Thoughts on rejection and Graduate School… or “go on, brush your shoulders off”... or “mark my words! one day!” or how to reject their rejection (in yo face!)
In Graduate School you will be rejected a lot. (Actually I’ve heard this is academia in general - something to look forward toooooooo.) You will be rejected by fellowships, jobs, grants, committees, drafts of dissertation chapters, by journals, by conferences, by book publishers, by people who think your research is bunk, etc. Most of the advice you get will be:
It’s probably good advice, but now that I am coming in to my “end in sight” years of Graduate School I would like to impart the wisdom I have learned about what happens when you get rejected and how to handle it. Mostly because this helps me to deal with my latest rejection.
Today I was rejected from one of these part time jobs working in a field that I already have a graduate degree in and have been doing for the past five years (I was not even invited for an interview). After I got the email explaining that “while we know rejection usually feels personal” or something like that, I deleted it, crawled into my bed and litch-rally called out the words “I quit” while burying my head under a pillow.
I waited for something, inspiration, the voice of my Grandmother telling me to grow a pair and to stop feeling sorry for myself, some kind of reminder that this is not the rejection that will break me and mark my words one day all of these jerks will WISH they had invited me for an interview. But… nothing. The tiny little voice inside of me that usually tells me what everyone else will tell me later when I text or talk to them wasn’t there. The room was silent, the bed was comfortable, there was a breeze coming from the open window. It became obvious to me that I’m supposed to be in bed… forever. This will probably be the first step in your rejection of their rejection process. That's what I'm calling it...
The Step By Step Guide to Reject Their Rejection!
A quick and easy way for graduate students to reject the rejections of Graduate School so that we can all continue on together as crazy people who really like studying and researching about those things we really like studying (and then telling other people why that stuff we study is so important).
(1) First, take this rejection personally. How can you not? They want you to live, breathe and sleep your research. They want you to make it a huge deal and present on it at every second. They want it to be a book, and some papers, and articles and they want other people to review it and they want all this to happen while they pay you very little money to also teach and guide undergraduate students through introductory courses -- so how can you NOT take it personally when you get rejected.
If you are the best in the west (which they want you to want to be. they want you to crave it and clamour for it and reach for it, whatever it is. reach for the ceiling but we won’t tell you if you are close or if you could ever actually reach that ceiling, also everyone’s ceilings might be different heights, also there may not even be a ceiling…) then when you get rejected that means you are in fact not the best in the west, in fact, you are probably just average which is the worst (worse than being the worst, because at least when you are the WORST you can only really move UP).
Don’t deny how personally you take it. That’s the first piece of advice. (Don’t let this overtake you, however, and lead to things like broken computers, or hastily written tweets…) Let yourself feel rejected. And then crawl into your bed and say “I quit.”
(2) Now comes the fun part. This is the part where you become obsessed with other people who have already gotten the thing that you applied for and were not rejected. You can usually google them. You can read about their projects or their qualifications and you can realize that you are so much better than them.
(2a) Then you’ll go back and read your application. You’ll think “who are these crazy people who read this application and didn’t see the genius and importance of the work or the genius and importance of me?!” One of my favorite things to do is imagine the people who have “rejected” me and create a profile for them in my head:
Middle aged, no children, up tight, struggling to make a name for themselves, and they see an up and coming youngin’ who is way ahead of where they were and they mostly want to strangle this up and coming graduate student or hand them a poison apple. REJECTED. And this makes them feel better until they read the next application. UGH another REALLY AWESOME GRADUATE STUDENT -- REJECTED. Oh look, here is an application for a student who sounds just like me. Accepted.
(3) Now, text your best friend. If you don’t have a best friend (understandable, maybe your best friend thinks you got lost in a black hole…) text your academic best friend (these are those people who are also in Graduate School which means you speak a special language of “what are we doing here?!”). Your text should be beyond venting, it should be raw and emotional and personal and full of auto correct mistakes.
Here’s a template for you if you have JUST found out the news and skipped steps 2 and 2(a):: Sooooo, just got REJECTED by (insert name of institution/ group that rejected you) which just means that it is officially time to give up on everything I have ever done because it is obviously crap, crap I tell you!
Here’s a template for you if you went through all the steps and you are ready to move on to being just kind of angry: Sooooo, just got REJECTED by (insert name) and I’ve decided that they are the worst institution ever to be created and it explains so much about the state of (insert what they do). # (yes, hashtag) WhatTheF
Now wait. Your BFF (or academic BFF) will write you back and say…
“Boo. Boo on them.”
And later “You are so much better than them.”
Man, rejection doesn’t change does it. It was the same thing when some guy said he’d call and didn’t call. And it was true then - just like it’s true now - BOO ON THEM.
Type. Type everything. Work on whatever comes to your head. Now you want to work on grading some papers. Oh, you’ll grade some papers. No you want to finally put together that presentation, yeah you will. There’s nothing to stop you now. It’s not like you have paper work to do for your fellowship/job/acceptance you didn’t get.
Type. This surge of energy will make it less painful to sit in front of a screen. And then you’ll crash.
(5) Get sad and quit again. That’s right. Don’t worry, it’s normal. It will all come flooding back and you’ll think “who am I fooling with my exceptionally fast typing and genius thoughts? I am nobody. I am rejected.”
You will want to crawl back in to bed. You will prepare yourself by getting a bottle of water and some kind of high fat, high sugar, high cholesterol, high spice snack. Everything tastes better when you are trying to avoid dropping it on your sheets. It’s even better when you stop caring.
You will shuffle your way toward the bedroom and then your BFF will send you this…
And you will laugh and maybe cry and maybe laugh some more. And that’s when you will reach the very last step of the reject their rejection process.
(6) Go outside. (But I’m reading this in January and it’s a snow-pocalypse outside!)
Go… outside. Play this song. (But… it’s… Katy… Perry…)
Close your eyes and listen. (Katy….Perry?)
Don’t think. (Have you met me? I’m a graduate student! I think for a modest, meager living!)
It’s Katy Perry so you don’t have to think.
Let your body feel all the air and coldness or warmth and your lungs breathe in and out and in and out. Feel the air inside of you. Don’t think. Take a moment.
Do you feel that? (What is that?)
That… is… real… life.
Go on… brush your shoulders off.
On Surviving Graduate School PodCast - Episode 1: The Ethics of Social Media in Graduate School (with some awesome Professors for the Future Fellows!)
Episode 1: The Ethics of Social Media in Graduate School
A little while ago I did my first PodCast for my "On Surviving Graduate School" blog site. It was fun and I learned a lot about "The Ethics of Social Media in Research."
First, I was inspired to do this particular cast because of conversations I've been having with friends and colleagues about the best way to navigate this world where someone could be Tweeting about you at any time. Our interactions are status updates just waiting to happen and sometimes when I am in a class, or a meeting, or conference session I am surprised to learn if someone has tweeted something I've said. (Although I also retweet them because, YAY, somebody tweeted something I said.)
I also had the opportunity to meet and interact with three scholars from the Professors for the Future Fellowship Program at UC Davis. After listening to @hollybik (find her on Twitter!) talk about how to get started using social media I wondered "what are some of most pressing ethical considerations that we as graduate students should consider as we navigate social media?" OR simply put "is somebody gonna tell me what I should not post on Twitter and stop me from making a complete fool of myself???" (It is quite possible to make a complete fool of yourself in 240 characters or less).
And from there we came together to talk about "The Ethics of Social Media" in graduate school. A cross-disciplinary conversation about how graduate students can use, navigate, and learn to love social media.
Guests on this podcast include:
UC Davis Genome Center.
Follow me on Twitter @hollybik to join the conversation about genomics/biodiversity research. I tweet from conferences and post updates about new research, career opportunities, and science journalism.
"Think about your goals. ...Figure out what platform is going to be best for your message. Maybe you want to post science photography, in which case a visual blog might be a good way but if you want to talk about research in short form you don't have that much time maybe Twitter is more appropriate. ...Don't feel like you have to do everything. You don't have to use every single tool." -Holly Bik
Sociology (UC Davis)
I am currently working on my PhD in sociology. I am experienced in interviewing, field research methods, qualitative coding and analysis, research team management and supervision. My interests include organizations, politics, governance, culture, gender, and sexuality. Currently, my dissertation uses organizational analysis to examine the governance and regulation of sexual commerce in the U.S.
"What sort of public presentation of self do you want to put out there because it really is searchable, people can find you, things are documented and if you do need to have that division of private and public life that is totally fine and you can figure out ways to do that but make sure you are very clear about your privacy settings... when you do post in social media it is a public place." -Valerie Feldman
Linguistics (UC Davis)
Hi! I'm a Ph.D. candidate in Linguistics here at UC Davis. I'm primarily interested in sociolinguistics, with particular emphasis on folk linguistics (especially perceptual dialectology) and the social/cognitive meanings of variation.
"Think about your audience and who you want your audience to be. ...Even if you are just starting out and you may not have much of an audience at first eventually if you cultivate a certain presence that is intended for a certain audience that audience should come to you. ...And take a head shot." -Dan Villarreal
And me! (Cutcha Risling Baldy)
Native American Studies (UC Davis)
Cutcha Risling Baldy (Hupa, Karuk, Yurok) is a scholar, instructor, and PhD Candidate in Native American Studies at UC Davis. She also has her M.F.A. in Fiction and Literature from San Diego State University and her B.A. in Psychology with a special focus in Health and Development from Stanford University. Ms. Risling Baldy is an enrolled member of the Hoopa Valley Tribe with ties to the Yurok and Karuk peoples.
"It took me a little bit to figure out that there is a difference between the popular academics that you see on The Daily Show and the academics that are in a research 1 institution doing research ...It's a matter of deciding the kind of presence that you want to have." -Cutcha Risling Baldy
Listen, share, enjoy, tweet, repeat. #OnSurvivingGraduateSchool
So for Spring Break I’m doing the Gwyneth Paltrow “easy” cleanse. I figure, it was now or never and since it was most likely to be “never” I would go with now. Basically the rules are as follows:
1. Liquids only for breakfast and dinner.
2. Lunch is the only meal with “solids.”
3. No caffeine.
4. No alcohol
5. No soy. No wheat. No dairy. No gluten.
I’ve still got two more days to go. So far – so… uh… okay. Although I have noticed that my face is less puffy and that I don’t really hate Gwyneth Paltrow as much as I used to. So there’s that. To mark my (little over a half way mark) of my 5 day “cleanse” I offer here, tips for you, in case you want to hate Gwyneth Paltrow a little less yourself (and maybe cleanse something).
5 Tips for Doing Your Gwyneth Paltrow “easy” cleanse:
#5: Day 1 isn’t that bad.
Day 2 is bad, but in that really jokey way where it goes by faster than you thought since you spend most of the day joking with your Husband about how awesome bread would be. Day 3 though, Day 3 is the day you go a bit “Celebrity Rehab” and think about telling some imaginary camera guy to “get out of my face” and then you want to knock your freaking glass of water off the table and drink some damn ice tea.
Day 3 is also the day that Husband finds out you are doing this cleanse for five days and he says “how about 40 days?” And you look at him and say “how about you do it for just ONE day?” as he’s heating up his frozen burritos at 9:30 at night in your microwave.
#4: Do not go shopping for Easter Candy on Day 3.
Just don’t do it. Seriously. Don’t. First you’ll buy everything. Then you’ll think “Am I buying too much?” And then you’ll spot some white chocolate decadent eggs and you’re entire body will tingle because, yes please. It’s for the kids. Ooooo Reese’s… for the kids. After you check out you will stick everything in the trunk and then tell yourself that you won’t unload it into the house as to not derail your cleanse. And then you will spend the rest of the day, the entire day, thinking about the white chocolate in your trunk.
Stuff that works – get out and go for a walk to check the mail instead of walking to your trunk. DO NOT bring the keys to the car, just the key to the mailbox.
Have some peppermint tea. This is supposed to be the thing. OHHHHH so you want some refined sugar compressed into white chocolatey goodness? Drink some peppermint tea.
Try not to take out your anger on the peppermint tea. If you can, sit and enjoy your time with the peppermint tea.
Lunch will come and you’ll think “I’m going to scarf some white chocolate!” But then you will remember that, no, no refined sugar. No dairy. No wheat. No nothing. OH MY GOD Gwyneth Paltrow HOW DO YOU EVER GO TO CVS?!
#3: Facebook is not a good place to be if you are cleansing.
---People be posting pictures of all kinds of food like it’s going out of style!--- No but for serious I’m glad that you are so inspired to make chocolate chip, marshmallow, caramel, hazelnut, Elmo shaped brownies with whip cream on top and thank you for torturing me Facebook style.
FYI Facebook is not scratch and sniff, nor does it provide just a little taste if you lick your monitor.
Also- mmmmm chocolate chip, marshmallow, caramel, hazelnut, Elmo shaped brownies with whip cream.
#2.5: No seriously- stay off the FaceSpace
You ever notice how many dang people put up pictures of their sushi? How about their steaks? Fancy desserts? Oh, everybody loves a good up close shot of their fancy dessert before they dive right in to eating said fancy dessert. And—back to my chicken broth.
#2: In which I go to get a massage (Day 2) and a Facial (Day 4)
Man, cleansing is damn expensive. We’ll see if Husband wants to support this for forty freaking days. But it’s nice to do something nice for yourself whilst you are pretending like there isn’t bags of chocolatey goodness in your trunk.
#1: Bell Peppers & Carrots are the new Mike & Ikes.
It happened on Day 3. I was in the grocery store thinking about what elaborate meal I was going to make for my one meal of the day. Did I want some amazing salmon with arugula? How about some asparagus stuffed chicken? And then it came to me, bell peppers and carrots. I wanted bell peppers and carrots. I wanted to chop them up and to taste them. And I mean really TASTE them. I was getting excited just thinking about it. I would make my garlic lemon sauce and I would have bell peppers and carrots (and chicken). And let me tell you, those bell peppers tasted just amazingly sweet. And those carrots were better than an afternoon pick me up of Mike & Ikes or Skittles.
For a good, oh hour – it was the best damn meal I’d ever had.
And that’s something pretty awesome about the whole thing. Because I was relegated to just one meal a day, that meal became THE meal. I really took my time with it. I took time to eat, enjoy, and relax. I took time to make something complicated, full of flavors and satisfying. I wasn’t just concerned with “gotta get something before I move on to something else” and settling on BBQ chips. I was mindful in my meal because I wanted to remember every damn taste for the rest of the freaking day.
Now does that mean I didn’t just a little while later sit in my chair obsessing about the damn white chocolate eggs in the car? Nah. I can’t imagine what Gwyneth’s dreams are like. It’s probably all Willy Wonka in there. A river of chocolate?! A garden made of candy?! Everlasting gobstoppers!!!!!! And then the Oompa Loompa’s come out to sing a song about her as she sticks her face in the chocolate river and inhales.
Day 4--- tomorrow.
To read more about the Five Days Project and how I never said that it would be five days IN A ROW click here.
This weeks resolution: I will write blog entries for the next five days (one per day) about whatever my friends post in the comments on my Facebook Page.
Modified this one a bit because I have Netflix and Netflix is this awesome land of plenty where videos go to exist and make you watch things you never thought you wanted to watch (again) until they are there. I am a Netflix subscriber.
So for this entry I decided that I would watch the cartoons available under the "80's cartoons that will make you wish you were nine again" section that is available on my Netflix page. This is because my daughter likes to watch He-Man and She-Ra (for realz!) because she is awesome. She knows the back stories of the characters and has already decided that she wants to be She-Ra for Halloween next year and that she wants her dad to be He-Man. I am very, very excited to see him in this. (Furry underwear FTW)
What I decided to do was to watch the first five minutes of the first five cartoons available under this heading. I would write my immediate reactions to them and base my judgment off of only those five minutes. Challenge created and accepted.
(5 minutes with) The Super Mario Bros. Super Show (1989): Pizza, check. Checkered table cloths, check. Big mustaches, check. Wassa matta witch you paisanos? Ima Italiano. Here is me Googling what a paisano is. Italian for - "A friend or acquaintance" Also -- "an Independent student run newspaper of the University of Texas at San Antonio established in 1981."
Learn something new every day.
(New insights gained by re-watching...five minutes) - Kinda like Jersey Shore, except without tanning, or the gym. Mama Mia! Somebody get that guy a cannoli!
(5 minutes with) Garfield and Friends (1988): This episode is entitled "Identity Crisis." In this episode Garfield probably has an identity crisis. He probably eats lasagna. He probably says something mean to Odie. John probably sighs. There's some sort of deep and meaningful analysis in here about how mean Garfield is to the Dog Catcher. The Dog Catcher essentially represents the authority, the cops, the people sent to make you "do work" or "conform" or "follow the rules." Garfield takes it upon himself to take this authority figure down, why? Because you don't get to tell people what to do and cite them and take them to the pound. Essentially, we must run away from the constraints of society, we must rebel against the man. The Dog Catcher is the man. He's there to catch you and force you into domestication. We must not be forced into domestication. Also, dogs are dummer than cats.
(New insights gained by re-watching... five minutes) - Heathcliff was better. There, I said it.
(5 minutes with) Jem and the Holograms!: Full disclosure I am a Jem fan. She is truly outrageous, truly, truly, truly outrageous. I can still sing the entire theme song for you. Jem... Jem is excitement. Ooooo Jem... Jem is adventure (Glamour and glitter, fashion and fame!) I'll stop now. But the more you watch Jem the less sense it makes. Take for instance this episode where they are kidnapped (in a previous episode) and are being held as JEM and the Holograms in some warehouse. Jem talks to Synergy (her trusty computer who can conjure up whatever Jem needs as long as it's in Hologram form) and says "Synergy, make it look like the police are coming and also put a tiger in the room." Somehow this confuses the kidnappers who are scared of the tiger and then run out of the warehouse only to think they have been captured by the fake hologram cops. This is when Jem and the Holograms make their escape. However, now they are stuck out in the middle of nowhere and don't know where to go to get back in time for their show! The question becomes "Well, Jem, how come you didn't just ask Synergy to call the real police, who could have come to get you and police escorted you to your real show?"
This, ahem, is the same question I have when they are stuck on the desert island and everyone is all "how will anybody ever find us, we don't even know where we are?" And there is Jem, talking away with Synergy going "what will we do Synergy if you can't keep up the hologram while we are crash landed on this desert island" but never "Gee Synergy, could you maybe call the coast guard or something and tell them where we are? Cause you are a super computer and everything. I'm sure you can Google Maps it..."
(New insights gained by re-watching... five minutes): We are the Misfits! Our songs are better! We are the Misfits! (The Misfits) And we're gonna get her!
(5 minutes with) The Transformers: Optimus Prime is freaking tall.
Also - whatever that was that Michael Bay tried to pass off as Transformers was NOT Transformers. That movie could NOT capture all that was the glory of the autobots, more than meets the eye. I like Megan Fox in that movie though, because she can fix cars and press her boobs against them at the same time.
(New insights gained by re-watching...five minutes) Optimus Prime is still the man.. bot... truck... awesome. I don't think I could handle watching the cartoon feature movie where he dies. Spoiler alert... twenty-seven years later.
(5 minutes with) GI Joe: First of all, I could sing this entire theme song too if I had to. He's a real American Hero. And he's there. Second of all, why does Scarlet have to wear a leotard? Nobody else has to wear a leotard. And third of all, Duke spends most of his time in these first five minutes sexually harassing Scarlett.
See at one point there's some big Cobra attack happening so he grabs her right below her boobs and throws her on the ground so he can roll on top of her. She looks at him and says "Hey, why didn't you just yell 'look out!'" Cause, you know, she is a grown GI Joe herself who could probably get away from a fighter jet or two. And Duke just smiles at her and goes "Didn't you hear, I'm a man of action."
Later he gives her some look when she's climbing out of a fighter jet after she just helped him save the GI Joe base in which he means "you did alright, oh and nice leotard."
Duke, however, is also given one of the best lines I heard in any show "I'm gonna kick the mustard outta that crazy hot dog." Indeed.
(New insights gained by re-watching...five minutes): Cobra Comander and Destro are in a relationship... and it's complicated. They definitely have some love for each other, which culminates in them being slightly annoyed with each other. Well mostly Destro. You can tell, he loves that crazy mofo Cobra Commander, and he just wants the guy to take a breath and relax a bit. Best exchange between potential life partners- bffs - trusty sidekick to your evil overlord happened in the first five minutes of this episode after Destro comes wandering in from the rain into this huge, stone, castle thing that is covered in carved cobras and guarded by cobras with a few cobra accents on the doorknobs and table decorations -- just for ambiance and what not:
Cobra Commander: We are dissssss-apointed. You were expected dayssssss ago Dessssstro.
This weeks resolution: I will write blog entries for the next five days (one per day) about whatever my friends post in the comments on my Facebook Page.
Pride & Prospectus
It started off innocently enough, just a few pages spread out next to her along the empty side of the bed where her husband used to sleep before he was relegated to the couch next to the heater and their one, thin blanket that he’d wrestled away from their dog Jim. Mara thought there was no harm in falling asleep curled up with the thin, smooth pieces of paper. 8 ½ X 11, glossy finish. She thought about the sound of the printer whirring and the words neatly pressed on paper, printed on paper? There was ink involved, it smelled like the aftershave of great men, or women, let’s not try to gender this thing so much. Or maybe we should look at it through a gendering lens, and understand that in many ways this story, the story of how she fell in love with her dissertation, is a story of one woman, no, person, no per-daughter and the soft caress of pages against skin, the high that comes from a first chapter, the climax of those final pages.
Early one morning Mara woke up to her husband standing over her. She smelled that faint smell of propane gas that comes from sleeping right in front of the heater. He reached down and fondled the pages next to her.
“Mara,” he said. “I think we should go to couples counseling.”
That evening in the counselor’s office, which was actually the basement of his house that he shared with his mother, their counselor leaned over and peered at them through his round, black rimmed glasses.
“I think I have just the thing for you,” he said. The counselor reached over to his bookshelf and pulled out a thin pamphlet, he handed it to Mara.
So You’ve Fallen In Love With Your Dissertation.
“There’s an app for that,” Mara thought. She smiled to herself. Mara nodded in the direction of the marriage counselor but didn’t say a word.
When they got to the café after the appointment Mara’s husband opened the pamphlet and sat down next to her. Mara leaned in and read along with him.
So, you’ve fallen in love with your dissertation. That man meat of a dissertation. That strong armed, willful, challenging dissertation. You’ve thought- it’s just like in the movies where at first I hate this dissertation, I think “I cannot believe this dissertation thinks it is better than me simply because I have a social climbing mother, a bunch of crazy sisters, and I am from a poor family. I can’t believe this dissertation is going to try and break up my sister and the rich beau she falls in love with simply because this dissertation is concerned with whether or not my sister really loves his friend or is in fact just trying to secure her future. ” Soon, though, you start to realize that you actually might kind of love your dissertation. Then your dissertation tells you that he was the one who broke up your sister and sent her into a tailspin of sadness. And you are all “Dissertation! I will never forgive you!” But then your dissertation helps your ne’er-do-well little sister who ran away with some dude to save face (and your family’s reputation) by paying for her wedding and setting her up with $10,000 pounds. Oh dissertation! You really do love me! And you aren’t so freaking prejudice… or prideful… or whatever. And you and your dissertation will live happily ever after.
Well, let me just say, SNAP OUT OF IT! Your dissertation is not going to be there with you much longer. You are going to turn that sucker in and then you will get it approved and then your dissertation will swear that you can easily turn it into a book, but that’s not true. You’ll end up scrapping a lot of it. You’ll wonder how you let your dissertation get away with so much. You’ll wonder what you saw in it in the first place. Trust me, I’ve been there. And now I’m a successful (meaning, I have a job) professor and I haven’t even thought about my dissertation in years! Nobody read it. Nobody asks me about it. One time I pulled it off my shelf and used it as a fly swatter. You are too good for your dissertation. You’re better than your dissertation. You deserve more. This pamphlet will help you to realize, you too can get over your dissertation.
Mara nodded and sipped her tea. She leaned her head on her husband’s shoulder. She continued reading.
Step 1: Stop sleeping with your dissertation.
The Five Days Project: Who needs to commit to one New Year's Resolution when you can "mini-commit" to a whole bunch of 'em?
I have commitment issues. It’s a Sagittarius thing (so I’ve been told). When I was engaged to my now Husband of six years, people kept asking me, “how can you be so calm, you’ve known your fiancé for like five days?” (Actually, it was 2 ½ months). And I thought “Well, I’m just getting married. If I don’t like being married, I’ll just get divorced. If I get divorced, I’ll just think ‘Well, I did that, cool.’” That’s not what I said in my vows, by the way. I think my vows were something like “let’s give this a shot. I promise to give this a fair shot.”
Cause what’s forever? Or always? What’s “commitment?” A lot of people would say a beautiful thing that you do to show how devoted you are to someone who loves you. That’s part of it. The other part is it’s kind of nice to put yourself into something completely, and see what comes out the other side. So then you see it and you think “I did that.” Or “We did that.” (Credit where credit is due.)
I guess that’s Graduate School. It’s a forced commitment of craziness that makes you commit to sitting in a chair and being committed (literally) to an institution that will make you say things like “Well, Foucault would say”… biopolitics, panopticon, something about controlling the body, sadomasochism… I am fully committed to academia. I love it. This perhaps... makes it harder to commit to other things... like moisturizing.
So I’ve decided I’m going to use my multi-tasking can’t really commit want to do it all nature for good and start my Five Days Project. I came up with it when people started talking about New Year’s Resolutions. And then there is always that guy who goes “nobody ever keeps their resolutions, what’s the point?” It’s the commitment really. Last year’s resolution was to moisturize and de-clutter. That was going to be this year’s too and then I thought “I don’t know. It’s hard to buy more moisturizer when I’m supposed to be de-cluttering.” Commitment. So I came up with The Five Days Project. Where I would only have to commit to some resolution for five days, how hard is that? That’s not hard, unless those five days involve giving up caffeine, or caffeine, or ice tea with caffeine. The Five Days Project goes a little like this.
“Oooo that’s a shiny thing that I would like to do someday, but it would take a lot of commitment. I will commit to it for five days. Then I can move on to the next shiny thing.”
That’s basically how it works. I’ve come up with a list. I’ll be looking for more suggestions soon. I plan to do these things for five days each and see what happens. They are mostly based on past New Year’s Resolutions that I have made. It’s now or never… or five days later…They are in no particular order, and you never know what the next one is going to be. And maybe I will commit to taking five days off from my five days project every once in a while. Any way you cut it, it’s something to do (not that I didn’t have enough to do). It’s a challenge that I set forth for my New Year, 2013. I’m going to do it till I run out of ideas, until the year is over, or until I stop. I guess I should at least commit to it for five days. (HA. I crack myself up).
Random Five Days Tasks List – (in no particular order, not a binding legal document, subject to change at any time, open for suggestions).
· I will give up caffeine for five days.
· I will sleep whenever I am tired for five days.
· I will go on a juice cleanse/ cleanse/ clensey thing for five days. (I will probably get snappy with people during these five days as well.)
· I will write comments to the top five Facebook posts on my feed every time I log in to Facebook for five days.
· I will write a blog entry telling friends exactly what I think about them (mu wa ha ha) each day for five days.
· I will read a book a day for five days.
· I will eat a piece of tomato each day for five days (I’ll probably eat different tomatoes each day, just to see what they taste like). I hate tomatoes.
· I will take a picture at the top of each hour that I am awake for five days.
· I will let Arya Barya decide what we are having for dinner for five days.
· I will talk to one person I don’t know each day for five days.
· I will call one friend in my phone contacts who I haven’t talked to in more than 6 months each day for five days.
· I will try some kind of food that I tell people I don’t like but in reality I’ve just never tried to eat because it seemed like something I wouldn’t like each day for five days. (Examples: Scallops, Squid, Sea Urchin, Eggplant, Pumpkin Pie, Anchovies, Fried Tofu, Apricot Jelly, Veal… maybe not veal…)
· I will go out to dinner with someone each day for five days.
· I will make a music video of my day to the first song that plays on Itunes each morning when I wake up.
· I will interview the first five people who respond to my Facebook post about interviews and write an article about them for the blog.
· I will write one short story a day for five days.
· I will write one poem a day for five days.
· I will wear a dress each day for five days.
· I will watch one episode of Dr. Who each day for five days.
· I will watch one movie per day that is about Indians and then write a review of them.
· I will walk a mile each day for five days.
· I will write a letter to the author of whatever book I read in my “five days of reading a book each day” and send it to them.
· I will call my parents each day for five days and end the conversation with “And I wanted you to know that I love you.”
· I will say exactly what I am thinking if anyone asks me “what are you thinking about” for five days.
· I will do my hair/ wear my hair in a different style each day for five days.
· I will wear something from my closet each day that I have sworn I was going to wear again even though I haven’t and for some reason I still can’t find it in my heart to get rid of it.
· I will write a synopsis/ description of the novels I currently have in progress and post one a day for five days for people to vote on.
· I will write the highest voted on novel (from votes/ synopsis) in five days.
· I will have invite five people over (one per day) who I have never had a meal/ tea with before for tea at my house each day for five days.
· I will submit one short story each day for five days to be published.
· I will let Arya Barya pick my outfit each day for five days.
· I will Swiffer the floor every day for five days
· I will visit a one new building on campus that I have never been to before each day for five days.
· I will write a fan letter to people who probably don’t get enough fan letters who I am lucky enough to be on the forefront of liking a whole lot.
· I will watch a kung fu movie on Netflix every day for five days.
· I will write one blog entry each day for five days about the news/ google alert stories that are in my Gmail box about “American Indians” or “Native Americans.”
· I will drink 8 glasses of water each day for five days.
· I will do whatever Gwyneth Paltrow tells me to do that week for five days (as according to her Goop): http://www.goop.com/journal/make/207/superfoods PS: I sort of hate Gwyneth Paltrow, because I had to spell check her name, and because she is Gwyneth Paltrow. This – is big of me.
· I will go out and do SOMETHING each night for five days. (Arya Barya will probably go too. Maybe Husband can come… we’ll see.)
· I will invite people over for a dance party for five days – hopefully some of them will show up on day five.
Again – this is just a start. I may change, add, subtract as the time goes on. But I figure, it gives me the chance to meet every broken resolution…for five days...
Five Day Task #1: I will write blog entries for the next five days (one per day) about whatever my friends post in the comments on my Facebook Page. Day one starts tomorrow…
As I grow into this great big world of academia I'm learning a few key things. 1. Everything is political and 2. Everything - is political. (And 3. If you don't know what something is instead of admitting that - just Google that sh*t - yo).
So I recently got signed up for a new ListServ. What is a ListServ you ask. Watch as I Google it. listserv Noun/ˈlis(t)ˌsərv/1. An electronic mailing list of people who wish to receive specified information from the Internet.
Simple right? You have a group. You want that group to be able to email each other. You create a list. You put everybody on that list onto a little "serv" and then you give them all the ultimate power over the universe (or the ultimate power to email everybody on that list).
This becomes a thing of excitement at first (I can't believe I made it on the list! Yay me!)
And quickly becomes a thing of hilarity. (I'm happy to be on this listserv, but not as happy as the guy who replies to the ENTIRE listserv just to tell people how happy he is to be on the listserv).
Moving on to a thing of ridiculousness (Let's all send an email and see how we feel about a subject that is currently popular to read about on Huffington Post and then let's plug our blog about it).
And finally settles into a thing of annoyance (and now come the emails from people demanding to be removed from the listserv sent to the entire listserv).
It quickly moves back into hilarity again (let's send a reply email about how rude we think it is that a bunch of people want to be removed from the listserv. OOOO and then let's be the guy who replies back that he agrees with EVERYONE. OOOO better yet let's be the person who thinks that it's mostly "science" people who want to be removed from the listserv - those damn science people always trying to be efficient and move away from actual socialization and getting to know each other.)
And (at least for me) it ends back at excitement (I am an academic on a listserv reading all of these academic conversations about the politics of being on a listserv! And I have nothing to say about this new movie that everyone is debating about... because I haven't seen it yet... because I'm a graduate student and I have no money over the summer and because if I did want to spend the money to get a sitter, and go to the movies and buy myself some popcorn I'd probably go see Cowboys & Aliens. But don't get me started on the colonization commentary I could do with that one! OOOO I'm an academic again!)
There is actually - apparently - etiquette for a listserv. Which (funnily enough) was sent out when we were signed up for the list serv. With such solid advice such as: Personal replies should be directed to specific individuals rather than to the entire list. (which would have helped all the people who wrote back "wow, thanks for adding me to the list serv person who did that. You are a great person. I look forward to talking to you.") I also quite like: Don't send meaningless messages with no content, such as "I agree!"or even: Avoid flaming individuals on the listserv. If you have a conflict with an individual, settle it by private e-mail messages. (Or on a Blog...)
And at first when I read some of the etiquette rules I had a good belly laugh out of those, until I soon started to realize that they were real. REAL (number 4 on the list is to not type in all caps - as it makes people think you are yelling at them. FOR REALS!) Because everyone of those listserv etiquette rules have since been broken - and it's been six days. (SIX DAYS!)
But I kind of get it. Because we're all lonely academics sitting in our office researching and just wondering if there is a world out there just waiting to talk to us about all of our cool observations about life. Because now we are on a listserv- and that listserv is filled with real people, who have done real amazing things and we just want to make a connection. Isn't that what's it all about? A connection? Isn't that why we make web pages and write blogs and Twitter (I Twitter mostly so that I can reply to famous people and try to get them to talk to me - I'm looking at you NEIL PATRICK HARRIS). We're trying our best to withhold our thoughts on WHY, WHY they cast Anne Hathaway as a British person in a movie when she's clearly not all that British (and WHY WHY we are so excited to see her in a skin tight cat suit) and we want to do it with people who have clearly done this before.
And because it's political. We need to get our name out into the circle. We need to join the conversation and make an impression. Because we need to get a tenure track position one day gosh darn it. Because at the end of every message we can give a little plug to who we are. And because as we maneuver our way through this thing called the rest of our lives, we just want somebody to reach out and say - yes you are right - Anne Hathaway was clearly the wrong decision.
PS - the last rule on the list is as follows: Don't be critical of people's queries posted to the listserv. Many people are new to the listserv. Send them a private message and "gently" make suggestions if you think it is warranted. We're here to learn, share, and grow from each other.(It's the advice I leave you with random people who are getting all uncomfortable either for receiving too many messages or for demanding to be taken off the list... or for being all up in arms because people are demanding to be taken off the list, or for agreeing with everyone. That guy rubbed me the wrong way. "I just want to write back to say I agree with everyone on all sides. Yes it's slightly annoying to get a million email messages from people talking about stuff but yes it's also exciting to get a million messages from people talking about stuff. I also agree that those people who don't like it should be taken off the list but that it's rude to email everybody to get off the list. I also agree that we should raise taxes and lower taxes and cut NPR but keep NPR."
Okay, I may have added that last part.
WHAT SELF RESPECTING ACADEMIC WOULD EVER WANT TO CUT NPR?!
Am currently reading this book - Foucault for Beginnners. Who is Foo-Co you ask? Well that's what the book is for. It's interesting because it's sort of a graphic novel/ easy breezy introduction to the philosopher himself. Apparently this is a series, you can get other "so and so for beginners" I may just have to invest.
Eventually I will come up with my paragraph or two that I need to come up with that I can spout out in random classes and/or public speaking engagements so that I too can prove that I "know" Foucault.
But to begin... did you know his name is actually pronounced Michelle (but that's a girls name!) and not Michael (because that's a boys name gosh darn it) as one would expect? Or at least one that only ever referred to the man by his last name. We are not on a first name basis. As I am not on a first name basis with so many of these doods... Sartre, Freud, Lacan, Levi-Strauss (Claude, not you know, LEVI). But I am on a first name with Roland (as in Roland Barthes). For some reason Roland never seemed all that high and mighty to me. Like Roland and I could get together and share a pitcher of Pear Cider and he can start yelling around about how the author is dead and doesn't matter and I can roll my eyes and be like "Roland... we get it. Blah blah blah, post-structuralism, blah blah blah, nobody cares about the author, except for EVERYBODY else..."
You know who I'm on a nickname basis with? Ole Willie Shakespeare. This also goes double for old Cray Cray King Lear (who I got to know VERY well as I had to read all about him in high school AND in college). I'm like "Cray Cray, chill, so you hate your daughters, we ALL hate your daughters."
There's a point to this story. The point is the thing I remember most about Foucault is prisons and power. And a lot of it is just a relearning/ learning process. Because I came to much of these areas of study with my background in Psychology, realizing that we spent much of the times learning about our "Founding Fathers" (why are they always FATHERS? Where are the dang MOTHERS?) Jung, Freud, Skinner and that dude who like made the dogs spit. Oh sheesh what was that guys name? He's all "look at my dogs they have more spit when I tease them with this bell and make them think they are going to get food. And now I will do it to you humans and take over the world?" PAVLOV (now say the last quote in a vaguely Russian accent).
As I move through my courses here, focusing more in literature, social science theory, and yes even psychology there are just a few people I got to get a grip on and old Mikey here is one of them. (That's not working. He is Foucault. FOO-CO Foucault - HA).
Getting Through That First Year of Graduate School (cause I'm done with mine - and that makes me an expert!)
Been working on this for a little while. My first year of grad school was - FAST. It goes by quick.. and most of the time you spend thinking you have absolutely no idea what you are doing. And most of the time - you may not - but neither do a lot of people. If you knew it all already, why would you be in graduate school? TIPS.
1. Read... everything.
They tell you this a lot in life. My mom is always telling her students that the more you read - the better you write. Authors are always telling wannabe writers to "read, read, read" (even though that advice would always frustrate me, like "okay? I'll read a whole bunch and TA DA I'm a famous writer now!"). And here I am... saying what has been said before and will probably be said over and over again. Read every book that is assigned in the class. Read the footnotes in those books. Read before you go to bed at night. Read when you are eating Pho at the Coffee House. Read. And then when you start to feel really overwhelmed by all there is to read... pat yourself on the back for all the reading you've already been doing, take a break and watch the first four seasons of Psych on Netflix. (It's a good show. I don't think it gets enough credit because it's well written, funny and has a lot of pop culture references to 80s movies, which I appreciate.)
2. Read the book reviews.
Before I start reading a book I will usually peruse a few of the book reviews (easiest way to find them is on Google Scholar). I do this because it gives me a sort of background on what I'm about to read. I like when I'm reading a few of them and they are all saying something about how "this book is really for a specialist" (AKA this book is kind of confusing/ dense/ hard to read/ philosophical/ requires a dictionary) or "this book has included a lot of extra information in the footnotes (AKA this book may seem like it's only 200 pages but when you count the tiny tiny print of the footnotes, it's more like 500... so thanks for that). What the book reviews can help you to do is understand in a very basic way what the book is about, what it's trying to say and what is going on. It's a very basic point to start from when you start to think about what YOU might want to say about the book.
3. When you professor assigns you a "review" or "short papers" on the books you are reading, always use at least two additional sources in your paper.
They probably aren't going to tell you to do that, by the way. They are probably going to give you some questions they want you to answer about the book and ask you to write a paper based on those questions. But no where will it say "and you can use additional sources" - but you should. You can actually use book reviews as a source at this point. But it also helps to take that extra step in (a) looking up the critique or analytical response to the book (GOOGLE SCHOLAR AGAIN) and (b) looking up the author.
4. Always, always look for connections.
You know what I used to hate about fancy shmancy know it all Graduate Students? That they would always be like "this is a lot like so and so (famous author/ writer/ philosopher) when he says (something cool)." I still can't do that. But I can find connections among the books we are reading in classes - and that's the first step. Think of it this way, your professor designs the class, and they pick the books they do for a reason. They also choose the order and the theme of the class and the paper topics. So somewhere there is a connection. There is something that you are going to learn from one book to the next. Once you figure out a few of these connections - you should write them down. When somebody in class says "isn't this a lot like so and so" then you should write that down to. And look up who so and so is. I met one girl who keeps this huge spider chart looking thing on her computer that shows all these crazy connections - and it all comes down to FACEBOOK. No I'm serious. CONNECTIONS.
5. Look it up, Google It.
So at the start of the year I had to take a class called "Ethnohistory" and my first thought wasn't "oh, I hope I can handle the workload" or even "reading a book a week will keep me... busy" but instead my very first thought was "what's ethnohistory?" I probably could have guessed. But instead I googled it. And then I read about it. And then I was ready to talk about it. And then I wondered why I didn't hear about this before. And then I felt really good about myself and started on the newest season of Psych.
6. Ask the dumb questions.
Some of my first questions were: "What's End Note?" "What's Google Scholar?" "What's the first rule of Fight Club?" (That's a trick question by the way - because we ALL know that the first rule of fight club is SHHHH).
7. Google It again.
Quite honestly my first few weeks of school I googled: "What's the best filing system for a Graduate Student" (a really detailed long one. Someday I'll write up the names of all my files in my filing system... but not today). "How do I finish my thesis?" (They have whole books on this subject). "What is the best way to stay organized as a Graduate Student?" (Keep to your calendar, write down how you spend your time, set aside ACTUAL time to do WORK like you are at a JOB because your JOB is Graduate School now...). "Where can you get good Mexican food in this darn town?" (You can't. It's just how it is.)
8. Go to your Graduate Student meetings and gatherings and social events.
I know, I know. You're a graduate student. You don't have time for FUN. But trust me they aren't fun! (Ba dum dum dum). It's good to get to know your fellow grad students. They've been doing this whole thing for a while now too - they may have some good advice, and they may know where to find the answers to things you don't know.
9. Get back to reading.
10. And watching Psych.
(After Psych you should start Ally McBeal. It's AWFUL. The kind of awful that makes you want to watch the entire thing from start to finish. Kind of like how I feel about Brothers and Sisters...)
Came up with a handy dandy definition of "participatory action research" today. (I often like to make up handy dandy definitions to remind me of things when I'm trying to memorize them so I can be a big time awesome Dr. PhD who quotes people at will.
Anyway... Often associated with a feminist methodology...
Participatory Action Research: "Why don't you tell me what you want me to tell you about you..."
About This Blog:
This is the stuff I do to survive Graduate School.
It's also other stuff I do in life.
My life is mostly Graduate School.
Cutcha RIsling Baldy is a PhD Candidate in Native American Studies at UC Davis.