Nashville with the Tudors

Monday, 31 October 2011
My best friend since Carson-Newman College, Casey, was in Nashville this weekend visiting her family and asked me to drive over for a couple of days. It is always a treat to visit the Tudors because they are amazing hosts and constantly make sure everyone has the best food, wine and desserts within reach. Not only that, they have a lovely home complete with every sports and movie channel imaginable and a fabulous outdoor entertaining space which includes a stone fire pit. The locale is just bliss for a struggling PhD student who needs a day out of town every now and then. (Yes, I brought scholarly publications and collected data for research while I was there.)

Casey and I have been in love (platonically of course) for 11 years and every time we get together, we have the best time catching up on our latest life adventures and encouraging each other for the next challenge. She is doing very well for herself and is now living in Raleigh/Durham and working as a clinic director for Duke (she cures cancer). Casey seemed happy and energized and I cannot wait to travel to see her and her new house!

Casey's little sis, Jordon (middle of the picture) is also progressing in her career as a professionally trained actress, singer and dancer. We all went to see her perform in the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Boiler Room Theater. Her parents then took a group of us to Sperry's for dinner to celebrate. Such a fun weekend! 

A Few Things

Friday, 28 October 2011
1. I was at Sapphire last night with some girl friends and a guy attempts to chat me up. As we talk he says he's 27 years old and wants to know how old I am (not a viable flirting technique in my book). I respond with my age because I'm not interested anyway and just a few seconds later this exchange goes down:

Guy: Are you wearing real pearls?
Me: .... ?? .... Um, yes. (Earrings)
Guy: Cool! My grandmother wears pearls!!
Me: .... ..... (omg) .... .....
Me: Oh look at the time! Nice meeting you.

Nothing like a good convo with a 20-something to make you feel mature.

2. I was in the library today searching for books and articles for a research project in the Commons. On the computer next to me are two undergraduates dressed in sweatpants. This is what I overhear:

Girl #1: I was reeeeeeeeeally drunk the other day.

(Time lapse 20 seconds)

Girl #2: You WERE reeeeeeally drunk the other day.

(Time lapse 30 seconds)

Girl #1: I was REEEEEALLY drunk the other day.

I looked over to see if they were reading lines to a bad play or something but no, that was their conversation. Shortly after that, girl #1 says that they've done enough work for one day and they pack up and leave. Perhaps their exchanges are more in-depth via text message...

3. I ran into two news crews from Channel 6 today. Steve and a new reporter were in Party City in Fountain City doing a story about how Halloween is a deadly night on the roads (according to AAA). I talked with them for a moment and they left. I actually felt sorry for them because I was having a great Friday with a flexible schedule and didn't have to stand outside in the rain interviewing about Halloween and its deadliness. Crew #2 was on UT's campus. I spotted Ronnie and Hana as they were loading gear and getting into a news car. Ron came over to say hello and had about two seconds to say hi before they had to rush off to the next assignment. Again, this was in the rain and under the circumstances I didn't miss that job for a second. Just sayin.

Diagnosis - - language warning

Wednesday, 26 October 2011

Some Days There's Sobbing

I haven't cried for more than a month. Yesterday I sobbed my eyes out like a little girl. The circumstances that caused the break down are strange and now seem somewhat humorous. My day yesterday went something like this:

400am - wake up and start worrying about everything in my life that isn't going well or has the potential to fail.
630am - fall back asleep
800am - wake up to cat purring loudly in my face
930am - campus, work on pecha-kucha presentation for research class
1100am - hour of group tutoring for stats midterm with Dr. K
1215pm - lunch for fellowship students with the graduate program (awesome experience and prestigious!)
130pm - meeting with Dr. B to discuss changing research proposal, change granted
145pm - create and type up major writing assignment for JEM 200 Media Writing course
210pm - research class 610, ready to give presentation
330pm - give presentation (Japanese style, 20 slides, 20 seconds spent on each slide), good feedback from cohorts and Dr. W
455pm - hand out writing assignment to students, give news quiz, collect latest assignment and send students off to conduct news interviews
530pm - rush to Knoxville City Court, study for stats midterm while waiting to show insurance card and ask for judicial relief on my "following too closely" citation
710pm - called to stand
713pm - judge politely listens and says "but this insurance card only proves you have been insured since 10/17."
714pm - case reset for one week
715pm - walk to car cursing State Farm the entire time for sending me a card that is new again when I specifically said I needed the one that showed I had insurance when the wreck happened
716pm - curse myself for not looking at the card before sitting in court for almost two hours
717pm - get into my car and burst into tears
719pm - drive sobbing to study spot and get back to statistics
720pm - realize I'm just tired and bravely face the horrid headache that comes after a crying fit
900pm - stop studying and meet friend M for a beer
1000pm - talk to mom and feel a little better about life
1020pm - start studying again

Today will be better and I have a good feeling about the exam (notice the positive vibe)!


Tuesday, 25 October 2011
Wide awake again at 4am is not a good place to be when you have a busy week and way too much on your mind.

I am set to give a pecha-kucha presentation in my research class later today after a stats review session for our midterm on Wednesday and I have a luncheon at the Black Cultural Center for my Shipley-Swann Fellowship program. Tonight I'm also supposed to go to traffic court for a citation. (If you attend court you can sometimes be put on probation rather than get points if you haven't had other tickets.)

I'll somehow get through this week (as will you) and then I have a fun weekend to look forward to (it's what's keeping me sane). There are two Halloween parties to attend Friday night (which I still need a costume for) and then I'm headed to Nashville to spend time with my best friend Casey, her boyfriend and her family. I'm looking forward to time out of town and exciting nights in the big(ger) city.

Meantime, I'm honestly doing positive-vibe mental concentration regarding my upcoming statistics test. I'm meditating on wisdom, knowledge and a lack of anxiety. I've pictured knowing the answers to the questions and having a general feeling of confidence. My lofty goal is a B. I'll be over the moon with anything above an 80 (and that's considered a poor grade in the PhD program).

ETN Writers' Hall of Fame

Monday, 24 October 2011
Friends of Literacy (charity I'm involved in) hosts the East Tennessee Writers' Hall of Fame each year as a major fundraiser. The evening went off without a hitch this past Thursday and we had many successes!

Melissa (Executive Director of Friends of Literacy), Tracy (FOL Volunteer) and I paused before the event to take a picture. At this point we were all pretty excited about the evening and hoping for an excellent award presentation and guest speaker!

We had an extra interest in a successful event this year. Melissa and I produced, wrote and participated in the editing of a 10 minute "call for support" video. We conducted the interviews and sourced video and photographs. My idea was to weave the stories of three adult literacy students throughout the information and call for donations that we needed. All-in-all the work took up about 22 hours so we had quite a bit invested in it. I was very pleased with the video and we took in an amazing amount of impromptu donations after the video. Hooray!

The awards ceremony went well and we honored five East Tennessee writers in different categories for our Hall of Fame. They were gracious and had lovely speeches prepared.

Inky Johnson (former UT football player) was our main speaker of the evening. He was incredible and highly inspirational. His story began in a poor neighborhood (Kirkwood) and he promised his grandmother that he would be the first in the family to graduate from college. He played for UT and was severely injured in game. He lost use of his arm but is using his position and story to inspire others. (Yes - he did get his degree!!) 

His message centers around faith and perseverance and even though it sounds cheesy, listening to his talk gave me a bit of a boost of energy for my doctoral program. He is very positive and determined. 

His book, Inky, An Amazing Story of Faith and Perseverance is available online and at Pilot stores in Knoxville. I can't wait to pick up a copy.


Thursday, 20 October 2011
You know when you know, you just know?

Even with countless theories surrounding human behavior, objective observations through experiment and the knowledge gleaned from social science, there is just something about trusting your gut that makes sense in certain situations. Yes, this can be difficult at times, especially when it involves making uncomfortable changes. However as we know, tough decisions can spark peace and true happiness when played correctly.

Instead of embracing misery and second-best options, why not continue to push ourselves personally as we do professionally? If the signs are there, we don't necessarily need a map to find the right direction.

How's your journey this week?

New Wheels

Wednesday, 19 October 2011
For just a second today, I felt like I finally had it all together. This didn't happen until about 5pm but alas, it was a good feeling. I have a new (used) car! I'm happy with this one and purchased it with cash which keeps me in line with my anti-debt stance (especially when I have the budget of a grad student). Since my good friend Napier made fun of me over the weekend for being too open about my life (car, house, where I live, that I have cats not dogs... etc.), I've decided not to share the make and model of the car on Blogger. I'm sure you understand. (Happy, Nape?)

Our statistics class was cancelled tonight so I'm in the UT Comm GTA office in the dungeon getting ready to do readings for tomorrow's research class, input my undergrad students' grades and work on my own research.

The temperature in Knoxville dropped 20 degrees today and was 47F by the time I was walking to class. I hated to even leave campus today but it was for a great reason. I was invited to catch up with a former WATE sports colleague over lunch. It was truly a treat to discuss what we miss and do not miss about the media business. He has also taken a job outside of the realm of journalism and loves having weekends off.

Which leads me to an interesting quote I found about journos today. Katherine Lanpher describes a reporter as "...a hard-drinking bohemian who was socially dexterous, traversing the lines of social class with ease, moving in the circles of both the raw and the refined but eking out an existence amid a clash of image and reality." Lanpher was discussing reporters in the early/mid 1900s but I find the definition still sort of works today. What do you think?

No Pride

Monday, 17 October 2011
I don't know why I do it to myself. I try to operate on an elevated intellectual level so that I don't have to literally pull my hair out at every turn. Today, I failed.

Problem set 5 homework was due today in our statistics 660 class. No problem. Betsy and I (we sometimes are allowed to work in pairs) nailed this one and we were pretty excited to turn it in. I was working on cases A and C as well as problem #2. I thought she was working on case B and problem #3. We were going to combine our work and turn it in together.

Here's what went down:

Betsy (entering my office): Hi. Want to staple our work together?
Me: Hi! Yes. Perfect (getting out paperwork).
Me: Here's cases A and C.
Betsy: Cool. Here's case B and #2.
Me: Number 2? Oh. I did number 2 as well. Who did number 3?
Betsy: ....??...
Me:... ????.... ?!?!?!?!?!?!...
Betsy: .....!!!!!!!!?????!!!!!!.....
Me: Um. Okay. We won't panic.
Betsy: We have the answers...
Me: Yes, but he won't let us turn it in without the work...
Me: I threw away the scratch work today at Panera! I'll go get it. All is not lost!
Betsy: Okay. I'll begin frantically figuring #3 in the meantime.

I dash out of the Communication Science building and run all the way to the commuter lot stupidly lugging my backpack with a ton 'o books with me. Without somehow collapsing from expended breathing effort, I jump into my ride and calmly but aggressively back out of the parking space carefully avoiding students (who I'm sure do their work without having panic attacks and anxiety fits) and book it to Cumberland Avenue where my homework is crushed in the depths of a semi-fast food restaurant trash bin and hopefully has not been transported to the dumpster already.

Looking like a banshee running from a Halloween-suited, spooky clown, I bust into Panera and run to the trash can near the front door. I'm sure at this point people were feeling sorry for me. Perhaps they thought I was some sort of crack head needing the remnants of a bagel and cream cheese to get through the latest shakes but no... it was even worse than that. Our stats homework was going to be late!!! A couple of people did look my way when I opened the cabinet and pulled out the bin. I explained, "Ooops! I accidentally threw away my statistics homework!," as I began to dig through the trash. One guy kind of started to chuckle with me until I couldn't hold in my manic, shriek-like laughter. At that point, he could no longer make eye contact with me. Can you blame him? Thankfully, I retrieved the papers, made it back to campus and into class without any other major problems.

We turned in our homework by the end of class (success!) but I fear a 9/10 will allude us this time. The double duty on problem #2 was pretty awesome though...
Sunday, 16 October 2011
I'm a lucky gal. This weekend I took a little break from school work and accepted an invitation to the B.B. KING CONCERT! He is 86 years old and wow. The King still puts on an excellent show. (We had second row seats!)

He was funny, entertaining and the band rocked. The brass solos were impressive and the entire evening was fun. The jazzy vibe is still with me two days later. It would be nice if it continues playing through the week..

AND get this... my piano teacher, Ben Maney opened for B.B. King with an amazing group!

Another Cuppa?

Wednesday, 12 October 2011
I have a dilemma. Be sure to weigh in on this little scenario if you have nothing better to do.

On Monday of this week, I stopped by Panera on campus to get a cup of coffee. I love going to Panera because they have fat free milk as a choice for cream and the hazelnut blend is delicious. Here's the deal:  I purchased a large coffee for $2.17 and left the building to go to the Friends of Literacy office to pick up my assignment for the Hall of Fame Auction event coming up.

Here's where the situation becomes a bit shady. 15 minutes later, I decided to go back to Panera to use the free Wifi and I got another cup of coffee - in the cup I already had! Problem is: I had already left the building once! Did I buy another cup of coffee? No. Later, I did get a large iced tea to go but I took full advantage of coffee refills.

Now, is that wrong? This could be argued either way but I do have a loyalty card and I plan to go back often as a customer but I just didn't feel like spending another two bucks for coffee when I'd already been to Panera once that morning less than an hour before. Thoughts?

Just for Fun

Tuesday, 11 October 2011
There's a pretty good selection of PhD humor on That is where this illustration came from:


Monday, 10 October 2011
I know I've blogged about my love for car shopping previously (read: sarcasm). It is time for round two in less than a year. A nice guy that works on cars bought my Jeep over the weekend and I'm lucky enough to have a wonderful friend that has lent me one of his cars for the week. However, the thought looms:  Must. Get. Car. Soon.

Why do I hate car shopping? There are many aspects that contribute to my disdain of the process. Even if I had an unlimited budget, I would still feel apprehensive about the purchase. I've almost completely signed off dealerships due to the taxes, additional fees, dogged bargaining and false energy from salesmen.

Online car shopping is tops in my book. You can find certainly find good deals on Craigslist by buying from an owner but it takes forever and there's no guarantee on the "lemon" aspect of vehicles. I'm into paying cash for my rides because I'm on a student budget and I really don't like to carry debt (my pricey international education which will take forever to pay off is holding that place right now...). Cash buying makes it a bit easier to negotiate a sales price since most people see a few thousand in green and get weak in the knees.

The search is on and I'm setting a goal for myself to have a car by this time next week. Fingers crossed for the best deal and a decent set of wheels. 

The Smallest of Victories

Thursday, 6 October 2011
You may remember this post:  The Impossible is Possible, where I discussed statistics and said my goal was to hopefully, one day, get a 9 on my statistics homework (out of 10). Well, get this. Our latest homework assignment was to be completed with a partner and D and I received a 9.5!!!!!!!!!!!!! Is that a MIRACLE or what?

I am still tearing up as I write this six hours later. We worked for 17 hours on the problems in less than two weeks for only 10 points but wow. Clearly, hard work pays off. Dr. Kotowski even said that he was proud of us (collectively as students) in class yesterday and that he could see an improvement.

Did I dance around my tiny house when I got home tonight? To coin Ms. Palin, "You betcha!"

Need something to grove to? Perhaps you could try this:


Wednesday, 5 October 2011
Sorry to geek out on you but I had to share this:

I've had more time lately to clean the house, organize my life, do laundry and stay on top of school work. This is a good thing. The cats are even happier because I've been around and they have new, special flea/bug medication (costs $40 for both for a month for gosh sake). However, amidst all of this good energy, I freaked myself out.

This morning, I was organizing my desk (which I've now moved into my kitchen) when I couldn't find my brand new box of 24 highlighters or my new, spiffy, blue, gel pens. Seriously, after searching for a few minutes my heart rate started to climb. I worried that I'd misplaced those valuable tools. After putting a few random items away, I located the highlighters and pens in the cabinet in the living room. The strange part? Before I caught myself I actually JUMPED UP AND DOWN and CLAPPED. Who does that? No one in their right mind.

My life has gone from raging anxiety about a looming, seven minute broadcast deadline or keeping an exclusive interview under wraps to being excited about finding missing markers. Awesome.

I Won

Tuesday, 4 October 2011
Have you ever had something in your life that you tried to keep in the shadows?  A bad habit? Maybe an alter-ego that only came out when your guard was down? When I went through major recent life changes, I started to occasionaly pick up a pack of cigarettes and escape with a bit of nicotine. (Gasp! Yes, I know but I'm going with full disclosure as a form of accountability.)

I started smoking in mid-August and quit on Saturday. Three days without cigarettes and I already feel better. I guess I'm very lucky that I'm not truly addicted to nicotine. Some people fight the habit for years and fail again and again. Now... I've just moved on to caffeine. McDonald's has $1 large unsweet iced tea. Yes, please.

A Reward

Sunday, 2 October 2011
I left my backpack at Preservation Pub this week. The next morning I waited on pins and needles until the place opened up so I could call and see if my things were there. My statistics homework was in my backpack along with my laptop computer. You know what I was most concerned with? My homework! I had already spent eight hours working on problems and hand calculating confidence intervals and correlations. Luckily, everything was there. if not, my plan was to post reward posters for the stats homework.