Encyclopedia of Meg: H

H is for … you guessed it History!

Ok, I know it’s a bit of a cop-out, but really how could I not spend a portion of this Encyclopedia of Meg series without discussing something that takes up the vast majority of my life these days.

Like many people, I didn’t really like history in high school. I didn’t hate and I did well in the classes, but I thought it was so boring. Memorizing names and dates of dead white men just didn’t appeal to me. Then I went to college. For those of you who don’t know, I attended Chapman University for my freshman year of college. In that year, I took two classes with Robert Slayton. His way of teaching history made me fall in love with the subject. I especially loved his course “Everyday Life in America” (which he still teaches, btw). For the first time, I saw the art, the excitement, and the meaning in history.

I transferred to CSUSM in 2000 and my love of history only grew more, largely in part to my adviser Jill Watts (and her blog). I really cannot sing her praises enough, she taught me so much not only about US history but about teaching, about school, and about creating and maintaining professional relationships. I also have to sing the praises about the History faculty at CSUSM in general. I received so much support there and learned so much, I am so thankful to have completed my undergraduate career there.

After a few years off, I returned to pursue a graduate degree and graduated from UCI. I found that to be one of the most difficult experiences, I put too much pressure on myself and ended up leaving with a Masters degree and no desire to return to academia.

And yet… here I am, in the 2nd year of my PhD program and in the midst of the largest budget cuts to the California higher education system… maybe I should have stuck it out at UCI … nah (I’m happy with my decision). So history, specifically of course US history, remains a huge portion of my life. I spend entirely too much time reading and prepping for seminar, section, and lecture. For those of you who care, I’m particularly interested in women and religion in 19th century US… but I’m still trying to figure out my next big research project. Oh! And I also manage an informal blog about history (and am always looking for contributors). So yes, history is a big part of my life.

Encyclopedia of Meg: C

C is for COFFEE! I love coffee. I mean really-truly-can’t-live-without-it love coffee. I start everyday with a cup and often have another during the day. As a grad student I feel that coffee is necessary for survival.

Many of you know I worked at Starbucks for a long, long time. But my love of coffee predates this. When I was in high school my mom used to get me hazelnut lattes (and later just flavored coffee for me). When I worked at Starbucks I learned to make all sorts of yummy and sinful treats. But then I went through a no-caffeine streak. Working 40 hours a week in a coffee shop allows the caffeine to enter the body through the skin (of this I’m convinced).

I returned to my love of coffee after graduating college and quitting Starbucks. Nothing makes a desk job more enjoyable than a steaming cup of coffee. I take that, nothing makes the job more enjoyable than the run-to-the-coffee-shop break.

Coffee still works as a treat for me, especially in lecture or seminar. I rarely attend a class without coffee. I’m more prudent now and most days brew my coffee to save a little cash. (We have an awesome Keurig brewer so it’s always a fresh cup for me. If you also have one, I highly recommend the Amazon subscription, you get coffee delivered monthly and receive a 15% savings. You also continue to brew your favorite local beans with the filter rather than the pods.) I pour that coffee into my travel mug and try to prepare myself for the input of entirely too

much information. However, once a wee

k my friend (and neighbor) and I make a Starbucks run before class. Every other week I splurge and indulge in a pumpkin scone (why are they so good?), but normally I stick to a soy latte.

Truth be told, I really just love a black cup of coffee. I don’t need sweetened creamer or flavoring. A hot cup of joe suits me just fine. It also helps me stay awake longer to cram in reading that extra book or grading that last stack of papers.

Oh grad school… you increase the profits of coffee purveyors everywhere.

**Update: I wanted to add this Sarah Vowell quote (one of my favorite writers & public radio personalities) to end this post: “I no longer drink nearly as much as I used to but, still, my motto is Sine coffea nihil sum. Without coffee, I’m nothing.” So true, Ms. Vowell, so true. **

Beginning a New Adventure

This fall I am returning to school for the second time (I went back for my Masters three years ago). I am taking a much larger step this time, since I am going to be working toward getting my PhD.
Since this is the second time at grad school for me, I am a little more prepared at what to expect. My first go around was filled with a great deal of hard work and as much crying. I had high expectations for myself and found it difficult to sometimes meet those goals. This time around, I still have the same expectations for myself, but I know what I’m getting myself into. I am also uprooting myself from the place I’ve lived my entire life and moving to northern California.
Due to the change in location and the amount of work I anticipate, I thought maybe it would help to document my life as a grad student. So for fellow grad students, feel free to follow along and share your crazy experiences. For all others, either this might inspire you to return to school or be incredibly thankful you never made this decision!