Tuesday, December 30, 2008

On Being Impotent in My Field

I'm just going to say right up front, please pardon what is sure to come across as arrogance in this post. 

Okay, now that the disclaimer is done....

I am in a shitty transition period right now. I'm no longer an undergrad, but not yet accepted as a grad student. Because I graduated in December, I have a much longer transition period than students who wouldn't graduate until May. 

This translates to a profound impotence in my field of academia. 

What do I mean by that? Well, there are a lot of things I would love to be doing right now that directly relate to my aspirations but can't because of either lack of status or qualifications. 

For example, I would LOVE to be doing peer review for one of the journals in my field - even a little one. But even though I am entirely confident in my critical thinking skills and ability to objectively and thoroughly evaluate research, I don't have anything to prove it to the powers that be. 

Other than the project I am in the middle of working on for which I am second author, I am unable to produce any of my own research right now because I am "without institutional affiliation" if you will. Which also = without funding. 

I can't run for office in any of my professional organizations because not only am I without institutional affiliation, I am not yet a grad student either. I am utterly useless. 

I just want my science. That's all I want. I am more capable and have a greater mind for it than most of the grad students at my former MRU. Seriously. I wake up in the middle of the night with ideas for research that are quite awesome and about 99% of them have never been done before when I do a lit search the next day. 

I have an absolute hunger for it. All of it. I have hundreds of MBs of journal articles on my computer that I read for leisure, not to mention all the subscriptions that come in my mailbox. I read books covering all aspects of my field constantly. You could randomly select any sub-field of psychology and test me on it, and I could hold my own - even the ones I have no respect for whatsoever, like evolutionary psychology (another blog, another time). 

I just want to be INVOLVED, dammit. I want to DO something in my field. Like, NOW. 

Those of you who are in later stages of your science careers - imagine if someone said to you, "Okay, you now have to wait almost a year before you can do ANYTHING in your field. No research, no writing, nothing that anyone will ever consider to be important. No teaching. All you can do is read shit and blog about it if you so choose."

You would probably die, right? That's me right now. I am chomping at the bit. 

Fig. 1: An accurate representation of JLK right now in Social Psychology. "Come on, guys! I wanna play!!!"

Maintaining Healthy Insanity

I got this in my email today, and I felt compelled to share it:

To Maintain A Healthy Level Of Insanity
1. At Lunch Time, Sit In Your Parked Car With Sunglasses on and point a Hair Dryer At Passing Cars. See If They Slow Down.

2. Page Yourself Over The Intercom. Don't Disguise Your Voice!

3. Every Time Someone Asks You To Do Something, ask If They Want Fries with that.

4. Put Decaf In The Coffee Maker For 3 Weeks... Once Everyone has Gotten Over Their Caffeine Addictions, Switch to Espresso.

5. In the Memo Field Of All Your Checks, Write "For Marijuana."

6. Skip down the hall Rather Than Walk and see how many looks you get.

7. Order a Diet Water whenever you go out to eat, with a serious face.

8. Specify That Your Drive-through Order Is 'To Go'.

9. Sing Along At The Opera.

10. Five Days In Advance, Tell Your Friends You Can't Attend Their Party Because You have a headache.
11. When The Money Comes Out The ATM, Scream 'I Won! I Won!'

12. When Leaving the Zoo, Start Running towards the Parking lot, Yelling 'Run For Your Lives! They're Loose!'

13. Tell Your Children Over Dinner, 'Due To The Economy, We Are Going To Have To Let One Of You Go.'

And The Final Way To Keep A Healthy Level Of Insanity:



Monday, December 29, 2008


2008 was a helluva year. It was entirely spent with my eye on graduate school, from narrowing down programs in January to taking the GRE in March, applying this fall, and now I sit and wait with bated breath for decisions to start rolling in. If that was all I dealt with this year though, it wouldn't be worthy of a post. I was also an anonymous egg donor, but I still feel like that deserves its own blog posting. 

After a long period of seemingly neverending conflict, I separated from my husband (I'll call him A) at the beginning of the summer. We had been together for 7 1/2 years, married for 2. It was like I had snapped - I woke up one day and said "I'm fucking done. I can't take this shit anymore." I thought it would be easy, but it turned out to be the hardest thing I have ever done in my life. We had never broken up before, never spent more than a week apart from each other, never gone a day without at least talking on the phone. But there I was, moving out and living on my own for the first time in my adult life. 

I started a new relationship that was unfortunately entirely defined in opposition to my marriage. But a few months after moving out, I started to realize that without A in my life, a huge hole was left in my heart that nothing and no one else could fill. My anger dissipated and all the red I had been seeing faded away and allowed me to see things clearly. I started to experience hope that the patterns of conflict I could now see could be resolved.

I approached A with the idea of going to counseling to find out if our marriage could be saved or if the damage we had done was irreparable. At first he was resistant, but in the following days we had several very deep, very honest conversations that were respectful and productive. We decided to give counseling a try and he broke up with the girl he had been seeing. Many more conversations followed and we very rapidly fell back in love. Other people ended up very hurt and upset by this, but for the first time in my life I am beyond putting their feelings and expectations behind my own. 

I went through a profound period of self-discovery during my separation and in the weeks leading up to A and I getting back together. I returned to the person that my best friend has termed "Soft JLK." This is the vulnerable me. He describes it as the me who curls up on my couch in a hoodie and sweats, smoking butts and drinking coffee while having a quiet conversation with someone I trust as opposed to the me who gets dolled up for parties and talks to many while truly connecting with none. It is very difficult to maintain this side of me, because the person who cares often winds up hurt. I am traditionally a person who walls people off and convinces herself that she does not care so that I don't have to deal with hurt feelings. 

I am still the old me sometimes, because I am not ready to just let go. My in-laws all but hate me right now and these are people that I loved as much as my own parents. It cuts very deeply, so I have to shut them out at least for now. The decision I made to leave destroyed a lot of the trust and faith that people had in me, but I need to concentrate on rebuilding A's faith and trust. I can't worry about the others just yet. 

A friendship that was very dear to me has apparently dissolved into something bordering on animosity, though I can't explain why because she doesn't really want to talk to me. All I've been able to find out is that she thinks I never tried hard enough, never let her in, never really cared. I'm trying to rebuild that too, patiently waiting for her to give me an opportunity. I can't let this one go. 

I've had arguments with my family that were discussed in an earlier post, I've been through nightmarish stress because of a professor who nearly dropped the ball on me, I've been screamed at by someone I broke up with in a manner that no one has ever spoken to me before and managed not to kill him, and myriad other frustrations of varying sizes throughout 2008. 

But I've also grown up in ways I never thought possible, discovered that I had truly found my other half and learned to appreciate that, tested myself to the absolute limits of my ability to handle stress, finished the degree that even a year ago I couldn't imagine actually being done with, finally graduated and signed my name on applications to universities I could never have dreamed of applying to when I was in high school. I've learned what it means to take pride in my accomplishments without needing the validation of others. 

It's been a very long and difficult year. But it was also the most important year of my life thus far. I am looking forward to 2009 and the further changes it will bring. 

Sunday, December 21, 2008

It's Like I'm a Yo-Yo

Got this response today:

Hello JLK:

I sincerely apologize for the delay in getting your letters-of-recommendation out.
I've contacted one of my senior colleagues at Ivy U #1, and also will contact all of
your other schools on Monday to notify them about the delay on my part.

Although some personal matters got in the way, I don't excuse myself for delaying
your letters. Still, knowing a little about grad admissions, and knowing some of the
faculty that you're applying to wok with, I can only assure you that
they will not in anyway discard or fail to read and fully evaluate your application
just because one of your referees did not get their letter in on time. Moreover,
admissions committees know well enough that applicants do not control the faculty
who write letters on their behalf. So, I know and trust they will not hold my delay
against you. I'm notifying the programs because I wish to highlight that you and my
two other students warrant the apology, and I want the admissions committees to know
that under present circumstances I've had to say no and back out of letter writing
this semester. But you are one of the exceptions that I chose to make.

Anyway, again, I don't excuse the delay, but I do hope you understand that your
applications will not be delayed by these recommendation letters. On Monday, I will
finish contacting your schools/programs and confirm that they have electronic mail
and fax copies of your letters.

- Dr. X.

Seriously, it's like I have this bipolar relationship with him. I've gone back and forth between wanting to scream at him and wanting to bear hug him this semester like a hundred times. 

I know that this is nothing compared to the stress of being in grad school - I just keep hoping I'm gonna get to take a break for at least a few months before I start a program, ya know?

Goddamn. Is this how air traffic controllers feel most days?

Saturday, December 20, 2008

That's It. I Have Officially Lost My Shit.

I gave Dr. X the benefit of the doubt. I tried not to be a nag, using only gentle reminders and I kept tabs on all of my applications so I would know if and when he sent a letter in. 

It is now 5 days past the deadline for 6 of my applications. Only 1 of them has a letter from him, and it's the one I picked up from his office on 12/2. 

3 of my top 4 program choices are Ivys. They have enough well-qualified applicants that they don't need to make special accomodations for me because of one late letter. I have spent over $500 on applications that will very likely not even be reviewed by the committees. 

I sent the following email to Dr. X today:

Dr. X,

I am really not sure what else to do at this point. The deadline for
all of my top choice programs was this past Monday 12/15 as I had made
you aware over 2 months ago once you had agreed to write on my behalf.
None of them are showing a received letter from you.

I apologize if there is something going on personally that has
prevented you from completing the letters, but if that is the case I
feel that I have given you ample opportunity to let me know so I could
make other arrangements. Instead I have spent about $500 on
applications that most likely will not even be looked at by admissions
committees because the file is incomplete, even though they have had
all the rest of my materials since the first week of November. I feel
pretty sure that Ivy U #1 and Ivy U #2 have enough qualified applicants that
they will not make any special accomodations for me.

I understand that you are extremely busy, which is why I provided you
with the necessary materials and information at the beginning of
October. If you are not going to be able to complete the remaining
letters, please let me know and I will not finish the last 3
applications that I have not completed yet. If necessary, I will wait
until next year and re-apply.


I chose not to call his office for two reasons: first, because he most likely won't be there because the semester is over, today is saturday, and it's a holiday week, and second, because I don't trust myself to be able to leave a calm and collected message. I am abrasive enough with the written word, I don't think I could get my point across without having some kind of attitude. 

At this point, I don't even care. I'm questioning my decision to go to grad school at all, because apparently the universe wants to make it as difficult as possible for me to pursue my education, as evidenced by all the bullshit I have been through in the past 8 years just trying to finish my undergrad. 

The only reason I got my BA was because I wanted to go to grad school. I already have an awesome job for which I did not need a degree and which does not entitle me to a raise or anything else. That piece of paper has caused me to go into debt by $15,000 plus the money I actually spent out of pocket. I sacrificed nearly all of my free time, several friendships, my marriage (though there were many other factors as well), the quality of the work I was performing for my job, a chunk of my salary in order to complete this final semester by cutting back on my hours, etc., etc. And for what?

This is all I have ever wanted to do with my life and I have acted accordingly. I busted my ass to do what I did and get the grades that I did. Yet I found myself at the mercy of a professor who had OFFERED to write letters for me back in May of this year. 

I thought that after I graduated this past Sunday that I would be able to catch up on rest, enjoy my newfound free time, and just live my life again. Instead, I am unable to sleep at night because I'm so pissed off and can't do anything about it. I am entirely impotent right now in this situation, and that's just not something I'm used to on this level. 

Dr. Isis suggested that I contact the other professor who wrote on my behalf to see if she can do anything to help, like contact the programs and make a case for my consideration. I am going to try that, but I feel like it's Dr. X's motherfucking responsibility to fix this. I have given him multiple chances to back out of doing this, but because it's now past the deadline I can't change the registered recommenders to accomodate my back-up plan. 

I know I've done a LOT of bitching about this on my blog (and in comments on the blogs of others), but I am consumed by this dilemma right now. I just want to scream. 

I feel like I have every right to be a bitch about this, but I still can't bring myself to do it. I'm STILL giving him the benefit of the doubt in case something happened or whatever, though even if that's the case he should've contacted me and told me. 

And that's the worst part - I don't even have an ACKNOWLEDGEMENT from him of the fact that he has fucked me over. That's all I want at this point - an email, a phone call, SOMETHING that says "You're right, JLK. I dropped the ball on you and I apologize."

I'm gonna cry. I'm so wound up and I don't know what to do. 

I'm like 10 seconds away from posting all the schools I'm applying to so that if any of you go there or work there, you can make a case on my behalf. But I know that none of you know me from a hole in the wall - that's how desperate I'm feeling right now. 


Saturday, December 13, 2008

The Hotness: Shoes Edition

This is my favorite pair of shoes that I own. It's not exactly the same pair, the ones I have are the Stuart Weitzman "Hotty" in Caramel Desert Cat, but these look exactly the same:

Figure 1: Stuart Weitzman "Fever" in Caramel Jaguar Patent, on sale for $189.95 at Zappos.com

I love Stuarts because they are all handmade leather, even the sole, which means they are COMFORTABLE and only get more comfortable as you wear them.

But you won't be running in those heels anytime soon. 

Friday, December 12, 2008

Now That's Hotness

For my Volcano Girl (woman, I know, but it's a Veruca Salt reference), Silver Fox, Mauna Loa from a 9-seater plane on my honeymoon:

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Meme! Why? Because I have TIME!!

1. Started my own blog (2 in fact!)
2. Slept under the stars

3. Played in a band
4. Visited Hawaii (honeymoon, it was AWESOME)
5. Watched a meteor shower (from the beach)

6. Given more than I can afford to charity
7. Been to Disneyland/world
8. Climbed a mountain
9. Held a praying mantis
10. Sung a solo (spring concert in high school)
11. Bungee jumped
12. Visited Paris
13. Watched lightning at sea (I lived 10 mins from the beach, of course!)
14. Taught myself an art from scratch (painting)

15. Adopted a child
16. Had food poisoning (just 4 months ago, yuck)
17. Walked to the top of the Statue of Liberty (took the elevator down, though)
18. Grown my own vegetables

19. Seen the Mona Lisa in France
20. Slept on an overnight train
21. Had a pillow fight
22. Hitchhiked
23. Taken a sick day when you’re not ill
24. Built a snow fort 

25. Held a lamb
26. Gone skinny dipping
27. Run a Marathon
28. Ridden in a gondola in Venice
29. Seen a total eclipse (in middle school, we made those things you look through)
30. Watched a sunrise or sunset
31. Hit a home run (used to play baseball on an all-boys team)

32. Been on a cruise
33. Seen Niagara Falls in person
34. Visited the birthplace of my ancestors
35. Seen an Amish community
36. Taught myself a new language 
37. Had enough money to be truly satisfied (it lasted for like a month)

38. Seen the Leaning Tower of Pisa in person
39. Gone rock climbing
40. Seen Michelangelo’s David
41. Sung karaoke
42. Seen Old Faithful geyser erupt
43. Bought a stranger a meal at a restaurant
44. Visited Africa
45. Walked on a beach by moonlight
46. Been transported in an ambulance
47. Had my portrait painted (my grandmother's an artist, lots of portraits of me)
48. Gone deep sea fishing
49. Seen the Sistine Chapel in person
50. Been to the top of the Eiffel Tower in Paris
51. Gone scuba diving or snorkeling (in Maui!)
52. Kissed in the rain
53. Played in the mud

54. Gone to a drive-in theater
55. Been in a movie
56. Visited the Great Wall of China
57. Started a business
58. Taken a martial arts class
59. Visited Russia
60. Served at a soup kitchen
61. Sold Girl Scout Cookies
62. Gone whale watching
63. Got flowers for no reason
64. Donated blood, platelets or plasma

65. Gone sky diving
66. Visited a Nazi Concentration Camp
67. Bounced a check
68. Flown in a helicopter
69. Saved a favorite childhood toy
70. Visited the Lincoln Memorial
71. Eaten caviar
72. Pieced a quilt
73. Stood in Times Square
74. Toured the Everglades
75. Been fired from a job (twice....maybe 3 times)
76. Seen the Changing of the Guards in London
77. Broken a bone
78. Been on a speeding motorcycle (only once, with my FIL driving it)
79. Seen the Grand Canyon in person
80. Published a book
81. Visited the Vatican
82. Bought a brand new car
83. Walked in Jerusalem
84. Had my picture in the newspaper (Model United Nations in high school. I was Syria)
85. Read the entire Bible (I went to catholic school for 13 years, of course)
86. Visited the White House
87. Killed and prepared an animal for eating
88. Had chickenpox (when I was 12, how much does that suck)
89. Saved someone’s life
90. Sat on a jury
91. Met someone famous
92. Joined a book club
93. Lost a loved one
94. Had a baby
95. Seen the Alamo in person
96. Swam in the Great Salt Lake
97. Been involved in a law suit
98. Owned a cell phone
99. Been stung by a bee

100. Ridden an elephant

It's Official!

I'm done! 

2 and a half years of juggling a full-time career with full-time undergrad studies....did 3 1/2 years worth of work in that time frame. And I finally have a degree to show for it. 

I cannot even begin to tell you how hard I've worked, how many sacrifices I've made, how little of a social life I have had. 

It was worth it, but it was fucking difficult. I'm not going to lie. 

I am off to celebrate with a glass of Nuvo while I read and comment on your blogs. Why? Because now I have time!

And this Sunday, I will graduate. A woman who, as a girl, barely graduated high school after 97 absences senior year. 

Summa Cum Laude. Goddamn, I love the sound of that. :)

Monday, December 8, 2008

The Hotness: Jeans Edition

Scicurious responded to my earlier post on hotness by asking me about my jeans. I have been dying to share my jeans recommendations with the world, so even though I should be studying for finals I am totally taking the time to do this. 

Besides, I had the Worst Day Ever, and I'm hoping this might cheer me up a little bit. 

First things first. I only buy 2 brands of jeans - Hydraulic and Se7en. I'm not talking the Se7en jeans that are super expensive - rather the Blue Label line that you can get at Kohls or whatever decent department store is near you. 

I have turned jeans-buying into a science of its own right. Why? Because you need some motherfucking data to be able to go out and buy jeans efficiently. Otherwise you'll be in a fitting room all afternoon and still leave the store empty-handed. 

But I have got this stuff figured out to the point where I can buy jeans online. 

Yup, you read that right. I can buy them ONLINE, without trying them on first. 

I'm going to give you what I look for in a pair of jeans so that those of you out there who don't have the same body type won't waste your time trying to make my stuff work for you. 

1. I look for low-rise so that they don't cut into me when I sit down. Also, even though I have hips, I have a pretty slim waist and it's nearly impossible to make higher-rise jeans fit my properly. Look for "real" low-rise in the juniors department. The women's so-called low rise will be about 2 inches higher on average. Anything less than an 8inch rise should work, and they give the rise info online. 

2. I have long legs and can't stand for my jeans to creep up over my ankles when I sit down. I'm just about 5'6, but I look for at least a 32" inch inseam, prefer 33". Se7en jeans are nearly always at least 33", many of them are 34". 

3. Unless you never wear sneakers, bootcut jeans are a waste of money. Why? Because they'll bunch up around the ankles if you wear sneakers and look stupid. I buy flares or wide-legs ONLY. Not only do they highlight the figure and minimize the hips, but they look just as good with sneakers as they do with boots or heels. 

Onto the jeans I most recently purchased and am absolutely in love with:

Figure 1: Se7en Crosshatch Flare Jeans, on sale for $39.99 at Kohls.

Figure 2: Se7en Fashion Flare Jeans, on sale for $39.99 at Kohls

Figure 3 (sorry for the size): Hydraulic Lola Fit (for girls with curves), on sale at Amazon.com for $29.99. 

Figure 4: Hydraulic Premium Crosshatch Denim Lola Fit Basic 5-pocket jean, on sale for $23.99 at Amazon.com

I literally own all 4 pairs of these jeans. They have stretch, they have style, they are comfortable and sexy as hell. 

I recommend anyone who is looking for jeans right now to show off the junk in your trunk, go with one (or more) of these 4 styles. You won't regret it. 

Oh, and report back!

Thursday, December 4, 2008

It's Almost Over!!! Yippee!!

Though I should probably be telling you all that I won't be blogging for a week or so until I get through the rest of the semester, we all know I'd be lying. Instead, I'll say that I probably won't be commenting on YOUR blogs as much until the craziness dies down. 

My last classes were today. Finals are next week. Graduation is in a little over a week. 

And then I am D-O-N-E!!!! 

Grad school or not, doing nothing but going to work for the next 7 months or so is going to feel like an absolute vacation!

My Sentiments Exactly

Monday, December 1, 2008

Huge Sigh of Relief

Yesterday I had resigned myself to the fact that I was going to have to ask my boss for a recommendation letter, apologizing profusely for the last-minute request. It had been my intention today to contact him and ask. I spent 24 hours or so figuring out exactly what I was going to say and how I was going to make it all happen so quickly. 

And then, this morning, I checked my MRU email for the gazillionth time:

Hello JLK,

Hope you enjoyed Thanksgiving break. Quick message from my cell
phone... I'll be back in the office by 3:30p, and will have your ''hand' letters. Let me
know if you will come by then, else I'll leave letters in mailbox. Let me know.

- Dr. X.

I felt like a blood vessel in my head that was reaching critical mass and preparing to explode just released and relaxed. 

If I see Dr. X when I pick up the letters, I may just have to offer up a bear hug of gratitude. 

2 Dr. X letters down, 8 more to go. 

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