proustbot: (Default)
I passed my PhD comps on Monday, which means that I now possess a second MA (whatever) and have reached that rarefied state of ABD (hurray!). It was not a terrible experience -- I had colleagues who had terrible experiences, but I did not, and my advisor probably deserves all the credit for protecting me from the slings and arrows of outrageous faculty. (They tell you, when you're a baby undergraduate, that finding a good advisor is the most important part of getting an advanced degree in the humanities -- and this is very true.)

Two highlights!


PROFESSOR #1: "So in your exam, you talked about the bad parts of being a slave on a Caribbean sugar plantation. But what about the good parts?"

ME: "The good parts? Of being a slave? On the type of plantation with the highest rate of slave mortality?"

PROFESSOR #1: "Right. You talk about the black majority and relative autonomy -- but what else? What is there specifically about sugar that benefits slaves? Something not true for coffee, tobacco, or cotton? What is it about sugar?"

ME: "Well. It can be...eaten."


PROFESSOR #2: "So...imagine you are a Spanish colonial administrator at the end of the seventeenth century...who lives for 125 years. What do you think about the Bourbon Reforms?"

ME: "Well, ooookay..." [blathers randomly for five minutes]

PROFESSOR #2: "What I find interesting is that, in your answer, you sound almost creole..."

ME: "Well, I've been there for 125 years! I've developed local loyalties! I've gone native!"

PROFESSOR #2: "..."
proustbot: (clint eastwood)
If you've ever wondered what constitutes the grad-student-in-the-humanities equivalent of motivational "Hang in there!" cat posters: Academic Coach Taylor Has Some Advice For You pretty much holds a mirror up to my life. (And the lives of everyone else in my department, considering how often this tumblr gets posted to my Facebook feed.)



proustbot: (clint eastwood)

DARWIN: [staring down at my stocking feet] "Awesome socks as usual, dude."

ME: "...have you ever seen me in socks before?"

DARWIN: "Maybe not? Maybe I just assumed, given everything else I know about you, that you had a bitchin' sock collection."


VICTORIA: "Yeah, so when my mother was a little girl in Detroit, her neighbors were ham-radio operators. And sometimes their radio conversations would get accidentally picked up by her television. One of them was called "Hot Dog." And...I've forgotten what the other one was called..."

[Victoria calls her mother and has a muffled conversation]

VICTORIA: "All right, Mom says that the other guy's call sign was 'Dolly Dimples.'"


PROFESSOR: "And he teaches at that school up there...starts with a W..."

ME: "It's Wheaton."

PROFESSOR: "That's an all-girl's school, right?"

THE DUDE: "No, you're thinking of Wellesley."

SUFFOLK: [maliciously] "No, I think you're thinking of Wesleyan."


EVERYONE ELSE IN THE CLASS: [high-fiving Suffolk]

SUFFOLK: "I mean...all those W places up there in gets confusing."

proustbot: (walk of shame/terror)
GOSLING: "Hey, do you want to come to [a fabulous gay club] on Wednesday?"

ME: "Well, I would...but Wednesday night is my board-game night."

GOSLING: "I think we can just take Settlers of Catan into the club...?"

OTHER FRIEND: "Dude, no, we cannot."
proustbot: (Floreat Etona)

GOSLING: [to me] "I realized last night that I've never left your house sober."


ME: "So I've decided to crash your seminar this semester!"

SIMON: [deadpan] "Oh, good. It'll add a nice 'I do what I want' element to the conversation."


WIFE E: "They're words from World War I. Made-up words! Words of convenience! Words that dying men scream from the trenches!"


FORMER ROOMMATE: "You're coming to visit me, right? Remember: what happens in Spain stays in Spain. If you know what I mean."

ME: "Does that mean we can kill a man with impunity?"

FORMER ROOMMATE: "Yes. Just like that singer whose song you're always quoting when I ask you personal questions! Like, 'Do you have any secrets you want to tell me,' and you say, 'Well, this one time in Reno...'"
proustbot: (Floreat Etona)
STUDENT: "So. Which one of us is your favorite student?"

ME: "Wha--?"

ADMIRAL ACKBAR: "It's a trap!!"

(In related news, I just spent two weeks riding herd on twelve undergraduate girls on a study-abroad trip through Brazil. No one died, and I did not kill any of them, although there were times when it was a close thing. I now look forward to returning to the dark, cool embrace of the library and having zero contact with humanity for the next three months as I prepare for my qualifying exams. Hurray!)
proustbot: (clint eastwood)
My advisor is offering a seminar next semester that conflicts with two other seminars I want to take (for giggles). I sat in the computer lab one morning and tried to strategize how to get two of the three professors involved to shuffle around their classes without letting my advisor know that I am taking classes solely for the sake of giggles.

This is my comps year. In theory. I should be grimly grinding away in preparation for my exams in the spring. In practice, I like to take seminars on totally unrelated topics, because, hey, sitting with a bunch of your peers and discussing books and sources and historiography is the fun part of graduate school. However, the advisor will not be sympathetic to this line of thinking, and I have successfully kept him in the dark about the many, many seminars I've taken and am taking. (Happily, he has not yet stopped to wonder about why all his colleagues know me so well.)

I was explaining all my ruses and plans to other grad students in the lab, and one of them raised his eyebrow and said, "[ profile] mutantkoala, every [advisor] story you tell is about how he sees through your intricately designed plans to deceive him."

Which is a very true statement -- although it may reflect more the stories I elect to tell about myself and less the perspicacity of my advisor.
proustbot: (liz)

D: "I find that Nicholas Kristof is becoming increasingly insufferable."

ME: "..."

D: [dangerously] "Go ahead. Say it."

ME: "Sounds like the caption to a New Yorker cartoon!"

D: "I knew you were going to say that."

ME: "Only, in the cartoon, we're both dressed as rodeo clowns."


ME: "Well, you know, once I shot a man in Reno just to watch him die."

V: "Dude. Everything you say is either a line from Johnny Cash or The Big Lebowski."

ME: "The good things in life!"


H: "Oh, man. She's always talking to me. For hours. Late at night. I think I'm in trouble. Could you just talk to your roommates and get them to tell her that I'm an asshole?"

ME: "Well...I think they'll do that anyway. Without me asking them."
proustbot: (et je veux ta revanche)
[H. steps out of the room and returns after five minutes]

H:" So R. tells me that you were just talking shit about me."

ME: "What? No! I mean, it was R! He was talking way more shit than I was!"

H: "Interesting. I didn't actually talk to R. I just heard you cackling when I was walking down the hall, and I figured that's what you were doing."

ME: "...dammit. You know me too well."
proustbot: (Floreat Etona)
PROFESSOR: "My, hello! Hello! Haven't seen you in a while. You're looking good!"

ME: "Um, thanks. You're...looking good, too!"

PROFESSOR: "What do you mean? Are you saying that I don't normally look good?"

ME: "..."

The Great Hunt, The Mysterious Benedict Society, and The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie )
proustbot: (clint eastwood)
INSPIRING WORDS FROM MY LATIN PROFESSOR: "Wow, that is totally wrong. I don't even know why I wrote that on the board. It is so wrong. Clearly, the business-end of my crack pipe is hot to the touch right now."
proustbot: (But it was she and not the sea we heard)
I felt a sudden burst of affection for my department this morning when I walked out of the computer lab and passed the department chair, who was dressed in shorts and sock-less loafers. He was bent double and slowly pushing a cardboard box of books down the hall.

"Do you need any help?"

"Nope!" he barked, inching along.
proustbot: (asia at odd hours)
So I'm in Spain now.

I like Sevilla. I spend my mornings in the archives, chortling over 500-year-old receipts, and then I spend my afternoons asleep, and then I spend my evenings eating little green olives and fried bits of cod and drinking lots of beer.

I rather like my life's trajectory.
proustbot: (liz)
So, there I was, drunk and walking across the university campus in the middle of the day and thinking, "Man, this isn't even the first time this week I've done this."


A tally of yesterday's drinking:
  • one glass of red wine with advisor at lunch
  • one bottle of beer (Harp's) at friend's house as we made champagne jello shots
  • one little cup of wine being offered as samples at the liquor store when we went to pick up the keg.
  • two glasses of wine, from the aforementioned bottle of wine that we bought after sampling it at the liquor store.
  • two or three champagne jello shots, I lost track
  • 10+ red Dixie cups of National Bohemian beer from the aforementioned keg

    We kicked the keg last night. As a cohort, we are very proud.

    No headache this morning, although I think I may take it a little slow and easy today.
  • proustbot: (But it was she and not the sea we heard)
    Yesterday, I woke up at 4 in the morning, turned on the BBC, and began typing up an outline about the plurality of the Protestant Reformations as many people in wacky hats streamed through the TV and into Westminister Abbey. (I've gotten some grief about this from my cohort, to which I can only say: if you ever need to muzzily get up early to parse your indecipherable notes about Zwingli's interpretation of the eucharist in preparation for an eight-hour exam that you're about to take, wacky hats and organ music make a nicely soothing accompaniment.)

    Then I packed up my stuff, went to the library, spread out my stuff on a group-study table, piled up my books like a fortress around me, plugged in my headphones, turned on my iPod, and took an eight-hour exam. (The questions I decided to answer involve the geographic multiplicity of the Reformations and the historiography of religious violence in early modern Europe.) I haven't taken a timed exam since undergraduate years, but I have written many research papers under ridiculous deadlines in the last three years, and that skill served me in good stead. I took one twenty-minute break to run up to the library cafe and eat a sandwich while flipping through Natalie Zemon Davis' Society and Culture in Early Modern France. Then I ran back down and kept typing. I produced 14 pages, which seems to be the average output for the people in my cohort who took their own exams that day.

    Then I got on a bus with some friends and went downtown to the university conservatory, where one of the members of my cohort (who took his own eight-hour exam earlier that day) was singing with a Renaissance ensemble. Two hours of lute music later, we made sleep-deprived smalltalk and tried to go to our favorite pizza place around the corner, only to discover that their kitchen closes at 10. (10! On a Friday night! We were aggrieved.) So we went instead to our second favorite bar, where we drank beer and ate undercooked pizza and they mocked me for getting up at 4 in the morning to watch William and Kate wed. ("But I was just typing up notes," I wailed. "The eucharist! Iconoclasm! Institutional hierarchy!")

    Then I went home, curled up sleepily on my roommate's bed while I talked to him about our days, and then curled up sleepily on my own bed. And went to sleep.
    proustbot: (liz)
    [SCENE: An Australia Day party in which I consumed great amounts of Yuengling after kind-hearted souls steered me away from the Foster's]

    REYNARD: "Fight Club? No, we didn't have a Fight Club, but we did have a Bite Club. But we can't talk about it."

    ME: "How many people were in Bite Club?"

    REYNARD: "There were sixty camp counselors, and we were all in Bite Club. I mean, it originally started out with three people who weren't supposed to talk about it, so..."

    ME: "..."

    REYNARD: "We worked on a point system. One point per bite. Double points if the bite happened on the butt. No one ever managed to do that, though. You'd be surprised at how difficult it is."
    proustbot: (clint eastwood)
    And now I will put on uncomfortable shoes, grab my propitiatory brownies, and sally forth to my M.A. thesis defense.

    If I can avoid bursting into tears in front of my professors, I will consider it a raging success.

    stolen from that hive of scum/villainy, ohnotheydidnt

    ETA: This one goes under the "raging success" category. Now if I can only get my tourist visa from the Brazilian consulate, MY LIFE WILL BE COMPLETE.
    proustbot: (walk of shame/terror)
    I turned in the latest draft of my thesis on Tuesday.

    My advisor trotted down to the department to pick it up today, and nobody could find it.


    ETA: Somehow it ended up being mailed to my advisor through some hilarious chain of events that may or may not end up being my fault.
    proustbot: (walk of shame/terror)
    Among the things that you never want to hear from your graduate advisor, a prominent place is reserved for, "You look very tan. Have you been to the beach?"

    No! I mean, uh, I've been to the library! Those big windows, and all that sunlight, and yes, I must have gotten a tan in the basement of the library! While I was working on my thesis! Yes, that's the ticket!
    proustbot: (et je veux ta revanche)
    [a professor is gushing to us about a university he just visited for a conference. This university, like most universities, has no open positions.]
    PROFESSOR: "It was really nice. ...You two should try to get jobs there!"
    ME: "..."
    MY ROOMMATE: [sotto voce] "Yeah, but first we gotta kill some people."


    proustbot: (Default)

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