Sunday, February 22, 2009

iBirthday '09

Tomorrow is my birthday, but since my birthday falls on a Monday this year, Mom and Dad came to visit this weekend to help celebrate. Mom baked a strawberry cake with chocolate frosting (my favorite - it's like a chocolate-covered strawberry), and we went out to Waterzooi for dinner (I never knew paella could be so good). Chris got me a book (Work Hard. Be Nice.) and a 2 GB Eye Fi Explore memory card, which means I can take pictures, tag them, and wirelessly transfer them from my camera.

All in all a very good birthday, although today is chilly and rainy, but I'm going to just relax today, revise a draft for Tuesday's class (I want that A-, and not the B+), and perhaps drink some tea. And maybe have another slice of cake after dinner tonight.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Short on Blogging

Yes, I've been short on blogging - again. I suspect I'm temporarily without my blogging groove. Things have been a hodge podge; I'm not sure that what's going on is worth sharing, because it's really only more of the same.

My class is going well - that is to say, my potentially last graduate level class is going well. It's a tough class; we've met I think four times so far, and are responsible for some actual, serious, graduate-level work that I wish I had been forced to partake in. (Not that I haven't done graduate level work, but I'm feeling that this is really up there.) I've had Dr. McG. before for the Ulysses class, so I had an idea of the level of work she requires (and the number of books), but this is critical research methodology, and I have no experience in critical research methodology to date, so this is good for me. We've perused the Norton Critical Edition of Conrad's Heart of Darkness such that we can ascertain what it is to critically research a literary text, since our major assignment of the semester will be to develop a critical edition, in several different parts, of Walcott's Omeros (a work of which I know nothing). No real clear idea of the entirety of what the assignment will encapsulate - I don't think Dr. McG. has determined each facet yet - but we did get one section of the assignment a few days ago (our class meets Tuesdays, later afternoon): To research, write, and compile footnotes for books six and seven. There are 11 of us in class, divided in two groups, and of course each group has the same assignment. We have the task of determining how we want to divide the work, but the assignment as a whole - the creating a critical edition of Omeros isn't due until the end of the semester, but I'm sure there's many, many levels of work and research that is involved, so the sooner we as a group can determine how we wish to divide the work, the sooner I can begin actually researching.

Subbing has been a bust so far. Twice now I've gotten up at 5 a.m., gotten myself showered and dressed and organized, only to find my assignment canceled; this morning I had already arrived at Penn Station before having found out there was an error of some sort. The truth of the matter is that I'm rather terrified of subbing (it's like the perpetual first day of work, where you have to worry about the timing of transportation to a new place you've never been to before, navigating the system, and making a good impression every time you agree to take the work), mostly because I have no idea what to expect. Logically I know all the normal, rational things, but my need for income is about on par with my relief that I've not had an assignment yet. Obviously eventually I'm going to have to have to deal with it, which I shall, of course. Someone suggested I go in with extra work for the students, in case the teacher does not have enough for them to do, but I find that suggestion difficult to execute if I don't know the grade for which I'll be subbing; and I hardly have the resources (or the luggage) to make an indeterminate number copies of something to hand out "just in case."

I met with my thesis advisor/primary reader earlier this week, also, to discuss the draft of what I can only term "the abomination that is my research." That's an exaggeration of course, but I don't think by much. My advisor is very attention detailed, and very sharp, and the head of the LIU Writing Program - all reasons I asked her to be my primary reader - but she's also very tactful and supportive and cognizant that writing a thesis is difficult - the other reasons I asked her. I am not exactly good at hearing criticism, but I've gotten a lot better (I've been trying), but it was still difficult to hear her helpful yet firm critique of my work. I haven't actually read her comments yet, although she and I had a fairly in-depth discussion about her feedback and where to go from here. I need time to get my head around her comments, so perhaps this weekend. I suspect she was right, but I've been feeling a bit disjointed since Tuesday because of it.

Both my primary and secondary readers have been inordinately supportive of offering help and resources, making themselves available to sit down whenever I'd like to discuss research and the whole gambit - for which I'm extremely grateful; this is the first serious, really in-depth piece of writing I've ever done, and I need help more than I realize (or want to acknowledge). Once again, I have appreciation for students who come in to the Writing Center to ask for continual and continued help in their writing, and the effective, kind ways one can offer feedback. I suppose one doesn't always realize how messy one's writing is.