Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Motivation is the Key

Together we stand to begin our day
with hopes and dreams along the way.

School is a place to work and achieve
to strive for goals, to dream and believe.

Motivation is the key
to learning well successfully.

A place for fellowship and fun
amongst our peers until we're done.

Along with O Canada, we used to stand and say this poem every morning at Bayview Fairways Public School. I wonder if the kids still do it.

Where can I get some of that motivation?

At the gym I sometimes watch Oprah or Dr. Phil because it's on, it makes the time pass... Oprah gave everyone in her audience $1000 to 'pay it forward' and one first grade teacher gave a whole bunch of books to an 88 year old man who has been learning to read and attending her classes regularly. That's motivation. Where did he get it from?

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

The quarter life crisis continues

Weeks ago, "How bad is it to work as a grocery store cashier?"

Today, "I wish I worked at McDonalds," I said.

"I wish I worked at Starbucks," she said.

"Everyday on the streetcar I look at the driver and think 'damn, he's got a good life,'" he said.

We laughed, then sighed.

Why are we doing this to ourselves?

I can't seem to put the necessary effort into my work. I sit at my computer and do everything but my work. I don't like my work!

But I've had a moment of clarity.

Here's the idea: I want to do something where I can express creativity, work with people, and be independent at the same time. I think I'll do a second master's degree in journalism. I like writing. I appreciate language. I won English awards in highschool AND once my TA in first year sociology wrote on a lame paper "you should go into journalism." That settles it, doesn't it?

So I can go to France from October to March (there's an interesting English teaching program there that allows lots of travel and life) then travel and/or work, then start a journalism program in the fall. Done and done.

Monday, November 27, 2006

Hip hip hooray


I feel happy.

At Fresh, the place where I ate tonight, the wallpaper extends onto the ceiling and looks totally beautiful. Too bad there weren't enough vegetables in my soba noodles. Too much soba, I tell you.

Tomorrow I have a doctor's appointment. The annual checkup thing. The last time I went to the doctor they told me I had high cholesterol. The time before that I had low iron. Then I went to Korea and managed to avoid the needle-in-the-bum. Whoo!

Speaking of which, I was sick so many damn times in Korea. Let me find my list.

1. Sick upon arrival lingering from trip to Mexico
2. Late July 2005: mini cold beginning in Osaka, Japan.
3. Mid/late September 2o05: lost voice for about six days (completely - still had to teach AND missed going to Everland.)
4. October 1st to October 3rd: pink eye and lingering sore throat/cough/phlegm/scratchy voice .... still going on October 25th... feeling mostly cleared up by November 5th 2005.
5. December 16th - December 24th 2005: total body ache and then stuffy and bloody nose.
6. January 7th 2006: headache, sore throat, fever, stuffy nose... almost lost voice, lingering sore throat better by January 23rd 2006.
7. February 26th 2006: Cold with lots of phlegm! Then ear infection! Still sick on March 13th. Pretty much better by March 18th.
8. March 29th 2006 - April 10th 2006: sore throat and phlegm, then stuffed nose.
9: April 22nd 2006 - Cold, sudden.

If you find this explicit, it's because I copied it straight out of my journal and it doesn't suffer from the stringent censorship laws that this blog does.

Never teach children! I was sick so many times I can't even believe it. I haven't been sick once since I returned home in August.

Tomorrow is my first physical since before Korea. Hopefully they don't tell me I have something equivalent to the dentist's cavity.

Thursday, November 23, 2006

All I want to do is play with my cube

At some point everyday I get an idea for what I will late blog about, only to run out of time and miss the opportunity.

On Monday I was going to write about the solution I’ve found for having no time to do the things I need to do. That is to skip other obligations like class and researching. That way I can do other important things like sleep and grade really bad-to-grade papers. Yes!

On Tuesday I was going to write about another solution I’ve found for having no time to do the things I need to do, and that is to play with a rubik’s cube. It’s fun, and near impossible unless you’re a math genius. I want to be a rubik’s cube genius. My fellow researcher and I spent some serious time working on a rubik’s cube I bought at the paper store under my school in Korea. It has six sides as usual but each is adorned with a country flag. The countries are Korea, Japan, Canada, USA, France, and Great Britain. Makes sense.

This is how far I got. Looks pretty good, right? Except according to the instructions we found online you need to start with the top layer and you must have a T shape on each side of other countries. Here you can see that I got the USA T shape but that my Korea side is not right. I needed to switch two corners and when I tried, disaster struck. At least I have photographic evidence of a full top. Whoo!

On Wednesday I was going to write about how I seem to interact with professors in a way that makes my fellow classmates reel in shock and horror. I joke around with them, (unless I’m crying, that is) and say things others wouldn’t. The other day that same fellow researcher and I crashed a wine and cheese celebratory dissertation completion thing for a student we’d never met. We were just hoping that the wine would add a little something to the rubik’s cube solution. I had been chatting with a professor about a variety of things (including moving to France, which he fully supports – because that way I can do my PhD research abroad…). On the way out I asked him if he can do rubik’s cubes.

“I’m stupid when it comes to things like that,” he said. “I’m no good at Sodoku either.” He looked to my friend, who’s Asian, and asked, “Are you?”

“No,” she answered.

“Why not? You’re Asian!” I said.

Authority and respect? Nah.

Today is Thursday and thanks to an extension on the paper grading I’m finally going to finish that today. Today, I tell you!

This weekend I think I might re-magic straighten my hair. Fancy that! And I’m going to initiate Jordana into the magical world of Indian food. She’ll thank me forever. I thank Wendy forever. Thanks Fred!
These are my dogs Kwinter and Oliver, who were happy to see me this weekend. I was happy to see them.

Friday, November 17, 2006

Suburban me

Hot damn, I hate riding the subway during rush hour! Why is it always full of freaks muttering to themselves, screaming children, and sneezing people? No, seriously? I'm not a public transportation snob, but I tell ya, if only I hadn't misplaced my ipod today.

The reason I took the subway is because I am currently sitting in my house in the suburbs, dog sitting for my parents who are out of town. Approaching my house on foot from the bus stop at the end of the corner made me feel sadly reminiscent. Maybe of my mostly care-free highschool self, or my lonely walking-through-the-neighbourhood heart-broken self, or some sort of self that I used to be before that I'm not anymore.

The suburbs are so quiet. The houses are so big and dark. There are so many condiments in the fridge but no fruits or vegetables. There are things in the freezer, even. My room is now the laundry/weight lifting room, but the purple walls and yellow curtains and random art remain.

This weekend I'm grading papers and right now I'm taking a break.

I'm resisting temptation to eat the condiments in the fridge and frozen things in the freezer because I've been catching glimpses of developing abs. Nice-uh.

It's grading time!

What are you doing this weekend?

Wednesday, November 15, 2006

That black poison strikes again

About a month ago I started drinking coffee before statistics class and it has been working like a charm. Though I don't always pay attention, I am always wide awake - until 3:30 in the morning. Damn!

About an hour ago I figured I might as well put myself to sleep by reading an article about economic development and its influence on migration patterns. It was the only time I've been interested in reading for school since September! I remembered it all and didn't even flip to the back to count the remaining pages! Okay, I did do that, but only once.

Does anyone else fine themselves doing that? Reading an article just to get it done but not actually paying much attention to its content? Of course you do. My friend told me that some people actually like the articles they read - this is the mark of true academics. Them crazies!

Hmmm... what else is new? Ahh yes. The other day in theory class a number of students were asked to read aloud in class. This brought me right back to good ol' grade three when we had to read from readers and I couldn't stand to hear kids struggling. Despite having a seemingly relaxed and friendly group of people in my class, you could feel the judging in the air. You stumble over the word antinomy, you die!!!

Remember those fifty assignments I picked up last week? The professor (previously judged hip and cool) promised to send out the grading sheet by Friday. When he didn't I sent a quick email reminder because I hoped to get them mostly done over the weekend. He never responded to my or the other TA's emails. Now a week has gone by and the grading is due a week from now. Blast!

Okay, now I will attempt to sleep. Oh, and for those looking for some fun, try this: courtesy of Robin.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

I love my neighbourhood

Have I mentioned this before? A ten minute walk North is a great neigbourhood called the Annex where all the U of T students/young people eat and drink. A ten minute walk West is little Italy where all the fancy-dressed people eat and drink. A six minute walk Southeast is Kensington Market, where all the vintage clothes and vegan food and tourists and all kinds of people eat and drink (and shop), and China town, where all the Asians and Asian-appreciating people eat and drink.

Let's take a look at Kengington market, shall we?

Here is a road in kensington with shops along it. Wow!

And here is another. Oh, look, people too! And rain.

Here is cheese - lots and lots of cheese. Look at all that laughing cow cheese. Why is there so much, you ask?

Because here is China town, which really should be renamed Asian town or Vietnam town. The laughing cow cheese is to fill all those Vietnamese buns, of course. Kam un!

Then, to top off the day, I norae-banged in Korea town and thanks to a little bit of maekju I said "sarang hae" to the lady. It's true I love her and Koreans and norae bang. I'm sad to report that I did not receive a single box of peppero yesterday.

Friday, November 10, 2006

Humiliating grad school moment #32

I have this unfortunate character flaw that likes to catch me in professor's offices every now and again. I cry. I cry for reasons unrelated to the actual situation, but more to do with nerves, self-defense and power imbalace (I suspect).

Here's the story.

I went to see my advisor/research employer/professor about my final course paper for her class just to run some ideas by her. All was fine until she asked, with a rather doubtful tone, "do you like grad school?" "No." I answered, and promptly started crying. The thing is that I don't necessary hate grad school, and things have actually been going alright lately, but I have this response ready for whenever I'm asked. And it's true that I don't love it. My point is that it's no crying matter for me.

So we had this long conversation where she seemed to bask in the glory of therapist role-taking. And I couldn't get control of my emotions. She asked me surprisingly personal questions that I (perhaps less surprisingly) answered truthfully. Are you depressed? No! Are you going to drop out? No! Do you have a low self-esteem? No! Are you socially incompetent? No!

The idea that I may even come across as any of these things is demoralizing for me. The only one I can understand is the self-esteem one, because I feel this unlike-me feeling of timidness sweep over me when I'm in school. Even my posture and facial expressions feel meek and I hate it. I generally have a fine self-esteem and particularly after returning from Korea I felt more self-assured than ever.

I suppose it was only logical for her to connect the tears to depression.

She also asked this: what makes you happy? And this is the crux of the problem. I don't know. I am unmotivated in school because nothing blows my mind. I am a flat line. I feel like I've tried hard to find what drives me but to no avail and at this stage a driving force is necessary to continue. How can I find passion?

There are some people around me who appear to totally immerse themselves in school and their work, which is noble, but not something I am capable of or interested in. I, however, seem to have kept school at a distance and am doing the bare minimum to get by. I need to become engaged.

Overall she was actually rather encouraging, assuring me that I am a good student who is doing well and that many people feel this way around this time. We came up with a plan for the research paper and my RA work that hopefully will work. She said that most people really get excited when they have the opportunity to attend a conference and present a paper. So that's that.

One of you suggested that I worry not about grades or impressing people but about learning, growing, and creating work that I can make use of. I don't think I'll be able to do this until I find what makes me happy.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Hanging in there

Life is good!

I feel like I have nothing to do! Then again I'm picking up fifty assignments for grading in ten minutes. At least the next ten minutes are ten minutes of my own.

In an attempt to expand my horizons I joined the gym across the street from my department. It's the Miles Nadar Jewish Community Center. I can work out and pick up men to make my momma happy all at the same time.

Yesterday I went for my complimentary fitness assessment and gym orientation with Jesus, a fitness guy who works at the JCC. He measured my BMI and blood pressure and body fat and all those fancy things and I'm pleased to announce that I'm normal on all counts. He asked me my goals, which are to be fit, to have something to do besides schoolwork, and maintain a healthy weight. I'm considering changing my goals, though, and losing 30 pounds to pursue modelling in Paris after I finish grad school. Seems like a good idea to me. Maybe I can get a rich Jewish philanthropist to support my dreams.

Jesus asked me my nationality. "Are you Italian?" You'd think that at the JCC people would have an easier time with that. Maybe I'll date Jesus, but that would defeat the purpose of the making momma proud... Hmm.

In other news, Jordana and I have officially booked our flight to San Francisco. We will take a bus between it and LA and fly home from there over the Christmas holidays. Anybody have San Fran/LA travel recommendations?

Time to pick up those papers. Those ten minutes were bliss... pure bliss.

Sunday, November 05, 2006

Grades and the farce of it all

I finished that paper late at night and sent it in knowing full well it was really terrible. Not the kind of terrible when you are just self-deprecating and it's actually pretty good. Terrible. The ideas were bad and unsupported and anyway, it was terrible. I got an A.

Weeks ago I wrote a similar paper for the same class that I felt really great about. I thought it was well organized and well written. I got an A-.

You may be thinking "wow, both A's, what's the problem?!" Well, this is what my professor says about grades:

"It takes a lot for me to give an A+. It takes a lot for me to give a B."

So basically she grades between an A- and an A+, meaning that the not so great papers get an A- and the fabulous ones get an A+. Isn't that bullshit? And that's the way it goes for all professors more or less in my department (at the graduate level).

This and the fact that I know that she misgraded those papers and also that I'm a TA who marks papers without even knowing the class material shows me how stupid all of this is.

Wednesday, November 01, 2006

The paper writing blues

It's 11:30 and I'm at school writing a bad paper. I'm not very close to finishing and I'm ready to crawl into bed and sleep until noon. Maybe I will sleep until noon... But first I must finish this bad paper because it's due before the morning comes. I'm not one for all nighters. In fact, I'm not really that far off from finishing, but far enough off that the end doesn't feel near and I hate it, hate it, hate it.

So I can blog and check my email and file my nails and feel sorry for myself for at least a few more ten minute chunks, and then it'll seriously be time to get down to business. Uh huh.

There was an award ceremony in the department today so now in the grad student fridge are many, many little cake-like things and a fruit plate. I snuck a peek at the faculty fridge too. Not only did they get cakes but they also got the left over soft drinks and cheese and vegetables slices. I'm not hungry at all.

Anything else I can think of to say right now? Nope. Except my paper is really bad, which is too bad, because I like to write good papers and not bad ones.

I must finish! I will finish in the hour! And then I will go home and sleep! Until noon... or maybe 8:00.

Singin' fly fly witchy witchy fly...

Happy Halloween! I went to a party and dressed up as a girl from the sixties. This dress was my grandmother's - back in the sixties. I have a feeling my five foot tall grandmother wore this dress a little differently than I do...

And while I'm posting pictures, here is me in my research room hard at work. Tomorrow morning I have to be there at nine. Oh no! Better sleep now.