Welp, I’m back

Sorry about the break. I really did think I could write a blog post about each day of the written portion of my comprehensive exams. Friends, I could not. I had no idea how much energy that was going to take out of me, including the one-hour commute each way. The day I wrote 5000 words, I slept the sleep of the dead. But, I’ve handed in my answers and it’s in the hands of my committee now.

How do I feel? Terrible. Well, not today. Over the last day or two I have settled down, but where I thought I would feel relief I only felt shame. I came out of the process feeling stupid, unprepared, more than an imposter, but a charlatan. I was (and kinda am) still thoroughly convinced that my oral exam will just be my committed expressing this disdain and then handing me packing boxes to clear my things and go. I was exhausted on Friday and cried. I blew up on Saturday morning and cried. Today, no crying, but still anxiety.

I’m going to stay as busy as possible this week so I don’t have time to think about anything negative. I will listen to every Agatha Christie book my library has and catch up on all my manga. Yah. That’s the plan.

Comp Exams Day 1 – the OS update

Thanks to the advocacy of previous graduate students, our school changed the structure of the English Ph.D. comprehensive exams from a 5-hour, in-person essay test to a take-home, multiday writing test. We still have questions that test the breadth and depth of our knowledge, but now we’ll be answering them in a way that more closely reflects how we actually do scholarly work.

Today I received my questions via email at 7 am. I was ready, so ready I forgot to take my pills. (I didn’t notice a difference aside from my disappointment, but I will not forget tomorrow). I took some time to read over all the options, made a few early selections, then grabbed a few relevant books (yes, I had to take the heavy one) and left.

I have a long commute, so it gave me the chance to let the back of my brain stew while I focused on my breathing. By the time I got to my office, I was ready to go. I took some time to create my draft documents, copy the selected question into the file, then do a preliminary–more like prepreprepreliminary–outline and listed out the texts/authors I would be using. Some of the questions were really interesting and I felt myself being pulled into working on them. Others I’d already written a thousand or more words about the topic. I chose the latter where I could.

That all done, I spent the next thirty minutes just going through papers and taking notes while my MacBook updated…

…then I was ready to go! The writing was sluggish at first. I felt myself tripping over how to phrase ideas and wrote too floridly and sometimes too simply, then convinced myself to get SOMETHING down because you can’t edit an empty page. I was aiming for 2400 words and I left at 1911. That’s not a failure.

I still had to finish grading the work in my summer class and needed to get the final papers out. But after getting that finished, I still ended up working on one of the other questions and getting more words in. Since this is a different format, the word count doesn’t really matter, but the hard work of selecting texts is done.

I think tomorrow will be a more productive day. I’ll be able to start writing right away, knowing I have minimaps in every draft document. I plan to come back to my DAY 1 answer tomorrow night, after I’ve allowed it to stew while I work on DAY 2’s answer. NIGHT 1’s answer has the bones to it, and I have a book here that can help me make sure I put them in the right spots.

Feeling optimistic and ready to keep rolling!

2023.08.12 – media_log

I’ve been moving my research notes and memos into Obsidian. I like the simple Markdown files that are kept on my computer first, then synched, and the wiki-style linking between notes and topics. Also, moving the notes is a great way to review them before my exams start on Monday.

The most important story:
Police stage ‘chilling’ raid on Marion County newspaper, seizing computers, records and cellphones “The search warrant, signed by Marion County District Court Magistrate Judge Laura Viar, appears to violate federal law that provides protections against searching and seizing materials from journalists. The law requires law enforcement to subpoena materials instead. Viar didn’t respond to a request to comment for this story or explain why she would authorize a potentially illegal raid.”

The constitutional case that Donald Trump is already banned from being president. A look at that argument those “conservative lawyers” (so it must be true!) are making about the 14th Amendment. It’s soothing to think so, but my expectations are low.

Texas questions rights of a fetus after a prison guard who had a stillborn baby sues There is some possibility for this to bite Texas in the Lone Star. The idea of “personhood” cannot be applied to women carrying the fetus and not individuals threatening There is so much structural sexism on display in this piece–most importantly, not believing women about their own bodies– that we almost see the scaffolding that allowed the overturning of Roe v. Wade.

Was Bigfoot seen in Pennsylvania last year? Witnesses say ‘yes’ Obviously.

Penn State gender pay gap is among worst compared to public Big Ten schools, federal data show They mention the pay increase of the female president but not the pay of the football coach even though they keep saying “Big Ten.” (Coach’s salary in 2022? $7 million.) WE ARE, I guess.

A slightly sadistic experiment aims to find out why heat drives up global conflict “In other words, does extreme heat trigger a psychological effect that is driving up the violence?” I’m curious if the increased aggravation that people feel because of the heat is because of our social conditioning against sweat. Is that increased aggression a Western, white issue? The growing cultural preference for Western-style aesthetics is a problem. There was an article about sweat yesterday, I’ll have to find it. Got it -> We Must Learn to Love Our Sweat

media_log is a collection of media that I’ve consumed throughout the day – not in bite-size, headline-only, hot-take form as per social media, but actually reading the article and having a thought. Since taking the social media apps off my phone, I’m being more intentional with how I spend my attention.