After the End Times

If you are reading this, it means that I have survived finals.

Well, actually, it means that the programming on my website didn’t fail me as I scheduled it to post this entry at a time after which I would have turned in my last paper and during which I would be in a car driving home to New York for the holidays and, since blogging while driving is not something that computers have figure out yet (I’m confident that Siri will change this soon), decided that was my best course of action.

Life: I'm doing it right

Life: I’m doing it right

Here is a still-life I managed to capture of my desk the other day (completely not posed, just how my desk looked at the time).  Yes, that is my ukulele and those are my chord charts.  Yes, that is a nineteenth century print of an engraving depicting Act V of As You Like It sent to me by my Academic Fairy Godfather.  Yes, my tape dispenser is in the shape of a black platform stiletto.  As far as I’m concerned, this picture is proof-positive that whatever life choices I’ve made which lead to this moment are absolutely correct.  A pretty validating thought for the end of my last fall semester of coursework.

This semester’s been tougher than I thought it would be.  That said, I learned a lot, met some really interesting people, and have some shiny new projects to get me through the winter/Spring.

So, since I’m done, I’m taking a short break to be with my family for a week.  I promise I’ll be back after the holiday.  For now, have a watch of this “holiday card” I prepared for you (…when I say I’m only a “passable ukulele player” I really do mean it, so please take this as a sort of “amusing anecdotal internet offering” rather than any sort of masterpiece…. I know I messed it up at least once).

Happy holidays, happy finals being over, and happy take-a-friggen-break.  You deserve it!

Lost of love,

Dani

Summer Days… Drifting Away

Can you believe it’s July already?  That reality check as I looked at my calendar reminded me that summer is in full swing and I had better settle into it and stop waiting for it to happen because otherwise I’ll miss it before it’s even occurred (…plug that into your TARDIS and parse it, I dare you!).

As I have previously mentioned, this summer my schedule is full to the brim with important self-propelled projects.  Large items on the docket include:

Learning to Read German: This requires the most tenacity of any of the projects which are currently on my desk.  Turns out learning a new language is, while not more difficult than I remember it being, more time-consuming.  This is likely because I’m attempting to cram the entire thing into my head in the matter of mere months.  Well… that’s not entirely accurate.  I’m attempting to cram the skills which I will need to read it effectively into my head in a matter of mere months.  These skills include: an understanding of grammar (a

This was my preliminary flashcard stack… it has since grown by at least 300%

little… complicated in German.  Very different from English, not so different from other things I’ve previous done, but definitely convoluted until you figure out how to break it down into its bits and memorize those bits… it’s the memorization part that’s tricky), an understanding of how to utilize a dictionary (not as straightforward as it sounds… curse you, German, and your crazy compound words!), and a giant vocabulary.  Vocabulary acquisition/retention is what takes up the bulk of my time.  Every day, I am learning between 50-70 new words.  That’s a LOT.  On my desk sit stacks of flash cards that grow and thrive between each passing day.  I have a pile system.  It’s nice to see things I know today that I didn’t know yesterday represented in such a graphic way.  However, problematically, since my class moves SO quickly, learning all the things in my “to-learn” pile just means I have to make more flash cards.  This has caused me no small amount of stress (since there’s CONSTANTLY something else to do and I can’t really ignore the giant stack of index cards that sits RIGHT IN FRONT OF MY FACE), but I keep having to remind myself that a language is all-inclusive.  I guesstimate that I have acquired the reading level of an eight-year-old.  That’s pretty friggen good for one month of hard study.

Brushing off Papers for Publication: Publish or Perish ain’t just an old sailor’s adage, folks.  In fact, many respected academics say that publishing is the most important part of a PhD candidate’s marketability as a job candidate.  The job market the way it is, I need to be as flawlessly perfect as I can be (and as attractive to potential employers).  And that means publishing.  And that means a lot of work on top of the work I’ve already done to produce these papers in the first place.  Unfortunately, since this task is slightly easier to ignore than the tribble-like flash cards that litter my desk, this doesn’t take up as much of my time as it should.  That said, I hope to have at least two papers floating in the publication ether by the end of the summer.  Three would be better, but I’m trying to be realistic and not drive myself absolutely bonkers trying to accomplish something that’s only kinda feasible if I stop sleeping and going to the gym.

Learning to Play the Ukulele: While recently attending the wedding of some dear friends, I

someday, maybe I’ll be as cool as Amanda Palmer

came to the realization that since I’m a less-than-mediocre guitarist, I’d probably be halfway decent at playing a ukulele.  The idea percolated and I realized that it was perhaps the perfect way to spend my copious amounts of free time (did you hear the sarcasm in my font?).  So far, I was right!  The ukulele is perfect for me because it is small, lady-like, has four strings (four strings for four fingers instead of six strings for four fingers… it’s like heaven!), and doesn’t carry the asshole connotations that a guitar does.  Also, it’s interesting.  “Oh, yea, in my spare time, I play the ukulele”.  Who says that?  (…other than me now….).  It’s also portable; I have handbags that are larger than my uke… and I don’t eve have a small uke! (she’s concert-sized, for anyone to whom that would mean anything, and her name is Jojo after the wonderful lady  who hooked me up with chord charts and learners’ resources).

Going to the Gym: A constant process, and one I’m trying to get better at before school devours me.  During my first year, I was pretty consistent about being a 2-3 times a week gym bunny.  I’m trying to bump this to 3-4 times a week.  Can she do it?  Let’s find out…

Starting a Podcast: If you haven’t visited the links section of the site in a while, you probably won’t have noticed that I’ve added a few (…and also a page for my sundry extracurriculars… in case you aren’t tired of listening to me rant about grad school here, you can see me do it at other places on the internet!).  One of these links is to the site that is going to host the podcast which myself and my partner in crime have been cooking up.  Several months ago, he came to me with the idea to start it and, always being game for things involving Shakespeare and things involving my partner in crime, I said “let’s do it”.  Well, we’ve been busting our butts to make the dream a reality and, in the next week or two, look for our first broadcast.  We’re going to be chatting about Shakespeare’s canon in approximate chronological-to-how-he-wrote-them order in 15-minute-a-week intervals.  Our first show: Shakespeare’s first tragedy, Titus Andronicus.  Should be good fun!

Preparing for the Fall: At the back of my head, I’ve constantly been reminding myself of the

Last summer, I could get some R&R right at work (… Beach-Themed dance party at the studio)

mental fortitude required to live out a year in academia.  I need to get some R&R in this summer if it kills me or, come fall, it really will kill me.  I do have a tiny vacation planned, and have been orchestrating some exceedingly fun outings with friends (by the by, 5-wits events are TOTALLY worth going to especially if the idea of being a super-spy or steam-punk adventurer for the afternoon at all fills you with any sense of childish glee).  I’ve also been trying to take it as easy as I can between everything else, not beat myself up too much if my to-do lists are slightly behind, and enjoy some good ol’ fashioned vitamin D every chance I get.  With any luck, this will be enough to recharge my batteries so that I can be rearing to go come September.

So for now, I think I’m going to grab myself an iced tea with mint and blueberries, and return to this persistently propagating pile of plosives.  How’s your summer going?