Wednesday, April 30, 2008

I'm hungry

Some of you may have remembered that my adviser once told me that writing a manuscript is like making fine wine . . . . it needs to age.

Well today he sent me a very cute e-mail

I have been trying to think of a good analogy for a manuscript to make you feel better about the last stages.

Try this,
The most fun of making a wedding cake is probably the decoration at the end to make it look really nice. Up to now you have been making and baking the cake. In the end one wants a great tasting and great looking cake*.

So wine and cake, I'm ready for a party!

*in my response to him I said, among other things, that we have changed the recipe for this cake a lot since we started four years ago.


Since I’m moving I’ve been trying to weed through the items I truly need and those which are dispensable. Pretty much everything I own can be replaced but should it? I had a conversation last night that convinced my husband that some items aren’t worth the cost of moving. Although after discussing the two tall lamps we have in the living room, we decided to keep them. One issue we have is that we don’t have jobs yet and don’t feel we will have a disposable income to repurchased everything. What if we will need light in the new house :)

The second issue is that we don’t know where we will be living. Will there be room for both futons and our new, huge, sectional couch? Should I keep my two desks? They are great now for my home office but will I have a home office at new location? I have to give back my desktop to my department and will only have my laptop so do I need two desks? One desk was a gift for my high school graduation, it’s had lots of drawers but it is big and bulky although not very roomy. The second desk was $60 at Ikea with no drawers but is so roomy, one can really spread out and work on it, even with my printer and desktop taking up space.

To address the title of the post; I have books that I keep meaning to reread that I’ve had since high school and college. How does one decided to keep a book or not? My husband and I have decided to get rid of our textbooks from undergrad. We use the internet to look up items more than these books and if we were to ever teach a course in them we would just get the newest book (I’m keeping all my notes and assignments from college). In addition, I’m keeping all my graduate school text books.

I have a lot of social studies, women studies and humanity text books from my undergrad education that I loved and were thought provoking. In addition I have this great environmental ethics book and a science theory book, not written by scientists but by theologians. I also have books that were given to me as gifts, it seems wrong to get rid of them.

Did you know that I own four bibles! Four! One was given to me by my grandma haphazardly. She said she bought it for my cousin but bought her a different one instead. So I took it, and it was right when I started going back to church in college. I have a one a day bible. It divides the bible into short passages that if one reads a passage everyday you can read the whole bible in a year. I have a marriage devotional bible that my husband’s uncle gave us (never read). I also have a living bible that has commentaries and historical information about most passages. It has been at least one year since I’ve read any of these. Do I need four bibles? NO! but I just can’t seem to part with any of these.

What I’m looking for here is some support. Why should I or shouldn’t I keep a book?

Tuesday, April 29, 2008


  • How have your career goals changed in the past year? 5 years? 10 years?
  • How has your perception of self changed in the past year? 5 years? 10 years?
  • How is where you are now different from what you imagined for yourself as you worked toward this point?
  • How much of a role have things outside of science had on your changing career goals?

These are the questions Flicka Mawa proposed for this months’ Scientiae carnival. If you removed “How . . . ” from all of those questions I would have to answer YES!

This morning I wrote a depressing post about my emotional breakdown yesterday. Then today I had my weekly meeting with my adviser and I feel much better (luckily I thought enough to save the post until after my meeting). I think a lot of growing as a person is perspective. Yesterday my world was ending because I thought I had to redo the analysis on a manuscript we have been working on for the past four years. Today after better understanding the e-mail my adviser sent me and having spoke with my adviser I am not going to redo the analysis, but the manuscript needs work. But my adviser also said that it was a great manuscript and it’s written so clearly now that he’s able to nitpick on the science.

So in answer to the first proposed question my career goals have changed over the course of a day. Yesterday, during my breakdown, I was looking for administrative assistant and receptionist jobs while today I’ve renewed my idea to be a professor. However, I think my stability as a scientist can’t be broken by one insignificant e-mail. I need to become a stronger person before I can mentor the next generation. Which brings me to the second proposed question. After 6 years of graduate school I feel that I am no better off than I was when I left undergrad, in fact, I feel worse off. I often feel like a failure, and this upsets me because as an undergrad I was a strong, athletic women who laughed in the face of adversity. I managed a 30-hr a week job, a full course load-which I did well in, I was captain of my rugby team and never felt burnt or overworked. I started graduate school enthusiastic, ready to learn and feeling like I knew what I was doing. How has graduate school broke me? Where is the hard working student that I was four, six years ago? Dammit where are you!!

I often think I don’t have the patience and discipline it takes to be a scientist. My adviser and I have been working on one manuscript for the past four years. I need to move on. I wonder, does this make me a bad scientist? Am I lazy to not want to analyze the data again? Would my life be different with another adviser? Did I need to have this experience to understand that I am not designed for academic science? I need structure, I need goals, I need support.

My long term goals have never been definite, I’ve just been cruising along going which ever direction my life takes me (re: question four, my husband has determined where I lived, am living and will live so that has shaped a lot of what I study/do). I enjoyed my undergraduate educational experience, my undergrad research project and my technician-type job at a government agency. I’ve wanted to be a scientist since I can remember. When I was in elementary school I wanted nothing more than to wear a white lab coat and make discoveries.

My goals have waiver from going into consulting (but then why did I get a Ph.D.), to government work to still the possibility of being a professor. But then I read articles that say things like this:

"Why did I wait so long to leave? Why did I do that second or third postdoc?" By and large, he says, the students are doing pretty well but are behind their peers in terms of
establishing careers and families.

and I have to admit that I'm not where I imagined myself to be when I'll be turning 30 this year. I see that Science Women will also be 30 this year, yet she has a beautiful daughter and a tenure-track job. I'm not saying that SW doesn't work her ass off and deserve where she is today or that I desire a tenure-track job but although I didn't have defined goals I did think that by 30 I would have a child, own a home and have an established career.

Am I crazy? I’d like to have a post-doctoral position, to torture test myself. I need to know if my painful experience at graduate school was a function of my adviser or myself. But as I said before I feel broken. I’ve gotten lazy working for my adviser, the one who could care less if I ever leave graduate school, the one who could spent another four years on this manuscript, the one who thinks I’m doing a great job.

Sunday, April 27, 2008

Buy Nothing Challenge

Only three days left with the Buy Nothing Challenge and I have to admit that it wasn't very exceptional, uplifting, rewarding or thought provoking. This is mainly because I sometimes forgot about it and didn't take it very seriously. I don't buy very much as it is.
My non-food purchases for the entire month have been
-a used video game for my sister's bday present
-a new silver pillow for my sister's bday present
-a 50cent used book from the public library (I forgot to mention this one in previous posts)

I haven't felt deprived. I haven't sacrificed anything because there was nothing else I wanted during the month, and I "caved" in and bought those three items even though I was taking the challenge. When I bought the first two items I knew I was breaking the challenge but when I purchased the third item I had completely forgot about the challenge. I like to buy these mystery novels from the used section of the library when I travel so that once finished I can leave it there, i.e. my dept., a hotel, ect. So the purchase didn't require thought, it was just something I did.

As for this week the major non essential food purchase was five bottles of wine from a local winery. A) We didn't have any wine in the house B) it was a local winery and C) it was reasonably priced.
We drove about 45 mins west of our house on saturday with the only couple here we hang out with and went for a half day hike. We then hit up the local winery for some tastings. The wines were so unique it was hard to just pick one red and one white, we also needed some of the unique flavors, such as cranberry white, a port and a blackberry-blueberry wine.
After the winery we drove to the little two block downtown and looked at this organic shop. They gave us free cookies, since it was our first visit, and the man who gave us the cookies said his band was playing at the winery down the street. So, we walked to the winery shared two bottles of wine among four of us, plus three of these wine slurpies and enjoyed the sunshine and the cool music. The band did like a jam session and gave the audience (only a few other people besides us) drums and shakers to participate. It was so much fun! and we got really drunk.
We then walked across the street and ate at an Irish Pub* and had some more to drink.

What this challenge has gotten me to think about is my food purchases. I love food. I eat as a way to avoid working and to make me feel happy. I've been thinking that a good challenge for May would be to not purchase food products except for grocery visits. I will often walk to the grocery store and just purchase m&m's or ice cream. Or I will walk to the Dunking Donut for coffee and donuts. I always knew that most of my budget was spent on food but it never really bothered me before now. By creating a boycott against these purchases not only will I save money but I will also, hopefully, eat less calories. I still want to give this some thought and possible include some clauses because as you read above my fun includes eating and drinking. I thought maybe I would make an exception of once a week for eating out and that the event would have to include more than just myself and my husband (we rarely eat out together without company) and that I would put myself on a two drink minimum. But then this seems like it won't be much of a challenge but I guess one never knows until they challenge them self.

*On the menu of this pub was TURTLE. I was appalled and wanted to leave the pub but my friends didn't agree. Thankfully no one ordered the turtle. I later inquired to the waitress how popular it was. She said it wasn't but they had a special last week so everyone was ordering it. I guess it comes from a farm in a near by state. Very interesting. The waitress said she often tells customers that they are all out because she doesn't want to serve it. I tried to look up more about the farm but Google wasn't much help. How humane are these farms? I'm just curious.

Thursday, April 24, 2008


I'm afraid the ants will take over the kitchen

I'm afraid I won't loose these extra 20 lbs I've gained writing my dissertation

I'm scared!

I’m afraid of never finishing my dissertation

I’m afraid of not getting a job

I’m afraid that once I get a job I will be no good at it

I’m afraid the move will stress me out

Now that I got that off my chest I feel better.


I finished revisions on resubmit (ahead of planned schedule!) and have already started making figures for last chapter.


I was met enthusiastically by my previous boss at dream job in home state via e-mail but when I followed up by phone yesterday she sounded less excited and mentioned that I’d have to apply like everyone else and make it in the top 3 by answering questions that HR judges and awards points to. It’s all for the best, I don’t study what she does. I often feel resentful towards my husband for leaving this “dream job” but all is in the past. I could have made different choices besides moving to dissertation state to be with him. If I was smart I should have kept studying the research I worked on with old boss, but the university I went to (his university) didn’t do this type of work. Also, I am happy with my line of research now. Old boss also said it was “interesting” that we were moving before we had positions.

I’ve been applying for jobs like mad and need to get more organized. My adviser said he got an e-mail for a referral for one position and I couldn’t remember what the job was. I was able to look it up through the online application portal but I should keep an excel spreadsheet of job title, location, application date, contact info, ect. This way I can better follow up on these applications. Like I said I’ve just been applying for all types of jobs, some I don’t really want. I need to be more selective and work harder on the applications. Also, I’m upset at husband for being very inflexible of where we can live. Ok, home state is great, but within 100 miles from where we went to undergrad doesn’t give a whole lot of options, especially since I don’t want to change my focus very much. The job I spoke about above is about 400 miles from where we were undergrads.

I’m upset at myself for not applying to positions (post doc and faculty) this past fall and I’m upset at my adviser for not giving me advice about it. I’m upset at the PhD process for it’s lack of structure and deadlines. Last fall I had no clue when I was going to graduate so I didn’t see the need to apply for positions. I also felt like my publication record wasn’t ready for a faculty position. All of my dissertation research will be published this year or next. I only have one publication from my masters thesis as the other one is the “resubmit” I’ve been refereeing to. As most of you know, some positions take up to a year from date of application to hear about so I should have been applying for fellowships, ect. this past fall.

I strongly believe that a year after one’s prelim defense there should be a mandatory follow-up meeting where it is laid out how much needs to be completed before graduation, i.e. we’d like you to submit x manuscripts or we’d like you to finish x experiments. I know so many students who haven’t a clue what is required for graduation and besides having very different standards between labs there are different standards between students. I think this happens to be unfair (*whine*). While I think there should be flexibility to cater to an individuals’ project, there needs to be a better understanding of what is required. Sure x papers or x experiments still doesn’t tell you exactly how long it will take but a student will have a better gauge on the progress. I have a friend here in physics and she said that after her prelim her adviser said you will graduate on this date, no matter what she gets accomplished. But for the most part, students are strung along as cheap labor until funding runs low, new students enter, or for one student in my dept. the university says “he has been here too long, get rid of him!” What does it say about a dept. that keeps a student so long that the university has to step in?

For lack of better options I’m going to push for this consulting position (within 50 miles of undergrad location) since they offered me a job here in Midwest. I figure I can work with them and hopefully have time to apply for post-docs and/or faculty positions (as my publication record will be better this fall). As I stated before, this work should be rewarding and much more fun that sitting at my desk 8+ hours a day.


I told my husband that I don’t trust him to take care of the moving arrangements and that I’m worry about it. I feel some reassurance by his response. I also feel better that we have decided to go with the PODS, even if they are more expensive than a U-Haul. The POD can be delivered to our house the week before I go back to dissertation town so we can start to pack things up in there, and he can do some moving into the POD while I am away. In addition we won’t have to find somewhere to live before we drive back the first week in July. The POD can be stored until we need it and then delivered to our new place. We will stay at my husband’s grandma’s house and be able to drive around and check out rentals in person. Also, if I do get the consulting job, mentioned above, we could live in grandma’s rental-as it’s a nice commute via public transit to the job. Otherwise from her place it’s not a nice car commute towards where we’d like to be working. It’s a really nice place, we could get my cat back to live with us, and we would be a block from grandma and could help her with errands and upkeep on her house.

So my husband is in charge of the POD scheduling, of acquiring boxes, helping to pack and donating our 86 Mazda station wagon. Husband bought it for $250 in dissertation town from a professor but it is on it’s way out so we bought a 2000 Honda Civic this year.

I’m in charge of changing all the utilities out of our name and in charge of making address changes for magazines, ect. In addition, I’m in charge of selling our guest bed (anyone in the Midwest interested in a full bed with a nice wooden base w/drawers), possibly selling our little futon couch and getting rid (donating) of my office bookshelf and office chair and possibly one of my office desks (selling). Hm, still sounds like I’m in charge of doing more than husband.

We got rid of a lot of excess stuff when we moved from dissertation town to Midwest but there is still some to donate. We already have a box filling up with clothes and we need to go through my husbands unpacked boxes with books and DVD’s to donate to the library. Yes we have lived here since July and my husband didn’t unpack all his boxes. *Sign*

We did bring more here than we would have if husband’s company wasn’t paying for the move. Also, we bought a nice big couch and a CA king bed since living here. Those will be fun to move.

I noticed when I was in dissertation town that I miss having someone to talk to and discuss these boring, mundane tasks so thanks for reading!

Friday, April 18, 2008

Tentative Dissertation Defense Date

I took the suggestions from my blog readers (you all) and my co-adviser and e-mailed my committee members asking for their out of town schedules for May and June. This was met with opposition from my primary adviser. He states again and again that people don't set up defense dates until the draft is in the committees hand. This is what my husband did and he ended up graduating later than needed because one of his committee members was out of town for three weeks. I wouldn't mind doing this if I didn't feel like my schedule was so tight. We want to move the first week in July and I'd like to defend before then. In addition, I don't live in dissertation town anymore so I'd like to buy a flight when the flights are cheap and not two weeks before the defense date.

I just got back from my advisers office and he reluctantly agreed that I could ask my committee members to keep free the dates of June 25, 26 and 27. This means that by the end of the first week in June my draft must be to my committee, which is less than two months away!!

I should feel good, right? I don't. I feel like my adviser won't care to meet this deadline and will keep pushing back my defense date. I also feel like I wasn't strong enough when we just met. I pushed the stress onto my husband stating that I didn't want to move the first week in July but my husband wants to (needs to). I shouldn't have said that. I also said that although our lease ends on July 9th we could likely extend it for a week or so. I stated that we'd like to get to home state because it will be easier to find positions once we are there. My husband isn't getting good responses, I mean ANY responses from the people he'd like to work with. I also said that I could probably fly out here to defend from home state but that is not ideal I shouldn't have offered up that scenario. I felt like I went in strong and said this is what needs to be done and when my adviser didn't seem happy about it I waivers and came up with excuses for my strong opinion.

Even though my adviser may not try hard for me to complete a final dissertation draft by June 6th, I will. I can only control my own actions. I also will e-mail my adviser every day just to keep him on track.

I'll post some goals here to keep myself accountable.
-I progressed a lot while here in dissertation town on manuscript "0" from masters thesis. I now have everything I need to resubmit. I will give my resubmission to adviser on April 25th. A week from today.
-I finished collecting some data while in dissertation town for my final chapter (3-S) of my dissertation. I will have all the figures made and a good outline by April 30th.

I'll revisit chapter 3-S once the figures are made but hopefully it can be fully written by May 5th. Then all my chapters will have been written and I'll have five weeks to make revisions, write the abstract and conclusions (think I'm doing kinda a list form of significant conclusions, as each chapter has a detailed conclusion) and reformat.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Buy nothing challenge

I had almost forgotten about my buy nothing challenge.

However, all I have bought since arriving in dissertation town is food. Some has been on campus food, which is packaged in way too much plastic (they put your hot food in plastic containers! I e-mailed the enviro club on campus to complain and I guess they are focusing their current efforts on removing plastic drink bottles), but a nice friend drove me to the grocery store and I got to buy real food. My lab has a full fridge, microwave, toaster and a plug in stove. I've been making a lot of pasta w/veggies. All of my consumed coffee has been in my own cup, even at the dept. seminar where the coffee is free and everyone uses a disposable cup. In fact, I passed up going to Starbucks this morning since I didn't bring my cup and because I spent too much money on beer this Tuesday.

I'm going to spend the week-end with my godson's family. My friend really likes to shop so hopefully she won't want to go to the outlets or anything, although I'm up for the challenge. She just went to this huge special baby sale. I want to call it a baby conference but I can't think of the word, hm. It's like a once a year kind of thing in a big auditorium. I'm pretty sure she got all she needed from the sale and won't want to shop this week-end.

It will be nice to have a real bed with a shower near by for Fri, Sat. and Sun night. I leave Monday evening. I'll be working some at her place as well but I have so much to do! I can't believe my trip is almost over.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008


Pyschgrad had a question,
"Must admit, I'm having a bit of a hard time following your travels. You live in City A (State A). Your home state is different from where you live. So, State B. Your dissertation town is in State B, but far from town where your family is. You're planning to move to State C? Why are you in your dissertation town?"

Since I had the same question for Seeking Academia recently I though I would summarize all the states my life is involved in here. It can get confusing to follow someone else's life.

I live in State A-Midwest. I grew up in State B-West Coast. I plan to move back to State B this July. Dissertation town is State C-East Coast. I am actually very close to the oceans in both dissertation town and home state. For a different perspective, from where I live (in State A) dissertation town is a 2 hour plan ride each way, and my home town area is a 4-5 hour plane ride each way.

I had a conference on Saturday here in dissertation town and I've been trying to come back every two months for up to two weeks just to remind my adviser I am still alive and I usually end up doing some lab work.

Hope this helps.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Dissertation town update

Sure enough, right after I wrote my last post co-author sent comments on manuscript. There weren't very many and I'll revisit it after I analyze some of the samples in that manuscript on wed. A few were over detection for a certain analyte and I kept thinking it didn't matter but I've decided this is an important enough analyte to have absolute concentrations.

I gave one of my chapters to one of the master's student I mentioned. I haven't approached the other student yet.

I spoke with co-adviser today and he was like "I told you so" when I mentioned that adviser and I determined I wasn't going to graduate this May. He was friendly enough about it but it pissed me off, so I asked when he was going to read the chapter I gave him. By this week, he says. It's the same chapter that I gave to the masters student.

I have my weekly meeting with adviser tomorrow and I've decided to print out a copy of my dissertation outline. He has seen an electronic copy but I think posting an outline next to his computer would be a good idea, as I mentioned he though he read one of my chapters and gave me comments even though he hadn't.

Overall the visit is going well there are three things I want to share
1) my social life
2) my sleeping arrangements
3) the move and job hunt (to keep this post from getting to long I'll make this a separate post)

1) Saturday I went and watched my old rugby team play here on campus. The lost in the last play of the game!! How sad. Then I did what most rugby players do. I got drunk. Boy it was fun to be with the gals again. I got so stoked and said I was going to both practices this week and would even travel to their away game on saturday. Um, yeah, right. I missed practice today and don't plan on practicing or playing this week. It would be fun but I think I really, really should be working as much as possible. I'm also pretty bitter since one of the new players I've never played with decided it would be a great idea to throw beer on me. On me! On my only sweatshirt and jeans I brought. I was pretty pissed but civil about it and explained it would have not been a big deal except that I don't have any other clothes to wear.
I also decided that cheap beer creates worse hangovers than good beer. Or now that I think about it maybe it was the sips of scotch I had. Have you ever drank scotch and ginger ale? It's my new favorite drink.
The hangover wasn't very disruptive since I spent Sunday with my friend and godchild and didn't plan on working. That was a lot of fun. I also did laundry at her place.

2) This is where I am sleeping
my office home
That the is corner of my office desk and those weights and boxes belong to my office mate. It's actually not a bad deal. After my previous visit staying with friends near by who had moldy rooms or staying far away with mother of godchild I decided that the best place for me is in my office. During my other visits I would spend a night or two here but this trip I'm spending the entire time except for the last week-end where I will stay with mother of godchild.
We have a shower in the building. It's pretty pathetic but it drizzles water out. Unfortunately this week-end the building was without hot water so I had two very cold showers. The one Sunday morning was good for my hangover. Today I went to the gym which is one building over and exercised for 30 mins and took a nice, long, hot shower. I feel much better. My lab has a fridge and a plug in stove and I have an electric tea pot, so I'm set on food and coffee without having to rely on overpriced campus food for every meal.
My office is one of three offices created with temporary walls in a larger room. This is good because I have two lockable doors between me and the hallway. I'm on the third floor and the building should be locked after 10 pm. A women in the office next to me likes to work from mid afternoon to late night or early morning. This is nice because I don't feel so alone but it's not so nice because she likes to chat with people online or listen to loud music. I have my head phones on so I can't hear her too much but once I want to go to sleep I really want her to shut up. If she's still loud at 11pm I'm going to have to ask her to be quite. We are friendly, we go out to dinner and I use to watch her cat so I don't feel bad telling her how I feel. Last night I had to tell her that I could hear everything her and her male friend were saying and that I felt she needed to know because her conversation was about private matters.

Ok-enough news for now. I have 40 mins of work time before bed.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

When has it been too long?

I may have complained in the past about how long my adviser takes to read my drafts, i.e. three months on occasion, but when can I throw in the towel and be extremely upset? But more importantly what can I do besides be really upset and besides calling him everyday to remind him-which I haven't done yet?

My adviser and I met for our weekly Skype meeting this past Tuesday and after I found out he hasn't read the four chapters I've given him I asked if he thought I would make the May 20th deadline. He said "no, everyone is busy in the spring."
Well, I guess it's good to at least know I won't make the May deadline but it really pisses me off.

I have a dissertation outline where I keep track of what needs to be done on each chapter. I gave adviser my intro chapter on 3/12 and reminded him on 3/25.
Chapter 4 he read and gave revisions; it's a really short chapter. I sent it back with a better analysis for the conclusion, and overall a much better chapter on 3/25. I also sent him chapter 6 on 3/25. I gave him chapter 5, which is in publication form (my highest priority for proof reading) on 2/26. When I asked about this chapter he said he thought he read it already. Um, no.
Chapter 2b is ready to give to him but I just keep reading it and making revisions or else I won't have anything to do once he has it. I have one more chapter to write but need to double check some analysis (I think lab tech had a blank problem) on Monday before I get back to writing that chapter. *Did I mention I'm back in dissertation town?

What is really annoying is that everyone is ignoring me. Co-author also has had Chapter 5 since 2/26 and I gave co-adviser Chapter 6 on 3/16. Co-author's wife gave birth to a baby in March so I figure he is pretty busy and when I reminded him of the manuscript he said he'd have it back to me last Friday but, nope. Co-adviser also gave similar excuse, very busy-so sorry. Primary adviser has been planning a conference that will be held on Saturday. I figured after the conference I would be more aggressive in bugging him.

My husband said I should just give my committee my dissertation since they will have revisions anyway. My problem is my confidence in writing. I'm horrible at it and really need someone to proof read it before I'm comfortable letting my committee butcher it. Isn't this what my adviser is for??

When I talk like this I feel like I'm blaming my adviser for not finishing yet when there is no doubt that I could be working harder than I do and I can work more hours than I do. The trouble is that I get discouraged, why finish these last two chapters if I'll have nothing to do once they are done. It depresses me and a depressed Jennie never feels like working. I try to stay positive and tell myself, just work as hard as you can but work hard at what? All I have left to do is write this dissertation and I'd like to submit some of the chapters as manuscript.


Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Week 1-Buy Nothing-visit to home state

Crunchy Chicken requested that we make Sunday confessionals. Mine is late because I was traveling this week-end.
CONFESSION: I bought, at a Game Stop in a mall, a video game for my sister that she picked out. It was a used game so I feel ok about that. She also picked out a silver pillow at JC Penny for her new bed set. I had thought about not buying her stuff and teaching her a lesson but she will be turning 12 and I don't see her often so I just wanted to spoil her.
I do feel good that I wanted some more hemp lotion from Body Works and passed it up.
Note: I didn't purchase anything from April1-3

Crunchy Chicken commented on the stance of eating out for the challenge so I'll post my eating out as well. Crunchy commented that there was no specific rule but it should depend on if your goals are to buy less to reduce waste or save money. I didn't have a goal, I just thought this would be a neat challenge. I always try my best to reduce the amount of waste when eating out. I usually travel with my own coffee mug but this was a Fri-Mon trip and I didn't want to bring too much stuff.

Friday I flew into Home State and City for my Grandma's 70th Birthday Party.
Friday morning I purchased a muffin-no bag just tissue-, and a coffee at the airport. In fact I brought my own coffee cup to this shop before and the women said they weren't allowed to use a customers cup. I should write the management. Bloody Mary on airplane. I have these free coupons for Southwest and well, I was going to visit my family. I also indulged in some free crackers. I didn't take any more drinks. On the flight back I had coffee twice, but I asked and they reused my cup. Yeah! but she gave me a new stir stick. I didn't have any plane snacks on the way back.

When arriving in home state my other grandma came to pick me up. I was a little upset because I had told her ahead of time that my plan was to go to her house and work, that I didn't have a lot of time to visit. But, in the car she told my grandpa to call my uncle to see if they were home so we could visit. I told them I had a lot of work to do and didn't want to stay long, and we didn't. Then we stopped by a Quizno's for lunch. Grandma bought and we ate there. THEN my grandma tells me that her sister is having a bday party and asks if we could go there for dinner tonight. I reluctantly say ok because her sister is less than half a mile down the road from my grandma's house but when we get to my grandma's house I learn the party is somewhere else, about 30 mins away. Oh well. I get a few hours of work done at grandma's and I actually was pretty productive on the plane. The party was fun I don't usually see this side of the family. We got home too late for me to work anymore.

Saturday I woke up at 7am and went for a short walk with Grandma. She lives on about 5 acres of land and all the homes near by have a similar amount of property. The neighbors have mules, sheep and an emu. Then I got a few more hours of work done and grandma made her famous blueberry pancakes. They have become more healthy over the years. When I was young we use to put blueberry pie mix and whip cream on top of pancakes. Now she puts fresh or frozen blueberries in the pancakes and I pass up on the whip cream. I get a little more work done until my mom and sister pick me up at noon.
They take me to where the party will be and I helped decorate and set up. I had a little bit of down time so I worked some, but I forgot to recharge my laptop so I only had half a battery on my flight home-which made me sad.
My mom, sister and I drove down to a grocery store and bought lunch. We got a salad for my aunt, my mom and sister got Chinese food in a Styrofoam looking container and I got a sandwich from the deli. My mom bought and we didn't get a plastic bag when we checked out.
I had a lot of fun at the party. It was good to see family.

Sunday was the day we went to the mall, in addition to my confession I bought grandma (who turned 70), mom, sister and myself Starbucks. For lunch we went to a restaurant, my mom and grandma split the bill. We all too home leftovers. The boxes had recycle 7's (or 6's) on the bottoms so I'm not sure what the material was.
Then I we went to my cousins house who has a one year old. I stayed with him for the rest of the day and my mom and sister drove back to their town, about 150 miles away. My cousins little girl walked for the first time that day. My cousin didn't know what to do about telling the baby's mom. Mom stays home during the week and is a EMT driver on sat/sun. What are the odds that her baby would take her first steps when she is at work. I told my cousin that he had to tell her when she got home, so he did, he showed her. They are such a great family.

Ok-so that's my confession and a synopsis of my trip. I leave this Thursday for dissertation town so I'm sure I'll be eating out a bit but I don't plan on any other purchases. I'd like to buy something for my godson but he is pretty spoiled and his mom told me that we should stop buying gifts for each other on bdays and xmas so we can save money to fly around and visit each other.

Thursday, April 3, 2008

Finally the Meme

Okay, so I was tagged to do this meme by Amanda and someone else I can't remember (sorry) and I am too lazy to go back through and find out. I just read one of Amanda's post and was reminded again.

1. Write your own 6 word memoir
2. Post on your blog with a visual illustration.
3. Include the link of the person who tagged you.
4. Tag 5 others.

I've had trouble choosing this one. Hope I don't sound too conceited. I don't always feel like I fit this description but I know most of my friends and family see this in me, or this is the persona I give off.

I am a strong, smart women*

*Is it cheating to use little words like I am a?

There are a few of you out there who haven't done this meme yet, so you, Do It!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I'm too honest

I'm sure a busy blogger recently.

I GOT A JOB OFFER. Yeah, I'm smart and impressive. I was feeling like the interview with the consulting company didn't go well since I was told two weeks but hadn't heard back, but I just got a call. The job I applied for was entry level field assistant and that sounded like fun. Good exercise, get out of the office/house and stop staring at my computer screen. Yet I was told that the company decided they didn't want me as a field assistant they wanted to put me on the fast track and start me higher up in the company.

My initial plan was that if they called me I would play it cool and not mentioned that we wanted to leave this area but his first question to me was if I was still interested in the job or if I had taken a position already. I told him yes I was interested and no I didn't take another job, and that I wanted to be up front an honest and told him that my husband and I were considering leaving the area and that we would decide within the next few weeks, which I guess is a lie since we are DEFINITELY leaving the area. As soon as I said that I felt dumb like I dropped all my cards on the table, but I guess I'm so good it doesn't matter.

I wish I would have also said that at the time of my interview I didn't know we would be leaving. I hope the person on the phone didn't think that I wasted their time. I said that I was thankful for the opportunity to interview with them and am interesting in their company, ect. I mentioned the office they have where my husband and I want to move to and the person on the phone said that they would like to keep me in the company and he would be happy to try to set up an interview with that office for me. Yeah! That is promising. I wish my husband was coming home tonight so we could talk about. I told him we would decide about our relocation in the next couple of weeks.

Hopefully this will help my focus. See I am smart, people do want to hire me. I think I'll take a bath and then get my ass in gear and finish this damn chapter.


My mom and sister came to visit when I was in a highly productive mode. I was a little distraught about perfecting the intro and discussion sections of the chapter I was finishing up but I was sitting at my desk and working, i.e. trying, hard. However, mom and sister, broke up this focus. Their first full day of visiting I woke up early and got some work done in the morning and then later around lunch I made them sit and watch a movie so I could work another two hours. Then for the rest of the week (Thurs-Sat) I didn't get any work done. There were a few evening when we would sit around and read our respective books (we dont' own a TV-movie was watched on huge computer screen) and I thought hey I should get some work done now, but the work I needed to do (finish chapter) wasn't easy and I felt it needed full focus and I was tired from the days activities. If I had some data processing to do, or maybe grading, I can spend hour chunks of time doing that, or evening writing a methods or results section would be ok for a short period of time, but a discussion section tacks my brain so much more. I feel I need a lot of time to first, refresh myself with what I have written and usually dive back into the literature-all that would take at least an hour and then I would need to actually write more. It was at these points, sitting and reading and not wanting to work for a short period of time, I thought-hell, my life is going to be difficult once I have children and if I stay in academics, to get work done efficiently if I can't work for short chunks of time.

But now my family have left, which brings me to the main topic of this post, and I still can't focus. I may have written about this before, how I tend to go in waves, like a sin function, in terms of productivity and focus. When ever I settle down to evaluate why I haven't been productive I always notice that I am coming to the end of my "women" cycle and the blood should start flowing soon. This always pisses me off. I get so made at myself that my hormones get the best of me. During this time of the month all I want to do is eat bad food and watch online TV. I don't remember this being a huge problem when I had an office to go to, but I think working from home doesn't have that extra incentive to be productive when my body and mind refuse to be.

To top it off my husband has "lab" time again so he won't be home until Thursday after 8pm, and then I have a flight back to home state Friday at 9am for my mom's mom's 70's bday party.

It's so much easier to be depressed when one is alone.

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Buy Nothing Challenge

Buy Nothing Challenge - April 2008

I'm going to participate, through arduous, in the Crunchy Chicken: Buy Nothing Challenge.

I don't think I buy very much as it is but it will be nice to be more conscious of my purchases so I look forward to the challenge. Also, I bought a new coffee mug and a bday card for my grandma, one that plants a tree in a national forest, last week-getting a little bit of my spending urge gone. I also decided some time ago that I didn't want to buy new clothes until I lost my dissertation belly, and I'm hoping not to add more items to the pile of stuff we have to move-hopefully this year.
I'll be traveling twice this month, which may make it hard not to purchase periphery items. Wish me luck.

I broke up with you!

Since I'm having trouble focusing today, I'll make another post.
Have you ever broke up with someone you were dating? probably. What about a friend?

I met this women at Earth Day a few years ago. I was running a table for my department at the university Earth Day in dissertation town. The women is about 10-20 years older than me and we were in dissertation town because our husbands brought us there and we were both from the same state. She got really excited and we talked about how much we miss home state and how sucky dissertation state is. She said we should get together and she wanted my phone number. I think she could tell I was apprehensive so she said something and I offered up my e-mail address.

She was a lot of fun. We would go for walks, go to movies, go to breakfast, ect and it was nice to have another friend. I soon noticed that it was always a pain to organize an event with her and that she never seemed happy to have an hour or two with me but that we had to spend the whole day together. She was unemployed and had few friends in town. Then we were out to lunch and I was talking about finding a rugby team in the new town my husband and I were planning on moving to. I mentioned that it was going to be tough to find one near by and it upset me. She didn't understand this and said there were more important things than rugby. Sure this sounds like a logical statement yet if you knew me at all you would know this statement does not describe who I am. So combine the facts that my new friend did not understand me and how difficult and sensitive she was I decided I didn't want to be her friend anymore*. Being the direct person I am I didn't want to be passive aggressive (?) and just ignore her so I decided to write her an e-mail (passive aggressive?). E-mail seemed good since I could sit down and fully explain myself. All I remember stating was that I had a lot of fun with her but was too busy for new friends, i.e. it's not you it's me. Of course she was offensive and said that I should learn how to balance my life better. Um, have you been a graduate student before? and I did balance work with fun-fun with my husband and fun playing rugby and hanging out with my rugby friends, plus I had friends in the dept. I hung out with and exercised with. Anyway a few e-mails back and forth and we went our separate ways, on pretty good terms I though.

I still get lots of e-mails that are mass forwards from her and have thought about blocking her but didn't want to be rude.
Then, this week I got a voice mail from her. She said she was curious how I was doing and told me some about her life and said she wanted to chat and catch up. A few days later I got another mass e-mail from her and sent a short reply about her voice message. I was polite and said thanks for calling and that yes I've moved. GET THIS. She replies back saying she wants to come visit me! visit me, the x-friend. I haven't responded and don't plan to. But is this women dense? or did I lead her on by e-mailing her?

*I don't go around dumping friends. This was my first time. I swear, I'm faithful.
It is also ironic that I feel like I'm in her footsteps now. It's hard to meet people when you don't work outside of the home. I understand her loneliness. Do I have no friends now, in the midwest (except EcoGeoFemme) because I dumped this other friend. Have I no heart?

My Family

As I mentioned, my mother and sister came to visit last week. They flew in late Tuesday night and left early Sunday morning. My sister is 11 and we share a different father. For parts of my life my mother has been my only family. My biological father passed away while I was in womb. I don't remember much of my mom and I being alone in my early years as she remarried when I was around 5. This man was, in my eyes, my father. I loved him very much. He was born with a heart defect and died when I was in 3rd grade. My mother didn't remarried until I was in 7th grade. My mother is also fairly young, giving birth to me when she was just shy of 20. I've always felt like we have had a close relationship, more like friends than like a mother. Although I think I turned out really good so she must have been mothering me along the way.

I've been thinking about what to write about my mother. I've decided to talk about what annoys me about her, since being in such close quarters will remind one of that. I can't wait until I move back to home state and we see each in moderation again.

As with some people it can be that their best quality is also what you hate most about them. My mother is a very kind, selfless person. She is always putting other peoples needs above her own and thinking of others before herself. This a great quality but it also means she is very aware of what others think of her. I feel she is always self conscious and worried that others don't like her, or that strangers are judging her. Growing up she'd always ask me if her hair looked funny or their was something in her teeth, because, people were staring. She can also be smothering trying to take care of you when you don't want or don't need to be taken care of. She is passive aggressive, which I just realized this past visit. Instead of telling my sister to put her hat on because it's cold she will ask her 10 times in 30 mins if she wants her hat. This frustrates me and I say, "my sister knows you have her hat, if she wants it she will ask." In reality my mom wants to say, "it's cold put your hat on." But she doesn't say that because they she maybe hated or judged. I wish I didn't react so much to my mother's behaviors because she becomes sensitive to it and will actually say, "you don't love me," when in response to her shuffling my jacket around on the chair I ask if it is in the way and if I should move it. As I was sitting on the couch, reading, next to the huge window that let in sunlight and right next to a lamp which I could have easily turned on she asks if I need the light on. Grr. If I wanted it on I would turn it on, but again it's her way of saying-you really need more reading light, you could go blind! I won't bore you with more examples.

My mother is a very fun person. She likes to get out of the house and do things. We went to a museum, aquarium and arboretum. We hung out around my neighborhood one day, walking to the grocery store and walking downtown. We played tennis in my driveway and we watched movies. I love her very much and am grateful for all the support she has given me. I know I can't change who she is. I just hope I can become more tolerant in my old age.

My sister, is great, and still developing her character. She is in 6th grade, which is middle school where she lives. She has never been athletic but tried out for the school softball team. She didn't make the team but wants to try to play in a rec league. I played softball competitively for a few years so this is exciting for me. She is not overly girly, worrying about makeup or boys yet. She is not getting good grades in math or science, which saddens me. She told us she wants to go to the local junior college. She told my mom that she wants to work a beauty salon, BUT that she wants to own the mall that the beauty salon is in. I think she'll need math skills to accomplish this goal.

That's my family. Thanks for reading.