Thursday, September 27, 2012

i was once like you are now, and i know that it's not easy

Do you often find yourself feeling good about yourself? Do you go extended periods of times feeling smart and accomplished? Do you regularly wake up in the morning feeling rested and refreshed because your sleep was not interrupted by stressful dreams? Do the people around you not have you fantasizing about the most painful way to kill them? Have you ever found yourself smiling for no reason and not wanting to bang your head repeatedly on whatever hard surface you can find? Well, folks, the answer to all your problems is simple. Post-graduate school. From the minute you fill out the application, all those fun, stress-free days will be a thing of the past. After months of torturous waiting, you will be accepted into what could very possibly be the worst stage of your life. People have referred to this as "the biggest mistake I have ever made" and "even worse than sliding down a banister of razor blades and landing in a swimming pool of alcohol." You will have the chance to be talked down to by some of the biggest egos in industries most of the world has never even heard of. You will have the opportunity to learn just how much you don't know and how impossible it is to ever rectify that deficiency. As a post-graduate student, you will enjoy trying to chase down professors and back them into corners until they are forced to talk to you. Then you can spend up to a week in tears regretting that you ever managed to secure that meeting. As an added perk, the post-graduate degree will supply you with enough artificial highs so that you won't acclimate to rock bottom. This lets every low feels like you're falling five thousand feet off the face of a cliff into freezing water and sharp rocks. Don't get stuck in a rewarding career that has you patting yourself on the back more often than not when you can spend up to eleven years spiraling down a rabbit hole of stupidity and self-loathing. Do yourself a favor and apply for a post-graduate degree today.


i think i could be their spokesperson. imagine me on your tv at four in the morning waxing poetic about phd school. so much more entertaining than watching someone try to sell you a salad spinner that will also wash your clothes and make copies of keys, right?

*Father and Son - Cat Stevens

Saturday, September 22, 2012

what did you say

so yesterday i took an online personality quiz because, really, does a better way for a potential-maybe-phd-grad-but-probably-not to spend her time exist? i think probably not. of course, i was expecting to get cast as my typical you like this but you also like that and sometimes you get sad but you get happy too and if you were an animal you'd be a cat answer. instead, the quiz tells me that i am a troubled individual with unique abilities. now, i'm not one hundred percent sure about this, but i am pretty certain that that is the first time i've been called a troubled individual. at least to my face. it then went on to tell me that:

Unlike most people, you have a strong — at times destructive — independent streak. Routine tasks are frustrating and often impossible to complete, unless you’ve created them for yourself.
At the moment, you are under substantial stress and anxiety. This is caused by the unshakable feeling that you’re not fully in control of your own life. An existing relationship in your life, either romantic or business-related, is currently unsatisfactory. You’re presently contemplating the possibility of escape. This can make you irritable or uncomfortable at times, even around the people you love.
However, when you are in control, you’re capable and even excited to make difficult decisions. This occasionally leaves you feeling isolated or alone. You are willing to make this trade-off, if it means being in charge of your own life.
The darker emotions inside you — those underlying urges that all humans have — are very strong. And yet, you have the ability to harness that energy to achieve your goals. This makes you unique among our testing population. You can focus your energy, both positive and negative.

and you know what? i'll take it. i never really felt like i was a cat anyway.

on a completely unrelated note, a couple of weeks ago someone mentioned that they hated when people said "fustrated" instead of "frustrated." i had no idea what she was talking about because ew did people really say fustrated? i had never heard that. and then i'm talking with my brother and he says that the fact that his teacher has a really heavy accent that no one understands is fustrating. and then in class a kid says that bosses can be fustrating. and in the meeting i had yesterday the guy said that people get very fustrated in a phd degree. and oh my god i cannot for the life of me understand what happened. suddenly i'm hearing this everywhere and i hate it. it makes me want to punch the "fustrated" person in the face. at least with my brother i could correct him. it's typically considered unacceptable to correct a person's pronunciation in a lot of social and academic settings. but where did people get fustrated from? how long has this been going on? is it possible for me to go back to a time when i didn't know this happened? because i would like that very much.

*Anthem for the Unwanted - New Found Glory

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

and i'll go to undergo a change of heart, a change of clothes

because the more people i talk to, the less likely it seems that i will actually be able to finish this stupid degree (which kinda makes me wish i had gotten the school ring/other mason memorabilia after completing one of my other two degrees), i am now compiling a list of potential life plans. i don't handle failure well at all, and i think working in forensics would just be a constant reminder of my failure and that's not very fun. so here's what i have so far:

  • make and sell hats. the day i wrote my last post i gave up on qual exam prep a quarter of the way in and made three hats that day instead. and then yesterday i made another one. and really, listening to music and knitting is probably the most relaxing thing in the universe and i want to do that forever and ever.
  • become a real writer. i mean, i've always dreamed about it. maybe once i fail out of this pesky computer forensics distraction i can devote enough time to it to make it a reality. of course, if i do actually try my hardest at this and end up just learning that i have no real talent... well, i don't think i could handle failing at my two top dreams in one lifetime.
  • open a bakery. this was another childhood dream of mine, but i wouldn't be too crushed if i crashed and burned at this one. and i like baking. and being surrounded by the smell of baking goods all day would probably be pretty awesome.
  • convince the travel channel to give me a show. i always wanted to do one of those best bathrooms in the world shows, but with best chocolate or best bookstore or best apple pie. you know, something really awesome.
  • open a bookstore. i had the whole thing planned out on this blog once. i could even sell baked goods there and mix the bakery plan with this one. books and cookies and good music... perfect.
  • be a book critic/reviewer. i mean, i spend most of my time reading anyway (though i'm currently in a bit of a dry spell), might as well make a job out of it. and this way, i can take out all my frustrations at not having what it takes to be a writer on the people who actually do have what it takes. petty and unprofessional, maybe, but i figure it might also be cathartic.
of course, by the time i actually manage to fail out of the degree it will have probably killed me first. maybe i should be looking at headstones instead of alternate careers. 

*Jefferson Aero Plane - Relient K 

Saturday, September 15, 2012

maybe it's hopeless; maybe i should just give up

i haven't had a decent meal in way too long. i haven't had a decent night's sleep in even longer. i am extremely frustrated with this whole school endeavor thing that i stupidly took on. all of this makes me grumpy. i am also dangerously close to feeling sorry for myself, which is probably the number one thing i hate in the entire world (even worse than tofu and mixing up your/you're), and that makes me even grumpier. i want to sit in a corner and cry and throw things and rant and sleep and eat and i can't. this was basically a disclaimer/my excuse for why this post might bounce between whiny and angry. i will try to keep it from doing that, though.

so yesterday i go to see my phd adviser (after he ignored my emails for a week and i practically had to beg him to see me). i've discussed a potential dissertation topic with my forensics professors and we reached one that was interesting, doable, timely, and addressing an actual topic that actually needs addressing. (instead of another one of those stupid projects that only interests and is useful to the four people who work on it.) so i sit with my adviser and tell him my project. after i describe all the chapters i would include and give an overall summary of the whole thing, we have this conversation:

him: *sits smiling*
me: so... what do you think?
him: *still smiling*
him: how would you write five technical papers on that? and i mean, the law stuff? you would have to talk to a lawyer.
me: well, we actually took all of the law stuff concerning this topic in my classes so i should be okay.
him: *smiles*
me: so you don't think it will work?
him: no.
me: okay, well... do you have any ideas for topics?
him: *smiles*
me: (about ready to smack the smile off his face) you said you were working with another student doing forensics. am i allowed to ask what his project is?
him: *smiles* *thinks* blah blah blah... a bunch of things i didn't ask about the student's history... file system forensics. but it's a lot of programming.
me: oh. i don't program.

then he went into an explanation about the problems with mason's IT department. (did i ever mention on here how the rest of the engineering school always looked down on our dept? yeah, they hated us. apparently they also hate the forensics department because most of them are not phd people. stupid pretentious professors. i'd choose a class with a forensics dude over them any day of the week and would learn way more.) eventually he stops and i ask him if there are any programming classes he'd recommend.

him: oh no, it's not something you can take a class in. you would need years of experience programming. this is a problem we face with most people who come up from the IT dept. they don't have the background to do a phd.
me: so there's no other option?
him: if you don't do programming then you would do theory. but you'd need years of experience with that and we don't have any classes that teach deep enough theory to help with a phd. *smiles*
me: so what am i supposed to do?
him: well we did have one student who did really well in his classes and passed all the qual exams. he didn't know much programming and he worked really hard for a year. then we all realized that he didn't have what it takes and he quit.
me: um.... okaaaaay. (so much for inspiration.) so what am i supposed to do?
him: *smiles*
me: okay, thanks for your help.
him: you can try talking to people in the electrical engineering department. i don't know them, but maybe they won't need you to do programming.

and then i left. feeling way worse about this whole thing than i did going in there. and the professor with a phd with an actual interest in this stuff was hired in a weird way and not allowed to be on committees. and the other guy that was my adviser for my masters is apparently retiring and can't be on any committees. and all of the forensics people are not allowed on committees. and i am so totally screwed.

*Maybe - Sick Puppies

Friday, September 14, 2012

what am i supposed to do

my professor has this three question test thing that he believes determines whether or not you're making the right choice about choosing computer forensics. according to him, this is a profession that you have to really love or you won't be able to stand it because of all the things you see/hear on the job. the first question dealt with curiosity/voyeurism. if you don't like intimately knowing strangers by going through their computers and basically drowning in their life, then this job isn't for you. his methods of knowing this was if you look into people's windows at night and if you listen to people's conversations on the street. the second question dealt with liking the investigative process. this was determined by what you watch on tv. if you like all the cop/lawyer shows, then you're good. the third question showed if you love it or not based on what you do and learn about in your free time. he determined this by asking what magazines you subscribed to.

the first two were easy. i mean, following blogs is a type of voyeurism in my opinion, and marathons of law and order svu, cold case, criminal minds, etc are my idea of a good time. and then third question hit. the magazines i subscribe to are things like writer's digest. when i have a few extra minutes on the computer i go to agents' and authors' sites. i would rather read about the latest books that are hitting the market than the latest technology. i'm not exactly sure what this means, but i hope having the right answer for the first two is enough to get me through. 

or i could just quit now and try to be a writer. who knows, maybe the desperation resulting from having nothing to fall back on is just what i need to suddenly write the next great american novel. on a related note, it's almost nanowrimo time again, and i am excited. 

*Breakeven - The Script

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

you've been on my mind

i have this friend who i'll go months without speaking to (actually i have a lot of those. it's kinda sad) and then one day i'll be thinking about her or she'll show up in my dream or something, and next thing i know i have an email in my inbox from her saying that i was on her mind/in her dream. it's really cool. and i haven't seen this girl since i was in tenth grade, but it's always been like this. it's generally in these moments though that i lament the fact that i tend to get so wrapped up in my own life that i withdraw from whatever friends i've managed to keep over the years. i'm too hermit-y for my own good. at these moments i'll decide that i'm just going to stop being such a social recluse and invite everyone over to my house. but then i'll look around at the mess i'd be forced to clean and watch another episode of gilmore girls instead. (the show changes, the laziness never does.) i think my new year resolution is going to be to go back to the time in my life when i actually kept in touch with all of my friends. that should be fun.

you know what isn't fun? probability homework. and calculus that i need to relearn because i cannot for the life of me remember it from that one semester my first year of college. i'm not going to look at any of that until i come back from my meeting this afternoon that will either send me into a panic over my absolute unreadiness to move on in this program or give me a high off the knowledge that i'm actually on track and can do this. i'm planning on going out to buy the new candy corn oreos that i've heard so much about the past couple of days, because i love candy corn and i love flavored oreos, to either console me in my misery or celebrate with in my happiness. i'll let you all know how they are because i'm sure you're dying to know.

*One and Only - Adele

Sunday, September 9, 2012

all of the time we've lost

so yesterday was oddly very productive and very not productive. i mean, i spent two and a half hours listening to songs on youtube because it is time to update my ipod again, but then i didn't write down any of the songs i liked so at the end i just had a huge chuck of my life missing and nothing to show for it. i actually ended up downloading nothing. i guess i really wasn't in the mood.

but then i answered four chapters worth of questions for one of my qualifying exams so i'll have a sort of study guide thing to go through during christmas break before i take the test. four chapters. (out of thirty something.) some of the chapters had more than twenty questions, and most of the questions had an a,b,c,etc. i was pretty impressed. and then my phone started going crazy and an alarm was going off that sounded like the world was going to end and i had a heart attack. when i found my phone it turned out it was only trying to tell me to take shelter because there was a tornado in our area. after quieting it i spent half an hour sitting by the window watching the rain and wind. and after that i didn't feel like doing the homework that is actually do this thursday and i probably should have worked on before the study guide.

but i did email a bunch of professors that i've been meaning to email and set up meeting with a bunch of people. so that made me feel like i wasn't doing nothing. and i found out that if i didn't take the qual exams i am currently taking i could be finished with all of my classes this semester. and then i kinda freaked out because i don't have a committee picked out yet or an agreed upon thesis idea or really any idea what i'm doing so i started to wander around the internet. and then my cousin's husband emailed me asking for help on a college application so i helped him with the five short essays and felt very accomplished.

this is a boring post. i was originally going to write about the recurring dream i've been having for the past week, but as soon as i start to brush my teeth i completely forget it. i'm just left with the feeling in my gut - a mixture of stress and determination and something else - that it gives me and a vague feeling that it had to do with a forest. maybe. oh, and in case you were wondering, the shakespeare mattress does not have me dreaming in iambic pentameter. yet.

*Sleeping at the Wheel - Matchbox 20

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

i'm stuck inside this rut that i fell into by mistake

i have eaten so many brownies today. ninety four point six percent of what i've eaten today has been brownies. i put peanut butter on the last one i ate so that makes it healthy though, right? also, i think i should mention that though the batter was so overwhelmingly coffee tasting to the point that i was seriously worrying that you wouldn't be able to taste the double chocolateyness of the brownies, none of that flavor translated over to the cooked brownies. sad, i know. but still, i ate a lot of brownies today.

i also have been writing a lot of bad writing lately. and i know that sometimes you have to get through a lot of bad writing before you get to the good stuff again. and i know that sometimes writer's block happens and sometimes writing just really, really sucks. but by lately i mean all summer and maybe even before that, and though i never had much faith in my writing because, according to grandma, i am my mother's daughter, i really wish i could go back to that point where i would sometimes like things that came out of my brain. because now i like pretty much nothing. i read something once that said i think i lost what i never thought i had before. something about this moment reminds me of that. i recently wrote a poem that talked about burning in hell being better than purgatory? yeah.

also, we got our new mattress today. apparently it's a shakespeare edition. whatever that means. i'm hoping that it means that it will recite sonnets and write plays. maybe all my dreams will be in iambic pentameter. that might be cool. maybe it will help cure me of my sucky writing. though i think the main problem with my writing is that i have no experience, no emotions, no life, and my imagination is dwindling. maybe i should have gotten one of those instead of a mattress.

*Be My Escape - Relient K

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

idiot wind blowing every time you move your teeth. you're an idiot, babe, it's a wonder that you still know how to breathe

just a warning, the following is a rant because i am annoyed. i also just got out of a three hour class and am hungry and slightly tired and probably not fully in control of my word forming abilities.

moving on.

i am so sick of the racist crap that i have to deal with on a daily basis. i am not talking about the big racist things, because those are few and far between and i can just chalk it up to an individual's stupidity. but all of the small things, the things that are considered to be part of the norm... yeah i've had it up to here with those. in the beginning, i didn't mind them much. i was able to laugh them off with a mini rant and move on with my life. but it just happens so much. the ignorance is so widespread and i encounter it on an almost daily basis, and i'm really, really sick of it. people automatically thinking that i can't speak (or write) english because i wear a scarf on my head: sick of it. people automatically looking at me whenever terrorism is mentioned in class: sick of it. people giving me uncomfortable, apologetic looks when we discuss terrorists, as if they are talking about my father and feel guilty doing it in front of me: sick of it. people automatically looking at me when the professor mentions poor writing skills: sick of it. i am just so incredibly tired of people jumping to the conclusion that i'm ignorant and somehow related to terrorists just because i'm muslim.

what was the straw that finally broke the camel's back? today in class, the professor asked what every single terrorist has on his/her computer. a girl's answer? the quran. the correct answer? a resume. the professor told her that not every terrorist is a muslim, but it didn't look like she was convinced and i still got a few oh-no-you're-caught looks. what. the. hell. i'm just really, really annoyed right now.

and i wish i could stay that the ignorance is limited to a few stupid people. but it's not. guys and girls. students and professors. everyone. i get it from everyone. and it doesn't help that terrorism comes up so often in all of my classes. gah. i'm not sure how much longer i can just smile and ignore it. it's only a matter of time until i become the weird student that goes off on an angry rant in the middle of class about "something stupid" that people will whisper about for the rest of my academic career.

*Idiot Wind - Bob Dylan

sentimental me

[one] my sister bought a guinea pig, and it made me anxious for the time when real life decides to deprive my husband and me of the benefits of being young and jobless - mainly the ability to pick up and go somewhere on a moment's notice and then stay wherever that is for as long as we want - because once that happens i will buy myself a bunny. but then i decided that i can live pet-free for a while longer if it means i have the freedom to sleep in, travel, and spend five hours on the couch watching gilmore girls.

[two] i am overly sentimental. about everything. because of this, i am sad that our new mattress is coming tomorrow. it doesn't matter that it is way more comfortable than the old one. it doesn't matter that my husband hasn't been able to sleep for days because of the old one. all that matters is that the first mattress i had in my married life is being thrown out, and it is too big to fit into a scrapbook.

[three] i have so many little things i need to do today: laundry, picking up text books, picking up notes, reading articles, making sure the apt is clean enough for the mattress delivery guys tomorrow, making coffee brownies, etc. and i woke up "early" to get started on it all, but have spent over an hour sitting on my computer doing nothing. i can tell today is going to be a productive day.

*Sentimental Me - Elvis Presley