Thursday, October 27, 2005


I've found it: the Food that Doesn't Make Me Want to Vomit at the Thought of It.

Any guesses? Okay, forget the guessing. Blogs aren't quite that interactive. Cream o' Wheat. Yes, I have reverted back to my childhood completely. I ate two bowls today. And for a short blessed while after, felt great.

Now I feel like crap again, but that's to be expected. I could eat another bowl of creamy wheaty yummy goodness, mmmmm so bland, so completely nondescript and unobjectionable, but I'm afraid to lean on my food crutch too hard lest it break before its time. I need this solution to last as long as possible.

Other news: I am on the way to successfully finding myself a place to give birth. It's been quite the daunting task, but I finally whined at Brent and things got taken care of. Now, don't fret, I'm still a feminist and everything, but it is soooooooooooooo nice to have a husband who will make phone calls for you when you don't feel like making them yourself.

I even hate ordering pizza. It always makes me feel stupid. I really hate calling business type places.

So, other than sleeping a great deal and finishing off a new sci fi novel per day, I haven't accomplished much this Reading Week. But after catching up on all this sleep I should be able to jump back in to the ol' routine with some enthusiasm. That's good.

The bad news? I discovered I no longer like the smell of coffee...Yes, you can expect Jesus any second now.

Sunday, October 16, 2005

new things to be rudely truthful about

The kiwi hat isn't the only thing I've been doing around here. Sure, you say, there's that mysterious and awful process known as "comps" you keep bitching about, we get it already, so shut up.

No, that's not it. My newest latest accomplishment (sorry, no picture), is a baby.

Yep, people of the blogosphere, I'm pregnant.

I was determined to hold off on announcing this until comps were over. I thought maybe if I didn't tell announce it, it would make it easier to temporarily shove the fact aside and concentrate on comps. Despite the fact that I can still work myself up into a snit about the injustice, inefficient pedagogy, and downright cruelty of the whole comps process, my mind's just not really been on it. This week I tried dutifully to read Diogenes Allen as a review for the upcoming philosophy comp, and put it down in favor of The Girlfriend's Guide to Pregnancy. And nearly had a weeping fit while reading about morning sickness over breakfast.

That's not my first weeping fit, either. Last week I was trying to review for History of Doctrine, and since Brent was gone and the apartment was eerily quiet I turned the TV on for background noise and got sucked into a rerun of the movie The Other Sister. Brent came home just at the moment when the marching band shows up at their wedding. He peeked into the living room, said hi and asked what I was doing, and I promptly burst into tears. My first excuse for behavior that shocked and surprised me as much as it did him: "I love this movie. It's so...cheesy...and beautiful..." Then I tried blaming it on anxiety about my History of Doctrine comp, but he wasn't fooled. He had a sort of freaked look that he tried to hide, valiantly, but unsuccessfully. I myself was freaked because honestly, I had no idea it was about to happen, and while it was happening, I found it so hilarious that I could be sobbing without feeling sad that I started giggling. The whole thing devolved very quickly a scene of individual random hormone-induced hysteria.

At least at that point I already knew I was pregnant and didn't have to worry that I was losing my mind. Before I peed on the little stick--twice, just in case I did it wrong, although honestly, it's not that complicated--I was chalking up all the fatigue, despondency and muscle soreness to existential dread of comprehensive exams. It was such a relief to know that there was a physiological basis for waking up feeling like someone had been beating me with a baseball bat in my sleep every night, and being unable to concentrate on the utterly riveting things I was supposed to be frantically studying, and unable to keep myself from taking a nap no matter how worried I was or felt like I should be about the upcoming exams. In a way, it was a great stress-reliever, too: clearly, comprehensive exams do not constitute the entirety of my world. There Are More Important Things Going On.

Of course, the only possibility for getting through these exams with any hope of comporting myself with any credit was to ignore the fact that I'm pregnant until they're over--at least this round. I made it through 2 exams but, oops, kindof lost it this week and started thinking about pregnancy instead of philosophy. I think it's that the queasiness has started to kick in, and at that point, it's no use pretending anymore.

So, there it is. Some of you knew already, most of you related to me, so the rest of you, don't get your panties in a wad. Maybe you think this wasn't the proper fanfare for announcing the scary fact that Brent and I have decided to doom your progeny to share the world with ours, but you get to announce your procreation any old cutesy way you want to.

So, look forward (or dread) a new theme to this blog: rude truth about being pregnant while doing a doctorate. Have I mentioned I'm now cursed with terrible gas, and at the same time I'm horribly constipated? Oh yes. That doesn't have anything to do with the doctorate but it's very uncomfortable to take an 8-hour exam feeling constipated the whole time, plus horrible back pain from the non-ergonomic chair, plus getting up to pee every ten minutes. And even worse, for my second exam they provided a hotel room in Eerdman Hall--which had a bed. Cruel, really.

Sunday, October 09, 2005


Well, week 1 of Comps Hell Month is gone.

When Brent took his first comp, he called me on his way home, energized and jubilant. He even said the words "kicked ass." When I finished my comp last week, I felt like I was the one who'd been kicked. Down a couple flights of stairs. Repeatedly. By someone with big hobnailed boots on. What are hobnailed boots? It doesn't matter. It sounds scary and painful and that fits.

I just wasn't prepared enough. I don't know if it's possible that I could have been prepared enough. But I could have done better than I did. My answers were disorganized, rambly, and probably not so intelligent. I find it hard to believe that I did so bad that I would fail, but I certainly didn't do well. I think I pulled a very solid mediocre. I should have done better.

Of course everyone wants to know how it went. I find it hard to be honest and say, "rotten." These are people I go to school with after all and I have to keep up a facade of intelligence and bravado. But the truth is, I feel rotten and I'm scared to even review the crap I wrote because it'll confirm my worst fears...or even worse, tell me I wasn't feeling bad enough already 'cause it's even worse than I thought.

There's no relief in sight, folks. I don't get to know how I did (officially) on any of this until February sometime, and even then, I don't think you get feedback on an individual exam. You just pass, or not. That can be a little comforting when I'm in the mood of "I've never failed anything in my life (well, except for that physics test in high school, but that doesn't count because my 22 was the 2nd highest grade in the class) so I can't possibly fail this either"--then I can feel justified in a little dark optimism because, mediocre is all you need in an overall pass/fail scenario.

But I just should have been able to articulate this stuff a little better. I know what I think about stem cells. I know what I think about the moral status of animals. I don't know why I couldn't present my thoughts in a little more creditable way.

So, now that I'm feeling so good about myself and all, Exam #2 is up this Wednesday: History of Doctrine. Unlike the Ethics comp I just took in spectacularly mediocre fashion, I don't know what my possible questions are. I know nothing, in fact, other than my topics: patristic Christology, St. Augustine on "moral psychology," and medieval women mystics on the same. I have 3 days to frantically review the reading that I have frantically done previously, and to sit and fret about trying to guess what my questions might be so I can adequately prepare. I don't even know how many questions there might be.

Some of you might remind me that I should realize now that Life is Bigger than Comps. Fine, I know it. But right now that's a liability. Look at what just happened when I walked into Ethics all relaxed and "I can handle it" and "Life is Bigger than Comps"-ish. I sucked, that's what happened. So right now I have to pretend that Life=Comps, and don't try to talk me out of it.

Someday soon there will be a happy post but I wouldn't look for it until after October 19. That's Exam #3, Philosophy. That one is "friendlier" than History of Doctrine but still...I didn't manage to read the whole history of human thought listed on the bibliography, so I'm underprepared for that one as well.

I really wish I could recover the academic confidence I had as a 1st grader, back when I was best at everything and I never even had to try.