Tag Archives: grad school


November has been a productive month.   Well, not in terms of blog writing.  But in the rest of my life, things are getting done.

Most importantly, I submitted my portfolio, which is my program’s version of doctoral comprehensive exams.  It’s basically a sample of the work I have done so far in grad school: an in-depth review of the existing theory and research in my area of interest, and other documents that show that I have actually done something in the last three years: a manuscript submitted for publication, a poster presented at a conference, and a proposal that I submitted to an organization trying to convince them that what I intend to do for my dissertation is worthy of their funding.

So a little over a week ago, I printed out all 100+ pages comprising these documents, and organized them into binders to submit to the faculty members on my committee.  The binder organization was the best part.  It wasn’t until I saw all these printed pages, which contained nothing but words that I had written*, that I realized that, okay, I have done something with my life in the last few years.

I still have to wait several weeks to hear whether what I’ve done these last few years meets the approval of my committee members.  Consequently, I’m hesitant to do too much celebrating quite yet.  But assuming that I do pass, this means that I will advance to candidacy, and need to get going on my dissertation.  We shall see.

Is it odd that changing my own brake light, which I did earlier this month, felt like almost as much of an accomplishment as turning in my portfolio?  Perhaps I should explain.  Nick usually jumps on any sort of at-home car repairs and I usually let him, because, hey, that means I don’t have to do it.  But I like to know that I could do something if I needed to.  Sure, I still needed Nick to stand behind the car and confirm that I fixed the brake light, but I replaced the light bulb myself, dammit.  I swear I felt just as much pride in that moment as when my advisor told me my lit review was complete.

Also, I have a tendency to procrastinate on car-related things.  I almost always request an extension for the emissions inspection, mainly because I forget until the day before the deadline and I don’t have time to go.  I usually have to tape a printed-out temporary registration in my rear window because I waited to renew my registration online until the last day possible.  Once I even registered on time, but didn’t bother to put the new sticker on my license plate until the end of the expiration month.  This was a bad idea because in rushing to take care of it, I didn’t pay attention to all the dirt and salt (it was winter) on the license plate, and surprisingly, the sticker did not stick.

When I talk about things like this, it amazes me that I ever get anything done.

Anyway, the fact that I purchased and installed a new brake light within 24 hours of being pulled over by a state trooper felt like a pretty big accomplishment.  I would also like to note that this is the first time I did not feel like I was on the verge of crying and/or having an anxiety attack when being pulled over by a cop.**  So much growth this month.

Finally, I got a Fitbit.  I’ve learned that my walk from the parking lot to my building on campus is not as substantial as I thought it was.  But two Sundays in a row, Nick and I have gone for hikes and exceeded the goal of 10,000 steps.  This is very unlike us, but we like it and might do more of it.  Given the forecast tomorrow for a high of 33 degrees, I am not sure we’ll make it 3 in a row.  That’s okay, though, because we are seriously behind on figuring out this year’s Christmas card and we should spend some time on that.  Perhaps I’ll get my steps in while wandering through the Goodwill….

*And a handful of tables which I lovingly constructed.

**To be clear, in the 15 or so years that I have been driving, I have gotten pulled over maybe a total of 8 or 9 times, more often for burnt-out lights than for speeding.


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Filed under Life, My Crazy Mind

Summer Cooking: Outtakes and Deleted Scenes

Perhaps you’ve noticed that I’ve been suspiciously quiet this summer. Perhaps you’ve thought, “Um, Sarah- isn’t this summer break? When you have no classes and thus clearly have far more free time to be cooking?”

Well, maybe you don’t use the word “thus”.  And maybe you haven’t thought that much about it, but I certainly have.  When I turned in my final paper in mid-May, I pictured three months of freedom.  Three months with no classes, no assignments, and plenty of time to split between productivity and laziness. Yet somehow I feel like there is more going on now than during the school year, or even last summer when I was prepping for my wedding. Because summer is the time to actually devote time to all the research-related tasks that I really should be working on throughout the year but always get pushed to the side by other commitments. And while I don’t think I would qualify as a workaholic, I do have a tendency to get obsessive about research stuff.

For example… have you ever stepped into the black hole otherwise known as a literature search? It starts off innocent enough. Your advisor forwards an article to you. You think, “This is interesting.  I wonder what else this researcher has published.” And suddenly it is two and a half hours later and you’ve looked at abstracts for everything this person wrote, not to mention every article that has cited this person. You have twelve PDF files open on your computer, a running mental list of five more keywords to try, and you find yourself screaming at the computer, “This article is exactly what I have been searching for. Why is it in FRENCH??” If only you’d taken French instead of Spanish. Your poor husband stares at you. Perhaps he’s wondering if you’re ever going to start cooking dinner. Or perhaps he’s wondering if you’re ever going to take a shower today. Or perhaps he too is wishing you spoke French.

So yeah… I’ve been a little preoccupied. And while I have been cooking, not everything has been worth writing about. Or, I just got too into cooking and forgot to take photographs. And what’s the point of posting a recipe if it’s not accompanied by food porn?

That being said… I have taken some photographs of some beautiful summer produce, and I felt sad that they were just going to get lost in a file on my computer. Especially because summer is the rare time that I am able to cook dinner (aka take photographs) while there is still natural light outside.

Shiitakes and scallions.  To be skewered and grilled. They weren’t bad, but they looked prettier raw than cooked, and the end product was a salad that had too much going on without any cohesion. Ah well.

Grilled kale. Also a part of the salad. And again, it probably would be good on its own, or in a simpler context.

Squash. From two different farmers’ markets. Purchased with the intent of making this summer squash soup. Two different days I pulled the squash out the fridge to make the soup for lunch. And two days the squash went right back into the fridge. Because who wants to cook squash and deal with a food processor when…

… you could have an amazing, perfect, best-thing-in-the-world tomato sandwich? I’m pretty sure I’ve eaten a summer’s worth of tomato sandwiches in the span of two weeks. My favorites were on whole grain bread, with avocado, basil, spinach, and mayo (and some smoked blue cheese, if you’re feelin’ fancy).  I was so enamored with this sandwich that I had to immortalize it. With Instagram. On two different occasions.


Filed under Cooking, Life, My Crazy Mind