icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
The car is totaled, of course, after the accident.

Double scary? I got a recall notice on the airbag two weeks after it deployed. Apparently I had one of those specially designed "shrapnel spewing" models, motto: "If the crash doesn't kill you, we can finish the job! (some restrictions apply, such as requiring the proper humidity, but we'll try)"

The car shopping has come to a screeching halt.

Yes, I have enough for a down payment.

Yes, I have good credit.

But it turns out that grad school (reduced work hours, increased debt) is a bad time to try to buy a car. My income-to-debt ratio is too high.

Of course, not being able to get to (thank god only some of) my grad school classes has had a bad impact. The worst was missing a project deadline on a syllabus ... just, fwip, it went right by me, busy as I was with doctor appointments, crutches, car insurance companies, health insurance companies, and the daily ordeal of organizing rides to try to keep up with my work-and-life responsibilities. Not to mention the total waste of time spent looking at cars that, I discovered Thursday, I can't buy.

Now the project is seriously overdue, the professor hasn't responded to my emails, and I'm ... overwhelmed. I'm picking a couple of small, easy assignments to try to rebuild my confidence as a student, get some momentum going.

Surprisingly hard to concentrate, given how worried I am at my professor's non-response.

ETA: Prof has responded! Now I just have a massive amount of work to do, in as little time as possible. Too bad I work tomorrow--but maybe I can get it done by Monday night.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Looks like I'm going to spend my birthday on crutches. Rested the sprained foot three days after the accident, then had to go back to work on Sunday. Walked ... well, limped ... on it, sat in my usual pretzel positions too much Monday, until I got this pinch-yeowch pain that told me to stop.

When I tried to drive a rental the Tuesday after the accident (about six days after), within about ten minutes, my ankle felt like an over-stretched rubber band about to snap. I could keep my foot down for about 10-15 minutes, then it was too much.

Not painful: numb, weak.

Okay, so driving was definitely out, and maybe this injury's worse than it seemed.

Taking the bus wasn't any better (seven days after). I had to do so much walking from one stop to another that my foot was swollen by the end of the day. I started icing it.

Finally, last Friday, (nine days after the accident), I gave in and got crutches. I needed help staying off of it, and a visual reminder to people that I'm hurt so they'd help me stay off it, too.

It got worse over the weekend. Frickin' block of ice. Numb, pins and needles the other night (two weeks after). Called a nurse. She had me check to make sure I have feeling in the foot, and I do, so that's good. She told me to see the doctor within 72 hours.

Couldn't go to an orthopedist, had to go to my GP first (hello, managed care hoops), and couldn't get in till today (16 days after).

One of my professors is being very kind and understanding. The other one has been hard-hearted and harsh, "Hope you're feeling better. If you miss too many class days, it'll hurt your grade," she says, after I tell her I can't drive, the buses don't go from here to there, and it'll take other students a five-hour round trip to give me a ride.

My whole schedule's screwed up as a result of this injury and I'm quite behind on school (16 days after)--though I've done everything for the teacher who's been kind to me.

When I asked her about taking an incomplete on this class, instead of saying no ... which I would've understood, incompletes mean work for the teacher long after the class is over ... she went straight to the Dean to block any chance that I might. You don't usually go right to do the Dean. Though maybe at this school you do.

They say my only option is take an F and withdraw, then retake the class next fall. Fuck that. Pay for the class twice? Even if I have to miss every session from here on out, it'll only cost 6% of my grade.

More than that, I'd never retake this class. It's a small school. I'd rather spend three more sessions with her, then look forward to ten classes with her in the future.

Four more sessions of this class, and then I never see her again. I'm looking forward to putting her in my rear view mirror. *flips the mirror up so I don't even have to see her then*
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Sooo. Notre Dame wants a rewrite of my application essay.


I fell on my nose after finishing my Methods project (40% of my grade). I have almost no time in which to do this rewrite, but, it must be rewritten.

Anyone want to give it a last glance-over?

When is it due? Well. Today. )

They gave me almost no time to do this. Sigh.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Why yes, I do have a psych project that got moved up a week when I already was starting late. Why do you ask?

Yes, here's an online stopwatch to use for this.

If you're curious, I ended up with a 73% inefficiency rating when I did the math. I had a math person check it. Yes. It takes me 73% longer if I multitask. O.O

Putting the poll behind a cut-tag, because it's polite and stuff. )
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Watching a thousand years of European history as the borders change.


I even like the music.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Bumped into my buddy John in the prayer room. Missed him! It's been months and we used to chat all the time.

John (raiding the snacks): "So how's it going?"
Me (grin): "Turns out a master's is harder than undergrad. Who would've guessed?"
John (laughs): "Yeah, college was actually easier than high school."
Me (nodding emphatically): "It was! This, what I'm doing now, is what I expected with college."


I'm cutting back my work hours, loading up a little more student loan debt in the process (ouch), and digging myself out. I've rescheduled my homework time to no longer expect myself to get anything done after my gazillion-mile drives. My Google calendar has appointments listed as "braindead and useless," just in case I get ambitious.

I coded a Task on Windows 7 to remind me to shut off the computer at midnight: since I'm not going to get any work done in the evening I need to start getting up earlier.

For now I don't have an option to stay in Baltimore during the week, but I don't rule it out as a possibility in the future.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Augh: Cultural Competency draft #4 and still going.

My cultural competency paper, due tomorrow, is still a mess.

It's also too long.

The hard part is the fact that my professor is African American and I sense land mines.

I'm talking a lot about Tibetan culture.

I tried to complain to mom. She didn't go to college and doesn't understand the pressure.

*complains, whimpers, tears out hair*
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Oh, hahahahaha!

I'm at Notre Dame now. (It's really cush, but the campus is obviously not as well-populated and busy as Loyola. Interesting.)

Bear in mind that all my Loyola classes start at 4:30pm. I left a little late, got stuck behind a school bus, then managed to get to campus just barely in time to pick up my parking pass and park. Scooted in to my classroom at 4:18.

Whew. Barely made it, right?

Except no one was there. The professor showed up and said, "Good gracious, you're early!"

Class starts at 6pm.

*whistles* Now I have time in the cafeteria to kill. *whistles more*
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
So dad decided 7:30am on my first day of school was a good time to have a surprise conference call.

I should've known this wouldn't go well... )

My friend in Iceland says of the ordeal: "Fall er fararheill." Translation: "It's good luck to start a journey by falling over."

I hope so.

End note: My dad read this and laughed and laughed. No sympathy, I tell ya.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
This developed out of a conversation with a friend who was a math TA, and my frustration with my own poor studying.

How To Read A Textbook

Did you know that you don't read a textbook the same way you read a novel?

A novel, you start from the beginning and read to the satisfying conclusion. Ever try that with a textbook?

Heh. You might've noticed reading a textbook end to end is a special kind of torture. It's so boring and convoluted and hard to tell what's important and what isn't, overwhelming, confusing, overly detailed, and impossible to remember.


Textbooks aren't written like stories. They're more like engineering specs, where some sections are exploded diagrams, giving more detail.

To read a textbook, you need an overview before you dive in -- to keep it from getting confusing.
You need the specs for each chapter -- to keep it from becoming a slog.
And you need a method to attack each chapter -- to keep it from getting dull, dry, and boring.

Remember the point: the textbook isn't the Pharaoh. You're not supposed to be subservient.
Rather, the textbook is supposed to serve You.
A textbook is more like the fencing master. It's there for you to challenge. If you don't pick up the sword and fight back, you don't learn.

Here's a more useful way to read a textbook. You will need:

a) The Textbook.
b) Post-Its or permission to write in the book.

1 - Skim the Table of Contents.
- Get the big picture first.
- Otherwise, it's easy to get lost and wonder, "Jeeze, what's the point here...?"
(Remember I said that textbooks are confusing? This is how to avoid confusion.)

2 - Read the long version of the Table of Contents on the chapter you'll be reading.
- That'll give you the terrain.
- Now you know where you're headed, how much ground is being covered, how far you have to read, how hard it's going to be.
- Otherwise, you can be midway and it'll feel like a slog, and you don't know that you're just in a hard part, and there's an easier part coming up.
(Remember how I said that textbooks are overwhelming? This is how to avoid overwhelm.)

3 - Open to the chapter -- but don't read it yet! Instead, skim the bolded headings.
- Headings!first tells you the most important concepts.
- That way you know what the writer feels is important.
(Remember how I said that textbooks are overly detailed? This is how to avoid that problem.)

4 - Get that stack of Post-Its, then summarize like you do an SAT passage.
- You can also write these notes in your notebook, but I like to write in the textbook.
- This keeps it from all just washing over your brain.
- That way you have Opinions and Thoughts, rather than just mindlessly memorizing.
- ...and, by the way, mindless memorizing doesn't work for most people.
- ...in fact, I've never met a single soul who doesn't do better by having opinions and responses that they write down, rather than trying to obediently regurgitate the text.
(Remember how I said textbooks are boring? This is how to avoid that feeling. Otherwise it's like someone is bloviating at you and you have to memorize their baloney rather than -- like any rational human being -- giving yourself space to come to your own conclusions. In other words, this is where you pick up the sword. En Guarde!)

Special note on Humanities & Science textbooks (English, World History, Psych, Bio, etc.):
These often have useless filler chapters, or parts that are out of date. If a teacher leaves off a chapter, it's for good reason. For example, when I tutor AP World, I don't have anyone read the chapters on Mughal history. That's because ALL the textbooks are WRONG, WRONG, WRONG. No college professor (or any of the AP World tutors) uses the textbooks for that time period. Or, an astronomy professor might leave off the section on the "planet" Pluto.

Save yourself some wasted time and only read what the teacher asks you to.

Special note on Math textbooks:
Unlike English and history and other subjects, math gets progressively harder. If chapter one takes you an hour to read, chapter two will take you an hour and fifteen minutes to read, chapter three will take you an hour and a half, chapter four will take an hour and forty-five minutes, chapter five will take two hours, six will take two hours and fifteen minutes, seven will take two and a half hours, eight will take two hours forty-five minutes, and chapter nine will take three hours.

This is why most people only get 60% of the way through their Math textbooks.

Schedule your math reading time accordingly.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Tomorrow, grad school begins.

Hoo boy.

You know, last time I was in school, I had a month's worth of food stockpiled and my personal slave (WG) to cook and clean for me.

This time, I have pens, notebooks, and a laptop. I only worked six days the last two weeks, so I don't have the cash to lay in major supplies. That'll have to wait till the end of the month when I get my student aid check.

Lots of folks, used to hearing yes from me, are learning that right now, school's the priority.

They look somewhat ruffled.

"Can you do a prayer shift?"
"Can you paint at the temple?"
"Okay, can you help prep for painting? You can come in any time you want."
"But everyone recommended you, said you were good at painting and--"
"It was nice meeting you at retreat this summer. Can we get together for coffee?"
"*beep* Michelle, heeey! I'm back in town from California. Let's get together and catch up!"
"Sorry, no."
"Can you work every Monday night for the next three months?"
"Hell no."
"Can you help with cleaning?"
"Hey, it's Simon. I have your Christmas present still. Let's hit that restaurant in Bethesda and--"
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Ooooh, I was late for SGA Santa this year. But I'm done, I'm done, *sings* I'mdoneI'mdoneI'mdone!

My beta really liked it.

I started my reading for grad school early. I've a Young Adult book club for one of my classes, and who could resist?

So far, while I'm enjoying it, I'm not impressed with Divergent. Like the world-building and I'm okay with the occasional plot hole, but this author lost track of the facts of her story. The heroine guesses crucial information early on, and then ... is surprised when she learns that same crucial information? The Hunger Games was much better.

Still, Divergent encourages me to write. If a story with such major flaws could be popular, hey....
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Gift horse. Mouth. Dental floss.

I figure most people would be dancing a jig.

I talked to dad and he's offered to pay my car payment (and insurance) while I'm in grad school. I just need to go and buy the car.

Many of you know that I came home from retreat to discover that mom had totaled my car. One month before I was due to start grad school.

The bank won't loan me money to buy a nice, cheap grad student-esque car. They want nothing to do with anything older than a 2006. (I already had loads of fun when a guy tried to cram a 2008 down my throat.)

So why am I looking this gift horse in the mouth? Jiggity-jig, right?


Because it's STUPID, that's why. You don't buy a (relatively) new car right before you start grad school! Especially not one that you couldn't afford to pay for if, heaven forbid, something happened to Daddy-O.

What I want to do is buy an older model car, save up as much as I can for the downpayment, and finance only, like, three or four grand.

One thing's for sure. I'm certainly getting the picture on what it's like for the poor. You don't have money so we're going to Force you buy something you can't afford.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Heard from the MFA programs this week. Didn't get in.

Need chocolate....
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Grad school apps are in, fwiw.

Grad school

Jan. 2nd, 2011 01:44 pm
icarus: (Fairy Glow)
The first of my grad school applications is away. Now I have to send them transcripts, a writing sample, and send my professors a copy of my personal statement so they can write their recommendations.

I... I've been dithering about these apps, actually.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I'm glad I didn't complain about how slow AOOO is for me. (I type replies to comments and it takes several seconds for the letters to appear. Twitter's just as bad.) Turns out that it's just my rickety old browser. Can't update it, sadly.

Now that I'm borrowing mom's computer AOOO works great.

I've been behind on replying to AOOO comments, but the browser problems are why.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
I'm debating applying to an MFA program. Or MFA programs, rather.

The goal would be to teach at the junior college level.

The trouble is, I don't have a lot of confidence in college creative writing programs for me as a writer. I wonder if they implicitly teach a kind of literary snobbery.

Does the workshop process, where you throw your stories in the ring to a bunch of people who have little interest and no investment in them, really benefit the writer? Do stories "get better"? Do writers "get better"?

Or do they turn a kind of MFA product, stamped with the seal of approval that "this is now literature"?

What are the pedagogies behind different MFA programs? I keep running into people who tell me X writer who runs this or that program is truly great. Yet they can't tell me how they benefited. Instead they tell me, "Oh, yeah, he was really hard on me" with a kind pride that they could "take it." I'm unclear what the improvement was. Except for developing a thick skin.

I can tell you how I benefited as a writer from fandom. I can enumerate the beta readers, relationships, resources for research, and unflagging enthusiasm for stories. The challenges, the massive stories in short periods of time, the engine to finish that novel that comes from having an audience waiting for the next part, the sparking of creativity. There's a freewheeling joy in fandom that I'm not sure exists in MFA programs.

I wonder if it isn't more beneficial to just read. Just experience life. Turn off the writers the lens, the way a photographer needs to learn to get out from behind the camera.

Of course, I learned that particular approach from a professor who did an MFA.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Dog-sitting means...

... I never have to look for that potato chip I dropped.

... I'm guaranteed exercise every single day.

... I know if someone's in the yard. Or if the mailman's here. Or a leaf blows.

... I have an entire house in a lovely neighborhood to myself until the first week of August.

... I sit out on the back porch, fluffy puppy at my feet, fireflies sparkling in the trees.

... I have a car on loan for the next month.

... my rent and next three paychecks (minus gas, food, student loans, and phone) can be saved to help buy a car.

Now if only work gives me enough hours to do so. Only got eighteen hours of tutoring last week plus some underpaid admin (they pay entry level wages when I have 10+ years of experience). I need a minimum of twenty-eight hours (14 sessions) tutoring. I could start looking for full-time work at colleges though.
icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)
Just heard from dad. Yes, we can haz graduation photoz.

Oh yeah. He's setting up an ftp folder for me now.


icarus: Snape by mysterious artist (Default)

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