May Update–Almost 5 Years to Go!!!

Okay, it’s time to update that pesky 30 before 30 list. I can’t believe how little time I have left. Here are the items that have seem improvement since last updating on New Year’s.

#1 Finish Grad School. Well, considering the name of this blog, you can GUESS how that’s going. Delay of graduation thanks in part to adviser shenanigans. BUT, there has been some positive progress:

  • I got one paper out the door and one paper almost out the door this academic year. The journals aren’t A-level journals, but definitely B-level. Some solid stuff was submitted, if I do say so myself.
  • I traveled a LOT, for me. Which means a lot of networking, a lot of learning, and a couple of talks. Oh, the places I went! Just this calendar year alone (i.e., this semester), went to:
    • Boston (in January too! Brrrr)
    • Tucson (in March, not that that mattered…it’s always hot there)
    • Vancouver (in April. Highs of 55-62 and rain all day? Yes, please!!!)
  • In taking my trip to Vancouver, I technically gave my first international conference talk! Woo-hoo!

There are plans for future travel, ranging from Seattle to Winston-Salem. But no more red-eyes. Mom was right: nothing good happens after 1AM…including flights.

  •  Teaching-wise, I finished a graduate-level certificate in $^&#*-education. That was good. I also taught two courses–see #22.

#2. Pay Off Car Loan

YYYYYYYYAAAAAAAAYYYYYYYYYY!!!!!!!!! It’s done! It’s mine! My precious! I am very proud of this personal accomplishment.

#9. Become Fluent in a Foreign Language

I guess this all depends upon our definition of “fluent.” I think the closest chance I have for this is French. My family is Belgian, so I grew up hearing French. I took French for a year in undergrad, and a reading course in French as a graduate student. I love watching French films (and I don’t always need subtitles), and I have quite a few French books to translate–in my copious free time. Hell, I’ve even had to read some research papers in French this year. Still, I’m a perfectionist–would NOT consider myself fluent.

But, of course, since I can never make up my mind…we’re now working on German too! In part because I have to pass two foreign language requirements for my PhD, I’m taking a “Maymester” of German for Reading Knowledge. That means for three hours a day, five days a week for four weeks I’ll be sprach-ing Deutsch. Don’t get me wrong…I think the aspect of learning a foreign language is fun, but honestly I think German is one of the ugliest, least natural languages out there. We’ll see if I magically pick it up–otherwise, we’re putting our efforts back into French.

#15. Set up a healthy retirement account.

So this is clearly also a vague statement of a goal. What’s “healthy”? Does it just mean “put in the maximum allowable by law until you’re 30” or does it mean, “make smart investment choices” or what? My latest plan to ensure that I can keep making regular contributions to my IRA is the following: I’m pretty good with my money normally. Especially for a graduate student. While I’d be up a creek if I had NO salary, I do have enough saved that I can, say, go to these conferences. BUT, a lot of conference (at least in my field) will reimburse plane tickets, hotel rooms, etc. So, whenever a reimbursement check comes in, it’s now going into my IRA. This also encourages me to continue to apply for travel grants (and continue to make myself worthy of travel grants). So far this calendar year this has put $1550 into retirement. Not too shabby. I’m also getting a lot better at watching stocks, thanks to google finance.

#16. Finish every book I own.

This has had much slower progress in the last six months. Plus, I keep buying and downloading other books, which is an added hassle. Since the last update I have only read the following:

  • The Weird Sisters, E. Brown (bought in an airport, GAH!)
  • Bossypants, T. Fey (also bought in an airport, GAH!)
  • Darkness Visible: A Memoir of Madness, W. Styron (given as Christmas gift)
  • Vanity Fair, W.M.Thackeray (actually on the original list)
  • The Picture of Dorian Gray, O.Wilde (actually on the original list)

This really is not good. A book a month–even if there are long books like Vanity Fair (which frankly I HATED anyway)–is not going to help. Problem though is that I’m left with so many damn downers. “IBM and the Holocaust”–sounds like a blast to read in an airport. “Ulysses” and “Infinite Jest”–God, help me. According to my records I still have 71 books to finish. In 5 years. While in graduate school. This is over a book a month, and this is getting kinda scary. On the plus side, though, according to my records since starting this list in May, 2010 I’ve read 39 books…which would indicate there is hope.

#21. Pull an all-nighter.

For now, I’m going to say that this has been done. Why? (a) I was up all night (b) I could not afford to fall asleep and (c) it was not enjoyable and probably avoidable. This was on my way back from Canada. So, the conference ended (for me) on Saturday afternoon, and I had to be back on my home campus at 8AM Monday morning for the last day of classes. I decided to take the red eye Saturday night to Sunday morning so I could finish grading exams and not be a complete “death-warmed-over” case when I had to run my final class meeting. But you could be saying, “Hold on a minute! What about sleeping on the plane?!” I had thought of that…and it didn’t work. In particular, the woman sitting next to me on the flight was (a) taking up part of my seat (b) in cold sweats and (c) asking me to get up (had an aisle) so she could go puke every 30 minutes which (d) made the flight attendants keep coming by to see if she were okay. So…yeah…take-off at 10:50PM local time and land at 12:15PM local time, plus customs, plus driving home, etc…we’ll call it an all-nighter, K? If I happen to be this stupid again–in a more traditional setting or otherwise–I’ll letcha know.

#22. Teach a non-terminal course at a college.

Like I mentioned in January, I was finally slated to teach a non-terminal course. I have to say, though, I was sadly unimpressed. Certainly the material I was covering was much more interesting (to me, at least); however, the students were remarkably underprepared. Seriously, my terminal kids were in better shape coming into the class. Definitely a shock for me.

#25. Start and maintain a blog.

Certainly I’ve been doing better at maintaining this blog. I’m trying to write once a week–the recipes help (and they also give me some way to relax!). As for the “success” of the blog. Well, on the one hand it’s very clear according to the stats that people all over the world are reading the blog (pretty cool!). On the other hand, the number of views per month don’t really seem to be going up. We’re averaging about 3 views a day right now. Eh. I suppose that’s not terrible. Perhaps I just need to start writing about more interesting things, eh?


So, what’s on the agenda for the upcoming year? I definitely think it would be fun to “knock out”

#24. Go to a karaoke bar and sing.

I mean, hell, I sing enough during the day anyway. It might be a fun distraction this summer.

What else should be “eliminated”? Well, honestly so many of the remaining goals are just going to take time. Gotta just chip at things. Specifically, we will continue to work on:

#1. Finish graduate school.

#6. Make my goal weight/fitness

#9. Become fluent in at least one foreign language.

#15. Retirement fund.

#16. Books

#23. Blogging

#30. Learn to accept being thirty.

And that’s about all I can really say! Wish me luck–Lord knows I’m gonna need it!


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