The supreme downhill rollercoaster of summer

Posted in chicago,GradSchool,Moving,personal musings by junipermarie on June 23, 2006




–the three most common words heard on rollercoasters and during a Chicago summer before leaving for grad school

I'm going to meet some of my future co-schoolers tonight at a bar in town. Like looking into a crystal ball: here is your future life. I can't wait, but I'm also not ready. Summer in Chicago just began today, but I already anticipate it whizzing by faster than the Batman ride at Six Flags (hmm, is there still a Batman ride?). For us Chicagoans, it is necessary to pack a year's worth of fun into the three or four warm months of the year, because come October we're back to huddling together for warmth. 


Finding Other Worthwhile Blogs

Posted in blogosphere,misc,personal musings by junipermarie on June 15, 2006

So, really folks I have been trying. I’ve been combing the blogosphere (OK,that word I do like) for days now trying to find something really witty to share with you all, something relevant, timely, yet personal, even poignant. Like a good mini-book glowing right out of your monitor. And, having to do with international relations which is ostensibly the subject of this blog (what?!). Are you surprised that I have not yet found it? But, I’ve come close.

This is the most brilliant website I have found for you yet! Brilliant! I mean, people have cats for a reason. And if it’s not to shield their heads with orange rinds and bathe them in fake dollar bills, then I don’t know what it is.

OK, ok, that didn’t do it for you. Well, here is another GREAT one I KNOW you’ll love! I guess most people already know about it since it’s ranked number 4 on Technorati. But it’s new to me. Sensitive, sweet, and sometimes raunchy.

OK — that one was too serious for you. Well, here’s one that’s both funny and real: this guy is actually trying to pay for a new house with a paperclip. Absolute genius. Ahh, the internet.
This post is obviously testing your click-through potential as an audience. Also, likely, your patience. And it has nothing to do with my grad school progress or whatever other purported purpose this “blog” serves. So what’s the freaking point?

Well, I have been doing my homework and apparently “linking your blog to other blogs is a great way to increase traffic.” That’s Blog 101 for ya! I guess what you do is, give a shout out to some other blog:”Hey there blogosphere! Yo, I’d like to give a shout out to Mr Paperclip Man over there in blogville!” In the best tradition of B96 radio (insert your own top-40 station here). Then Mr Papercip Man should ideally shout back; however, since he’s linked to some 17,000 other posts in the virtual world, I kinda doubt he’ll return the favor. But let’s hide in the bushes and watch — shhh! Oh dear, this post is becoming embarassing. Better luck next time, readers.

Student Debt

Posted in Debt,GradSchool,state of the world by junipermarie on June 14, 2006

I read this article yesterday, from the NY Times magazine, and by the end my palms were pretty sweaty. The fact is, student debt is skyrocketing along with the costs of education (obvious to anyone not living in a hole. No offense to hole-dwellers). The scary thing is that my entire generation of graduates seems to be tailoring their careers to meet the needs of the market (i.e. get paid) rather than following their dreams. Which is supposed to be part of the entire raison d'etre of college, right? The payoff is, you get to do what you want with your life, right? But apparently, we are scared of debt. I know I am! I'm also deathly afraid that these huge numbers in the red following me around will influence my career choices in ways I don't yet know, and then I won't actually accomplish what I started grad school to do. 

Here's another scary website about debt and education. Apparently, Sallie Mae is scamming me out of thousands of dollars to line her own britches. Thanks, federal government

Economics and mathland

Posted in economics,math,misc,personal musings by junipermarie on June 13, 2006

Do you remember Square One? It was a TV show for kids about math. I used to love it in about third grade. There was a little guy called Mathman who went around a Pac-man style video game saying over and over, "mathman, mathman". As I comb through the math tutorial which is attempting to prepare me for a sudden high-level economics course attack, I imagine I am Mathman eating up all the little pellets along the road. Does it help? That is beside the point.

The fact is, in my head, I am a Math Genius. Meaning, in my self-image but not necessarily in my actual brain, as it were. This is a dangerous condition. It could be that I am a deluded Math Flunkee, coming perilously close to the brink of Economics Cliff, imagining I can fly. No. Only Mathman can fly.

You see, once upon a time, I really was a Math Genius. But does a subject you stopped studying at age 16 really stay with you through the years? I am about to be a live test subject on this topic. Isn't it kind of like your dad saying that he's an expert carpenter because one time in 1962 he built a cabinet?

The really funny thing here is, not only haven't I studied math in more than a decade, I have NEVER studied Economics. Isn't that hilarious? It's pretty funny that I am about to study econ as a grad student having dropped my only econ course ever in high school because I was so BORED! Funny! Ha! Yes, in complete defiance of every and all books written advising a person in career and study choices, I have actually applied to study a subject that I KNOW NOTHING ABOUT! And in fact, suspect I may DETEST! And yet, somehow in my own masochistic way, I am certain that this is the way to go. Cleverly outsmarting those who say one should follow their passions and interests in their careers, I have instead chosen the secret route of turning the OTHER way, somehow intending to end up back in the realm of passion-interest through the back door! If it works, I can write a book about it.

Leaving Home

Posted in chicago,misc,Moving,new york,personal musings by junipermarie on June 12, 2006

I know that I'm here to write about this topic of international relations grad school . . . but I may as well come clean and admit right now that I am going to be writing about one primary subject, that being MY LIFE and therefore you might sometimes get an onslaught of ranting about such topics as:

leaving my home of the past six years and childhood

love and romance

why we pick our noses

–don't say I didn't warn ya.
Today I'm thinking about moving. The grad school I'm going to is in New York, and I've lived most of my life here in Chicago save for some 5 years on the west coast. A friend emailed me the other day and asked me, Are you moving to New York or going to New York? The difference being that moving implies permanence, going could be open-ended, could mean for any length of time, could mean your home is still here.

I replied that I wasn't actually sure.

Speaking to my aunt last night, whose apartment I will (fortunately!) be staying in for the forseeable future (in the Bronx), I suddenly pictured myself on a kind of bizarre permanent childhood vacation sleeping in her tiny spare room. Since I was about 15, I've been staying with her when my family visits New York — it's a place to sleep, visit family, retreat. To be the freak of the family, lovable but incomprehensible, to be always young, forever a child. Nearly like being at my parents' house, but with the strange ways and customs of the branch of family we at home would refer to as "the newyorkers".

The fact is, it feels like I am moving into a family vacation; the gingham sheets and country home antiques, the flowery decorating, the fat free margarine and ice cream, the clean and spare lifestyle of an aunt who has lived alone for her adult life and wrapped this apartment around herself like a blanket. It is filled with memories of my grandmother, who lived two floors below for many years and passed away not long ago. Above all, it resonates of safety, an alternately comforting and smothering sense of security. My own life cannot be described this way. My own lifestyle will come crashing into quiet residential New York. Yes, quiet New York. Loud Chicago meets quiet New York.

Beginning the journey

Let me explain the purpose to this blog, the mission, the vision statement, the strategic plan and the expected outcome. Or, let me ramble on and eventually you will be able to extract the above content from the post yourself. Especially if you are, like me, a longtime nonprofit administrator.

The events that lead up to this, my first post on my first blog in the so-called blogosphere extending throughout the world wide web, began with a workshop I signed up for through my job at a nonprofit, which in the title stated nothing related to the word "blog". Otherwise, I would never have gone, because you see I hate the word blog. Am I the only one who thinks "blog" and thinks, "blug", "bug", "bog", and "glug glug" rolled into one? Who pictures a gray-green, Gollum-like creature slipping its way through the clean, crisp technology of the internet and gumming up the works? Some kind of slimy Gollum dwelling in a burbling bog, perhaps the one in Ireland which famously preserves bodies in natural mummification for millenia only to burble to the surface in the modern day tourist attraction? The selfsame b(l)og that produces "bogwood", which is then fashioned into items such as a trophy for winners of my organization's annual fundraising dinner award?

But I digress.
The true purpose for my internet debut is that I am officially heading off to graduate school in the fall for International Relations. OK, yawn. That's why I didn't mention it before . . . although it may be rather obvious based on my blog title. But really, I do plan to chronicle this major life transition in some kind of entertaining manner. Having been out of school for some seven years might make it more of a crash and burn story. But that is the excitement! The element of suspense! I am also hoping to charitably offer the graphic description of my quest to those considering a similar walk into the forests of darkness. Are you picking up yet on the king-arthurish fairy tale slant yet? Good, I think you're ready to become an english major.

So, you'll have to just follow along in your book, and when you hear a "ding" just turn the page! And we'll see how our good heroine does.