Encyclopedia of Meg: B

B is for baking! Or books… how does one choose?

I can’t! So I’ll write a bit about both.

I love baking, especially this time of the year

when the weather cools down. While I try to bake healthy food to save us money and eat better, I love making desserts and mostly cookies. There is something wonderful about sweet cookies backing in the fall. And thanks to my stand mixer, I can whip delicious treats quickly. I want to try to make my first pie (by myself) soon too. I just finished some tasty pumpkin pie and am looking forward to making one myself.

Part of the reason that fall brings out the baking besides the cooler temperatures and falling leaves is that it also marks the beginning of another school year. Somehow all that work increases my cravings for buttery, sweet, delicious, home-baked goods. And hence there is a connection between my two B encyclopedia entries.

The school year brings not only the desire to bake more but the piling of books to read over the next 10 weeks. Recently we added a new bookshelf to the office (thanks Mom!) and it is quickly filling up with new books and library books to try to tackle soon. While I read all the time for school, I do love books. I love the feel and the smell of a book, new or old. You know the feeling. You buy a new book, you run your fingers along the pages, and flip through. You can smell the new paper and ink. I realize that environmentally and economically, ebook readers make more sense… but they lack the romance of books. Yes, it’s easier to bring [insert your ebook reader of choice] with you on a plane but is it as nice to curl up with a cold screen? Absolutely not! I love holding the book, with a steaming cup of coffee, and a fresh-baked cookie curled up on the couch with the fireplace crackling (I don’t have a fireplace, but I imagine having one some day).

So baking and books – they belong together and they represent B in my encyclopedia.

And So It Begins Again…

Some of this quarter's reading

The fall quarter has officially started. I have so far attended one of the classes I’m taking (Readings in the American South, 19th Century) and attended the class for which I am the teaching assistant (History of Sin).  I have to say I already love History of Sin. I look forward to working with both the lecturer and the students. In addition, I am also taking an Introduction to Visual Studies (my second field) and a 2-unit reading with the lecturer I am TAing for focusing on gender and sin.

Oh, and I’m taking dance again! My friend talked me into taking Jazz 2 and I’m equally scared and excited. Hopefully, I don’t fall down on the first day, haha! I’m sure it will at least provide for some interesting blog posts.

It’s always nice to be back in classes, with structured reading after my attempts at research through the summer – but at the same time I dread it. I know the workload that lays ahead. And the small paychecks (that don’t begin until November 1, October will be a lean month). Despite all the work and little pay, I do think this will be a good quarter. The classes look positive and I will have the chance to work with a whole new group of people. Plus, this year I’m a second year (woohoo!).

And of course, the return of the school year also brings one of my favorite things: beer Friday! Last year, we usually went to Joe’s on campus but this past Friday we visited Santa Cruz Mountain Brewing (one of my new favorite places). They have great beers and

Devout Stout on a Friday evening

good happy hour prices. Summer has finally come to Santa Cruz, so I hopped on the beach cruiser and headed over. Quickly, the place filled up. But the people all seemed friendly and unlike a regular bar, hanging out at a backing brewery lacks much stress or claustrophobia. Earlier in the week, the cohort (+ Kevin) also got together at 515 Kitchen & Cocktails. I love that place! They had a cocktail named Holly Golightly (and yes, I ordered it! For those concerned, it was very good, although a bit too sweet at the end.).  These are definitely the perks of being back in school – the cohort members are all back in Santa Cruz and the socializing has picked back up.

But since the quarter has started, I know my blogs will become shorter (and perhaps sweeter) and possibly farther apart. I do plan on keeping up the Encyclopedia of Me (tentatively on the 10th of each month) and I have some upcoming races, so look forward to those posts. But mostly, I’ll be reading, which I’m off to do right now. Happy fall everyone!

First Week

Today was the completion of my first week of class. Actually, it was the second week in the quarter. However, due to the walkout it was the first week I attended classes. I have three and am the teaching assistant for another (the classes I’m currently enrolled in are listed here). It has been nice to finally be in classes, I have been busy the whole week and am looking forward to the weekend.

Cohort: My cohort is very small, there are only seven of us. This is especially nice because the cohort I was in at UC Irvine was much larger. This made it difficult to get my voice heard. It also allowed us to break into smaller groups, and we often didn’t get along. Oddly, enough I am the only girl in the group. Thankfully they all seem like nice guys and our classes so far have had good discussions.

Classes: The classes so far are good as well. Thankfully, our Teaching Pedagogy only meets every other week and is really focused on what we would like to get out of the course. This allows extra time to work on the reading/writing/grading/planning necessary for other aspects of my quarter. I’m excited about Methods & Theory this time around because I actually feel like I will get something out of theory studies. I already feel like I have a better grasp of the theories and thanks to Olivia, I have an awesome resource. (For anyone who needs to study theory, I highly recommend reading The Penguin Dictionary to Critical Theory). Finally, Readings in US History has a great reading list, which I’m simultaneously excited and daunted by. The professor for this course also provided this powerful tool to keeping track of the books we read while in classes, which will prove to be a handy resource come examinations time. Both of the final classes have a great deal of work attached to them, but such is grad school.

Teaching Assistantship: My teaching assistantship will be eating up a great deal of the time I would like to be spending on my other classes. I attend two lectures a week, led by the professor and lead two sections. However, it is right in my field of focus and I am learning/re-learning a great deal in the lecture. I haven’t led my sections yet, but I will start that on Monday. I feel confident, particularly the first week since I want to spend a little time getting to know my students. I really like having students work in groups, I find that they tend to speak more when they are placed in groups. This works really well if they have some questions to focus on and then report back to the class. But I might use a different strategy this week with my classes. They are only an hour and ten minutes long, and I’m used to 2-3 hour long classes, so I’m thinking of utilizing the time in different way which will engage the whole class. This is particularly helpful in the first week since housekeeping will take up some of the time.

Reading: Reading, reading, reading… ah the life of a grad student. Thankfully, so far the texts we have been assigned have been very engaging. The worst is when reading a book that doesn’t hold your interest, and then to have to discuss that! I am also trying to keep ahead of the reading load, particularly since I will soon be receiving assignments from my students that I will need to grade and written assignments for my own classes. This is especially true this week because I will not have much time for work this weekend.

This Weekend: This weekend Kevin and his parents are coming up to visit me. Well, that’s partially true. Kevin’s dad is running a half marathon in San Jose on Sunday. So they will be coming up Friday to see the new apartment and visit Santa Cruz. Plus, its Kevin and my 6 year anniversary this weekend. We are going to go to dinner in San Francisco, one of my favorite places in the world (I love how close I am to it now!). It’s also nice that Kevin will have his parents to share his long drive with.

That’s about it. I hope to keep updating the blog regularly, but it will depend on my workload.