Does anyone know why none of the new Law and Order episodes (SVU and the original both premiered this past week) are not on iTunes yet? I’m worried that they aren’t going to put them on iTunes this year, and my Husband and I don’t bother with cable because we never watched it that much, and iTunes is soo much better anyhow because you can pause and replay and everything and we definitely don’t have Tivo. I tried to search the web for any news on if they had decided not to put it on iTunes this year, but I couldn’t find anything. What the heck, NBC?!
Today, I am feeling so tired. I just need a break, but it is Friday night, and now I get one. I’m still feeling down, but I’m looking forward to the weekend.
And I am overwhelmed with one feeling – love for the kids I take care of (Today, anyhow. Much of the time it is a really strong urge to have a baby, but I saw the children this morning, and they were so cute today that I feel content just having them in my life at this point.) They are so adorable! The baby turned one a few weeks ago, but, perhaps because he’s a second child, he seems rather advanced for a one year old. He walks really steadily and he’s been showing clear preferences nowadays. Also his language is really developing; he hasn’t quite been speaking words yet, but he he says all sorts of different sounds with different intonations like he means something, it’s just not quite English yet. And the toddler, oh how I love the toddler. He’s just so much fun; he loves to play with me, and I play with him, and he comes up to me for hugs and to sit with him and I tickle his feet and it’s just so….lovely. Mmmm…children.
Well, the semester is going, and I’m only in two classes, but still I’m having a bit of a hard time with it. Both classes are not in my own department but rather are in a related department; the material covered in one of the classes is a basis for a method I use in my research and thus is very important to me. The other class is a more general overview which will include the specific technique that I use, but much of the material isn’t too related to my work or what I plan to do.
I don’t regret being in these classes, but in both I am the only person from my department in them, and I feel as though I have a very different skillset to start than the rest of the class. Also I don’t know anybody in these classes either, which doesn’t help. They have regular problem sets due each week and I feel like I’m still stuck at the beginning of the learning curve.
It just feels pretty foreign to be in these classes, and I’ve got so many things going on in the other parts of my work and life, and I just feel tired and slow and I’m not always sure what I’m doing here. I’m feeling a bit depressed again, I think….dull, I believe, is a good way to say it. It’s like my feelings and emotions and excitements are all dulled – the only thing I feel sharply is sadness and sorrow, even though I can’t often articulate why. Part of me feels overwhelmed by the classes. Part of me is stressed over money. Part of me yearns stronger than ever to have a baby, so much so that combined with my other stresses, fantasies of quitting school and having a baby and staying home with the kid have returned. I barely have time to write stuff here, and I miss it, because I see my writing as me-time, self-reflection time. But when I’m home all I can bring myself to do mostly is play my new favorite game, MySims. ….well, such is the way I am.
I am proud about one thing though – I missed some classes this week becaus I just wanted to stay home in bed. But the good thing is, the sign of improvement, is that afterwards I e-mailed the professor, someone who I had introduced myself to but have never taken a class from before, to explain that I suffer from depression and that this week I was rather down and didn’t make it to class. I told him I just wanted him to know why I wasn’t there and that I had downloaded the lecture slides and was going to go through the sample problems done in class. I had been debating whether to send this e-mail or not, but I decided to, and afterwards I was glad I did because he wrote back a friendly response telling me not to worry about it and to stay well.
It’s hard to talk about my depression, especially with virtual strangers that I respect as I do professors, but it’s so much better to just do so, because then I can stop worrying that they think I’m just a major slacker. Still, the fear barrier of “How will they judge me? Is it better to speak, or not to speak?” has often kept me from talking in the past, so I’m really glad I got this out of the way so early in the semester. So, pat on the back for me!
What am I doing up right now? I don’t have to leave for another 45 minutes, and I barely have anything left I need to do. I set the alarm for this early, because I’m always a little anxious about accidentally oversleeping and being late or missing babysitting in the morning, which now that the school year is on, I do two mornings a week. And if I can barely handle not getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep, how am I ever going to manage when we eventually do have a baby?
The New York Times has a feature on the web today, in which they interviewed numerous 17-year-olds to see what their lives are like. It doesn’t take long to check out as each of the teenagers only has a few paragraphs, but I think it’s an excellent display of the diversity of life in New York City. To me, it’s when one looks at this, at these teenagers and how incredibly different their lives and future prospects are even at the young age of 17, that one should understand that we must do all we can to fight for equality and equal opportunity. The difference between the oral histories is vast, and really gives one a sense of the great range of poverty and wealth that one can find in this one city, in New York City.
Take, for example, the oral history of Jason Monegro, a hard working kid from the west Bronx who says:
Work at the time was a duty. I had to work, because if I didn’t, there wouldn’t be food on the plate.
His story reminds me of some of the members of my husband’s family, who are hard-working Latinos who struggle to pay the bills and provide food and shelter for their family.
On the other side, there is the story of Maria D’Onofrio, who lives on Staten Island where life is more like upper middle class suburbia than one might expect in New York City. In her oral history, she talks of her Sweet 16 birthday party:
You don’t have to be popular to have a Sweet 16. Most people at my school have them, but not everyone has big ones. It depends on the person. Mine was at the Old Bermuda Inn. The place was booked over a year in advance. There were, like, 150, 160 people — a lot of family there that I didn’t even know.
Then there is the story of a girl, Zy-Tasia Gaines, from Queens who is a lesbian, and what life is like for her living in New York City. When I was in high school, I participated in the Gay-Straight Alliance, and we tried to help create an accepting atmosphere for people of every sexual orientation. As I read her story, I can’t help but feel that she’s lucky to live here in NYC, where there is such a thriving LGBT community available for her to come into her own in, and yet still I’m struck by the crazy amount of prejudice that still exists today over homosexuality. She shares:
A lot of my friends stopped talking to me, and a lot of them still don’t talk to me. My girlfriend in Chicago, I’m her first girlfriend. So when we came out in school, as a couple, everybody said: “See what you did to her? Now you’re going to bring two people down to hell.” I’m like, “O.K.” And her parents really made me feel bad. They were like: “You’re ruining our family. She was fine before she met you.”
I think NYC really is an amazing city, and I’m glad so many different types of people call it home. I only wish people all across America could be so used to interacting daily with people of all these different types – from different socioeconomic strata, from different countries, from different family backgrounds. People need to accept other people as they are, and realize that many of the things that make us who we are are things that are out of our own control anyways; what matters is how we deal with them. So many Americans deal with difference by thinking it’s the other person’s fault that they are different, and it’s a shame.
Well it’s been a busy week, so I haven’t posted much. I’m always thinking, when I’m out and about on my days, about what things I might share on my blog and what I might write about this or that…but then I get home and prefer to veg on watching tv or playing my new computer game expansion, The Sims2 Vacation. So today I’m finally going to write something, yay!
I wanted to write about my thoughts at the beginning of the second year, because I’m really feeling like I’m coming into my own as a researcher – I’m feeling more confident, more directed, and more motivated. This is the start of my second year of graduate school, but I feel that I am ahead of many of my peers as far as research goes. There is a good reason for this – I stayed at the same institution at which I did my undergrad. Many people frown upon such decisions, but I made it for my own reasons and I think it was the right choice for me. So I’ve been working in this research group for many years, but I still feel the difference as I become a more mature graduate student; I feel that I am getting more out of the group than I ever did before.
This fall, I am only taking two classes; the remainder of my credits are for research. This is supposed to be my last semester of Master’s studies, and then I get my Master of Science degree in January and after that the rest of the time I will be registering for residence credits, which means I don’t need to meet a full-time course schedule since I will be researching more intensely. I thought I might have had to take more than two classes this semester, and I’m quite happy that my schedule has worked out so that I only have to take two. Those two classes are not in my department, but are very related to my research. One is all about an area and technique that I work with closely in my research – so closely, in fact, that the paper that was just published in print this month, on which I am first author, is in the main journal for this area/technique. Which also brings me to the point that I am officially a published author now, as the paper which has been online since the spring is now in a print copy of the journal as well. Yay! So the class is good practice for me to review the underlying mechanics of the technique and area that I am familiar with, but I also feel fairly confident in what is a challenging class because of all the experience I already have in the area. I really feel like I know why I am in this lecture, and it makes it easier for me to apply myself and focus during the class.
Another reason that I am feeling as though I am becoming a more mature researcher probably has less to do with me than it does with my other group members. When I started in this lab, there were three more senior graduate students. One of them graduated last Spring, and the other two will be graduating this semester. Which leaves me, a young 2nd year, as the eldest member of the team under our adviser. I have been gaining more choice in which projects I work on and in where the projects go, so much so that I am giving input now as to which topics my adviser uses to write grant proposals and where we might want to go next with our work. I know in many labs this is always totally up to the students, but my lab has a more hands-on adviser, and as such we tend to get a little less choice in our projects – but much more guidance. Now I feel like I’m getting the best of both worlds with an adviser that offers plenty of support and guidance but also now values my input on which projects might be most fruitful to pursue at this time. So many people spend much of graduate school complaining about their advisers, and I am both happy and lucky to not be one of those people. I work so well with my adviser, and this makes all the difference in a graduate school experience.
So I took a yoga class on Monday night at my gym, Crunch (which is awesome! I totally recommend it – they do a good job of creating an “everyone’s welcome” atmosphere). I had never taken a yoga class before, so this was a first for me, although in high school I took lots of pilates and ballet. It was also my first time taking a class at this gym, where I’ve been a member for a few years and classes are free with membership. I finally decided to get over whatever was keeping me from trying that out, and went to a class, and I am so glad I did! The class was actually pretty hard, as they advertised “all levels welcome” but it was geared towards more experienced yoga students. I was pretty decent with regards to balance and positioning, but I am so out of shape that I didn’t have the strength to hold many of the positions for too long, or to carry on at the speed that the class was held at. Even with the numerous brief pauses I took to have a sip of water, wipe the sweat off my brow, or try to figure out what she was directing us to do, I found that I was starting to ache already by the next morning. Now I am a bit sore all over, and although that means I probably overdid it a bit since I was already sore by yesterday morning, it feels good to know that I pushed not only my cardiovascular system but my muscles as well. What a refreshing feeling!
So I like to read the Chronicle of Higher Education‘s career section. I think of it as part of my career education. My favorites are the Balancing Act pieces that talk about balancing family with academia, but many of the others are quite good too. Today I came across a recent article that is of especially poignant interest to me – an article on professorial entrepreneurship. This article seems extremely relevant to me as my Husband is a budding entrepreneur who started his own business last winter, and I have often found similarities between the things involved in our work. This article pointed out to me that those similarities will only grow when I’m a new professor someday – because the financial responsibilities of running a lab are also quite similar to starting a new company.
Here’s an excerpt from the article by Philip Leopold:
By recognizing the parallels between the business entrepreneur and the professorial version, you as a new faculty member might avoid the pitfalls that come with being your own boss. And you might begin your career with a more realistic, balanced approach to the challenges of the profession.
The success of a business entrepreneur, or a professor, depends largely (if not exclusively) on the quality of the product or service delivered.
However, an entrepreneur with an excellent product or service can still fail for reasons that revolve around the core business principles of finance, management, and marketing. Not surprisingly, a professor with tremendous insights in the classroom or an outstanding research program can also fail for reasons related to finance, management, and marketing.
I think that this is a really important point, because I see that in grad school and academia the finance, management, and marketing are often quite understressed. They are so critical to having a successful lab group, research project, or overall career in academia, but this is rarely explicitly stated as one goes through the beginnings of an academic career. In this sense, I feel lucky that I realized early on how important it is to also hone my skills in those areas. On that note, I’d like to recommend a favorite book of mine: Getting What You Came For: The Smart Student’s Guide to Earning an M.A. or a Ph.D., by Robert Peters – it gives all sorts of helpful advice that you might not even realize you need until you read it and realize what you didn’t know.
Yesterday, I had the greatest time babysitting. I had missed the children so much, and getting that opportunity to play and be with them was wonderful. When I arrived and pressed the doorbell, I could hear Toddler excitedly saying my name in his toddler version of it, and it made me feel so warm and fuzzy inside. I entered the apartment and Baby was all smiles at first too. Later he cried because it had sunk in that momma was leaving for a bit, but I was able to distract him with toys and she snuck out quietly with Toddler, and then baby and I got to play. I started feeding him a jar of breakfast food and he was all smiles until the super came by to fix something, and he was quite upset at this intrusion and wanted to see exactly what this person was doing in his apartment. It was about nap time anyhow so I gave him some milk and tried to keep things quiet while we waited for the super to be done. At one point I was sitting on the couch with Baby in my arms, and the super stopped to wave and say hi to Baby. He gave a big smile back but then nuzzled into me like he was shy about it, and it made me feel so trusted and happy that he could be tucking his head into me for protection from semi-strangers!
Later, Toddler came back and all three of us played for a while as mommy went out to get some me-time. We had so much fun, and the kids play together really well now. Toddler is so kind and adorable.
Overall, the morning with the kids was just the break I needed to refresh me and get me more ready for classes and all the data analysis I have to do. This is why I went looking for a babysitting job!
Classes began again today, and campus is just full of students and energy. I like the change in atmosphere, the feeling that fall is coming and that the school year is on again, but I’m not terribly psyched about classes starting. I am happy I will only be taking two classes this semester, so I get to spend the rest of the time working on research, which is great. I should be babysitting a wee bit less than I did over the summer, so that will allow me a little more time to work and relax.
As it is a new month, that means there is a new scientiae! Check it out over at Thus Spake Zustra, which is generally an awesome blog to check out.
This weekend was very relaxing. Husband and I spent a lot of time at home, together, playing computer games and console games. On Sunday we got a new game for the Wii, Mario Strikers Challenge. It’s a soccer game, except it’s mario so there’s all these funky special moves and abilities and you can throw shells at people on the field and stuff. It’s really fun, and we spent a good deal of time Sunday and yesterday working as a team towards the Striker Cup, which is the game’s championship. We achieved the Fire Cup and worked towards the Crystal Cup, but haven’t gotten that yet. We did make it past the round robin play to the playoffs for the Crystal Cup, which was an improvement. Then the Striker Cup is the final one. It’s fun to work together on the same team instead of playing against each other!
Well I could chat about all sorts of things, but I’ve got to get up early tomorrow to babysit, and so I think it’s time for bed. I haven’t seen the baby and toddler for over a week now, and I miss them! I’m looking forward to seeing them again tomorrow morning, even if it does mean me getting out of bed earlier than I normally would. Much, much earlier…