Tuesday, April 5, 2011

I passed! And a few other things...

1. I passed my qualifying exams! Yay! Once again, they were pretty traumatic. I stumbled over my words and was extremely thankful I'd prepared all of my notes so that I could flip through them when I needed to. Whew! But they are over and done with now! What a relief!

2. I am on Spring Break this week which could not have come soon enough. So far, it's been great. The admin and I spent the past couple of days down on the coast. Some great friends of ours got married Saturday and we had a blast!

3. I've picked out my bridesmaids dresses. That was really fun. We did that just today. I am going for a very casual look. So I picked three dresses in three different colors. I have six bridesmaids and I am hoping that we will end up with two of each style and two of each color but not necessarily have the same style in the same color. I am going to have to try and figure out how to get some pictures of them to post on here!

Friday, March 25, 2011

Qualifying Exams - Round 2

For many PhD programs, candidates are required to complete some kind of qualifying exam process. For me, I had to edit an academic paper so that it is publishable and I had to write a 10 page paper that is a personal reflection on my growth over the course of the program.

Round One went a little something like this:
It started out fine when we were waiting on my advisor and the other two committee members both told me that they think I should submit my edited academic paper for publication. They loved it. And then the questions started.

One committee member asked me if I were to re-write my narrative paper now, how would it be different. I talked about some things going on in my classroom that I probably would have included. But when they began to ask me questions about critical theory and certain theorists that I'd grounded my thinking in, I couldn't answer. I didn't know a single person.

My advisor asked me who I'd been reading recently and I told her I hadn't been. She got pretty concerned and started to tell me that part of this process was to be able to describe the people who have influenced me the most, etc. Another member asked me the question about which critical theorists I liked, and I sat there for a second before I finally said "I am afraid I am not going to do well if this is how this is going to go." I told them that I haven't done any of my major classes in three semesters ago because I've only been able to take statistics classes. And that I haven't been able to schedule much since I haven't done my qualifying exams yet.

My advisor looked at me and said "Can you give us a second?" So I had to step out of the room and try to calm my quivering chin and prevent the tears in my eyes from overflowing. When I came back in, my advisor asked if I was okay. She asked if I was just nervous. I told them all that I hadn't thought I was, but that I had not prepared for a full on defense. I'd been prepared to have a conversation about my narrative and my revised paper. I had gone over exactly what was written in the PhD packet that explains the process. That is the same thing my advisor had sent me. And that was the way I'd prepared. When I said that, my advisor began to apologize to me and to the other committee members saying that she took full responsibility for this and that she had not done an adequate job following up with me to make sure I understood (which she hadn't). She said it was obvious that she needs to rethink this process and she wants to start having her advisees meet with her before they do their qualifying exams. She should never have expected them to just communicate with her via email which is what she and I had been doing.

This whole time I am still sitting there so embarrassed and my face is burning red and I still am trying not to cry. So we spent about 20 minutes with them talking about things they do and how they take notes with them when they have to go into a defense. My advisor said she was wondering why I hadn't brought anything with me, but I didn't know I could. She said that no one expects people to be able to pull theorists and such out of their heads. That also only added to making me feel smaller than I already was feeling. They were all very nice and tried to help me as much as they could so that I can prepare better for the next time.

Having three straight semesters of stats and not having taken a major class screwed me up. They said they couldn't believe that is what I'd been doing (duh - isn't that my advisor's job to know what I am up to????). So it was horrible. When I left I ran straight to my car (literally) and called the Admin and just cried and cried. I felt so stupid.

The admin and my dad both were so upset that my advisor would have been so slack about telling me what to expect. She had continued to stress that it was very informal and a "conversation" so I went in prepared to chat about my paper and my revisions. Nothing else. I kept trying to figure out what part of the responsibility was mine, but I simply followed exactly what my advisor told me to do.

So, round 2 is in one hour and 15 minutes. Holy cow. I am freaking out.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Rate My Teacher

I just came across this website called RateMyTeacher.com and read my rating. Holy cow. I had three ratings from 2009-2010. And each rating was the lowest you can get. Only one rater left a comment and that was last summer. Here is what that lovely student wrote:

koolish but really a push over everyone fails her class...would be good if her back bone was stronger

Ouch. I don't know whether to laugh about it or to cry about it or too look for another job. I think my feelings are hurt.

You kids want a stronger backbone? You got it...

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Well, I'm Back! And I've got some BIG NEWS!

So, my cousin pointed out that I haven’t written on my blog in eight months. For that, I am sorry. I have been planning a comeback for quite some time but frankly haven’t found the time to do so. This school year has completely flown by. I’ve been so busy with graduate classes, and while that is a meek excuse, it is the truth.
But I do have some exciting news! For those of you who don’t know, the Admin and I got engaged! It was on Christmas Eve. I am afraid I wasn’t a very good proposee, though! Here’s our story:

The Admin had his children with him over Christmas break. His daughter was an alter server at Christmas Eve mass. I’d thought it would be a great idea to try and eat dinner with my family and then ride with the Admin to his parents house to visit with them. The Admin kept saying that he wanted to stop by my parents house (where I have lived since September – I rented my house out in anticipation of a future wedding) before he took his kids to church. So while he was home getting his kids ready, I was at my house trying to get my parents to hurry up with Christmas Eve dinner so that I could go over to the Admin’s parents house after church. Well, my parents were taking forever to get dinner ready. So I was pouting, sitting next to the fire, when the Admin called again to ask if he could come over before church. I said “That’s fine, though I don’t really know why you’d want to. There’s not much going on here. Everyone is driving me crazy.” But he kept insisting that they stop by briefly. When he got there, I had just finished giving my parents a hard time because they weren’t cooking dinner faster. The Admin and his kids walked in and it was pretty obvious I was not happy. The fire was going out, so I said I was going to get another log from the woodpile. The Admin offered to help me. When we got down there, he said “I really want to talk to you about something.” I responded with “I really don’t want to talk about anything right now. They are really driving me crazy because no one cares that I am trying to get done so that I can go with you to your parents house.” He was standing there looking at me, so I began to load his arms with firewood. Finally, he pulled out the ring and held it up. All I could say was “Thanks, Admin. That’s really pretty.” Then he put it on my finger. And I promptly took it off. I was extremely confused for some reason. I think it was because we’d talked about getting married over and over again and now here it was happening and I just couldn’t let it sink in. Finally he took the ring, put it back on my finger and got down on one knee. When I finally let it sink in, I said yes and we begin hugging. My sister knew I was upset from earlier. She was wondering what was taking me so long. She came downstairs and when she saw the Admin and I hugging, she thought he was trying to comfort me because I was upset with the rest of the family. She came running over to check on me asking if I was alright. I held up my hand and we all started jumping around!
We’ve only hit one minor snag. We’d originally set a date for this fall back in January. But a few weeks ago, I found out that the venue had double booked us. We’ve ended up having to move the wedding forward by about three weeks. So thankfully the new date worked with the band and caterer as well. So our first bump in wedding planning has been overcome.

Monday, July 12, 2010

South of Broad

Dear Mr. Conroy,

I recently finished reading South of Broad while on vacation at my parents’ river house on Edisto Island. In the not-so-rare showing of emotions that your novels always elicit, I was moved to tears, laughed out loud, got angry, and ultimately had my opinion reaffirmed that you are a most talented writer. You make me wish I was more closely connected to Charleston than being removed by only one generation while also making me feel inadequate in my excitement at knowing exactly the places you are talking about in your novels. You paint such a beautiful picture of Charleston that, while I spent my childhood there visiting my mother’s family and continue to spend my adult life visiting my sisters who live on Johns Island now, I still feel like an outsider looking in.

South of Broad was fantastic and I rooted for Leo and mourned Steve and loved and pitied Molly. I revisited my own experiences with Hurricane Hugo even though I was a 10 year old child in Columbia. But I envisioned how my aunt must have felt because she, too, chose to ride the storm out on James Island. And I remember the pictures of my grandmother’s James Island house and how all of the pine trees seem to miraculously miss the main portion of her house and instead stood upright, the top halves standing straight up next to the lower halves like knives plunged into the ground. I remember my uncle losing a collection of old records when his bottom floor of a downtown apartment was flooded and all that remained was a thick layer of mud and dead fish. And I remember my McClellanville cousins having to live with us for a while because so much there was lost.

I appreciate the rawness of the story and value the opportunity I had to live in Charleston in the 1960s because of South of Broad. Like you, I am an English teacher in Columbia. And as you mentioned in your letter years ago to that young student in West Virginia regarding the banning of Beach Music and The Prince of Tides, I, too, have traveled the world and met many, many people in my readings. And many of my favorites have come from your novels. (I subscribed to the English Journal and in a matter of great coincidence came across the reprinting of your letter just this afternoon.)

I must admit that I did pause every now and then during my reading to look out over the river in the direction of Fripp Island and daydream of one day getting to the chance to have a conversation with you. I once stood in line at the Happy Bookseller in Columbia for hours to have you autograph my copy of My Losing Season and upon my arrival at your table, promptly forgot everything I wanted to ask you. However, today, I would thank you for writing such a powerful novel. And I would beg you to not wait 14 more years – rather, not to make me wait 14 more years for the next one. I thoroughly enjoyed it and hated closing the book and saying good bye to the characters I felt I had come to know personally.

So, if you ever feel so inclined to come to Edisto, I have what I feel to be a pretty inspiring view. An open invitation for some conversation on the porch. (I also can whip up a pretty mean buerre blanc sauce that I find to be truly delightful over sautéed scallops.)

Thank you.

Thursday, June 17, 2010


There are several things to celebrate today, this week and this past month.

First, happy birthday to my sweet brother! I love you!

Second, my sister is getting married Saturday! Outside.....at 5:30....in Charleston, SC. Holy cow. Think it will be hot? But it will also be beautiful. She's marrying her high school sweet heart and it is awesome to think that those kinds of things still happen today. Pictures to come. I promise! It's going to be great!

Third, my sweet friend was married at the end of May. Also, outside in Charleston. We have all been friends since high school. My how we've grown up.

This is us at the Carolina Cup sometime around 1999.

And here we all are May 21, 2010. 11 years later. I am so blessed to have such excellent friends. I think that kind of friendship is rare. And I take advantage of each time I get to spend with them and with all of my friends! (Thanks to TNPLH for "letting" me steal the pictures!!! Hee hee!)

Today, I hope my friends read this and know how much I love them! And I hope my bro has a great day!
This week, I cannot wait to see my sister marry her long time love and I am so excited to welcome him into my family.
Next month, I turn 31! 30 was fine. It was a big birthday. I was in Italy. I fear 31 will come with much less fan fare.

Lots going on!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010


That is kind of how I am feeling right now. I think maybe it is too hot to be creative and find fun things to write about. I have no freshmen surrounding me now and providing me with endless possibilities to write about. All I have is this hilarious picture. And it is not related to any of my freshmen. The Admin has two children - a six year old and a nine year old. The six year old had an assignment. It was to draw four things. He drew four black balloons. To me, though, they don't look much like balloons.