Wednesday, May 20, 2009

and summer begins! .... sort of...

So I did have all these ideas for intellectual, introspective posts, but I think I've been getting kind of bored by them. (Plus I'll get some nifty idea I think is pretty cool in my head, and then after 15 minutes of pondering it, I either a) get bored b) find I'm contradicting myself or c) solve my initial worry with some not-quite-as-nifty conclusion. So I'll hold off on that stuff for now.)

I figure I can talk a little bit about my "actual" life. You know, the events, and daily doings, that make up a so-called life or lifestyle that I lead. Since, you know, this blog thing was originally supposed to let me keep in touch with people I rarely talk to. (Although all the people that comment end up being people I talk with on a regular basis. So.....Speak up!, all you people that I rarely talk to. :) )

Anyways, I've finished my first year as a PhD in Sociology at Michigan. For some reason this winter, although having gone through four years of a midwest winter before in Chicago/Evanston, seemed more rough than usual, and waaaaay longer. Maybe its because my winter wasn't divided up as nicely as it was in the quarter system. Michigan's "spring break" actually happened in the middle of February. So in the middle of February, I took a break from the semester, to go to a still-cold-Chicago, and then return to a still-cold-Michigan. Not quite similar to the experience in undergrad, when returning from spring break, there was a somewhat noticeable difference in temperature.

The semester ended somewhat chaotically. I don't know if this is going to happen every year from now on, but its like I fell asleep sometime in December, and woke up in April. Basically starting in February, I was either rehearsing or out of town for a performance every weekend. And during the week I would do school or have rehearsal. It was pretty freakin intense. But amazing nonetheless. January opened up with Michigan's Best Dance Crew (which 2XS took second in whooooo!) and preparations for Cabaret, which is a talent show that the Sociology 1st years all have to put on. First week of February had 2xs chicago auditions. second week was the Cabaret performance. third week was spring break. the beginning of march was The One (with a big shout out to Hip Hop Connxion and Boogiezone for making such an amazing event happen) and Dance2XS Michigan's very own bar night (many thanks to all the dancers who came out to perform and support--CODA, Joe de La Rosa, Mina's group from Washtenaw, Anonymous, and the Filipino students dance group!). AFter that, we fell into intense rehearsals for the one and only Urbanite. Choosing a detroit theme and using only two artists was a serious challenge, and there were a hell of a lot of blood sweat and tears that poured into this performance. I would literally pass out exhausted at 3-4 am thinking about 2xs and wake up at 9 am still thinking about 2xs....damn. what an experience.

Then holy crap it was april and the end of the semester. Urbanite and Dance mix was the first weekend of april. followed by me going down to chicago to take lando wilkins awesome awesome class at NU. (check out austin's blog (Shaolin) for footage!) Then there was the Purdue Urban Showcase, where we joined our family down in Purdue for an awesome time. Seriously. Awesome. I have no words, but just love for Purdue! :)

Then, wowohmygoditstheendofthesemesterandcrapineedtodoschoolworkwow. So after that was a serious hibernation of kathy into the pits of academia wondering what the hell am i studying here. haha, no not that serious. But i had to really buckle down and do a lot of work. But I know all that work was worth it because now I have some decent projects to work on over the summer. I also got a chance to go to the Population Association of America's conference which this year was held in our very own Detroit. It was really a very eye-opening experience to what possible research projects are out there that involve the study of populations. I guess I've never really had/still don't really grasp, the whole scope of population studies, or the use of it (even though that's technically what i'm "studying"), but I am slowly learning. It was also great to see a number of my friends from school presenting posters or papers there. It may sound trite, but I felt completely empowered and at the same time so completely awed, by this conference. Because on one hand I know that someday I will be able to present research findings that contribute to some kind of research conversation, but on the other hand, howthe-F am I supposed to get there, lol. It was definitely inspiring and encouraging to see my friends up there doing their thang though. So, I know, somehow, it is all possible. :)

After a 2 week overpowering stint in academics, I fled to Chicago for a somewhat "summer"y break (although for more than half of it, the weather refused to cooperate). there i've been able to take dance classes, see performances, hang out with some friends, and best of all, see my sister! (oh yeah, and stay with austin. :-p) I mostly spent my days at Uchicago, tying up some loose ends, playing scrabble on facebook (Dan, I think it's your turn), and coming up with a prelim reading list. I have the summer to study for the first hoop that Soc PhD students have to jump through: the prelim. It's an 8 hr exam in one subfield of sociology that all students have to take and pass in order to make satisfactory progress in the program. Usually subfields are given sort of a standard reading list, with little changes between each year. Apparently Social Demography is a subfield of a different breed here at Michigan. We aren't given a list: instead we are told to come up with our own, and to basically just know "knowledge" of the field. It's all sort of confusing, and sometimes a little frustrating, but so far the act of putting together my reading list has been a good exercise in surveying the field. So maybe in the end its all going to be for the better. (stay tuned for more bitching about the prelim posts. I'm going to try and maintain a positive attitude about this whole thing, but I'm sure in my weaker moments, some whining will come through. I guess I still have to maintain that image of the cynical grad student *sometimes* haha. )

Anyhoo, that pretty much brings me up to speed with today. I just got back from Chicago to Ann Arbor last night. Today was absolutely beautiful, so I spent a good two hours out in the sun reading about the compression of morbidity/mortality. Conclusion: some knowledge of the rectangularization of survival curves is in my head, and my skin is definitely a couple shades darker. :) hopefully I can continue this practice tomorrow. I love summer. Even if I have to wait through 8 months of miserableness for it, haha.

Its been a very good semester; hectic, but I guess I wouldn't have it any other way, as many of you will never fail to remind me. And a great beginning to the first summer here. And that's all I will leave you with. Stay tuned for (hopefully) more frequent posts so tha tI won't have to mind dump my semester again on here. :)


Dan said...


Also, let me know if you want to get coffee or lunch or such!

Anonymous said...

how bored would you be if you weren't running around 24/7? i guess you could do that school thing that you sometimes do.

Alex said...

Yeah I know all of this stuff already... ooo look... apparently I have a blogger account. Why the hell do I have a blogger account? *eyes computer suspiciously*

Devika said...

Dude, 8 hour exam. Are you effing kidding me?!?!?