Monday, April 28, 2008

Enough: The Saga Continues

Dear Snow,

WTF?! It's April. It's the END of April. Shouldn't you be heading south of the equator? Why are you still here? No one wants you here anymore. Not even the jerks who insist that "real" Wisconsin winters require endless amounts of snow and ice and anyone who says otherwise is a pansy, sissy-girl.

Note to the jerks: We broke the local snow fall record by about three feet. So, no, this winter wasn't "just like" the winters you had as a kid. This winter was not a normal, "real" Wisconsin winter. This winter was a record-setting, exceptionally bad-ass winter. So shut up.

Snow, you've worn out your welcome. Go away and stay away!

Your frenemy always,

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Please, God, Don't Let My Advisor Read This

So the universe is just fucking with me. I get a week of great news---I got all the funding that I applied for---and then a week of crappy news:

I can only use one of the grants that I received. Because even though the grants are from different sources and were granted by different committees through different departments, they are for the same "intent." Or so said one of the grant sources when I called to check on the policy for combining grants. Nevermind that none of the grants are sufficient on their own to cover my expenses for two months in Malawi (I'm not even counting the several thousand dollars I'll have to borrow from somewhere to cover my mortgage and other bills for the summer). Apparently it's better to underfund many projects than to sufficiently fund a few.

Then I heard back from the travel agent. A ticket to Malawi is going to cost---at minimum---$2,700. About $1,000 more than I was budgeting for. That grant is starting to look an awful lot like a blanket that always leaves your feet cold.*

Now, logically, I can understand all of this. I get that the funders want to help as many students as possible. And I know that a lot of students have to self-fund their research trips, especially for predissertation research. At least one of my friends is paying for her trip almost entirely out of her own pocket. And that's the thing: If someone is really passionate about the research, he or she will make those sacrifices, will max out credit cards or live on Ramen noodles to make it happen.

But I'm coming up with every excuse not to go to Malawi this summer. And I'm definitely less than thrilled about spending a year there for my dissertation fieldwork, especially after rereading my journals from my previous year in Malawi. I was miserable for the entire year!

I'm still excited about my research topics and the directions those topics are taking me. But I'm starting to wonder if I really have it in me to go all the way for my doctorate in anthropology.

*Bonus points if anyone can identify the reference!

Friday, April 11, 2008

Friday Five

Another Friday. Another random list of assorted thoughts.

1. Let's start with the good news: I finally heard back on research funding for the summer. And they like me. They really like me! I got both research grants that I applied for, as well as funding for summer language training. So I'm definitely going to Malawi to start "exploratory" research. And I got funding for the next academic year, so I guess I won't quit grad school just yet.

2. But according to Liz the Librarian's list, I'm missing my true calling. Seriously, I'm such a library nerd that I've started doing my friends' research for them. Not that they've asked me to do their research, but when they tell me that they are struggling with their projects, I just can't resist finding a few references for them.

3. Rowen has decided that she's afraid of umbrellas. She gets very upset at the mere sight of my umbrella leaning against the wall. If I dare to use the umbrella while taking her outside, she pulls away as far as her leash will allow and never takes her eyes off the horrible, terrible, no-good object. Her latest neurosis would be a lot cuter if we hadn't been having a week of nonstop rain.

4. Speaking of weather: The forecast for tomorrow? Is for snow. Seriously. In April. In the MIDDLE of April. This winter is never going to end.

5. My latest pet peeve: The misuse of "that" in clauses. For example, "The person that works in that store always wears too much perfume." People! When referring to a person, the correct relative pronoun is who. Or whom, if the person is the object of the clause. I'm starting a campaign against the rampant misuse of relative pronouns. We cannot let this scourge on humanity persist! Who's with me?