Monday, January 31, 2011

You'll NEVER guess what this post is about

I PASSED!!!! WOOHOOOOO!!!!!!! All four parts!!!!! :) :) :) :)

AND - one of the profs on the committee, who I've never met and from whom I've never had a class, asked if I would come to his class to present my analysis of one of the articles to his students. heehee

And you know what this means...

...this afternoon I go buy my new toy. I would buy it RIGHT NOW but I don't think Borders or Sears is open yet. :)

Friday, January 28, 2011


I'm going to have heart failure.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

No results yet

So when I finished my prelims 2 weeks ago today I was told that the faculty have 2 weeks to grade them, and that some of them would take the entire 2 weeks, and that I would get an email with the results when they'd all been graded.



...any minute now?

And I have all these really cool thoughts about prelims that I want to record and remember - about the studying process, and what the week was like, and the priesthood blessing I got the Sunday before they started, and how I didn't panic all week, and how t.i.r.e.d. I was that whole week even though I slept good hours and ate good meals, and how just COOL it was to realize that I KNOW STUFF about my field...

And I really wanted to write these thoughts all out before I get my results, since the really good feelings about it all are NOT connected to my results since, did I mention that I haven't gotten my results yet?

So here's the quick summary, since I'm tired and I want to go to bed. :)

I felt good about my prelims. :)

I think the hardest part was between exams (there were 4 different exams, 4 days in a row), when I realized how much adrenaline had been pumping through me during the exam itself and when I thought about needing ANOTHER and then ANOTHER and then ANOTHER chunk of that same amount of energy to just power through each exam.

Were the exams hard? Well, yeah, but I also feel like I was pretty well-prepared. I took time at the beginning of each exam, after I had read the question, to outline and organize my thoughts about the topic, and to list who I was going to cite to make my points, and guess what?! I HAD thoughts to organize for each topic and I HAD people to cite - I didn't blank out, which was cool! - I know some stuff! :) And then after outlining, it was a matter of writing as fast as I could to just power through the rest of the 3-hour block of time for that day. THAT was exhausting.

I felt REALLY blessed during the last 10 days of prep and the week of the exams. I know that a lot of people were praying for me - THANK YOU!!! - and I really felt crazily calm about it all, which was a HUGE deal to me. I was given some really meaningful counsel in the blessing that I got before the exams, and that was a great way to start the week and good guidance throughout.

Anyway, this isn't all that I wanted to record about this time period, but some of it will go in my journal, and I may share more here later.

But now I need to go to that I can get up in the morning...and check my email...


Wednesday, January 26, 2011


Proofreading is a good idea. I almost just sent an email with the subject line "A Poo equipment overdue."

It was supposed to say, "AV Pool equipment overdue." Sometimes this keyboard bugs the L out of me.


Wednesday, January 19, 2011

shots from today

One of the labbies at work was getting to know a fancy camera today, and thus we have preserved this:

...shirt I bought in Abu Dhabi when our luggage didn't arrive and I didn't want to wear my "I've been wearing this for 24 hrs of traveling" clothes to meetings at the university, new haircut that I am LOVING, aaaaaannnnnddd...dumb expression. Terrif.

And this:

...action shot of me and the pizza. ?!?

For the love.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

For your midnight snacking pleasure: a bit of nostalgia

So it's 12:07 am and that means it's Sunday, and since I don't study on Sundays, that means I'm done with my prelim studying.

Read those last 6 words again, please, and see if they register with you a little more than they register with me as I think, type, and read them.

And also, it's after midnight, as I've already noted, which means that my emotions are a little closer to the surface than usual (no, I'm not crying) (Jer), so humor me while I wax nostalgic here for a minute.

I've been preparing for prelims for almost 2 and a half years now, since September 2008. As first year students my cohort (now my dear, dear friends) and I were warned to start preparing immediately, there was a lot to read. And there was, and we did. We had a very consistent study/reading group that first year. It petered out a bit second year, as we realized we were on different schedules for the actual date of prelims (I'm the last one of that cohort to take them; Arabic classes put me a bit behind in my other coursework), but even this previous semester, when I was the only one still preparing, we have met every couple of weeks and talked about their dissertation proposals and pilots and my prelim prep. They've talked me out of (and into :) ) panic on multiple occasions and been THE. MOST. FABULOUS. supporters and cheerleaders and co-conspirators that a grad student could ask for.

And now my exams start Monday. There will be four 3-hour exams, Mon-Thurs, and then I'll wait for ~2 weeks to find out if I pass or if I have to retake any of the portions (in May).

It's just crazy -- all this time, all this reading, all this trying to understand, to reason, to remember, to put things together in my head, to not doubt my abilities to understand, reason, remember.

The last couple of days, and especially today, I've felt a difference in my reading and reviewing and comprehension. I feel like I FINALLY (only now?! ;) ) understand what I should be looking for as I read a theoretical piece or a research article. I'm finally seeing some of the big pieces in my field and how they fit together. And I feel like--let's just get this prelim thing over with already! :)

And yet with all that is a bit of nostalgia--is this really happening? Is the dread of prelims really going to be a thing of the past in just a few days? Am I really one of those students who does this, who makes it to this point, who TAKES PRELIMS, for goodness sake?? This is a big deal, a big step. It's been pretty emotional to talk to my family and friends about it -- there's so much emotion and insecurity tied up in my confidence in myself, in my fear that I actually CAN'T do big important things or ever be an expert in anything.

When I was taking a little study break earlier I found this, from a post back in 2006 when I was working (and working, and working) on my Master's thesis:
I have realized recently that the good feeling [that I had posted about the day before] is NOT that I am working on my thesis. The good feeling is PROGRESSION. The purpose of my life is NOT to finish this dang thesis, THAT is not why I feel so much better when I work on it. The purpose of life is to PROGRESS. And I have NOT been doing so the last I-refuse-to-admit-how-many months -- I was allowing my thesis-writing, or lack thereof, to be exact, to hold me back, to "damn," or "dam," my forward progress. But [...] I have broken through that "wall" and can now move forward. And right now, moving forward means getting the thesis done. Here I go!
I think that's part of what I'm feeling now -- this is the next step for me, it's progression, and it is scary, but good. And I'm happy that I'm doing it. :)

So it's really interesting to be here, now, to feel like, for better or for worse, I'm taking prelims the day, and people? I'm ready. (And fine, now I'm crying. :P) I don't know everything, but I know quite a bit of "stuff," and I hope and pray it's enough, and deep down I feel like it is. It's still scary--they may, they probably will!, ask me something that I really have to dig and stretch to be able to say anything about, but I'll write something, and I'll turn it in, will go on. And maybe in a few weeks I'll wonder what the big deal was. Maybe. ;)

And I haven't cleaned this up yet:

But hey, it's past midnight (did I say that already?) and I'm going to bed.

Besides, I'm not quite ready to say good-bye yet.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

This is what's up

So I'm studying for my PhD prelims exams. Other programs might call them quals, or something else, but we call them prelims, and they are the HUGE exams that we have to take (well, not just take, but also PASS), before we can officially do dissertation stuff. Did I mention that they are huge? And scary? And start on Monday?


So I've been back from Christmas break since Friday night and studying (or attempting to study) since then. And it has has NOT been awesome the last couple of days. I hit a point yesterday, as my wise past-quals BIL warned me I would, where I realized I was getting limited returns on my study efforts - my brain was full, and trying to hammer more in there was not working. And I was really worried. So I kinda took 23 hrs off. eep. Not really intentionally, or premeditatedly, but...yeah.


I had a break-through tonight! I FINALLY started doing what I should have been doing all week, but was too scared and felt too unprepared to do - drafting outlines to previous prelim questions, to see how I would have answered them, and tying all these ideas and theories together. I've been DREADING doing this, because any time I've read a previous prelim question I've TOTALLY PANICKED because I have had NO IDEA how I would answer it! And that happened today, too, but I guess I am finally at a point where I decided I had to muscle through that, so I did and guess what?! I know some stuff! :) I'm writing down the references that I can think of off the top of my head, and how I would tie them in, and then I'm looking up more (from among my reading list - nothing new at this point - good heavens!), and...

IT'S FUN!!!!!


One thing that's been really worrying me is that I've been feeling like I know so few research studies that I can reference along with all the theoretical stuff, but in doing this outlining-and-looking-things-up thing I am finding that I only need small prompts to remember studies that I've read and analyzed, so that's been a HUGE relief - woohoo!

So I'm feeling lots more hopeful and relieved and I think I'll actually be able to sleep ok tonight instead of lying awake worrying about everything I DON'T know. (You should try that sometime...actually, no, don't.)

AND I'm actually looking forward to studying tomorrow - more fun!

All of which goes to show that I really like my field (which I initially typed as "fiend" - Freudian, anyone?), or that I'm up too late.

Good night.