Feeling Like an Accident and Other Problems with Inferiority

Being in grad school is really weird.

For one, many of the people I graduated high school and undergrad with are moving on with their lives, getting Real Adult Jobs and starting families, while I’m still in school, running on an academic schedule, and trying to find a job that lets me go sit in the stats lab for hours at a time trying to get a handle on the math class I didn’t actually want to take.

But mostly, it’s because my entire academic career so far has felt like an accident. Like I ended up in this amazing PhD program because someone put my name in the wrong pile and now I’m just muddling along trying to trick people into thinking that I actually am smart. It might be because my cohort is very talented, and of them, I am the only one not funded by the university. I’m isolated from them except for when we’re in class, and I miss out on the collaboration and discussion they have that comes from sitting in the same office all day. So when we do get to class, they’re all on the same page, and I’m a chapter behind. When we discuss things in class I approach it from one angle and that angle is wrong because everyone else has decided on it before they even got to class.

Part of it might be because I took different classes from them last semester. I did my master’s degree at this same university so some of the core classes at the PhD level, I had already finished, and needed to substitute different ones. So they had an entire extra semester to get to know each other. They got an extra five months to discuss ideas and study together, while I was working off campus, a full twenty-five miles away. So even if they tell me about an impromptu study session now (they don’t), I can’t make it because by the time I get there, they’ve moved on. They can spend their entire day on campus focusing on school, while I need to have a job and schedule my day around commuting.

I spend most of my time on campus wandering around looking for a place to study. I don’t have access to the office, so I need to find an abandoned corner somewhere in the library to get my work done, which has left me feeling like I’m not actually part of the program, like I don’t actually belong there. And that’s a terrible feeling, the last time I felt this way I was kicked out of law school and just lost for six months.

I am tired. I’m tired of feeling like I don’t belong, like I have to smile and go along with things because everyone else came to a decision without me, and I’m tired of pretending I’m having fun.

But it’s not going to stop me, because I’m pretty damn smart, so fuck that shit, I have work to do.

 

Winter Skincare Routine

I turned 25 yesterday. I feel old. I am officially in my mid-twenties, not that my skin is aware because currently I am fighting a breakout that should have happened a solid ten years ago. So while my skin is misbehaving, I decided to show you all my winter skincare routine, which, turns out, is exactly like my summer, spring, and fall skincare routine, because I am lazy.

winter2016-skincare-routine

Morning

I don’t shower in the morning, wrangling my post-shower/humid bathroom hair would add a whole half hour to my already rushed morning, so I wash my face with Clinique’s Acne Solutions cleanser bar. It costs just as much as the liquid, but lasts so much longer, and since it’s a solid bar, I don’t have to decant anything into a smaller container when I travel.

I follow the cleanser with Pacifica’s Cactus Water Micellar Cleansing Tonic. This gets any remaining oil and gunk off my face, and is so super gentle that I can even use it around my eyes. It smells wonderful, and as a bonus, it’s cruelty free.

Then I moisturize. I don’t like feeling oily or like I have anything heavy on my face, so in the mornings I use a dab of Garnier’s Moisture Rescue Refreshing Gel-Cream. It sinks into my skin pretty fast, and is so light. It’s also kinda cold, no matter where I store it, so it de-puffs my skin.

Around my eyes I use Benefit’s It’s Potent! Eye Cream. It’s very hydrating without being heavy, but one thing I will say is that it makes my eye area feel a little delicate after I put it on, so I do all this before I’m out of my pajamas so by the time I need to put makeup on, it’s worn off.

Finally, I put on Jack Black Intense Therapy Lip Balm, which is SPF 25. I like it because it dries matte, and isn’t overwhelmingly flavored or scented. I guess that’s because it’s marketed towards men and heaven forbid a macho manly man has glossy lips.

Also, throughout the day I use various hand lotions, my current favorite for dryer weather is this Bliss High Intensity Hand Cream. It’s not overly scented, and a little bit goes a long way.

Night

I shower in the evening, about an hour before bed, because it helps me relax and unwind, and I don’t like taking all the dirt and grossness of the day to bed with me. When I get out of the shower, while my hair is still wrapped up and out of the way, I put on Bliss’s grapefruit and aloe body butter. It’s super thick and smells so nice. I put it on first so by the time I’m ready for bed it’s absorbed into my skin.

Once my hair is brushed and put up in a big giant bun, I wipe off my face (that I washed in the shower) with the Pacifica micellar cleansing tonic again, and let it air dry. When that’s happened, I use a bit of Mario Badescu’s Seaweed Night Cream. This absorbs into my skin really nicely, and doesn’t feel greasy at all.

My eyes get Aveeno’s Absolutely Ageless eye cream, I put it in my under-eye area, on my eyelids, and between my eyebrows, because I’m already noticing that vertical wrinkle (maybe I scowl too much?), and crepey eyelids run in my mom’s family. So that’s what I’m trying to avoid.

Finally, I slap on a lip balm, my current favorite is this Brambleberry Rose lip balm by the Rosebud Perfume Co., which are the same people that make the cult worshipped Smith’s Rosebud Salve. It’s basically the same thing, but I like this smell better. And it lasts for years.

I know I haven’t been posting much, but y’know. Grad school. I’m going to try to stick to a reasonable schedule now. As always, you can find me on Twitter, Instagram, or by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

Disclaimer: All of the links are Amazon Affiliate links, which means if you click on them and buy the thing, I get a (very) small commission. But, I really do use and love all of the things mentioned, or else I wouldn’t recommend them to you.

 

Lychee Berry Chia Jam (It’s Vegan!)

Recently, I decided to go vegan. Not for any moral or ethical reason, but that’s a nice bonus. I can’t really process meat well, dairy makes my skin break out, so really all I’m giving up is eggs, which I’m not too fond of anyways, so…no big life changes here. But I did start a new Instagram, because I figure I’m more likely to make healthy dishes if I can take pretty pictures for the internet, and I didn’t want to spam everyone on my personal Instagram a million times a day with pictures of food. The new, vegan food based Instagram is here. I’ll post recipes on this blog every so often, but a lot of things are really simple (because it’s summer in Texas and I don’t want to be in a hot kitchen) so they don’t need recipes.

Also, I’m not a real big fan of jams or jellies in general, because I feel they’re way too sweet, so being able to control the sweetness for this one was a big help, and I like it a lot.

berries.jpg
Look at all those fresh berries. I used strawberries, blackberries, and raspberries, but really you can use any fruit you like, the recipe is really flexible. 

Lychee Berry Chia Jam

350g strawberries, quartered.

100 g blackberries, cut in half

150g raspberries

1/4 cup lychee juice/nectar 

4 tbsp chia seeds, divided

3 tbsp light agave nectar

First things first I took 3 tablespoons of chia seeds and put them in the lychee juice to soak. Save the remaining tablespoon for the end, you may or may not need it.

Next, chop up your berries. You’ll be smashing them later, but chop them roughly how big you want them to end up. I found that chopping the strawberries and the blackberries at least was best, the raspberries smashed easily without being chopped. Put your berries in a medium saucepan and heat them, on low to medium heat. They’ll release their juice and cook down. After they get soft, turn the heat as low as you can, take a potato masher or fork, and mash them to however chunky you want them.

Your chia seeds should have absorbed all of the juice by now, so add that to the saucepan and mix well. The chia thickens the jam so you don’t have to use pectin.

Add the agave nectar, and taste (blow on the spoon, this is hot), adding more if you prefer your jam sweet.

Turn off the heat, and if you feel you have too much liquid, add the remaining chia seeds, and stir so they absorb it.

Let the jam come to room temperature before you put it in a jar, it’ll set some more, and then put it in the fridge.

One serving is about two tablespoons, and this recipe makes sixteen servings. Each two tablespoon serving has 44 calories, 0.9g fat, 8.4g carbs, and 1.1g protein.

jam
This is my jam. 

I like having it on crackers, and it’s especially good with chocolate hazelnut butter.

As always, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram, by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com, or now at my new vegan food based instagram, PickyEatersInternational.

 

 

Adulting 101: How To Get Into Grad School

I feel like this is the only actual “Adulting 101” topic I’m actually qualified to write about. I’ve gotten into grad school three times so I guess that makes me an expert. But, turns out, the process is different based on what sort of program you’re aiming for. So this is mostly for social sciences or humanities, but in general, it applies to STEM programs as well.

I’m posting this now because the grad school process starts before your last year in undergrad. A lot of the time, you should be prepping your second to last year. The first thing you have to do is research schools and programs, and most importantly, find out their application deadlines. And, application deadlines can vary within a university. While the general university deadline can be sometime in July, the program you’re aiming for can cut off applications in February. So make a note of when everything needs to be completed.

Once you have your deadlines settled, take all the tests you need to take. At the very least, this is the GRE. Some schools, especially if you’re an international student, require english proficiency tests as well. Depending on the program, you might have to do the GMAT as well. It takes about three months to study for the tests, so plan accordingly, and make a note of what your school requires, and what they admit. My university and program officially requires a 300 on the GRE, but almost everyone admitted was closer to 320 and higher. You can find that out by looking at the incoming student profiles somewhere on your university website. Unfortunately, grad schools don’t have a convenient site like LSAC to figure out where you stand like law schools do.

Another reason you should be starting this process early is because most grad programs require at least three letters of recommendation. Figuring out which professors to ask is the tricky part. Ideally, you should have multiple classes with that professor, and have gotten decent grades in them. Depending on the program, pick professors who have read your work, or required a lot of writing. Ideally you should ask in person first, but if you absolutely must, send a polite and professional email. This also depends on the relationship you have with your professor. If it’s someone you’re one of 300 students in a general education class to, go see them in their office at least a few times so they become familiar with who you are beyond your grade. But really, you shouldn’t be asking those professors for recommendations. The perfect professors to ask are the ones whose research interests are similar to your own, whose smaller, upper level classes you’ve taken. They get to know you and are genuinely interested in your success, so they’ll be willing to write a glowing recommendation. Either way, when they say yes, they would be happy to write a letter for you, send them an email that includes your grades in whatever classes you took with them, both your program and overall GPAs (so they can see you’re brilliant within the program even if you suck at math), your academic interests, and your GRE score, broken down into written, verbal, and quantitative.

Give professors plenty of time to write your letters. A month at least. If it comes to two weeks before the deadline and you have no idea if they’ve sent in the letter, sent a brief but polite reminder, implying that you’re sure they’ve already done it but the website isn’t showing that they’ve sent in their letter. And once they do, send a thank you.

When I was applying into my master’s program, I first applied as a non-degree seeking student, to get a few good grades to offset my tragic undergrad GPA and that nasty semester in law school. I had luckily maintained relationships with my undergraduate professors, so they were more than willing to send in recommendation letters. Once I did a semester there, I asked some of the professors in the master’s program to write me recommendations to be in the program as a degree seeking student. Somehow I managed to get half the admissions committee to write me letters, so I got in before I completed my application. And when I was applying into the PhD program at the same university, I asked my thesis chair, one of the professors I had asked before, and a professor who had taught three of the classes I took. And just like that, I scooped up the other half of the admissions committee.

What I do want to mention is that letters from tenured professors carry more weight than non-tenured professors, as does the level of research the professor as done. If they’ve edited a journal or two and hold an endowed chair, then their letter is worth its weight in gold. That’s not saying that letters from non-tenured or clinical professors are worthless, they are fantastic in their own right, especially if it’s a really small department and everyone knows and respects each other. But you really have to research your writers.

That’s all I’ve got for now, happy summer, I hope you’re all enjoying it. I’ve been working on my thesis, so once I’m done on that front, I’ll be posting much more regularly. In the meantime, you can find me on Twitter or Instagram, and by email, thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.

Things you should know as a college freshman:

Clearly I am too lazy to make a new post, but since I’ve been away for so long (thesis writing, ughhhhh) I felt I should link to this post I made about helpful advice for entering college/university. It’s that time of year when everyone gets their roommate assignments, so I figured it was timely.

I’ll be back in August!

Adulthood 101

I’m starting a new series, about that weird transition time between graduating university and being a real adult. This is a time where people my age are getting their first real adult jobs, or are in their first grown up relationship, maybe moving in with their significant other. I figured that sharing these experiences would benefit everyone involved, making the process easier for someone just starting out. Now, since I haven’t done most or even half of the things on the list, I’ll be featuring guest writers, and am actively looking for volunteers to guest write posts for me.

Things I’m featuring in Adulthood 101:

How to get into grad school

How to get an adult job

How to rent an apartment/house

How to buy healthy groceries and plan meals

If you want to write a post for Adulthood 101, email me at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com, and let me know what you want to write about. And if you can think of something that you’d like featured, please email me or mention it in the comments. I’m always looking for new ideas.

Hair Products I am Obsessed With.

Do you guys remember this post I made a while back about hair care? Well, since then my hair routine has changed just enough that I felt I needed to make a new post. And in the summer, Texas gets super humid, so my focus goes from moisturizing to frizz control.

I wash my hair maybe every two or three days, depending on how greasy it’s gotten. Since it’s curly, the oils hang out near my scalp. I use Redken All Soft Shampoo and Conditioner. I forgot to take a picture of it, oops. It’s really helped get my hair from dry and brittle to really soft and silky.

Now, here’s what I use afterwards:

hair lineup

This isn’t an every day thing, since I don’t wash my hair every day. But I’m really enjoying how the Redken shampoo has eliminated the need for a lot of the serums and products I’ve been using.

Coconut Oil:

coconut oil

Every two weeks, I use coconut oil as an overnight hair mask. I get this Vatika Enriched Coconut Hair Oil from the Indian grocery store, but it’s cheaper on Amazon. It’s really moisturizing, and once I wash it out, my hair is noticeably more hydrated.

Redken One United:

redken one united

This stuff is seriously magic. I use it when my hair is damp but not nearly dry, just to detangle it and brush it out. It’s Redken’s One United All-In-One Multi-Benefit Treatment,  and it’s a leave-in conditioner and detangler and hair treatment all in one. It’s so wonderful. And it smells amazing.

The Redken is a little pricey, but Not Your Mother’s Way to Grow Long and Strong leave in conditioner  is really nice too.

CHI Iron Guard:

chi spray

I’ve been avoiding using heat on my hair unless absolutely necessary, but after a bad haircut I’ve been straightening the ends so they lay flat instead of poufing out. I’ve been using the CHI Iron Guard for years and years, and it does a great job. I really saturate my hair with it before using my flat iron or curling wand, and so far I’ve been fine.

Not Your Mother’s Volumizing Hairspray:

nym hairspray

I’m not a huge fan of hairspray. I feel like it’s heavy and sticky and makes my hair crunchy. But this one, Not Your Mother’s She’s a Tease Volumizing Hairspray. Also it smells pretty nice too. It holds my hair down without making it too stiff or crunchy, and if I sleep on it it’s not horrendously misshapen and plastered to the side of my head like with other sprays.

I wish this post was more detailed about exactly what I do to my hair, but really, I’ve been trying to make my life more simple and less overwhelming.

Also, all of these links lead to Amazon, where I have an Affiliate account. Buying something from one of my links would let me collect a few cents for every dollar, but really, all the opinions are my own, from products that I’ve already gone and bought myself.

And as always, you can find me on Twitter and Instagram, and by email at thisisnotaquickstory@gmail.com.