Monthly Archives: July 2012

The Art of Teaching


The Man just landed a new adjunct teaching job, and I also have done and will do a lot of teaching in my life. Through observation, though, I have found many professors find it their duty to use the loftiest terms possible to flaunt their big and fancy degrees. It’s a big slap in the face with, “I learned so many things about one thing, and you don’t know nearly enough… MWAHAHAHA!”

Here’s my challenge to myself and to all the instructors in the world. Don’t teach it unless you can boil whatever it is down to the form of a children’s book. That’s right. And add those character names worthy of the game Mad Libs.

Fact: It’s always harder to explain something highly theoretical or advanced to a regular person, but it makes you a better academic. I promise. So for the moment… stoop low enough to entertain the thought of teaching EVERYONE what you know.

Those Organic Chemistry classes could be so much easier!

“So kids, Flor Ine was the most popular girl in school and could hold hands and form a bond with ANY boy she wanted…”

X-Bar Syntax becomes a breeze!

“So Adge Ective met up with her friend Deter Meener under A Bar in order to work out…” (Sorry… that was INCREDIBLY nerdy.)

And Nasal Assimilation begins to make even more sense! (adding a moral to your story is even better)

“Little Enn didn’t feel comfortable in her own skin and felt like she needed to blend in with the crowd. She would act differently around her friend Pee than she would around her friend Kay. This concerned the rest of her family. Sometimes they could barely recognize her!”

Equipped with this newest educational theory, go forth and be knowledgable. Happy Teaching!

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University of WUT?


Aside from telling stories about growing up and about that guy I married, I do exactly what I want to do in real life… for a “living.” I am a professional learner-of-all-things. Specifically, I am a Linguist. Now before you ask me how many languages I speak – know that I don’t speak a ton. Just know this… I am a scientist, and I am reallllly good friends with your brain and what it can do.

Was I always a Linguist? No – Once I was a fetus. After that, I was a Linguist.

Now no one gets paid to acquire language, very few people use language well enough to get paid, and I could never hope to be paid for my writing. So I had to do a few things so that people would be willing to pay me.

I had to research, get in, and attend The Awesome University for an undergraduate degree. Then I had to do a bunch of things to prove my brain did the brain things. They give you a diploma for the brain things if you do them well enough. Then I decided I wanted to do something with that diploma and applied to like a million other universities for PhD programs, interviewed 5 times, and finally decided on The Grad School.

My favorite memories of The Awesome University are the crazy stressful moments in gargantuan classes when asked to prove myself or the miles-long homework assignments. (A draft of my senior thesis actually has blood on it…)  Covered in blood, sweat, and tears – sometimes literally – I figure that four years of that makes you a super human. Add a couple of intense identity crises, and you’re set!

The only time I didn’t feel that my super powers were honed was when I decided to take online classes in order to finish up. I learned absolutely nothing. And when your brain gets a pass, it will definitely take a 3 month vacation.

That was my only experience with the whole online education thing, so I had stayed out of it until then. When I saw the chasm of difference between what I had done for 3 1/2 years and what I did for a semester, though, I couldn’t believe that entire degrees happen that way. What about becoming a super human? What about the scary moments and the brain things? What about the arguments that make you simply better?

So when The Search Engine threw an ad at me about getting my PhD online… I stopped. I just signed up for a 5 year obstacle course of hours long exams, grueling class work, teaching, and publishing. I signed up for defenses that would take the better part of an afternoon simply to move onto the next phase of the obstacle course. If I couldn’t get a semester’s worth of super powers through online classes, there’s absolutely no WAY the entire PhD could happen that way… right?

It’s baffling that 9 years of struggle can be boiled down to a check and a website with little to no requirements other than that. Academia, my training base and my beloved home, seems diluted and disrespected. I guess I can only hope that after all this is done, and I have my super human powers complete with the cape and the nifty mask —

— that I can defend what is mine when I stand next to a graduate of The University of WUT who just wrote a check.

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Apples to Apples


When you love a person, you like to think you know them inside and out. You may know what they love to eat – what they absolutely refuse to eat. Perhaps what makes them laugh uncontrollably and what makes them cry. Seeing as The Man and I began dating after being friends for a few years, we learned these things quickly – priding ourselves at being awesome at knowing each other. You couldn’t even begin to hope to touch our awesome love.

That is until we played Apples to Apples with the family – a guaranteed ball of happiness for the two of us word-lovers.  Or so we thought…

If you have never played the game, the point is to match seemingly random cards with nouns on them with the central adjective card. There is a judge each round who gets to decide which card fits the best with the adjective. This is where you should know a few things.

1. The game is meant to induce hilarity and fun arguments. (i.e. why the Helen Keller card should always win – even if it is entirely inappropriate.)

2. There are two very different types of Apples to Apples gamers. There is the literal-minded camp, which hopes to align the world’s chaos with two cards meant to be together in their world of logic. And then there are those who wish to embrace the world’s chaos and choose the card that is the most inappropriate or illogical in the deck. Both are respectable people in the Apple-atic land, but you need to know who you are playing with in order to strategize the best. For if your card is chosen, you get another point towards the winning goal.

This is when I learned that The Man and I may have the same political thoughts, the same sense of humor, even the same brain waves as to supply a wonderful lash of witty banter… but we absolutely are not the same person when it comes to Apples to Apples. He is a firm leader in the logic camp, and I become gleeful over the chaotic choices.

We could not, for the life of us, get each other to pick our cards when judging. It became this odd kind of couple embarrassment. Did we really know one another well enough to get married if we couldn’t even pick the right red card to our counterpart’s green one?

In the end, we accepted our difference and took it on as a challenge. How could we play to the other’s sick and twisted Apple-mind? A new kind of game that created many funny conversations and additions to our relationship throughout dating and engagement.

That is, until Apples to Apples offered us a new road block just yesterday.

We set out to learn a modified version of the game for just two people, since we are still playing hermitude as our honeymoon and wish not to invite anyone over for something as frivolous as a board game. A serious google later, and I found a version that involved the two of us, a different number of cards, and the idea of making “the deck” a third player. We would combine The Deck’s two random cards with our chosen cards, and if the judge picked ours – we got the point. If they chose The Deck’s – well “he” got a point.

Dude, we lost so bad to The Deck! He’s one seriously conniving and awesome Appler.

Our realization of our immense suckitude when it came to this game then coupled with the chilling, existential crisis that arises from losing to the pure chaos of a random card draw.

Blegh… too much thought. I guess I’ll just be excited that there’s another opponent we can blame for our scores now!

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Marriage’s Little Lessons


HEY GUESS WHAT! The Man and I got hitched. Our weekiversary (yeah I know… that’s gotta stop) was yesterday, so we’re officially  married enough to scoff and look down upon anyone who isn’t.

That’s how that works, right?

Well, regardless, I’ve learned a lot. The first of which is that everything to do with marriage should be phrased as either a cheezy greeting card or a fortune cookie. There is no exception to this rule. You get bonus points if it rhymes.

  • When life hands you an unfurnished apartment, you really only need a chair. The uncivilized world sits upon the floor willy nilly with no back support-ment. Once you manage to procure a table and two chairs, feel free to sit back in contentment.

  • A broken air conditioner does not create a healthy bond – it actually induces murderous rage. Spousal combat may be desired but it is wise to abscond.

(Okay I’m giving up on the rhyming. The Man is the Poet…not me)

  • An apartment is officially home the moment you hang the baby animals calendar.

  • Rejoice in the fact that life handed you shelter, employment, and the ability to barrel roll directly from your mattress to the floor with no constraint of a bed frame.

KNOW: My friend Ginger Sass posted a lovely thing about our wedding that you might be interested in reading. Also note that The Man and I are scheduled to guest post, which should be a different kind of fun! (I’m pretty sure I won’t be able to hold back from throwing in a few stick figures, though.)

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