Archive for the 'School' Category

Getting it together.

So I should note right off the bat that I’m doing this NaBloPoMo thing, which is like NaNoWriMo, but with “Blog Posting” instead of “Novel Writing,” because I’m hoping it will re-inspire my daily blogging. Or something. Mostly I just want to win a prize. Anyway.

I’ve been having lots of time management issues. I was never great about it in undergrad, but taking a year off has basically meant that I now equate “evening” with “Brenda time,” which would be fine if I spent all day working, but I don’t, because I’m not a morning person and I can spend actual hours on the internet. I keep trying to come up with plans to convince myself to actually do my work, but then I…don’t. Then I feel bad about myself because…what a lame problem. I have like, the best deal in the world: I get to study something I totally love, I’m getting paid money to do it, and I’m still slacking off? (For serious, it’s like, 1:30, I haven’t done much all day besides read part of a chapter for next week. Why? Who knows?) It’s almost like I’m afraid to try because I think I will fail, or something.

Hurray for lame middle-class problems! Time to go read!

“We don’t want to die or apologize for our dirty god, our dirty bodies”

Not much to add. We made some soup, I did a couple of seminar presentation things that didn’t go horribly, I have a bunch of essay-grading, and so of course I’m blogging.

New Hair

Oh and I dyed my hair brown. It’s a few shades darker than my natural colour; I look really sad in that picture, but it’s the guilt about how much work I didn’t do last night while I went coat-hunting at the mall. I didn’t find a coat, but Alex found some nice shoes.

I’m kind of obsessed with the Thermals right now.

So awesome, you guys.

Stress + Food

Why didn’t anyone tell me grad school was going to be hard? I kind of pictured myself like, discussing theory and then going out for beers with smart people and then having totally ample time to do all the exciting, challenging work that I would naturally produce. I do get to do the theory-discussing and the beer-drinking, but the ample time? Not so much.

But there’s all this paper-grading, and grant-applying, and giving seminars on kung fu movies, and giving seminars on psychoanalysis and The Matrix, and mountains of dense dense reading, and you can’t really have an off day because if you don’t talk a lot or just want to fall asleep, everyone notices because there are 5 people in your class. And apparently because you’re in grad school now, you’re supposed to be a grownup and no one’s going to hold your hand. (Except, in my case, Alex, who is literally holding my hand).

(A bunch of rambly stuff about food after the jump). Continue Reading »

You know you’re doing something right when you’re reading papers that seriously discuss nunchuks

Today I rented Enter the Dragon and Fist of Legend (with Jet Li reprising Bruce Lee’s star-making role). For school.

Remind me of this next time I start complaining about my life.


When I was getting ready to leave Toronto, I got so concerned about saying goodbyes and missing my old neighbourhood landmarks: the (now-closed) Paradise, the Portuguese bakery, the good falafel place, the walnut cake shop, Clafouti, . My friends. The way the afternoon light shone through my living room. All the places I didn’t get a chance to go, things I didn’t get a chance to do. And I do. Miss the things.

When I moved to Toronto from Calgary, I was wrenchingly homesick. I’d had a great summer, I had a boyfriend I loved and wasn’t ready to let go of yet. I knew that this was the start of things, but I wasn’t prepared to let go of the things that I’d left behind. I didn’t have a really bad adolescence, but a lot of the time, I wasn’t doing things I really wanted to be doing. (Or I was doing them, and nobody got it, because I was a weird kid and my love of old Hollywood musicals really didn’t impress of the cool kids. Or…any of the dorky kids.) So coming to Toronto was hard. It wasn’t just that I hated orientation (which I did) — living in res, you basically couldn’t avoid people dressing you up in crazy clothes and making you march around doing stupid chants. But it was more than that. Toronto was hard to take. U of T’s right downtown and it was really different from Calgary. There was no space; there were no trees; there was nowhere I could go to just be alone. It was a really miserable time for me. My assigned roommate was shaping up to be a total disaster and I was too young to get into bars.

I’m telling you all this instead of telling you about Vancouver because I want to make it clear how braced I was for Vancouver being new and scary and having to adjust. I thought it would be difficult and I would be, like, unhappy at first. And miss Toronto. But, you know what? I like it here. The pleasant weather? The year-round greenery? The numerous decent coffee shops? The way everybody’s a little bit more laidback and even our moving delivery guy was wearing a fleece jacket and shorts? How my apartment is close to a surprisingly international mix of restaurants? The way that my apartment has two (two!) balconies and I can actually use them most of the year? The abundant availability of fresh local produce? What’s not to like? I could honestly see myself being really happy here.

I feel kind of like my inner Annie Hall has betrayed my inner Alvy Singer.

As for school, well, because of Labour Day and my schedule I haven’t really had any classes yet, except the lecture for the second-year class I’m TAing. The prof is really good and enthusiastic, but is also — and I mean this in the best way possible — absolutely what you picture when you think “Vancouver hippie film prof.” He called Harper and Bush retards in the first class. Fortuitously, my co-TA was in my year at U of T, so it was really nice to see a familiar face. Especially a familiar face who’s willing to take you on a campus tour tomorrow and offer up his email to answer any questions and help you with scary grad-student stuff. Like applying for grant applications.

Anyway, I have to like, be a TA tomorrow. Sleep.

“I go to the submarine sandwich restauarant and leave my submarine sandwich restarant value card at home! EVERY TIME! All I want is a free sandwich!”

I am currently going through grad school panic attack #854.

This is kind of a for-real panic attack as opposed to all my manufactured ones. The panic attack is because the U of T transcript office, which was closed for the holidays (which means it just re-opened) may take 4-5 business days to get my transcript printed for me. 4-5 business days from today is after my deadline.

They “might” get it done earlier. But there is nothing I can do about it. I’m standing there in the transcript office, saying “But I need it! By the 15th! You don’t seem to understand!” And the overbearing office lady takes over from the other girl to explain to me that there are thousands of requests and it would take so much time to even find mine. “So basically, I maybe can’t get in to grad school because it’s a busy time of year?” Thanks, U of T! I love being a faceless number, my spirit crushed by international bureaucracy!

Seriously, I am getting a little nauseous thinking about what I will do.

How do normal people apply for grad school? Is it supposed to be this terrifying?

I’m so useless. I have Type A stress levels, but without the insane over-planning or actually organization that comes with having an actual Type A personality.


I’m having a really hard time actually completing my first round of applications. I mean, I’m aware of how much this means to my future, but here I am thinking about the dim prospects for the America’s Next Top Model finale (I miss you Kim!) and what colour I should dye my hair.

Seriously, this hair thing is a big issue for me. I want to go slightly darker and more chestnut-like, for the holidays, but historically, when I’ve tried to go darker than my current shade, it’s been gothy at best. (Word to the wise, “dark auburn” is hair dye-manufacturer code for “burgundy”.) I think I might risk it though.

Now, I’m going to go probably fall asleep at 10:30 reading in bed, because I am living the exciting life of a young single girl in the big city.

What a crappy week. Mr. Gouda’s cheap cheap chickpea soup? Actually basically canned chickpeas. It tasted like feet. There’s fine print on the can that says “product may not be exactly as pictured”. I never throw out food.

Crushing your head

I’m basically obsessed with grad applications, which are really boring to talk about. It’s down to the wire, but I think I’m actually going to get the first round in comfortably.

I’d much rather be obsessed with Christmas baking.

On the upside, it was really nice to go visit an English prof I haven’t had since third year and have her go “Hi, Brenda!” because she remembered who I am. You don’t really ever think profs remember you from year to year, so it’s nice, to know that I’m more than a number to at least a couple of people at my large, institutional university.

And I think I saw Mark McKinney in the subway again. I can’t believe the Kids in the Hall ride the subway. I bet Kevin McDonald doesn’t ride the subway. Also, I think he lives in L.A. or somewhere cause he’s been on every sitcom ever. You don’t film sitcoms walking up the stairs at Spadina station, that’s all I’m saying.

Also, I’ve stopped being able to fall asleep. And I have pain in my shoulders from holding them so tensely.

I’m too serious to be a dilettante and too much a dabbler to be a professional.

Right now I am trying to master the art of writing a Letter of Intent to get into grad school and wishing I had warmer socks.

Last night I went to a late show of La Dolce Vita at my neighbourhood rep theatre. I somehow managed to get a BA in film without seeing it, and it was brilliant, but why does every “great film” of the twentieth century seem to revolve around dudes who use women? They are generally beautiful women, who are made objects of the male gaze and they are beautifully shot. But whither my canon?

It’s weird. When I’m sitting in the theatre, waiting for the movie to start, I can see my statement of intent perfectly. It’s well-written, it’s concise, it’s specific and intelligent. When I sit down to write, I find myself totally incapable of phrasing anything and I wind up writing this bizarre personal biography thing.

Well, Alex has a lot of homework this weekend, so I will have few distractions and can hopefully have it finished for Monday morning. Given my first letters of reference are due in like, three weeks, I’d better.

I have never been so scared of anything before ever. (Except maybe a dead mouse, but that’s another post.)

Bitch, I’m not a talent scout

So, I’m supposed to be writing a CV and all, but it’s scary and hard. (SO MUCH PRESSURE I might EXPLODE).

I feel I should alert you to something, as my blog readership. I’ve often mentioned the inferiority of hot chocolate mix to the addition of cocoa and sugar to milk, but this is a lot of work now that I don’t have a microwave, so the next best thing is the rather expensive but wholly delicious (and liberal guilt-assuaging) Cocoa Camino. It comes in a dark-chocolate variety, which is sweet, but has the bitterness of actual cocoa underlying it.

This recommendation is hearty.

On a totally different note, shouldn’t “Video on Trial” be a way better show? How hard is it to find half-way intelligent people to mock music videos? (How hard is it to dissect the inherent sexism in “My Humps.”*?)

Remind me, why is that song an actual hit? Why would any self-respecting woman allow herself to be shown publicly singing those lyrics? “I will force you to do things with my body, because I am woman, and my only power is my sexuality.”

Ugh, I’m so cranky. I feel like a post-feminist Andy Rooney.

PS I kind of have a sort-of internet connection at home again, so if you wanted to start checking my blog more frequently, it might actually be rewarded.

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