how to survive the library

Since I’ve been spending quite a lot of time in the library stacks of Avery, I thought I’d offer some tips on how to survive the experience. Also, I’m procrastinating. Can’t you tell?

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1. Beware overhead objects. Make note of them, but do not get distracted by the exposed pipes and/or wiring. When you are losing interest in your research material, letting your eyes wander to the fascinating aspects of the ceiling can be disastrous. Do not let your concentration shift upwards. Or sideways. Or any direction other than the next page.

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2. Put some muscle into it. Who said academics were all weaklings in ivory towers? There’s some real force required to shift some of the movable stacks, so throw your shoulder into it and get those gears cranking. Turning them bit by bit only reduces the momentum and prolongs your stay. If there are multiple stacks bunched together, you’re going to have to move each one individually, so just get it over with.

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3. Kick to save your life. If caught between electronically-moving stacks, kick the red/white strip running along the base to avoid being crushed. If you’re caught between hand-cranked stacks, for goodness’s sake, YELL. When you have safely escaped from the enclosing wall of books, smack the person who didn’t check the aisle before moving the stack and feel free to glare at them evilly any time you see him/her in the future.

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4. Don’t get lost. One of the worst things is to go down a row and forget the specific call number, volume number, or issue number of whatever it is you are looking for. That many books in a small area can be disorienting – arm yourself with a list and a game plan. If you have multiple books on your list, make note of which stacks are already open and then work out the best order to retrieve them before you go around shifting stacks. Be prepared for the onslaught of books!

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5. Accept assistance when needed. If you are short, own it. The stacks can go up pretty high and this isn’t the stretching Olympics, so don’t risk throwing out your back, pulling a muscle, or having a book fall on your head. Save your strength for flipping all those pages and grab a step stool. Plus, if there’s a step stool in the aisle with you, you can’t get crushed to death.

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6. Check the clock, at least occasionally. Or you will be in here forever. This is the only exception to #1. When there’s no window and you’re all by yourself, it can be hard to gauge how much time has gone by. If you don’t occasionally glance up at the clock, time will run recklessly wild. You will skip lunch, skip dinner, and before you know it the library is closing and some guy is telling you to pack up your stuff and leave. And then you will look up at him with tears in your eyes muttering about how you’re not done. Avoid that.

Happy researching!

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x-stitch … years in the making

Did I ever mention that I am quite the procrastinator? Well, here’s proof. I finally finished a cross-stitch that I’ve been working on for the past few years. It’s not that big (about 12″x12″) and I really have no good excuse for why it took so long. This cross-stitch saw me graduate high school, graduate college, go off exploring, and start graduate school. Yeah … when I say that this took me a “few years,” what I really mean is 7 and a half years. Oh yes.

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I received the pattern from a friend for my 16th birthday. We had taken biology together, and for a bug-collecting project, we managed to catch some butterflies. In the process of pinning them to the board, some of the wings fell off and we became the wingless butterfly friends. She gave me the cross-stitch as a reminder of that. We actually haven’t talked in about five years or so and we’ve both just changed so much, but I’m glad that I’ve finally been able to complete her gift.

Kind of bittersweet in a way. The cross-stitch is completed, we’ve lost contact, time has moved on … seems kinda final.

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is reposted here for my own sake.]

procrastination (er, study) cookie(s)

It’s finals time! Ugh. One more week until I get to go home! Basically all I have left are two papers and one presentation, so it shouldn’t be too bad. Unfortunately, I’m having an awfully hard time motivating myself.

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One cookie is pictured. Many were eaten.

I need sugar to work, and since we’re low on flour I made oatmeal cookies (these cookies). And because I felt like they needed more sugar, I made them oatmeal chocolate chip cookies. Yay! This is why I like baking. It’s good for procrastinating, but it also yields morsels of yumminess which improve the studying. Therefore I feel like my little baking foray doesn’t really count as procrastination because it was productive. Right? Yeah, this is how I justify things to myself. Wish me luck!

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is reposted here for my own sake.]

cha shao bao #2

Back when I was in Shanghai, I used to eat cha shao bao like mad (as referenced here) because they were yummy, cheap, and omnipresent. The other day I went to Flushing in Queens, New York, which is essentially like Chinatown. I had dim sum with my grandmother and took some cha shao bao home. Oh yum. Missed that stuff. Not cheap like the Chinese convenience stores, but definitely better quality.

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I’m in the middle of finals, so I’m supposed to be hardcore paper writing. Ugh. I also have a long list of stuff on my to-do list, but since it’s been rainy and icky out … I’ve been lazy and have just been hanging out at home. Whups. I will be a better student … tomorrow … I promise.

school is almost over

Woah, how is it almost the end of the semester already? Sure I got lots of stuff to do still (yay for paper writing!) but by and large, all of my classes are winding down. Some of my classes are done, some have one more session, and we’re getting to finals time. I don’t have any exams, which is a nice little relief, but I do have papers. And presentations. Oh goody. I much would’ve rather just had all papers.

Anyway, the dead days are upon us! I had a discussion with other people, and apparently it’s not a universal term. To me, ‘dead days’ are the days leading up to finals where campus is essentially dead because everyone is (theoretically) silently rocking in the corners of their rooms from the stress of it all, locked up in studio, or trapped under an avalanche of study guides and overdue library books. Er … yeah.

This afternoon after being on campus for a few hours I took a walk around Morningside Park. Took a picture of a bench. Didn’t sit down though, just kept walking.

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line squiggles

I’ve been procrastinating again … just a bit. I still need to do readings for class, I still need to go through and print photos from last year, and I still need to do laundry. On the other hand, I’ve gotten back into line drawing and short story writing. Yeah … it’s productive in a not-very-productive sort of way.

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I did some shopping for craft supplies today, so I have a few things in the works for Halloween coming up which will be quite fun. I’ve also been working with my bread machine and it’s making some yummy stuff, which is also good. Now if only I could get to be as excited about reading architectural theory, I’d be set.

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is reposted here for my own sake.]

getting back into the swing

So … I’m pretty much settled in by now. I moved in about one month ago and my room is pretty much set up, but I might buy a few more things in the upcoming weeks. Graduate school is really quite time consuming, not with busy work assignments like in undergraduate, but there are so many readings to do for each class that it takes a lot of effort to keep on top of them all. Two weeks in and I’m already not doing too well at that.

I’m not too fond of how my room looks decoration-wise, but it’ll slowly get there. I like to keep myself busy with little crafts and tasks to give myself something to do when I need a break from all the reading. I’m currently working on a short story for a challenge swap, and the other day I bought two canvases (really cheaply from Michaels) and I want to do some kind of ink drawing on them. We’ll see. I need to get some photos printed out … which I’ve been saying for the last month.

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Back in Austin I had a shelf that was devoted to clear glass bottles, and I’ve started doing the same to my windowsill here. I hate throwing away bottles, and I like the look of them when they’re all different sizes and the light hits them. When there get to be too many I’ll recycle them, but for now they’re creating a little family on the sill.

Ugh … alrighty then, I guess I should get back to reading now. From now on, if you see a post from me, you can go ahead and assume I’m procrastinating, so feel free to chide me back into being a responsible student.

[NOTE: This post originally appeared on a now-deleted blog and is reposted here for my own sake.]

start with breakfast

I’m not much of a breakfast eater. I’m more of a eat-cookies-on-the-bus person. That being said, sometimes I like to fix myself some actual food (usually on the weekends when I actually have the time). Unfortunately, starting the day off correctly does not mean that I’m not going to completely waste the rest of the day. Ah, procrastination, how I fall prey to you once again.

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almost due

I have application deadlines coming up mighty fast. So what’s a girl to do? Paint her nails pink and buy yet another scarf. I don’t know what it is, but retail therapy really works to calm my nerves sometimes. Thankfully my sense of cheapness never really goes away so I never actually spend all that much. But yep. Only a few days left until applications are due. All the recommendations are in, but my essay, writing samples, and portfolio are still crap. Yep. Uh oh.

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making the effort

I have always been a procrastinator. It’s always been one of my biggest failings. I manage to get everything done and I’m generally rather punctual. It’s the process of actually working that usually gets me. Once I get into something, then I can work steadily and just knock it out. It’s that getting started part that gets me.

Normally what I end up doing is writing little promises to myself. For some reason, if I see it written out clearly in red cursive, I tend to be a little more diligent. It’s more of a psychological thing, seeing it written out makes it more unavoidable. Anyway, let this be my promise. Every single darned day I will review my Chinese lessons and I will do all the homework. And I am hereby limiting myself to two hours maximum on tudou.

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