA doesn’t count at all. Arg. I thought I had researched this.

Problem #1: They might be right. My transcripts look horrible, they are filled with independent studies and group studies, courses that don’t say anything on them. So it might be better for me to have a transcript that looked like I went through an actual program.

Problem #2: I will likely be very bored sitting through all these requirements and I don’t tend to focus well when I’m bored.

Problem #3: This will slow down my time to degree and I have already spent waaaayyy too much time in grad school.