Thursday, January 14, 2016

Long Week

Grad school is hard, guys. Let me rephrase. It's not that grad school itself isn't hard, but my program is hard. There are so many pros to it, but I think one of my friends in the program experienced it best:

MA student in a 2-year program (MA1): So do you think you're going to take this class?
Friend of MA1 who is in the same program (MA2): I really want to, but it will be my 3rd class this quarter.
MA1: Oooo, 3 graduate classes? That's a lot in one quarter.
MA2: And I'm working on my thesis, too.
MA1: Yeah, you shouldn't do that.
My friend: *Turns away and sinks into her chair BECAUSE THAT IS EXACTLY WHAT EVERYONE IN MY PROGRAM IS DOING*

To put it another way: after talking to many, many people in my program this week and asking them how they are doing, only 1 person said anything resembling "good." 1. And he is also sick. So . . .

It's been rough.

I enjoy all of my classes well enough, I'm fairly excited about my thesis topic, it's been wonderfully frigid outside. But I just don't have the energy to go and go and go non-stop. Who do you think I am, Alexander Hamilton?!

But there have been a lot of little victories this week that I should acknowledge.
  • Monday I got out of bed and made it through the day. It was also really beautifully cold and snowy and I loved it (read: that was really the only good part of the day. Besides coming from behind to win at Settlers at FHE)
  • Tuesday was really fantastically productive, which was a huge deal, especially after how terrible Monday way. I also emailed some potential thesis advisors.
  • Wednesday I didn't freak out in my seminar class and pushed through a long day despite being tired.
  • Thursday I met with not 1 but 2 potential thesis advisors, who both gave me great insight. One flat out said he'd be willing to work with me and the other said that he promised he never would (he's emeritus so he can do that) but that my project is tempting and he'll let me know. !!!
  • Friday hasn't happened yet, but I don't have any scheduled academic commitments and no work, so I'm just going to have brunch with some friends and take care of myself and clean and do laundry and buy groceries (those 3 are really big adult deals) and meet with the sisters.
So I'm really just surviving, but somehow coming out on top anyway. God sure loves me. 

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

2016 Book List

Count: 6/112 
(completed books in bold, with titles linking to my blog post about them)

Instead of doing my required grad school reading for class tomorrow, I'm compiling a book list! I have a goal to read 100 books this year (not counting grad school books--or at least only counting a few of them maybe). "How do you have time for this," you ask? "You are in grad school and will spend half the year writing a thesis while taking a full load of graduate level classes and working!" Well, it's simple. I'm cutting back on Netflix, Hulu, and the like, and I am requiring myself to read something non-school related for a bit every night before bed to me hopefully relive some anxiety and sleep better. And once I'm out of school, I'm hoping for a lot of time to go sit out by Lake Michigan and read . . and reading on public transit on my way to work (because I'm also hoping for a job) . . . and reading all the time like I used to. So here is a list of 112 things to read this year (I will probably combine some of them) that I compiled from about 5 different book challenges. I'll try to remember to come back and update the list with what I chose to read when I finished each item.

Also, as one last side note: in my searching for book lists, I found this one: a woman read a book from every country in the world one year! Maybe I'll do that in 2017.

  • Woman under 25: I am Malala, Malala Yousafzai
  • YA author of color
  • Graphic novel by a woman
  • Post-apocalyptic novel by woman
  • Southeast Asian writer
  • Popular author's first book
  • Never-read author
  • Favorite author but previously unread
  • Author with my initials
  • Celebrity author
  • Modernist woman
  • Comedian
Expanding Horizons:
  • Non-western history
  • About an indigenous culture
  • Middle Eastern (by/about)
  • About an immigrant/refugee to US
  • LGBTQIA memoir
  • About Africa by an African
  • One book from each continent
  • About an unfamiliar culture
Form and Genre:
  • Essay collection
  • Contemporary poetry collection
  • Non-superhero comic (released in last 3 years)
  • Play
  • Short story collection
  • Satire
  • Feminist sci-fi
  • Classic romance
  • Futuristic romance
  • Murder mystery
  • Dystopian novel
Adaptations and Translations:
  • Book that is now a movie
  • Translated into English
  • Book that inspired a TV show
  • Based on a fairy tale
  • Movie coming out this year
  • Favorite childhood book
  • Makes me cry
  • Required high school reading
  • 1st book in a series I've never read
  • 1st book in a series by an author of color
  • Trilogy
  • Book and it's prequel
  • Science
  • Biography
  • Feminist
  • Food memoir
  • Political memoir
  • Autobiography
  • About women in war
  • Based on a true story
  • Religion
  • Self-improvement book: Daring Greatly, Brene Brown
When Published:
  • the 1980s (or the decade in which you were born)
  • 2016
  • Before 1916
  • 1989 (birth year)
  • 20th century classic
Awards and Recommendations:
  • Audie Award (listen)
  • Recommended by librarian/bookseller 
  • Chosen for me by friend or family member: The Alchemist, Paul Coelho
  • Banned
  • Pulitzer Prize: All the Light We Cannot See, Anthony Doerr
  • Book Mom loves
  • Bad reviews
  • National Book Award
  • YA bestseller
  • NYT bestseller
  • Recommended by someone I just met
  • Oprah's Book Club
  • Family member recommendation
  • 1st seen in bookstore
Length, Titles, and Covers:
  • 500+ pages
  • 600+ pages
  • Under 150 pages
  • Under 100 pages: Letters to a Young Mormon, Adam S. Miller
  • # in the title
  • 1 word title
  • Antonyms in the title
  • Color in the title: The Red Notebook, Antoine Laurain
  • Blue cover
  • Based on its cover
Shame On Me:
  • Been meaning to read
  • Should have read in school but didn't
  • Started but never finished
  • Own but never read
  • Intimidating
  • Bottom of the to-read list
  • Book that scares me
Set In . . . :
  • Pre-1900 (historical fiction)
  • A place I want to visit
  • The future
  • Where I live
  • Christmas time
  • My home state
  • Europe
  • Summer
  • A road trip
  • An island
  • A world with magic
  • Main character deals with mental illness
  • Nonhuman characters
  • Protagonist shares my occupation
(EDIT: I realized I should probably cite the original booklists I compiled this from. The 2015 and 2016 Popsugar challenges, Bustle, Read the World, Modern Mrs. Darcy, and Book Riot Read Harder)

Friday, January 1, 2016

Bye, 2015

In 2015, my blog was neglected, in large part due to grad school eating my life, but let's be honest--the first part of 2015 wasn't full of regular blogging either. Anyway, I have a resolution to blog more for myself and what a better way to kick that off than with this Buzzfeed inspired review of 2015.

1. What did you do this year that you’re proud of? Two words: grad school.
2. Who did you meet this year that inspired you? All of my good friends in my program. Smart, lovely, energizing, wonderful, inspiring people.
3. What did you read that you think bettered you? The Elegance of the Hedgehog. It was a reread, but this book never ceases to instill in me a deeper love for all the people and little miracles all around me.
4. What are songs that you will always hear and think of this year even when you’re listening on some contraption that hasn’t even been invented yet? Hamilton. Fight Song by Rachel Platten. And Taylor Swift's 1989 album.
5. What were some times that you laughed so hard you could barely breathe? The two that come to mind are pretty recent, both at home with my family. The night Matt got married on Rebecca's bed with her and Elizabeth, and Christmas Eve when we were watching old family videos.
6. What were your favorite movies? Not what was good, not what you had to see because of your friends or the media. What were your favorites? I didn't see a lot of movies this year, actually. I really loved Star Wars, Inside Out, and Pitch Perfect 2. But there were a few more that I didn't get to see but really wanted to
7. What are some fears that you had at the beginning of the year that you overcame? I don't think I've completely overcome this one, but I've certainly learned how to be alone.
8. What were quotes that you loved this year? Anything from Hamilton.
9. What are ways that you exercised self care? Well, this is one that I actually really need to do better with, but 2015 taught me a lot about how and when and why I need to exercise greater measures of self care.
10. What are things you want to see more of next year? Museums and shows. I live in such a great, big, beautiful city now, and I want to take more advantage of it. Also, just the world in general. I want to travel more and spend more time in nature.
11. What are five things you did that you never thought you’d actually do? Live by myself (more or less), move out of Utah (I guess I knew I'd do this one, it just felt like it took a long time coming), take out student loans . . . I guess I need to do more things that are hard for me?
12. What were your favorite things this year? The weddings of my best friends, hiking Angel's Landing with Katelyn, roadtripping across the US with Kate, visiting Utah at the end of the year, and really just living in Chicago.
13. What are the most important things you learned this year? How to be alone and lonely, that it doesn't matter what I do for work as long as I like who/what I'm doing it for and feel valued, and that I'm much more capable than I sometimes think.
14. What is your favorite photo from this year? I feel like I've become a pretty good phone photographer this year, but I think my favorite one I actually didn't take. It's this one from April.
15. What are five things you want to say to people you love? I love you, thank you, visit me, how's your soul, here's a hug 
16. What are some places where you feel true joy in your life? Lisa and Will's house in Madison, in the mountains, the branch building, art museums
17. Where do you feel most yourself? Anywhere with my dearest friends
18. What were your favorite meals? sandwiches from Plein Air and Toast (yes, I'm counting it as a meal)
19. How did you calm yourself in times of stress? I took up meditation this year, which has really helped.
20. What are some compliments that you received that deeply affected you? My old Bishop mentioned that he was sorry he didn't use me more in the ward, Catherine called me her angel, and Kate wrote me a very touching "letter of recommendation" that contained numerous compliments that really meant a lot.
21. Who are people that you believe are bringing out the best in you? My branch (especially our sister missionaries and the rest of the RS presidency) and my dearest friends
22. What items of clothing did you buy that felt the most you? The JCrew paisley pencil skirt I used to borrow from Tracy all the time before I bought my own
23. What are you excited about leaving behind in 2015? The things I want to leave behind I actually have to bring with me into the future, but I'm excited to learn how to better deal with them this next year.
24. What are five things that you were hard on yourself about but would never have been hard on a friend if they were experiencing it? My depression/anxiety, not dating, procrastination, body issues, spending money
25. What are the best pieces of advice you heard this year? I don't even know.
26. What are the best pieces of advice you gave this year? I used to think I was good at advice, but this year I haven't felt that way.
27. What things have you been putting off doing because you didn’t have time? Exploring more of Chicago, reading more books, putting music on my phone
28. What are some things you’d like to focus and work on in the next year? My thesis and finding a fulfilling career, my emotional and mental health, cooking, keeping tidy
29. What are the best parts of you that you feel really showed through this year? My courage, kindness, and resilience.
30. What are your biggest hopes for 2016? Love, stability, and joy.