Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Oral Prelim Exam

According to the guidelines for my academic program, students are technically supposed to take their oral prelim exam no later than two semesters after successfully completing the written prelim. Despite how long this whole process has seemed, I feel good in knowing that I'm taking my prelims on time (even though it's not a big deal to get an extension).

So my exam is scheduled for the morning of 9/5. It's two hours with my four committee members (who are all rock stars in my eyes). I'll know that day whether or not I passed. If I do pass I'll be an official PhD candidate.

For the next eight days I hope to get some helpful review and preparation done, despite the expected heat that's predicted for the remainder of this week. As I've written previously, extreme heat tends to make my Crohns flare up, so I'm planning to do whatever I can to prevent stress and stay cool. Today I didn't fare so well; my only food was two baked potatoes, some carrots & a few spoonfuls of peanut butter, and yet my gut has been cramping for much of the day and fatigue made it tough to do much of anything (besides nap).

I know I'll get through this. All I can do is try my best, depending on how I'm feeling at the moment. I've got some really good people at the university supporting me who want me to graduate and succeed.  I've got an incredibly supportive and loving husband who understands my challenges and gives me the occasional props for my persistence. I decided to reduce my assistantship for this year from 20 hours to 10, in order to have more time for research and writing (how I'll pay for my tuition is still a big question mark). However the next school year pans out, I expect that it will be an adventure.

Onward and upward (or at least forward!).

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Musical Heritage

My mood for the past couple of days has varied in shades along the blue spectrum. Yeah I've been feeling depressed. It's a sadness that can't really be pinned to anything specific. I've learned to deal with it as a symptom of Crohn's, or chronic illness in general I suppose. Regardless, it sucks.

So this morning to enhance my mood I started a pot of coffee. I wanted to put some music on the turntable, but nothing was speaking to me. Then I thought..."What if the world ended tomorrow and today was my last chance to play the records I value most?"

That's all I needed to get started on what became a pleasant & mellow afternoon spinning my favorite records: The Monkees, The Knack, The Zombies, Cheap Trick, Three O'Clock, Jacksons, De La Soul... Over the course of my life this music has helped shape who I am. As far as I'm concerned it's as much a part of my identity as my ethnicity. It's in my DNA at this point.

current mood: sky blue :)

Monday, August 13, 2012

Chicago 2012 and beyond...

Packing for the trip
Autographed Hudsons CD
Leo and I spent the weekend in the ol' windy city. Saturday was his family's annual family reunion, and Friday just happened to be the first night of the annual Fest For Beatles Fans, which I was more than happy to attend!
With the legendary Mark Hudson

The definite highlight of Friday night was meeting Mark Hudson, from whom I bought a repro of a vintage 70's Hudson Brothers t-shirt and a very limited edition autographed CD of a 1978 Hudsons concert (pictured, above).

Saturday was the family reunion, which was a bit socially intense for an introvert such as myself; I was physically worn out by the end of the afternoon. Still, it was a lovely chance to see my in-laws, who I love like my own family, and the weather couldn't have been nicer.

The best part of Saturday was feeling legitimately welcomed and treated as a member of this loving, caring, and quite funny family. After all the tragedy in my birth family over the past few years, I have the great fortune of being gifted with a second family that loves me and has my back. That's a damn sweet deal.
Mi Familia
By the end of the day on Saturday I was increasingly feeling the effects of not enough downtime. My Crohn's was acting up and I was fading fast. Sunday morning was very nice, getting to chat leisurely over coffee with Leo's uncle. 
It was a beautiful way to cap off a nice vacation.

So now I'm home, and recovering physically from more activity than my body can handle at the moment. I feel considerably better now than I did yesterday at this time. Tomorrow I return to work, and seven days from now I submit a major paper to my committee in prep for my oral prelim exam. Life's gonna pick up some speed; I just need to remember that I do have some control over the reigns.

Sunday, August 05, 2012

Shonen Knife @ 7th St. Entry, Minneapolis

An incredible show. The band was in top form, and as an added bonus, original drummer (and later bassist) Atsuko was working the merchandise table! She sold me a button (pictured).

Aside from the kitsch factor that Shonen Knife brings to their act, they are an honest to goodness pure punk/pop band in the old school tradition of their heroes The Ramones. Shonen Knife writes simple, catchy tunes and then bashes the hell out of them onstage. The 4 or 5 songs they played from their new album, Pop Tune, were some of the strongest in the set.

An incredible night for sure.