As evidenced by the fact that I’ve renewed my interwebz presence, you (and by “you” I mean the whole three people who probably read this) may safely assume that I have completed and submitted my doctoral comps. (And break dancing ensues!) This entry has kind of been a work in progress over the past few weeks, as I’ve been keeping a running list (as a GMail draft) of things that cropped up during the course of comps that I felt were blogworthy. I had little snippets of thoughts I’m also developing another post that I’m calling “An Idiot’s Guide to Taking (and Surviving) Comps” that consists of general observations and tips on the process, some of which are probably good tips for grad school and life in general.

Without further ado, Freckles presents: My Life, Or Lack Thereof: Comps Edition

-interlibrary loan drama: OK, so given the fact that my university library, uh, kind of sucks, one really must rely on Interlibrary Loan to get anything of academic value. I put in a few requests for journal articles and books early on in the summer, and never received any e-mails notifying me that they were ready for pick up. I was pissed. I checked on the website and they claimed that they had e-mailed me, but I never saw any e-mails. Turns out that I’d never bothered to change any of my information from undergrad, and they had a completely wrong e-mail address (one I haven’t used in over 3 years) and a very old mailing address. I can’t believe that I didn’t think to check this until AFTER a few articles and books got sent back to their respective institutions because I never picked them up. Der.

-education library b.s.: In more library drama, my beloved education library was closed all friggin summer. Where do you think I find most of my reference materials? Yeah, the ed library. They conveniently shut down 4 days before I got my comps and will open up a week before they’re due (i.e. too late for me to really get any benefit from it). Really?!

-library shuts down randomly: And…as if that weren’t enough to make me pull my hair out, the main library closed for two consecutive Saturdays due to some construction-related power outage. I hate that library, and I particularly hate going down to the creepy-ass basement by myself (I will definitely post pictures, because this place has to be seen to be believed), but I was most unhappy about this development so close to the due date.

-comps, proposals, and projects oh my: Aside from comps work, I spent a good bit of June working on assignments for my Evaluation class. To be honest, I felt like the class was a bit of a disappointment, but it will be nice to at least be able to have that bit of experience, and I can use the text as a reference if I do any evaluation work in the future. I spent July working on the final project for that class, along with another conference proposal. Being pulled in all those directions simultaneously was almost too much sometimes. However, I made progress on comps, finished my proposal in plenty of time, and turned in my project the day before it was due, so it’s all good, as they say.

-my skin knows…knows!: While I certainly suffered through untold amounts of awkwardness in my adolescence, God was merciful enough to bless me with good skin. I could probably count on one hand the number of zits I remember from the ages of 13 to 18, and none of them lasted more than two days. Even in college and early adulthood, my skin was relatively good. A few blemishes here and there, but nothing to get worked up about. This summer, however, was a whole ‘nother story. I perpetually had breakouts on my nose and forehead, and they even started drifting south to my chest and north to my scalp and neck! Then, as an extra special touch, my forehead got super dry, rough, and flaky. Teh hotness!!!! It’s as if my skin was outwardly expressing all of my internal turmoil. I’m thinking that next month I’ll treat myself to a facial to get my skin back in balance. If comps did this, I hate to think of what a dissertation will do!

-Lucy in the chocolate factory: I spent the first two weeks of summer gathering up all my sources for the three questions and drafting outlines, so I felt like my work was going to be manageable and that my plan was a surefire thing. Boy, was I wrong! I would start writing, and notice a gap in my research, so I’d seek out more sources, resume writing, only to find myself wanting to say more about something or needing a citation for something I wanted to write.Looking for one article yielded five, and then each of those yielded a few, and then I’d realize that things I’d discarded were suddenly useful again… After awhile I began to feel like Lucy in the chocolate factory with the articles just flying at me, and I couldn’t work fast enough to manage them. I learned to appreciate the Spaces function on my MacBook, and I once had about 25 articles open simultaneously. Keeping them straight was a nightmare, but it really helped me to hone my organization skills and implement a system for keeping things straight that served me well this summer.

In other, non-comps, related news…

I’m thinking of doing 101 in 1001, just because I like setting goals for myself and because I like lists. I have a few things in mind, which I’ll share later, but I’d like some suggestions. What sorts of things should I learn to do, see, experience, etc. by May 16, 2011? Anything, from the most mundane to the most outlandish, please share them with me. The worst thing I can say is “No, I don’t think that’s going to happen.”

Additionally, I have been smitten by a little thing called an iPod Touch. I have a perfectly functional iPod (from 2004), but I reeeeeally like this iPod Touch. Rather than go out and buy one (thereby putting it on my credit card and feeling much guilt soon after), I’m going to take a sensible approach to this: I’m going to tuck away just a little bit of money every month (say, $20) until I have enough to pay cash for one. By then one of three things might happen: 1) The price will have gone down and I’ll have a bit of coin left over that I can enjoy in some other way; 2) I’ll decided I don’t really want one and I can use the money for something else I want/need; or 3) Someone will buy me one (no, dear, this is not a hint). If none of those things happen, hey, I can buy an iPod touch! In any case, it seems like a great plan.

Classes for this academic year resume this week, although my first class isn’t until next Monday. On to more adventures! Stay tuned for my 101 in 1001 post and my “Surviving Comps” post in the next few days.

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