Category Archives: School

Weekly Update: January 21

I don’t know about you guys, but my weekends are either jam packed with social activities or nothing at all. This weekend was one of the former and I managed to pack an awful lot into 48 hours. Friday night I went to one of my book clubs, where we discussed the book Gone Girl in all of 5 minutes before switching to Magic Mike, which oddly prompted a lot more discussion. I scurried off to catch the tail end of a wine and cheese with a group of classmates. Saturday morning I dragged myself up early to babysit then go into work (thrilling I know). Sunday I spent the whole day with a friend I haven’t seen in a while. After talking about it for 4 years (we met MLK weekend 2009!) we finally made it to the infamous farmers market under the freeway. This is not a fancy market, with pastries, coffee beverages and live entertainment, but dirt cheap local produce. For $4.50 I came away with 2 lbs of potatoes, 2 lbs of onions, 1 lb broccoli & 1 large bunch mustard greens. Then we went off to her house to cook it all up before more friends joined us for an afternoon of tasting her homebrewed beer and wine.

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Weekly Update: January 14

How was everybody’s weekends? Mine was nice and low key: I walked around town to run errands, took Falcor to Disneyland, aka the dog park, and watched some movies. I so rarely have weekends without plans that I so enjoyed just kicking back.

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The Great TA Caper

So in the world of American graduate education, you can pay for your education in one of three ways (that I know of): receive a fellowship, work as a research assistant (RA), or becoming a teaching assistant (TA). In the sciences, like my program, the most common method is working in a lab, hopefully doing your own research, in exchange for tuition, fees and a living stipend. However, my program also strongly encourages us to spend at least one academic term as a teaching assistant for the experience.

My first year I took a required grad level class that really challenged me, but also began to change the way I thought about my field of study. I didn’t understand everything but I impressed the instructor, who’s a huge name in the field, with my willingness to debate every.single.topic. When I found out that the TA-ship for his course was open this year, I decided this would be a great opportunity to get that teaching experience in and revisit materials that can only help my own research. Unfortunately TA positions pay less than RA positions, but I could handle a little squeeze for a few weeks.

A few days before the winter break, we got together to go over the course materials and my duties. I’ll be running a discussion section, having offers, doing all the grading and giving a lecture or two. Then as he walked me to the human resources office to fill out the financial paperwork, he casually mentioned that this position would only be 50% funded this year.

Cue record scratching noise.

What? Only 50%? I mumbled “oh,” but inside I was FREAKING OUT. Fifty percent positions do pay all your tuition and fees, but only half the living stipend and there’s no way I can afford to live on $800 a month. I figured I had four options: find a part time job for my evenings and weekends (as if I don’t already work 50 hours a week), take out a student loan (more debt=bad), complain to the administration (and alienate a big wig? yeah right!) or find another 50% position on campus that won’t mind that I’m basically working 100% elsewhere (the unicorn of jobs). Fortunately my boss is almost always in his office so I ran right over. His immediate reaction was anger, which I had never seen before. He came up with the same list I did, in the same order and dismissed them all for the same reasons. Then he said he needed five minutes to make some phone calls.

Apparently unicorns do exist, y’all. He magically found money to cover the rest of my salary by shuffling some grants. AND he’s not going to expect any additional work hours out of me, since he doesn’t want the students or me to suffer. Yes, my boss is still furious with the professor for leaving me only 50% funded two weeks before the new term started, but the professor is a bigwig and neither of us can risk offending him.

Here’s hoping that this is the most dramatic part of being a TA.

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Weekly Update: January 7

First off, I’d like to announce a landmark achievement for me: my first referral from Pinterest. Apparently rash-free homemade deodorant is going to be my ticket to internet fame. Who knew?

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Cosmo Vox Box

So, thanks to Being Zhenya, I recently got hooked on Influenster, which lets me review different products, which we all know I love. They recently sent me a Cosmo Vox Box filled with products to try out. Yes, I received these things for free, but my opinions are all my own. So, over the next few weeks, I’ll be reviewing

  • FriXion by Pilot Pen
  • Ghiradelli Gourmet Milk Sea Salt Escape
  • Gillette Venus Embrace AND Venus & Olay Razor

In addition, Zhenya will be helping me out by reviewing Forever Red Eau de Parfume by Bath & Body Works. While I love free products, I do not love migraines so she’ll be letting y’all know how fabulous she smells.

Cosmo Vox Box

And if you’re interested in trying out Influenster for yourself, let me know and I can invite you!

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Weekly Update December 10

I hope that everybody had a great weekend. After my crazy weekend my house is decorated, the family fruitcake is soaking in brandy and my dog is happily prancing around the house in his beloved jingle bell collar. I picked it up for $1 a few years ago, thinking it would amuse me for a few minutes before taking it off. However, the little bugger freaking loves it and when I take it off him, he stands under the shelf and whimpers until I put it back on him or distract him with a walk or toy. Anyways, enough mocking my poor pup and on with my weekly update!

Moolah

Spending: Ugh. I went to Costco and stocked up on baking supplies, then got sucked into a fundraiser for my chorus group and bought nuts and See’s chocolates. I solemnly swear that I won’t buy any chocolate, cheese, butter or nuts until I use up everything I currently have in my pantry, including all 7 (!) pounds of chocolate.

Saving: I’m counting the following as savings. When I went to my dinner party this weekend, I brought a homemade baguette and some cheese from my stash instead of picking up some prefab appetizers. When I invited a friend over to help me decorate, I made a giant crockpot of soup so it would be ready when we got back, rather than picking up takeout. While shopping this weekend, I opted against spending a giftcard I already had since I didn’t really need anything from that store.

School

This week I took a few breaks from writing to prepare giving a seminar this week. I’m really excited about the content of what we’ve accomplished so far, but nervous about getting it right in front of a group of people who probably understand what I’m talking about better than I do.

Health and Fitness

I walked, walked, walked, ate lots of vegetables, drank a lot of water, said no to seconds and tried not to inhale the entire dessert table on my own. That’s got to count for something, right? My thighs certainly hope so.

Meal Planning

Lunch: rice with aloo gobi & dal, pizza with whole wheat crust and a salad

Suppers: pumpkin stew with dumplings (recipe tomorrow!) stewed lima beans with sweet potatoes & greens

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October 8 Weekly Update

Happy Columbus Day! I’m kind of jealous of whoever gets the day off. Even though my weekend won’t be a three day one, it was still pretty great. A good friend got married on Friday, which translated to a night of dancing with friends, then I spent Saturday on the farm putting in fall transplants (mmm, greens) and picking tomatoes.

Money

Spending: I splurged on brunch out with a girlfriend on Sunday before spending the day cooking, cleaning and laundry. We split vegetarian eggs benedict and strawberry white chocolate pancakes. Carbs and grease are the perfect motivator.

Earnings: None, but I got sent home from the farm with an extra 30 pounds of tomatoes. I guess I’m making a lot of marinara.

School

I’m really enjoying my lone class, which is helping write me write what will hopefully be my first major publication. I also received the proofs for my first paper in a very minor journal, which was thrilling none the less. After a long talk with my boss, I’m not submitting my name for that competition, which leaves me with a far more reasonable work load this fall.

Health and Fitness

I lost another 2 pounds, through eating a lot of veggies and walking almost 5 miles a day. I’m hoping to add some weightlifting sessions into my week.

Menu

Lunches: pinto beans and fajita veggies over brown rice, roasted mushrooms and goat cheese with whole wheat pasta

Suppers: tomato soup (recipe tomorrow!), vegetable soup

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