Nope Nope Nope

Well, that was a kick in the teeth.

My adviser was stunned, and pleased, when I dropped the final 62 pages on her desk yesterday. Work clocks in at 122 pages (two more than necessary, how about that?) and I was kind of…thrown? I mean…don’t give me an assignment that you don’t expect me to finish. I am a force to be reckoned with.

What stunned me, and upset me, was when she told me that, even though I am AHEAD of schedule, that wonderful six week Christmas break she promised? Not going to happen. Because in order to STAY on schedule, I need to have the 10-20 page literature review finished by January 15th.

Which is BEFORE Christmas break ends.

That six week Christmas break? Is going to be about one week.

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I’m all right. I’m disappointed, but really. In the great scheme of life, is this really that bad? No. I’m dog-tired and I’m frustrated as all hell, but…it is what it is.

I thought about starting today, but even looking up sources made me want to flip my desk, sooooo figured that was a bad idea. I’ll start on Saturday. The good news is, I already have part of it done because I needed to write a lit review for my prospectus, so that’s a good thing.

The OTHER good news: I no longer have to pay tuition. To stay as a continuing student, working on my thesis, I have to pay a $40 “matriculation fee” (translation: please give us more money and we’ll continue to provide you access to the computer lab and parking lots. Dickbags) per semester until I am done. Which will be one semester. It will be. I refuse to believe that I will be doing this a year from now.

Class of Spring ’14 or bust.

 

In happier news, once I got over my frustration and rage yesterday, I had a lovely evening Christmas shopping with Ryan and Jess.  We went to Blueback Square in West Hartford, ate at Cheesecake Factory (and yes, I have a whole lunch in the fridge at work because damn those portions are ridiculous), went shopping (I got two presents yesterday, one for Drea and one for Christina, and I am done shopping for both of them now), went to Meriden Square to get cheap wrapping paper, and then to Hubbard Park to look at the Christmas lights.  It was a fun evening, which was just what I needed after the disappointment yesterday.

Today: more Christmas shopping (I have switched from debit to credit card, not necessarily thrilled with that but running out of options) and tomorrow is just going to be a nice, easy wrapping and tea evening.  This weekend we’re supposed to get a blizzard, so I’m planning on bunking down wherever and getting some knitting done.  I have only one real Christmas knitting project left, so there’s that.

Sure, it’s not going to exactly be the relaxing Christmas break that I thought it would be, but…it’s STILL a Christmas break, and it’s not the worst thing that’s happened to me this year BY FAR.  So there’s really not much to complain about.

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IT IS FINISHED (for now)

IT. IS. DONE.

120 pages in eight weeks. I never thought I’d see the end of it, but there it is. At approximately 8 PM last night, I typed the last words of Chapter IV of my thesis. It was done with a little less than 48 hours until deadline.

I am exhausted, but I am thrilled.

katy perry dancing

footloose

brad pitt

Let the six week celebration commence. I did it.

Confessions of a Neophyte Historian

I am more excited about the prospect of working towards my Ph.D. than I am about doing research for the M.A. that I still haven’t obtained.

This might be a problem.

My life, summed up in two things.  My adorable “perpetual kitten” Tabitha (Tabby), and my thesis prospectus (submission two of three, there were still edits remaining after this).

It is so hard for me to wrap my brain around the fact that today marks the 150th anniversary of Pickett’s Charge.  I am so sad that I wasn’t able to financially or physically swing attendance at the 150th anniversary re-enactment down in Pennsylvania.  I imagine that it must have been a sight to behold.  I toy with the idea of making it down there for the 175th anniversary, but holy shit, I will be 54 years old then.  Damn.

Apparently there was even a rainbow there this week.  How beautiful.

Photo courtesy of mike-generallyspeaking on Tumblr

History is just so raw, crippling, stark, and yet magnificently beautiful , all at once.  This is our heritage. 

If you think it has nothing to do with you, because you were born almost 150 years later, you could not be more wrong.

Honestly, Changes

I’ve been debating what to do with this blog now that my divorce is six days from being finalized.  Because this really, truly, began as a “divorce blog” — a place where I could be completely honest, and chronicle my navigation through separation and divorce.  I began it about a month after we made the decision to separate, and now the journey is almost over.

In the past, my modus operandi has been to just jettison the blog in favor of starting a new one, with a different URL and a fresh start.  I don’t want to do that this time.  There’s a reason why I picked the name “Honestly, Megan”, instead of something separation- or divorce-related.  I wanted to allow room for change, for the story to evolve and transition into happier content.  I wanted to be able to continue the journey, long after the ink was dry on our divorce decree, long after I ceased signing my checks “Megan B****” and went back to the familiar old “Megan F******”.  There was a time, a few months ago, when I didn’t see a foreseeable end to the rocky, bumpy saga that this has all been.  But the end is in sight.  It is six days away.

And it is time to think of new things, of where I want this blog to go.  Some of them seem pretty obvious.  Others are gazing pretty far into the future.

Academia, or chronicling my climb from neophyte to true historian.  This one seems painfully obvious.  I’m slated to graduate either in December ’13 (doubtful at this point) or May ’14 (more realistic, I think).  Once I complete my Master’s degree, I plan to try to get a job, but also to explore the option of going for my Ph.D., which was recommended to me by my thesis editor, Dr. W.  The idea is terrifying, but exhilarating!  Obviously the GRE comes first (I didn’t have to take it going in to CCSU)…so that will be fun.   My first choices would be Boston College, Boston University, or Northeastern University, but I wouldn’t say no to a school in the D.C. area as well!  Most sources recommend applying to at least five schools for candidacy, so there’s quite a bit to think about!  Obviously with that goes…

Moving from Connecticut.  David and I had always planned to move to Massachusetts (his home state) at some point during our lives.  Clearly, the dream of us moving together has fizzled out, though he plans on going himself.  And naturally, he assumes that I will not go.  But why not?  I have friends in Massachusetts, it’s only two hours from my parents, and I could be quite happy there.  The last year saw me alter my plans and resign myself to living in Connecticut for the rest of my life…but it doesn’t have to be that way.  With divorce comes the knowledge that I am master of my own destiny; I can do what I like.  I can move where I please.  And…we shall see.

Entering my 30’s.  I’m not going to lie.  I’m a little terrified at the prospect of turning 30 in just over two months.  But as I said in my “About Me” page…my 20’s weren’t exactly a walk in the park.  I’m a little saddened that I spent so much of that decade fumbling in the dark, trying to figure out who I was and what I was doing and how to get healthy again, but I suppose that is what your 20’s are for: screwing up and figuring out who you are.  Of course, there were some bright, happy moments as well: the first three and a half years of my relationship with David were the happiest years of my life (age 24 and 1/2 to 28).  But as I go into my thirties, I go with the realization that it is time for me to do the following things:

– Stop apologizing for who I am and what I believe in.
– Stop living for everyone else, and:- Start living according to what makes me happy, because nobody else is living my life.

(Eventually) dating again.  Eek.  As terrifying as this is…I’ve already gotten a head start.  I’ve been on one date and talked to a few other guys (none of which panned out) and I’m slowly tiptoeing into the dating pool again.  It’s been weird even thinking about it when David and I were still married (on paper), so hopefully it will get easier once everything is finalized.

Children.  This one is in the far distant future, most likely.  I’ve wanted to be a mother since before I even knew I wanted to be married, and I always assumed (in my “I’m never getting married” years) that I would probably end up having to adopt.  I’ve decided that if I am not in a committed relationship by the age of 35, that I will begin the adoption process, even if I have go the foreign adoption route.  Again, this is YEARS away.  Considering that I met, married and divorced David in the span of five years (and two months)…clearly, anything can happen between now and 2018 (when I turn 35…eeek).

Navigating finances.  The plan is (eventually) to buy a house and pay off my student loans.  We’ll see how this plays into the next few years of my life.

Becoming a better fire spinner and continuing involvement with the Wildfire community.  I’m taking on my first staff position in August, and although I can’t go to Wildfire in September (I’m a bridesmaid in a wedding that weekend), I look forward to Wildfire next year, becoming a more intrinsic part of the Wildfire community, and improving my skill on both staff and fans.

Whew!  That’s a long, crazy list of upcoming events, goals, and plans.  I think that’s all more than enough blog fodder, don’t you?

In any case, my short-term (hell, even long-term) goals begin with finishing school.  I’m working on research for my thesis (story of my life) and gearing up for my final year (or half-year) of my Masters’ education.  I’m pretty happy with my apartment (now that the washing machine is no longer busted), and after a short hiatus from running, I am back on the C25K bandwagon!  This week promises to be a roller coaster, but I think after Monday, things will begin to look up.

I hope you’ll come along for the ride!

Rather than what I’ve lost

One of the perks of having a roommate who works in the university registrar’s office is getting to find out what you got for grades the moment they’re handed in.  The deadline was last night at midnight, and Sam was able to check my grades today.

A and A.

4.0 a second time in a row.

As soon as I saw it on the computer screen, I became the total loser who was crying at work.

I kind of knew I had it in the bag.  I mean, Dr. S gave me perfect scores on every paper that he gave back to me.  Granted, the three that I didn’t get back (because it was the end of the semester) were all the biggest, most important papers…but I had a feeling I wouldn’t completely bomb them, which is what I would have had to do to not get the A.

But it never gets old, it really doesn’t.  I can’t wait until I actually see the grade on the website, see what my new cumulative GPA is, and can actually go public about it.

 

 

Timing is everything.  And timing might be very fitting, really.  Sometimes, having a good memory can be difficult.  I had a historian’s brain long before I set out to be a historian.  Dates, to me, are very important.  “It’s just another day” doesn’t register.  No, it isn’t just another day.  It is the only day of its kind, it will never pass this way again.  I remembered, Friday night, that Saturday, May 18th, 2013, would have been my five year dating anniversary with David.

On my way to the bar Friday night, for Samantha’s graduation party, I drove alone, and I listened to music, and I thought.  Usually when I’m in the car and listening to music, I think about loss.  I think about the things that aren’t, the things that should have been, and what can never be now.  I don’t usually drive, and think “Yeah, I’m good.”  Except last night, I did.

Part of it was due to a well-timed text from my close friend Kim, telling me how “fucking proud” she was of me for getting that 4.0.  Part of it was because I was thinking about how I had rocked my C25K run the day before.  These are things I didn’t do before.  This is not the person I was going to be, when I was married to David.

Don’t get me wrong.  The years I spent with David, from May 2008 to September 2011, were the best of my life, hands down, at least thus far.  They filled me up in a way nothing had before.  I was deliriously happy with him.  Because he made me happy.  Not because I made myself happy.  And then September happened, and the year and a half of indecision…and then the decision came, and I had to make myself happy.

I found myself.  I found things that made me happy, instead of him making me happy.  I went back to school.  I might have gone back anyway, if I’d been with David, but probably not, because he was never that concerned about it.  If I had told him I wanted to go back, he would have backed me to the hilt, but I don’t think he would have pressured me to do so, and I probably would not have.  Running?  Hell no.  I was good enough the way I was, right?  Overweight, out of shape, I was fine, right?

But look at me now.  Look what I’ve done.  I don’t say this to brag, I’m not trying to be immodest.  But for so long I have been thinking about everything I lost, everything I wouldn’t have.  A husband, security, a family, a house.  And that’s not true.  It will happen.  Just not right now.  Someday, with the right person.  But not right now, because the time isn’t right.

It doesn’t even matter.  Look at me now.  Look at all the things I had convinced myself I couldn’t do, that I am doing now.

Five years ago, I was happy with C’s.  I was just trying to keep my head afloat at school.  Straight A’s?  4.0?  HA.  But I did it.  Not once, but twice.  Two semesters in a row.  I could never even conceive of that when I was 24 years old.  Not even on the radar.  But I did it!  Twice!  And at a time in my life when everything was caving in, everything felt like it was falling apart.  As Jess said earlier, “It was a crap situation but you adjusted and totally BAMFed it.”

Running.  I was never a runner.  And now I go to the gym three times a week and I run my little heart out.  Even though Dr. L told my parents, back in 2005, that I should never do any high impact sports anymore, even though he said my body was prematurely aging because of the trauma of the accident.  I listened way too long, to those voices of doubt, that told me that I was too beat up and broken to do physical activity.  I’m done with that.  I’m going to finish training, I’m going to get to the point where I can run 5Ks, and I’m going to go further.  I’m going to listen to the words my father said to me, when he heard the doctor’s words: “Don’t let anyone limit you.”  

Because there are no limits.

I have looked, way too long, at what I have lost.  It’s really easy to do, in the dark of the night, going to bed by myself, or driving down a long stretch of highway when a familiar song comes on the radio.

But what I have lost is equal to, if not less than, what I have gained.  What I have.  What I am going to be.

And I drove, and I cried, and I thought about everything I have done, everything I have accomplished, since I left David in November of last year.  Look at what I have done.  Look at what else I’m going to do.  I don’t know if anyone understands how much these things mean to me — getting straight A’s, running a 5K, climbing Mt. Washington a third time, graduating with my Master’s.  I look at pictures on FB of my friends who were graduating this weekend, and I thought to myself, that’s going to be me within the year.

It is. I believe it.

Look what I’ve done.  Look what I’ve gained.  Look how beautiful this all is.

woman-standing-mountain-top-16240141

Just don’t give up; I’m working it out

(Adam Lambert’s “Whataya Want From Me?” really speaks to my life as a whole right now.)

When last we spoke, our anti-heroine (me) was inwardly agonizing about relationships and post-divorce relationships and being ready to tackle new things and whatnot.  This may have predicated a foray into angst, “forever alone” nonsense and abstract “will I never be truly happy until I’m with someone else again?” thinking.

I’m happy to tell you this is not the case, as our anti-heroine faced up to the full brunt of the tasks set before her for these upcoming months…and emotions ran the whole gamut from complete ecstasy to “oh shit.”

Good things first:

After months of research, Dr. LW (my thesis adviser) looked over my bulging folder of notes and gave me the green light to begin writing my thesis prospectus.  If you don’t know what that signifies…in order to begin writing a master’s thesis at my university, one needs to go before the Graduate Studies Department (or have one’s adviser go before the GSD) and present the thesis idea.  You can’t just haul off and say “This is what I want to spend a year of my life doing”; you need to have more of a plan.  Specifically, you need to write a prospectus, which is a statement of interest, a literature review, a statement about what contributions your work will bring to the field of study, what other historians have said, what gaps you intend in filling, and an annotated bibliography of all your sources (thus far) and how they will be useful.  If the GSD likes your prospectus, you get the green light to write the damn thing.  If they don’t…well, that’s another story, and hopefully one I don’t  need to think about right now.

Anyway.  This was my response to Dr. LW’s go-ahead:

I totally went and got an iced coffee from Dunkin Donuts.  Because that is how I celebrate.

Then I went to class.  And I got the bad news.

I’ve known all this semester that I had a term paper for Dr. S due.  The syllabus said it was due next week, but since the class is half-undergrad, half-grad, and he hadn’t mentioned a damn thing about the paper, and he’d recently been in Asia and pushed back some of our deadlines, I naturally did the stupid thing and assumed that it was going to be pushed back as well.

Ha.
Aha.
Hahahahaha.
AHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

That’s the sort of amateur move that a freshman makes.  Maybe an undergraduate junior.  Not a last-year grad student.

Rookie mistake.

So the paper is due next Thursday.  As in April 18th.  As in eight days from now.

How long a paper?  Not that long.  Just 15-20 pages or so.

The above gif was pretty much exactly my reaction when I realized that my idiotic error was going to result in a metric buttload of stress for myself…but that it’s going to get done, it has to get done, so what’s the use of freaking out?

I already have a topic.  My father (the man who instilled a love of history in me so deep that it resulted in borderline obsession) gave me four books from his own personal library that will help in my research.  I used my bff Zotero last night to track down some articles and printed them this morning.  I have a couple of hours this afternoon to do some work before I have to go check out another apartment…

Oh yeah, the apartment search is in full swing.  My parents want their little cottage back (for my sister, who has epilepsy and is disabled), and my (future) roommate S and I have been actively searching for a place for about a week and a half now…

The point of this whole entry?  I’m completely swamped on all sides, so to be spending my time lamenting about a relationship that could have been but wasn’t?  Would pretty much guarantee that I’m certifiable.

Sign me up for the loony bin.

And just because I think my makeup looked pretty damn good today…I think I’ve come a long way since starting to learn how to apply eyeshadow back in September ’12.

2013-04-10 09.31.14

Review: A World On Fire by Amanda Foreman

My work on the biggest book I’ve ever had to read for school has finally come to an end.

Now it is time for the tale!

A World On Fire: Britain’s Crucial Role in the American Civil War by Amanda Foreman is less a book than it is an insanely-detailed anthology of two nations experiencing growing pains.  I need not go into detail about the American Civil War — even an elementary school student can give a concise (if oversimplified) summary of the causes and events.  But Great Britain was struggling with a changing national identity in the mid-19th century as well, though it was not as explosive or damaging as America’s.  The Industrial Revolution had changed GB’s economy, Parliament was fiercely divided among Conservatives and Liberals who constantly argued over the pros and cons of the so-called “republican experiment” (a derisive term for American government), and while its former colonies struggled, the British went back and forth between showing their support for either side and maintaining a strict policy of neutrality.

Foreman has done an exhaustive amount of research, yet her writing style is definitely more “popular” than “historiographical”.  The result is a book that can be easily read, yet also used as a secondary source for a scholarly article or paper (hence my interest in it).  Its length, and the sheer volume of information contained therein, were the only downsides in my opinion.  In trying to cram everything — battles, economics, politics, trade, finances, diplomacy — into one book, Foreman wrote something so massive that it’s difficult to wrap one’s brain around.

But it is in the individual stories where she truly shines.  Explaining the motivations and thought processes of many of the players in this extraordinary event in history is what Foreman really does best, and her storytelling is phenomenal.

Length: Goodreads says 988.  My copy was over 1,000, but a large portion of this is eaten up by notes and bibliography.  The actual number of pages read was 817.  Still hefty, but not nearly 1,000 or over.

Recommend: Yes

To Whom: I would generally say to the historian or history-enthusiast; I think it is really too large and detailed to hold the interest of the casual fan.

Rating: ****

This. Is. AWESOME!!!!

I would be a sad, sad history major indeed if I didn’t comment on THE biggest news of the day (sorry, Ravens fans) for we Anglophiles and lovers of all things history-related.

A skeleton found in a car park in Leicester was confirmed to be the remains of Richard III, the last Plantagenet king of England.

From bbc.uk

Richard III (1452-1485) was the youngest brother of King Edward IV, and Duke of Gloucester until his brother’s death in 1483.  Edward IV’s heir, his son, Edward V, was 13 years old, the product of his illicit marriage to a commoner, Elizabeth Woodville.  Richard, acting quickly, took up the position of Lord Protector during the minority of his young nephew, and had both the young King Edward V and his little brother, Richard Duke of York, sequestered in the Tower of London, ostensibly for their safety.  Shortly after, he declared that his brother Edward IV’s marriage to Elizabeth Woodville was bigamy (as Edward had been betrothed to another woman when he married without Parliaments’ assent), which rendered her son illegitimate and unfit to rule.  Richard III was formally crowned on July 6, 1483.  Edward V and Richard Duke of York were never seen again.

Richard’s reign was plagued with tragedy — the death of his son and heir, the death of his wife, and the constant taint of scandal that followed him, not only concerning the Princes in the Tower, but of the execution of his former friend and ally, the Duke of Buckingham, without trial, and of his misconduct with the Princes’ sister, Elizabeth of York, whom Richard was accused of attempting to seduce and marry in order to cement his claim to the throne.

Richard’s infamous reign came to an end at the Battle of Bosworth Field, when he met rival claimant to the throne Henry Tudor.  Though Richard fought bravely, and according to reports, nearly tangled with Henry Tudor himself, he was killed reportedly by a blow to the head.  Henry Tudor was crowned King Henry VII, married Princess Elizabeth of York, and brought an end to the infamous Wars of the Roses between the rival houses of Lancaster and York.  Henry VII and Elizabeth of York had four living children, one of whom would grow up to be Henry VIII, England’s most famous male monarch.

Richard III is the last English king to die on the field of battle, and the conclusive identification of his remains does much more than just provide England the opportunity to bury their fallen king in a more fitting and dignified grave than a pit under a car park.  It also lays to rest some of the more disturbing legends about Richard’s physical appearance, made notorious by such writers as William Shakespeare.

The skeleton (seen above) shows clear signs of serious scoliosis or curvature of the spine.  But the bones of both of Richard’s forearms seem intact and healthy, as do his shoulders…putting to bed the rumors that Richard was a deformed hunchback with a withered arm.

This BLOWS MY MIND.  I am so excited by this find, something I never expected to happen and barely hoped for when the announcement that excavators may have discovered a skeleton that belonged to Richard III.  It’s an incredible find, and I look forward to hearing about any other forensic discoveries that may be found, and seeing what happens to the royal remains concerning where and how they are laid to rest.

Send help

Guys.  Send help.  Seriously, I feel like I’m drowning in my own mediocrity this week.

Plan was to go to the gym on Wednesday and Friday.  Wednesday did not happen.  Friday is still up in the air.

I haven’t gotten more than about four hours of sleep a night.  None of that is uninterrupted.  I sleep like garbage.  I tried to remedy that by using Law and Order SVU to sleep by (surprisingly, this usually works).  It’s not working right now.

Due to to the financial burdens of separating, my bank account is…sad.  We’ll say sad.  Savings is good, checking blows, D’s car payments this month came out of my bank account instead of his, and though I AM going to get that money back, you can’t get blood from a stone, as they say, and D now owes me $300 for this month.  Super.

Oh, grad school?  BAHAHAHAHAHA.  I am about halfway finished with The Behemoth.  As for reading for my other class…not even close.  I emailed the two Civil War historians on campus, per my thesis adviser’s orders…and they haven’t responded.  Thanks, guys.

I vacillate between “I am okay with getting divorced, this is going to be a new start”, terror about the idea of dating, feeling sick over the idea of divorce, and freaking out because this was not supposed to happen.

Hopefully I’ll be feeling better tomorrow.

We all have to trailblaze sometime, right?

Little bitta backstory:
I started grad school in 2005.  I was supposed to, at least.  I graduated from my undergraduate university in May of 2005, and was set and ready to go in August of 2005 and start grad school.  Disaster (and an SUV) struck me on August 27th, a mere 48 hours before the semester was supposed to start, derailing my graduate career and my life for five months.  When I did get back to school, I was an absolute mess of anxiety, pain, accident-related PTSD, etc., and though I tried to struggle through it, it took two and a half years of slipping grades and horrible anxiety attacks before I realized that maybe going into debt $10,000 a year isn’t a worth it if I’m on the verge of being kicked out of the program.  So I dropped out of school in order to get medicated, get therapy, and get my life back in order.

With me so far?

The downside is, when I finally got my shit together and went back to school in January of 2012, my cumulative GPA was a lousy 2.64.  The standard set by my university is a minimum of 3.0.  Clearly, I had a lot of work to do.

In the last three semesters (Spring ’12, Summer ’12, and Winter ’12), I’ve earned GPAs of 3.85, 3.75, and 4.0, and my cumulative GPA has jumped from 2.64 to 2.97 in a year, which I thought was a pretty awesome jump.  With two semesters to go, I was sure that I would be over the 3.0 by the time I register to write my thesis in Fall ’13, and definitely by graduation.

Unfortunately, yesterday, I received a letter from the Dean of Graduate Studies, informing me that since their standard is a minimum of 3.0, and my GPA is 2.97, I am on academic probation for the Spring ’13 semester.

 

I bet I’m the only person in the world who ever got put on academic probation a mere three weeks after earning a 4.0.\

It’s one of those “so ludicrous, you can’t help but laugh” situations.  I’m not nervous at all, because unless something else horrific happens to me and I completely lose my mind, I’m not going to miss that 3.0 again this semester, and I’ll be off Ac Prob by Fall ’13.

When I got the letter, David suggested that I print out my grades from last semester (with the 4.0) and frame them and the Ac Prob letter side-by-side.

I might do it.  It’s just too funny.