7 Things You Should Never Say to A Graduate Student
Especially if that graduate student is me.
“When are you going to get a real job?”
First of all, I had a “real” job. It paid me a salary, and I have a set of very valuable skills that I brought with me from my six years of experience in public schools. I’ve lived in the world where I got up every morning at 5:30 to go to a job with a 401K, a pension, and health care. It was fine, and I could go back to that world any time I want to. But I have chosen to go back to school because it was the best decision for me.
Second, I HAVE a “real” job right now. I bring to this job a set of very valuable skills from my six years in the public schools. I am treated like a professional. I make a monthly salary. I have health care and whatnot. I don’t think people realize this, but the full compensation package for a graduate assistantship is about the same as a first year teacher’s salary in my state. (Cue the The more you know! jingle…)
We’ll get to call you Dr. Anderson!
Well, yes. I guess I’ll be Dr. Anderson, but that’s not why I’m doing this. Being called Dr. Anderson when I’m done is the least interesting part of why I’m here.
“It must be nice to have so much free time.”
Yeah. It must be. Let’s go find the person who has some of this alleged “free time” and ask them about it, because that person is certainly not me. Unstructured time and free time are not the same thing. I have 29 hours each week where I must be in class or at work. I also have many meetings and educational activities I attend (workshops, lectures, etc). Beyond that, my remaining time is up to me. Even though I determine the order of tasks I attend to and the location where I attend to them (coffee shops!), it doesn’t mean I’m not working my ass off. Friday nights. Sunday mornings. Up until midnight or 2am. Getting up early to finish work before class. I have some free time, depending on the week, but I have far less than I did when I was working in the public schools. I’m just not tethered to a bell schedule and a 7-period day.
“I can’t believe you misspelled that. You’re going to be a doctor!”
I don’t know if it’s jealousy that leads to a faux superiority complex or what, but I’ve noticed that some of my acquaintances like to point out any mistake I make. Like being a doctoral student means I am now a flawless writer or something. If anything, graduate school is a place where I’ve made more mistakes than I’ve ever made in my life. And I’m learning to be okay with that. I don’t know everything, and I’m secure in the fact that I don’t. Perfect grammar is not a prerequisite for admission, and it is not a requirement for completion of the degree, either.
On a similar note, just because I’m a doctoral student in education doesn’t mean I know everything about education. Or English. Or gender studies. Or biology (seriously. People assume this stuff).
“But you get summers off!”
FALSE. I have to get a job in the summer. Otherwise I can’t pay rent or feed myself. In fact, I pretty much have to get a different job every summer. So I’m always a little anxious about the fact that I don’t know where three of my twelve monthly paychecks are going to come from each year. Even my summer abroad in Munich this year is for a research job — I may be going to Europe, but I’ll also be going to work in Europe.
“I always wanted to get my Ph.D.”
What am I supposed to say when people tell me this? I hear it A LOT. I have two snarky answers to this. (1) “Because wanting a Ph.D and getting one are totally the same thing!” and (2) “I’m so proud of you for not following through with your dream!” Both would get me slapped. So I just have to say, “Oh. That’s nice” and change the subject. I also find that these are usually the folks who are more concerned with being called Dr. So-and-So than actually doing research in graduate school.
And finally: “When are you going to graduate?”
In high school and undergrad, the goal is usually to complete the degree programs in a reasonable about of time. Four years. Three, if you’re savvy about it. But graduate school is an entirely different beast. If I stick around for an additional year, it’s not because I’m dillydallying or failing. It’s for a good reason. Flying through a doctorate in the shortest amount of time possible is not always a good thing, especially for those who plan to enter academia. So rest assured, I will let you all know when that date arrives in 2016…or 2017…ish.
What are some things that you think people should never say to graduate students?
Title: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time IndianAuthor: Sherman Alexie
Publisher/Year: Little, Brown, 2007
Genre: YA Contemporary
Format: Library book (Follett bound)
Source: Library, gift
Date Read: Fall 2009
Original review (Fall 2009):
Funny! And left me feeling good, despite the rough and tough situations Junior has faced (and will face…life is not going to get better on the rez).
Junior’s life sucks. As a bright high school student growing up on the Spokane Indian Reservation (the rez), he faces a lot of depressing situations: actual depression, alcoholism, runaways, drug addiction, poverty, and violence, to name a few. To escape, Junior starts attending a white school in the nearest town off the rez. He plays basketball and tries to make some friends, but ultimately has a hard time forming identities in two different spheres of life. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is Junior’s journal and cartoons telling his journey to a better life for himself.
What makes this book so awesome are three things: truth, realism, and humor. It’s no secret that ATDoaPTI is a frequently challenged book for its portrayals of the gritty life of a teenage boy. Alexie based it on his own real experiences, and he doesn’t pretty those up for us. Life isn’t pretty. Life is sometime hypocritical, racist, homophobic, and hyper-sexual. Teenage boys (and girls!) can be all of those things as they figure out the world and their own personal identities. However, as readers we give Junior some wiggle room. He’s likable. He’s funny. He has something to say, a journey to tell, and we want to hear it. His art, his hopefulness, his humor, and his honesty are what make this book one that stands out in YA lit. Alexie can tell a story, and that’s why ATDoaPTI has won multiple awards and is taught in high school classrooms across the country.
FINAL GRADE: A I know. My praise is a little intense. But what can I say? I love a book that can actually reach teenagers. This is that book. It’s engaging, but it has substance. It’s relateable, but can spark thoughtful conversations and questions. I gladly purchased this book for my middle school library and would definitely recommend it for both high school libraries AND for classroom teaching. Be prepared by knowing it has been frequently challenged and by familiarizing yourself with the ALA’s information on school censorship and NCTE’s position statements on censorship (including the Student’s Right to Read). Beyond the classroom, I recommend this book to all readers, regardless of age or genre preferences. Yes. It’s THAT kind of book. Read away!
What are your thoughts on ATDoaPTI? Have you read it? Plan to read it?
by Megan McCafferty
E-book from Public Library
[#54 in my 75 book challenge]
(warning…this review contains spoilers for Sloppy Firsts and Second Helpings. If you haven’t read this series, hop over to this post to read my review of the first Jessica Darling novel!)
At this point in the series, Jessica is in college and things start to speed up. This book covers Jessica’s entire college career. She’s trying to study journalism at Columbia, and life is never dull. She tries to stay with Marcus while he attends a Buddhist college across the country, while juggling college finances and friendships with random amounts of success. The story doesn’t cover every semester and every moment, but we see enough of the major points in Jessica’s college career to understand what she’s going through and how she is developing as a confident, intelligent young woman.
I liked the first two books in the quintet, but this one started to feel like work. I like Jessica, but it was hard watching her do some of the things she does in this story. Sometimes I just don’t get or identify with her. I have more of a “roll with it” chill attitude about most things, but Jessica does not. She drove me nuts when she just walked away from her summer internship in particular. Since that scenario was at the beginning of the book, I guess I had a hard time getting over that one mistake.
I did enjoy watching Jessica experience different relationships with different guys for different reasons with different results. She needed to step away from Flutie for a minute in order to appreciate her chemistry with him. I really, really, really hope she ends up with him at the end of the day after they both do a little bit of growing up.
Quotes from Jessica Darling
“When I’m at school in the city, I don’t feel particularly worldly or wise. It’s only when I come back home that I remember exactly why I left.”
“High school parties exhausted me because I always felt like I was the only thinking person in a room mostly full of morons obliterating precious IQ points with every gulp of whatever booze they managed to steal out of their parents’ liquor cabinets. College parties are exhausting in a diametrically opposite way. They are full of smart, funny people who are all used to being the smartest, funniest person in the room, so they spend the whole party talking over one another, overlapping and overtaking the conversation to prove that they are the smartest, funniest person in the room, if not the entire planet.”
FINAL GRADE: C Giving this one a solid C. Remember, a C is still a good book and a book I enjoyed reading. As the middle book in the series, though, it just doesn’t stand on its own. The story is necessary, which is which I still recommend it to fans of the series. We want to know how Jessica ends up. We want to know where all of this Marcus Flutie business goes. I don’t think I’ll be able to truly appreciate Jessica and Marcus riding off into the sunset (if that even happens) if they don’t both deal with some bullshit in their younger years before settling down. Kudos to Megan McCafferty for writing a realistic character, flaws and all, and I will be reading the fourth book.
Do you think McCafferty should have quit after this book?
by Megan McCafferty
E-book from Public Library
[#54 in my 75 book challenge]
(warning…this reviews contains spoilers for Sloppy Firsts. If you haven’t read this series, hop over to this post to read my review of the first Jessica Darling novel!)
After the lip-nip heard round the world and the discussion that followed, Jessica Darling has eliminated Marcus Flutie from her life. He is now known as “He Who Shall Not Be Named.” In this second installment of the Jessica Darling Quintet, Jessica takes us through the summer after Jessica’s junior year to graduation, and Jessica is just as confused as ever. She starts out at SPECIAL, a summer program for gifted kids, and then navigates senior year with a smidge more maturity than she’s show in the past.
While she’s deciding which colleges to apply to (Columbia keeps calling her name…), trying to date boys who AREN’T Marcus Flutie, and hanging out with her grandmother at the retirement community, Jessica is also OBSESSING over her virginity. This girl is on a mission. To be honest, I kind of liked that. Yes, the obsession was a little weird, but it showcased an attitude of girls taking charge of their own sexuality. Jessica doesn’t fixate on the fantasy that some guy is going to whisk her away in a romantic cloud of beautiful love…she just wants to do it. It’s a take on teenage sexuality that isn’t present in a lot of teen chick-lit. Thumbs up to Megan McCafferty for that.
It should be noted that this quintet was originally supposed to end with this book, so things wrap up quite nicely in the final pages. I’ve already read Charmed Thirds, and I understand why some people would warn readers to stop with the second installment. You could definitely read books one and two, call it day, and move on with your life. But by the end of this book I found myself still wanting to know what life holds for the next chapter of Jessica Darling’s life. I’m invested in her, and I think I’ll see her story through to the end.
Quotes from Jessica Darling
“I don’t even like babies. I have a very low tolerance for people who sit in their own defecation.”
“I will not get obsessed with anyone who is less than perfect for me. This mandate pretty much guarantees that my hymen will continue to stay intact, so airtight that it could be used as a floatation device in case of emergency.”
FINAL GRADE: B Giving this one a solid B. It’s a great book, and part of a five-book arc that may be greater than the sum of its parts. I like watching characters mature, and sometimes the individual books are (necessary) stepping stones in that journey. Jessica Darling is the smart girl’s hero! Like Sloppy Firsts, I would recommend this book for a high school library rather than a middle school library, and would definitely recommend it to my friends looking for a smart, romantic summer read. It’s probably not going to end up on my top 10 at the end of the year (my criteria for giving an A), but it’s among the best books for sure.
Do you think McCafferty should have quit after this book?
by Megan McCafferty
E-book from Public Library
[#52 in my 75 book challenge]
I originally found this book when Ginger over at GReads! gushed about it in this post on her blog.
What’s amazing about it is that Jessica Darling and I are exactly the same age. This book starts when Jessica is a snarky sophomore in exactly the same year that I was a snarky sophomore (1999-2000). I probably would have been her casual acquaintance, because she probably would have been too cool or too snarky to really hang out with the likes of me. Jessica is a combination of the smartest girl in her high school class, and also one of the most popular, though she really doesn’t care for her classmates or her popularity.
Sloppy Firsts is the first in the Jessica Darling Quintet. The whole series takes Jessica from her sophomore year of high school to her late twenties. This book covers January 1st of her sophomore year though January 1st of her junior year, all in told through a diary format and letters to her BFF, Hope, who has recently moved to Tennessee. We are introduced to the following characters:
- Jessica’s Mom, who doesn’t understand why Jessica doesn’t like shopping and spa days
- Jessica’s Dad, who only talks to her about running
- Jessica’s much older sister, who like the superficial things in life
- Paul Parlapiano, a hot senior and Jessica’s crush
- Hope, Jessica’s BFF who had ruined her life by moving to Tennessee
- Heath, Hope’s brother who died of a herione overdoes
- Marcus Flutie, Heath’s friend who asks Jessica to pee in a cup for a drug test for him (Jessica’s sort-of love interest)
- Pepe/Pierre, aka “Black Elvis,” a boy who has a crush on Jessica
- The clueless crew: Bridget, Sara, and Manda, Jessica’s “friends” who she really hates
Essentially, this book serves as our introduction to Jessica, and to Marcus Flutie. Marcus Fluties appears to be everything Jessica should stay away from. He’s a “dreg,” or a pothead, who gets in trouble constantly, performs poorly in school, and sleeps around. But by the end of the book we start to see Jessica form a strange fascination with this boy…and we see that there is more to Marcus Flutie than meets the eye.
Quotes from Jessica Darling
“I am totally aware of how ridiculous I am. It would be a lot easier if I believed I was the center of the universe, because then I wouldn’t know any better not to make a big deal out of everything. I know how small my problems are, yet that doesn’t stop me from obsessing about them.”
“See, my idea of cute comes with an IQ requirement.”
FINAL GRADE: B+ Jessica Darling, I like you. You kind of annoy me sometimes, which is why you fall short of an A. But you’re realistic, smart, sassy, and not afraid of your sexuality, which is what I like to see in a main character. You bring some intelligence to the chick-lit genre, even if that intelligence sometimes comes with a “everyone else at my high school sucks because they aren’t as smart as me” attitude. I think that attitude is quite realistic for a teenager (don’t they always think they know everything?), so I like that Jessica is sometimes a little unlikeable. Though this series is labeled as YA, I would place it in a high school library and not a middle school library. I recommend it to anyone who likes chick lit or realistic fiction, or anyone who wants something light to read over the summer.
I loved Jessica Darling enough to want to read on, so I’ve already finished both Second Helpings and Charmed Thirds. Reviews will be posting in the next few weeks.
Have you read this series? What did you think of my assessment of Jessica as a character? What do you think of her? What do you think of the series?
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the bloggers over at the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers from all around create lists based on the chosen topics, and post links to the host blog to share our love of books. This week is a freebie week, which got me all excited. I jumped on this TTT business a little late in the game, so there are oodles of topics I missed that I always want to do. What did I pick? Well, I’m always talking about things that drive me crazy in books, so I thought I’d do at list of my Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves so I could make a list and vent my negativity. I’ll also be able to link back to this list in future reviews for terrible books, which makes the topic doubly awesome. Here we go…
Top Ten Bookish Pet Peeves
[or things that will drop a book at least one letter grade]
1.) Unnecessary Length – Listen, folks. I’m a very busy lady. It says so in my domain name. I’m fine with long books when they have lots of stuff going on and the length is necessary. But sometimes the little chunky-monkey books could do to lose a few hundred pages and still keep the integrity of the plot. I don’t have all day. If nothing’s happening or I’m bored by a character’s inner dialogue that goes on for multiple chapters, I’m going to be peeved.
2.) Mary Sues – For those who don’t know, a Mary Sue is when the author inserts him/herself as the main character in a novel. This character serves as wish-fullfillment for the author, and is usually annoyingly flawless. That or the character is flawless in a way that isn’t really flawless. Regular fiction doesn’t usually have characters that are 100% Mary Sue, but if the character has enough of this quality, I get peeved.
3.) Cliffhangers – We all know that YA trilogies, especially of the dystopian variety, are guilty of this. I like a book to follow a general plot pattern, with a proper climax and resolution for the main conflict of the story. I’m okay with series cliffhangers or teasers for the overall arc of the big plot, but I want a novel to have an end. Some books are guilty of having no end at all! It’s like a book was split in half/thirds and sold a separate parts. I find this cheap and manipulative and it peeves me.
4.) Kindle Giving Me a % Instead of a Page – This is not related to plot, but it drives me nuts. I like to know what page I’m on, and how many pages are in the book. It’s completely arbitrary, considering some books cram very little or a whole of text on a single page AND considering that e-readers let me set these choices myself, but I want to know how much I’ve read and how much I have left in real number. This is especially annoying on Kindle books that combine multiple books in one…collections, series, etc. I’m reading the Jessica Darling collection now, and I’m in the second book, but only 19% through the series. How much have I read in book 2? How much do I have left? No clue. Peeving.
5.) When Boys Fall For Girls For No Reason – I think I hate this because it gives readers (especially female readers) unrealistic expectations for relationships. The boy saves the girl, tells her she’s beautiful even when she thinks she’s ugly, understands when she lies, worships her from afar, puts up with her rude behavior, etc. How many times can I watch a female character hot-headedly chew out a guy without listening to his side of the story, make assumptions, and give the silent treatment, only to have the guy come crawling back to win her love? Listen, ladies. We need to love ourselves before someone else can love us. We also need respect in a relationship to go both ways.
6.) Mean Librarians – My peeve here is strictly personal. I know some librarians really are mean, but I like to think we are pretty nice, liberal people. I read of stories with nice librarians, but just as many where the librarian is a jerk. And the librarian is almost always a bit character. What’s that about?
7.) When Characters Meet “The One” At Age Sixteen – Very few people end up marrying the person they are dating at age sixteen. I’m glad I’ve spent the past thirteen years dating all kinds of people! Many YA romance plots end with the beginning of the relationship. The characters finally overcome their obstacles, finally get together and commit to each other. But that’s not the end! You know they all break up with they get to college. Wow, I sound really bitter. But I do count this as a major pet peeve.
8.) The Paranormal – (Please don’t hit me). There are exceptions to this: I loved Harry Potter, and I guess the magic element is paranormal. I think it can be done well, but most of it is not to my taste. I don’t know why, but I think it has something to do with me not liking bad boys. I also like my stories to be realistic. I think I only like paranormal elements when the creatures who are vampires/werewolves/ghosts/etc are not main characters in the story, but elements to be overcome or fought against. I recognize that my anti-paranormal thing is a huge bias, so please feel free to recommend a paranormal book that isn’t obnoxious.
9.) Movie Poster Covers – Dear publishers: this is the quickest way to get me to NOT buy a book. I like to think of books as timeless. A good book can be enjoyed years, decades, or centuries after it was written. Regular book covers may date a book (check out ANY 80′s book cover), but a movie book cover will make a book look dated in just a year. It also reminds me that some people are using the movie to sell the book instead of the other way around. Tsk tsk.
10.) Characters With Weird Names – Just pick a normal name for your character, please. Or if one or two characters have to have quirky names, don’t make them be 1.) your main character or 2.) the love interest. It also drives me nuts when many of the characters all have names that start with the same letter, since I think my eyes only catch a few letters when identifying words in the text.
What are your bookish pet peeves?
Top Ten Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by the bloggers over at the Broke and the Bookish. Book bloggers from all around create lists based on the chosen topics, and post links to the host blog to share our love of books. This week is a freebie week, which got me all excited. I jumped on this TTT business a little late in the game, so there are oodles of topics I missed that I always want to do. What did I pick? We’re always doing “favorite” this and “best” that, so I decided to flip that around and think about characters I detest. I’ll be looking at…
Top Ten Most Unlikeable Characters
[whether purposefully written that way or no-so-much so]
1.) Dolores Umbridge (Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix) — I listened to the audio book for Order of the Phoenix recently, and Dolores really got under my skin. She’s not pure evil, like Voldemort, but her brand is almost worse. She thinks she’s on the side of the good guys, but she’s really playing a political game. She’s incompetent, self-righteous, and just plain mean. I think she bothers me so much because we are more likely to encounter people like Umbridge in the real world that we would be to encounter a Voldemort.
2.) Bella Swan (Twilight) — Yeah, I know it’s unoriginal. Because it’s SO TRUE. Homegirl needs to grow a personality. Let’s just say I would not have been friends with that girl in high school.
3.) Celeste Newsome (The Selection) — Celeste is the antagonist, and she is written very antagonist-y. Maybe a little too antagonist-y, as she has no redeeming qualities. Maybe she’ll get some depth in the second and third book i the series?
4.) Eric (Divergent/Insurgent) — What a meany-pants.
5.) Elizabeth Bennet (Pride and Prejudice) — Yeah, go ahead and send me hate mail. I think I mostly just don’t get what everyone thinks is so great about her. I had all these high expectations, and she fell flat. She’s on the list because I found her boring, not because she’s a terrible person.
6.) Doug Sweiteck’s Dad (Okay for Now) — The man is deplorable. He physically and emotionally abuses his family. Plus he does something TERRIBLE to his kid that I still can’t forget. In my review I stated that, “Doug’s father is one of the most vile human beings I’ve ever met in a book.”
7.) Hilly Holebrook (The Help) — Again, she’s one of those evil people that you might actually meet in real life. There are Hilly Holebrooks everywhere, so convinced that their discomfort must lead to legislation against the things that make them uncomfortable, even if there is no reason or proof supporting it.
8.) Rapists, Cancer, and Enforcers/Leaders of Totalitarian Governments — This covers all kinds of evil, but naming some would lead to serious spoilers for a lot of these books.
9.) Matt’s Mom (The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin) — She’s a special brand of crazy. Like Hilly Holebrook, her character is more realistic than some, and actually exists in real life. Matt’s mom is sporadic and unpredictable. It just shows how bad you actually have to be to get Child Protective Services to take your kids away.
10.) Greg Heffley (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) — My friend Amanda pointed it out when we watched the movie with summer school kids: Greg is a terrible example for kids. Yeah, he makes a funny book character, but he’s rotten to his friend and doesn’t really learn any lessons or grow as a person. He just reinforces that it’s okay, even cool, to behave that way. Not the message our kids need in their formative years.
Note: Please don’t leave me a comment to complain about my choice in Elizabeth Bennet. I’m saying this in the nicest way possible! Believe me, I know the rest of the world doesn’t agree and I know why — my friends argue with me about it all the time
Which literary characters do you despise?
It Looked Different On The Model: Epic Tales of Impending Shame and Infamy
by Laurie Notaro
Random House Audio
Audio book from public library
[#21 in my 75 book challenge]
Last year I read My Horizontal Life by Chelsea Handler. In my review, I said I didn’t like it because it wasn’t as funny as Laurie Notaro’s books. Well, that’s how I felt about this book. Just not as funny as the old Laurie stuff.
While there were a few funny moments in this collection, I was mostly disappointed. I LOVED Notaro’s earlier books, especially The Idiot Girls’ Action-Adventure Club: True Tales from a Magnificent and Clumsy Life and Autobiography of a Fat Bride: True Tales of a Pretend Adulthood, but this one fell short. I think Laurie’s self-depricating, dorky, clumsy, awkward, and sometimes crude stories were funnier when she was a single twenty-something. Now that she’s married, it seems like she’s stretching the humor a bit and that she should have grown up a little bit more.
Don’t get me wrong — there are funny moments in here. It was an enjoyable, light read in the car. No pressure. If you were browsing the public library and came across it, I would certainly recommend taking it home to read or listen to. But I was glad that I just borrowed the book and didn’t pay money for it. My biggest issue was that many of the stories seemed to ramble on. I got lost while listening because I couldn’t quite grasp if I was at the climax of the story or why it kept going on and on after I thought the point had been made.
Final Grade: C Often funny, sometimes hilarious, with a dash of boring, this book didn’t live up to my expectations. I don’t regret reading it, but it was quite average and not memorable. I still love Laurie Notaro and want to be her friend, but I guess I will just go back to reading her earlier books. Of course, this is an adult book so I wouldn’t recommend it to my students. For my readers, I do recommend Notaro’s books…just not this one (or her fiction books). Start with Idiot Girls’ Action Adventure Club if you’re looking for a real funny read!