May 31, 2005
Star Wars to the Rescue
So, we went to see Star Wars together, and even though things had been a bit rough beforehand (see Crabby Minnesota Day), we're definitely back on track. There's nothing like a good lightsaber duel between former friends to help mend a relationship.
All in all, I liked the movie--for one thing, I liked actually knowing what was going to happen. I've always been a bit confused when it comes to Star Wars because I saw the movies out of order as a kid (for me, the trilogy goes--The Empire Strikes Back, Return of the Jedi, Star Wars). Just think about it for a minute--I knew Darth Vader was Luke's father before I knew how they ever met in the first place!! As a result, every time I watch one of the Star Wars movies, it's like I'm watching it for the first time (some kind of weird amnesia, I guess). So, in this particular one, it was nice to have some idea of what was going to happen. Catharsis was mine as I got some important questions answered, not to mention one of the greatest fight scenes ever--the final battle between Obi wan Kenobi and Anakin/Darth Vader. It reminded me of why I like Star Wars in the first place. . . .
May 26, 2005
Crabby Minnesota Day
I was driving along East River Road today, looking out onto the river and all of the greenery on both sides, and I spotted a woman jogging by. I thought for a moment about how much green space there is here in the cities, and how people really do seem to enjoy it. There's always someone running, biking, or rollerblading along the miles of path that hugs the Mississippi River.
As I drove, I thought about how, four years ago, we came here to the cities for a visit. I was presenting at the CARLA Language Teacher Education Conference, which was held mid-May, during intersession. It was unusually hot for May--in the upper 90s, and mosquitos were everywhere! I was fully eight months pregnant and the heat and humidity really got to me. It was the first time I had felt hot the entire time I was pregnant, and even when I returned to a cooler, Pacific NW climate, I never really felt like I got over that hot feeling until after Jurgen was born. I remember being here on campus, and feeling like just going from one building to the next seemed like forever. The campus might be big, but it's even bigger when you're pregnant.
As I was driving today, with Jurgen in the backseat babbling on about Star Wars (he hasn't seen the movie--we've told him he has to be much, much older before we'll even let him watch the original trilogy), I was thinking about our decision to move here, when we were mostly pretty content in the Pacific Northwest. It's true that some things would have had to change anyway while we were out there. We both needed some changes in employment, and we were tired of a long commute to work every day. But, we decided to come here to Minneapolis in pursuit of doctoral degrees (yep, that's right--both of us).
Things have been something of a struggle ever since. Even though I was able to land a good position as a graduate instructor, Chris was much less fortunate, and only recently has he found a position that he truly loves. We've had a lot to juggle, time-wise and financially, and I can tell that the last three years have really taken their tole on our psyches.
I'm getting ready to do my orals on June 3rd, and although I feel relieved that I've gotten this far, I also feel stressed. It's truly hard to balance two graduate students' needs, both personal and professional. Toss a child in the mix, add a little stress, and well--it makes for one crabby day, no doubt.
May 23, 2005
Summer's Coming: The Relentless March of Time
No summer in Portland for me this year! Although I'll definitely miss the great weather, liberal politics, and no mosquitoes, I'm also glad to be here for the summer. I'll get to see a certain someone turn 4, and a friend who is a new Ph.D might be moving.
In the meantime, time marches on. My oral prelims are coming up! It seems like just yesterday I was writing about my written prelims, and now I'm moving on to the next phase--oral prelims. In my department, we have to write a "special topics paper" which is essentially a first-run attempt at the lit review for the dissertation. It can be considered to be an exploration of a topic of my own interest, but usually is more like a chapter two.
I have to turn my special topics paper in to my committee tomorrow. So, here I am--it's almost 2 o'clock in the morning, and I'm working on the revisions. Part of me is regretting not doing more sooner. (Of course, I should admit that I've had a nearly full draft done for 10 days now--I am "just" working on the revisions.) The part of me not regretting not doing more sooner is the realistic part of me. I mean, how can I work on my paper when I have monster trucks to play with?