29 December 2008


I finally got up the courage to look at my grade report from this past semester. Now, when you are at my stage in grad school, grades really don't matter. I mean, you should always get A's and B's in grad school, but it's not as important as it was in undergrad or even when I got my master's. I was not in a hurry to look. I had 6 credits this semester, so only two letters. I know that this semester I did not do my best. I had bit off more than I could chew with everything I was working on. I knew that I did not turn in my best work. This is what makes me sad. For the first time in my graduate career, I feel like I turned in a piece of work that was two steps above garbage. I hate this feeling. I know that there was nothing that I could have done by the end of the semester other than turn in my rough draft. Needless to say, I was not very happy with one of my grades. Hopefully this is the kick in the pants I need to finish the second half of this school year. On the other hand I am dealing with crossing between two disciplines that have very different research paradigms that can conflict and leave me feeling like the student in the cartoon below:

23 December 2008

Merry Christmas from PhD Comics

This just made me smile and I thought I would share it with all of you. As the Christmas season begins, and the parties and gatherings commence, so do my favorite questions: "So how much longer until you graduate?" "What do you actually do?" and "What's your dissertation on?" While most people are just trying to be polite, it is frustrating to come up with an answer that is one sentence or less to not have to explain graduate school to someone who never went to college. Any hints?

14 December 2008

It's Over

Well my semester is over, and I am sitting here waiting for one of the schools that I work for to fix their email system so I can access late student work, grade it, and recalculate a few students' grades. Overall this semester should not have been anything too different from last year. I mean last year I had one less job, but one more class, plus I got married during the middle of one of the semesters. Yet this fall I just seemed to slack off more, rather than focusing more. It makes me scared for what the next few years hold. I have to take stock in the fact that I have completed 24 doctoral credits, have six more waiting for me this spring, leaving me with 15-18 left of course work to go, ever! After that I have my doctoral qualifying exams and dissertation to complete which equal another 12-15 credits. All total I need 60 credits to graduate, and I am still on schedule to graduate in May of 2012. I know my ticker on the bottom of the page is not correct, but the site did not have enough digit spaces to put in 2012 as a year. To give you all a treat, here is the conclusion to my 25 pager:

"While some of these activities, such as the shorted lived John Muir Club, were representative of the time, yearbook, newspaper, and sports are staples of the traditional American high school experience. These were all fully represented at GTTHS, in a time when not all of these activities were available even to other high school girls within the same city. Milwaukee Girls’ Trade and Technical High School, because of its nature as an all girls’ school, was able to more quickly respond to the needs of its students. Rather than be an institution of repression, the development of clubs and other activities was progressive in responding to the needs of its students. These activities, though an extension of the curriculum and social life of the women, were vital to the development of the future wives, mothers, and employees that were enrolled."

I know that you were hanging with baited breath to figure out what I had found this semester.

01 December 2008

2 Weeks and Counting...

With two weeks left in the semester here is a list of things to be done by December 12th:

  • 10 page paper on the AAGPBL - due Friday December 5th at noon. (I have 4 pages typed so far.)

  • 25 page paper on GTTHS's extracurricular activities - defended December 4th, submitted December 11th. (I have 7 pages so far.)

  • 5 page take home final exam - due Friday December 12th at 3:30.

  • Grade 21 final unit lesson plans by December 12th, they are due Sunday December 7th.

  • Finish grading 15 2 page papers by tomorrow.

  • Grade 33 3-5 page essays, ASAP.

  • Grade 33 writing portfolios by Friday December 12th.

  • Select three portfolios to share with writing faculty: one A portfolio, one C portfolio, and one failing portfolio.

  • Submit all of the above grades for the lesson plans and portfolios.

  • Type up 20 pages of hand written notes and submit to my cooperating professor, then begin hunting through the microfilm for stories about the school board I have been researching for him.

This is all in the next two weeks. I am already tired just writing it out.

On a more positive note I found a cartoon that best describes one of my positions here at the university.

20 November 2008

Personal, Sort of...

I have been getting help over the past few months for some health issues, and though they are not following my timeline for how things should go, I am finding the whole process very interesting. The most interesting part was attending the support group meeting last night. This is where this blog comes in. How do I explain what I do for a living without sounding like a pretentious a**hole, or like a workaholic? I mean it is easy to say that I teach college and I am a doc student. When I use the term "instructor" so many assumptions are made. My other position is a little more complicated to explain to anyone, much less non-academics. When I tell people that I am working on my research they think that I spend all of my time in a laboratory, not the reading room of an archive. When I start talking about what I do to correct the assumptions, I get that eyes glazed over look of sheer boredom. How can I find a happy medium? Should I just go back to saying that I am a teacher and not answer any other questions? I guess that my life will be a little easier when I can say professor.

17 November 2008

What??? Are you Sure?

I have been procrastinating all semester, more than usual. I have just come to the realization that there are 3 weeks left in this semester. 3! That's t-h-r-e-e. I have a 25 page paper due on December 11, that has to be presented and defended on December 4th that doesn't even have the scribbled outline started. I also have a 10 page research paper due on December 3rd, which I haven't even begun to explore, and a take home final that will be due December 12th. This is on top of all of the work that I have to grade for the courses that I am teaching this semester. Damnit, when did this semester slip away from me?

12 November 2008

I have found the hardest thing to do this semester is to stay to my "assigned hours" and get the work done that is expected of me. Granted part of my distraction is the very nice, pretty, shinny new 50" LCD TV the hubby and I bought, but I really am just physically and mentally exhausted when I get home most evenings. Allowing me an hour or two an evening to cram in what is stored on my DVR is not a crime, but I can't seem to get everything done in the time frame that is set forth by the professors that I work with. It is not like I am in trouble, but it is like that disappointed look that parents give their children that cuts right through to your self esteem. This makes me hate my pretty new TV, just a little. One good thing is that most of the shows that I do watch have either, a) been cancelled, so I have less TV to watch, b) sucked so bad that I have given up on them, (yes that is you Heroes that I am talking about) or c) are not on currently. If only TV would keep sucking during the school year.

06 November 2008

Election Hangover and More

I, like most of the nation was glued to the TV on Tuesday, waiting for the results of the election. Now for those of you that know me, I made it all the way through the President-Elect's speech without a nap. The husband even faded before I did. Now what goes without saying is that I was unable to get any work done whatsoever. I was so glued to CNN and Comedy Central that I could not grade the now over 100 papers/assignments from my students. I just couldn't pull myself away from the couch to sit at the kitchen table. I needed to know what was going on.

Now that this is over, it feels like a hangover. For those of you who are married, it feels like those first few days after your wedding. You have spent all of the mental and emotional time and effort, and now that it is over, what do you do with your time. Now most would think that I turned this time over to my research/homework/grading papers. You would be wrong. I ironed and did laundry. I know, it is sad, but it was the first thing that caught my attention when I got home from my office yesterday.

I did spend about 5 hours at the historical society on Tuesday, doing research for my cooperating professor. I am looking into how the school board of Milwaukee shifted in its make-up during the course of the 20th Century. I have been mostly hunting through the reports from the school board from 1906-08. It is very interesting to see the numbers that I have found in these books that will help my research for Girls' Tech. I have found that they were concerned about class size. The numbers from the 1906/7 school year speak for themselves:

Teacher to Student Ratios Based on Enrollment Numbers:
  • Overall: 47.1
  • High School: 28.5
  • Grammar and Primary: 51.25
  • Kindergarten: 66.77

Teacher to Student Ratios Based on the Average Attendance Numbers:

  • Overall: 33.95
  • High School: 23.0
  • Grammar (Grades 5-8):37.81
  • Primary: 45.21
  • Kindergarten: 33.30

Could you even imagine a first grade classroom with 46 students? Now the only reason that the high school ratio is so low is that the law only mandated a child finish 8th grade or grammar school.

29 October 2008

High School Sports

I have been trying to squeeze in as much time as I can find at our local historical society that has information on my school. I have a paper due at the end of November and I am focusing on the extracurricular activities that were available to the students from its inception in 1909 through WWII (a parameter set by my cooperating professor). I have found a number of interesting things about this school:

  • The girls canceled their prom in 1943 and used the money to buy war bonds.

  • The school had intramural basketball teams as early as 1927.

  • By 1930 there were three intramural sports.

  • By 1934 there was an athletic club that sponsored volleyball, basketball, baseball, tennis, swimming, and ping pong.

What is great about this, is that it was all prior to Title IX. Most people think that the only "sports" girls had open to them were cheerleading and majorette/drill team. There seems to be a decline in female sports at co-ed schools that is fueling my research.

On a lighter note, I found this comic amusing, and sadly so very true, based on the university that I am attached to. However I am grateful that we do not have a football team.

08 October 2008

If Only the World Were Perfect...

I am procrastinating from working on grading portfolios, doing research for my prof, completing a proposal to teach a summer course in Ireland, and from doing my own reading and research. Couldn't I find an extra day of the week to help me take care of these things? I just need an extra 8 hours during the day where I could sneak off to the archives and research without anyone asking me for help. My evenings are open, but my days and weekends are so packed with stuff that I barely have time to remember to eat my lunch. On more occasions that I would like to remember I have had to throw out my lunch because I left it sit out all day and it thawed/spoiled. I just lose track of time so easily, and feel like I have not got done all that I needed to accomplish in that time frame. I know that I am hard on myself with my own expectations of what I can get done, but lately it seems that the time crunch is more acute. On top of this I have just been frustrated with some of my students.

05 October 2008


I finally made it down to the county historical society's temporary location to begin going through the two boxes they have that are all about Girls' Trade and Tech. I spent most of the afternoon reading through the alumnae association's newsletters. This semester I have to deliver a 25 page paper on the school for a seminar course. I have decided to focus on the extra curricular activities that the girls were involved in throughout the 46 years that it was in operation. I have a some good leads on operettas, pageants, and a track team! I have just started digging, and hope to get back there before this coming Saturday.

Again, I have another PhD Comic attached that has really hit home this week. I keep trying to stay up to grade papers, prep for class, or read for my other course.

01 October 2008


Since I am too busy slacking off from researching to write a full update, here is another comic to make you smile. I am not sure how I fit in here because I do own stocks, have a 401K and 403b from previous jobs, and I own a home. I even know what type of mortgage I have. Even so, it reminded me why I am glad to be where I am.

26 September 2008


This is so true on so many levels that it hurts. I am very grateful that this semester I am working for two faculty members and they are all relevant to what I like/want to work on. I am very happy to say that this comic has only really happened to me once in all of my years of academia.

16 September 2008

I Laugh

I laugh because crying hurts....

11 September 2008

The Gods are Smiling

I won't go into my unresolved issues with faculty members, or even how I shoved my foot in my mouth with her and almost lost my funding. I am just too happy right now.

First, the gods have completed the freeway interchange that is right on campus and they personally put an exit and entrance ramp in the perfect spot for me to get around. If there was little traffic on the freeway, it would only take me 10 minutes to get to campus.

Second, in my undergraduate years my friends and I frequented the Dairy Queen on campus. Sadly it was replaced by a George Webbs. Now, while I don't mind a Webbs, it just isn't the same. But yesterday, the gods were smiling and Webbs is now a Qdoba. For those of you who don't know me, or at least not that well, I could eat Qdoba at least four to five days a week. Mmmmm...............Qdoba.

Thirdly, and most importantly, I have started classes for this semester. In my research course we had a gentleman from the county historical society come and talk to us about what type of collections they have. When I asked him about my particular school that I want to research, he informed me that a woman stopped by over the summer and dropped a whole series of records off for them. To put the icing on the cake, they also have a very active alumni group in the area that was holding the collection of pieces. Jackpot!!!!! I felt bad for the poor kids in the class who got more vague responses than I.

I did find it funny when he talked about a the Milwaukee Chicks who were a member of the AAGPBL. I never knew that Milwaukee had a team in this fabled league, if only for a year, and would love to look more into women's access to sports in the city of Milwaukee pre-Title IX. I guess that will have to wait until after I am done with my first project.

03 September 2008

Protecting Human Subject Research Participants

Protecting Human Subject Research Participants That's right, I am certified! Aren't you as excited as I am. Wait, I only deal with dead people. What am I doing again?

Knowledge is Relative

I have found it odd the reaction I get when I tell people what I do. When I was a high school teacher, I received looks of sympathy from people or comments about my fortitude. Now when I tell them that I am a doctoral student or I teach college, it is a different response altogether. For the former, I get questions about how hard medical school is or what my dissertation is about/degree is in. The first one just makes me giggle, the second one I never want to answer because I know they don't care, they are just being polite. As for the response about me teaching college, it is funny. People make comments about how smart I must be, or how young I am to be teaching at the college level.

The perceptions of what a high school teacher and what a college instructor look like and how smart they are astound me. I have the same degrees that I did when I was a high school teacher, just one more year of college difference. I am only one year older than I was when a high school teacher.

Responses about how smart I am are so funny, because anyone who has gone on past their bachelor's degree knows how graduate school beats the smart out of you. Now I have had the pleasure of being in programs that are very nurturing and collegial, rather than cut-throat. I have had the privilege of working with faculty one on one, and even being allowed to call them by their first names! The process of graduate school is to narrow your focus, and expose you to more and more information about this area of specialty. You are constantly quetioning your sanity and discussing everything to the nth degree. On top of it, your final piece of work that is the culmination of your years of study has to be defended in front of a panel of people. What other profession requires this? A medcial doctor gets a license after passing a test; if you get your law degree in the state of Wisconsin and choose to practice here, you don't even have to take the bar! Me, I have to take qualifying exams, and orally defend them, then write a long research book/paper and orally defend that as well. Now, mind you I have already done this process once for my master's degree. Does this seem smart to you? I think this proves that I am nowhere near smart.

14 August 2008

I Get It and Other Stuff

Well the summer is winding down and I feel so stressed just trying to get my schedule figured out that I just can't seem to stop thinking about it. I have a load of 6 credits, I have 20 hours to work at one position on campus and 10 for another. I dropped down to 6 credits because I accepted an adjuct position at a small school nearby. I thought I had my schedule figured out pretty well, and then got thrown for a curve. Let's just say that curve has not been pleasant and we'll leave it at that. The main problem is that I need to perform all of these functions between 8-5, not all of which are located within the confines of campus. To make matters worse, all of the people that I work for or with are so great in allowing me the flexibility to do what I need to, save one. I don't know why this surpeises me, but I guess I got so used to being treated like an adult, even, dare I say colleague, that being treated like a student has just taken me down a few notches. I am sure this can all be worked out, and by the end of September I won't know why I was so stressed, but I just hate feeling this way.
My other issue that has come to my attention over the last few months has always gotten my goat, but now it has bothered me to a point where I cannot remain quiet. I turned 30 this year, whoopdedo. Age has never bothered me, and I was never really one of those people that would make goals based on ages. I usually made goals and adjusted them based on the curve balls that life threw at me. Lately when around people my age, all I here about is babies and the comments "just wait until it happens to you." I get it, I've watched and cared for my niece and nephew to know this. But these people seem to think that I have no idea what kids are like. On top of that, they give the look of pity when I tell them I don't have any of my own. This is not an accident, this is a conscious choice to put off children until I done with my coursework. This does not mean that I do not work, or that my degrees mean less because I didn't add children to the mix. I get it, kids are rough. I say wear a helmet, good shoes, and get a life outside of your family.
Sorry that this is more personal than anything, but this is part of the doctoral process, dealing with schedules and non-academics.

28 July 2008

Slacking and Office Supplies

So while I am still making any kind of excuse to avoid anything that resembles school work, I have a peculiar obsession with office supplies that is well known to almost all who know me. Summer used to be a fun time of year where all of the pressures of school were removed and the urge to buy supplies was usually well repressed. Unfortunately the retailers have now decided that July is the perfect time to put school supplies on sale. Not just on sale, but the special isles full of fresh pens screaming my name and virgin notebooks calling for my chicken scratch to be scrawled all over their pristine pages.

It began about three weeks ago, while walking through Target, I noticed that most of the garden/patio supplies/decorations where beginning to not be restocked (whoa that's a lot of backslashes). The next trip to Target resulted in the discovery of these cardboard bins full of markers and pencils. While these make me smile, I could resist the temptation to walk those isles. That and I was there to purchase Mario Kart for our Wii (this is another reason that I have slack off). I then went on vacation with my whole family, so I was removed from this temptation, until today. I made an innocent stop at Walgreen's. I was paying my bills and ran out of envelopes and white out tape. I knew that Office Max would be way too much temptation when I just needed to get two things. I have more than enough pens and paper to get me through this semester, and I also am good on binders for this coming fall. I thought that I would play it safe and go to Walgreen's where the temptation is minimal for office supplies.

Wrong! Now mind you, I have been gone for almost a week, and do not know what sales are going on. I get to Walgreen's and everything is buy two get one free or better. I decided to peruse the isle looking for my white out tape. It was not in this isle, but there were binders of every size and color and priced at buy one get one free. I could not resist the empty binders. I go through two or three per semester, usually one per class. This fall I have two classes that I am taking, two that I am teaching, and I still do not know who I am going to be assigned to as a graduate assistant, so that could be more classes. I felt compelled to purchase at least two, even though I know that I have a few empty ones laying about the condo.

I grabbed two and continued on my search for the aforementioned items that I had come for: enevelopes and white out tape. From there I passed a display full of composition notebooks that were buy one get two free. Now I debated longer over the colors of the three that I would buy longer than I did over if I should buy them. I couldn't resist their solid uncracked bindings. I then made a bee line to the envelopes and quickly moved on to grab the white out tape as well.

I know to some this is silly, but to me this is like Christmas. Brand new school supplies are like crack, an addiciton. I told my husband what I bought, and he just laughed and said: "that's it?" He can be such an enabler when it comes to things like this. I need to stay out of the stores, at least until I have to buy books for this semester.

17 June 2008

Too True!

Just a little bit of my favorite comic strip while I figure out my next move.

30 April 2008

Excitement and Frustration

I am trying to keep this blog about my schoolwork, and not my personal life, but that is very tough sometimes. I feel like I should have another place to rant and rave about what is going on in my head, but I know more than anything that it would alienate me more from my friends because of the way that I am feeling at this current moment.

The yearbooks came! I have both the 1936 and 1938 yearbooks from the Girls' Trade and Technology High in Milwaukee. From just looking over them the last two days I already have chapters of my dissertation floating in my head: curricula, activities, sports! It is really very exciting. Almost too exciting, mainly because I still have three papers to finish by next week to end this semester. Even more exciting is that both of these yearbooks belonged to a woman by the name of Dorothy June Fleischmann. Even better, she wrote her address in one of them! I am not wholly sure what to do with this information other than share it with people who might be interested in my dorkish pursuits. I will hopefully scan some images soon to share the 1930s style of the book.

25 April 2008


I found another yearbook, from 1930 on Ebay. I will try and purchase it later this week, but I should be seeing the 1936 and 1938's yearbooks soon. I will share what I have found, once I get my hands on them.

17 April 2008


I was very excited to find something really cool about the school that I want to research. On Ebay a gentleman has two yearbooks, one from 1936 and one from 1938. Why or how they ended up in this man's hands in Florida is beyond me. They are selling for $44 each including shipping. I have purchased one this week, and perhaps the second one next week. I want to see what this first one looks like, if there is anything that I can mine from it. When I told my advisor Pablo this, he was very excited and asked if I had purchased them, without any hesitation when I mentioned that they were $44. Ahh to be tenured and not have to worry about money as much.

11 April 2008

So Here's the Deal...

I have a research project due on May 7th. I have been observing and interviewing a teacher at a school and observing his classroom. The problem is that after looking at this from the beginning of February until, oh about last week, I haven't really got anything useful out of it, other than another teacher contact. I am bored to tears during the observation. I don't know how much of this is because this is not the type of research I do and I am fighting it, or because I really am not interested in teaching methods of other teachers in action.

So I emailed my professor, who will let me change my subject, but now I have about 3 and a half weeks to compile all of this data, write new proposal, conduct interviews, and do the work for my other two courses. I have to keep reminding myself why I came back to school on certain days, and this would be one of them.

In other news, the Barenaked Ladies are issuing a kids album and this video/song made me chuckle. I love YouTube!

09 April 2008

In the Beginning

The main goal of this is to document my progress in school, as well as journal my thoughts about what I am working on. I know that there will always be random posts about thing that are frustrating me in the world around me, when I back away from the computer long enough to notice them.

The current push for this blog is that I am looking for graduates of the Milwaukee School of Trades for Girls. If anyone knows a graduate of the school that is still alive, please contact me. I would greatly appreciate it.