Graduate Students and the Four Groups. 

On Tuesday, the professor for my class veered away from the lecture for a few minutes to tell us about how grad. students are the only group at the university who "know" they are not the top of the educational heap. He said that there a four groups at every university: Faculty, Administrative Staff, Undergraduates, and Graduates. The first group, Faculty, can say, "without us, there would be nothing to teach." The Administrative staff can say, "well, without us to organize the schedules, facilitate the registration, and pay everyone's salaries, nothing would happen." And even the undergraduates, who make up the majority of the student body can respond with, "we are the people who pays the money into the system by taking these classes. Without us, there would be no-one to teach."

Working at Night

The only group who really "knows" that they are NOT the top of the heap are the graduate students. They are the only ones who recognize that they are working for some other purposes, usually another professor. And the graduate students wind up doing the bulk of the drudgery work such as "grading papers, doing class prep. work, etc." I admit that I haven't heard this before, and when the professor said it, I felt that it was at least true for the college where I am at currently. Perhaps it is true for all colleges. I know that I have graded more than my share of papers, and I haven't even taught a course yet.

As far as my own academic work goes, I am still behind. But, I think I can catch up. I have a plan that might work, and what is more important, a new attitude. I now know that all I can do is my best work and turn it in, which essentially means to me that I don't have to strive for perfection. I can strive for "good enough." I have heard people say this before, but only now is the realization of it sinking in.

28 January 2005


The other night I was shopping at my local grocery store because I had run out of milk and eggs. It was about 10:00 p.m. at night, and on Saturday night. From the looks of the shopping crowd, there were more than a few decrepit-looking bachelors or young people on a "beer run." This is what happens when you shop at the grocery store at night. If you shop at the other end of the day, say around 6:00 a.m., you will be more likely to run into people over the age of 60. In any event, this stop at the grocery started out to be uneventful, and like most things in my life lately, dull.

Summer Tree

When I parked and got out of my car, a young woman, college aged shouted at me: "JOE!" I stopped and looked at her out of the corner of my eye. I wasn't sure she was talking to me. "Hey, JOE!" Okay, now she was talking to me. I looked at her. The passenger was laughing. The woman shouting at me, oddly enough, looked a little shocked, perhaps even slightly scared. Something weird was up, and she expected some kind of an answer. I said, "uh, no--sorry. I'm not Joe." "You not!?," she asked incredulously. "No," I said and proceeded to walk away. Next, for some reason, she decided to start cursing at me and saying some things that would make a sailor blush. "HEY! YOU &*&%^?! Why don't you (expletive) effing (expletive) You (expletive, curse word, and you guessed it: expletive)!!!!" As she was still shouting at me when I had made it halfway from my car to the front of the grocery store, I decided to stop. I turned around and walked straight over to her car. I got within 5 feet of her car and made a big show of reading her license plate. She stopped yelling. Without saying a word, I walked inside the store and did my shopping.

When I was done, her car was gone. So I went home without incident, and went to bed an hour or so later. But, this kind of thing really makes me wonder. Why do people do this to each other? I am a stranger to her, and the funny thing is, I think she knew I wasn't "Joe" all along. For some reason, maybe the thrill of adrenaline, she wanted to yell at me. In a weird way, the whole shouting episode makes wish it was August. I took the above picture then, and I keep thinking of how I would do some things over again if I go back in time to then.

24 January 2005

A Slump to End Them All 

As you can see from the bottom of my post, it is about ten o'clock. I got back from my class on violence about an hour ago. And, believe it or not, I have two books to read in the next thirty six hours. Subtract the time I need for sleeping, eating, an going to an appointment to the dentist tomorrow, and you'll find that time is actually much shorter than that. I've been able to read books in a single day before, but 650 pages of small typeface is going to be a killer, and I am not sure that I can really do it. It has me a bit depressed. Okay, I'll admit it, more than "a bit." But there is nothing that I can really do about it.

Bicycle and Car

Although I no longer have a cold and feel fine physically, the rather immediate school stress combines with the ongoing and increasingly difficult stress of my new home situation (I'll not go into it). I know it is a bore to read about other people's problems, especially on other people's blogs--but I got to tell you--I'm having more trouble than I normally do. Another way of saying all of this is: I actually have some good reasons for complaining this time.

One of the ways that I have been coping is by working on my webcomic in brief intervals during the day. It gives my brain a rest from the constant studying, and it helps me stop dwelling on my problems for a time. I admit I am becoming more attached to the webcomic than I ever suspected I would be. I really want it to become more popular, like Beaver and Steve or something like it. And I wish I had more feedback about my comic and how to make it better. My current stats suggests that traffic is increasingly slowly, but I wish it could go a little faster.

18 January 2005

Out of Commission 

For the last five days, I've been pretty sick with a nasty head cold. One the consequences of which has been that the dentist appointment that I had scheduled for today was cancelled. I've been spending most of my time writhing on the couch under a blanket or lolling on my bed looking like death-warmed-over. When I've been forced to attend class, I've tried to sit in the back next to window and cough discretely into my sleeve. Yes, I'm sure I annoyed the hell out of everyone with my icky display of illness, but when your graduate course only meets ten times in a term, you have to go to every class. However, that has been balanced by my recent realization that most of the students in the class were nerdier than I remember.

Reach for the Sky

So, I've been trying to do my best during the last few of days of illness, but it hasn't been too easy. The physical illness, in a way, is a just a token of the larger, more intense personal issues with which I have been struggling during this past half month. Work, which for an English Graduate student means reading and writing, has been both a refuge and a distraction from these other problems. Currently, I'm reading Charles Dickens Bleak House, a novel which is supposed to paint a portrait of 19th century London. It is sometimes been a challenge to wrap my poor, ill and infected head around a Victorian sentence structure, but I have been able to follow the gist of the plot anyway. Also, I've been reading Flannery O'Connor. There's nothing like a weird story than one written by her. And, of course, Faulkner will be coming soon. But by that time, I hope to be feeling much better.

12 January 2005

School Again 

The first week of classes here at the University are over, but I am not sure that I have fully got in the swing of things yet. Too much has happened during the last three or four weeks for me to have fully processed all of it yet. In many ways, I am still trying to recover some lost equilibrium. I know people talk about finding their "centers" or becoming a "centered" person, and I think that is what I may be trying to do, but I admit that I hate that terminology and cliche.

Farm Chickens

One of the major things on my plate for this week is figuring out how to resolve what, exactly, I plan to do in September, nine months from now. Nine months from now seems like a ridiculously far away date right now, but if I am planning on getting a PhD., I will need to apply to a school during this next week. It would have been better if I applied during the first of part of December, but as I was functioning on such a basic level emotionally, I was barely able to meet some basic needs. To be honest, I am still having a hard time thinking or planning for the future, but circumstances demand that I do, so reluctantly I will. This is the first thing on my to do list for Friday morning. If I can crank out the applications, I may still have a decent chance. I am still waiting for the results of my GRE English subject test, something needed for applications. I will let you know how I did when I get them.

07 January 2005

Birthday Sabbatical 

Well, I didn't plan on it but it seems that I have taken a month long, winter break, sabbatical. I won't go into any details about it here because it is too personal. Suffice it to say that I haven't been doing too well personally. I've had to go through some major life changes, especially within the last two days. These are the kinds of things that stay with a person for a long time. And even though I never seem to stop saying it here on the blog, I really am going to be super busy for the next few weeks. The reason: I am finally going to complete my unfinished school work. Everything is on the line.

On another note, today is my birthday. I don't normally come up with new year's resolutions because I am thinking about B'day kinds of things, so I am too distracted. But this year, I think I will try to go to the gym more often, learn to cook, develop my webcomic more, be more reliable, and generally be more consistent and confident as a person. Oh, and I will finish all of my school work. This summer and fall will be very interesting regardless of anything I do.

03 January 2005