Thursday, November 29, 2007

Other Career Possibilities...

So as this test looms closer, I find it liberating to imagine other career options I can pursue on the off chance (or likelihood) of not passing. Somehow searching for a few career sounds more appealing than prepping for this exam any longer than this semester. Maybe I could be a marine biologist...a pastry critic?

I'm officially 13 days out, and still reading new stuff. Ick. I've given up the idea of having much time for review. I still have about 30 new things on the Pacific to read between today and tomorrow, which may allow me about 9 days max to read through everything again. Ick. The good news is I know I have at least one out of three professors in my corner. She's my new hero, she's already offered to throw me and my fellow test taker buddy a dinner party the night of our exam. Love her! But not so sure I have the confident backing of the other two so much, and I feel like I still have so much to review, synthesize, put into coherent words. Ick, ick, ick. This process sucks big time. Boo. :(

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

It's Official: I've drunk the coolaid

The coolaid of cultural history that is. Yup, I realized it tonight in my urban/suburban history class, after I stood on my soapbox for what seemed like ages and attacked political history for ignoring cultural analysis. I think I may have scared some folks, cuz the class is primarily liberals and many of the books are based on the assumption of progress through policy making. I think the more I read for prelims, the less I'm convinced by the liberal ideas of progress and the more I buy the idea that revolution begins at the barrel of a gun (isn't that how it goes?). I'm convinced this primarily comes from so much studying of colonialism when policymaking seems so detached. I think its about power and othering and mythmaking. I think all of these inform policies and laws anyhow, so when urban histories talk about policymakers, judges, politicians as if they are somehow immune or detached from the culture in which they operate, a "national" one built on slavery, colonialism, empire and capitalism and then wonder why homeowners don't think more communally and aren't willing to sacrifice for another (an "other" who they've been racializing for centuries anyhow), it drives me nuts!

Every week, we spin out into the same wall, trying to figure out why privileged whites didn't act the way we'd like them to have acted. And all of this talk without any discussion of power and privilege in subject formation. Why would people sacrifice? They live in a nation that tells them that everyone is where they are because they either earned it, or are culturally inferior and thus deserve their lot. There is something fundamentally wrong with liberalism. And yet if you accept radicalism, do you just stay depressed waiting for the revolution that will never happen? Or do you spin out into Foucauldian web and accept your own normalization?

You knew the academic rant was coming...sorry. I'll get off my soapbox now.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Losing basic words...

Ok, so I know this blog has become a basic journal of reflections on prelims, which is ick boring, but I'm pretty sure all that's left in my brain at this point. So the latest development, in addition to reduced vision, is I'm beginning to lose basic words. I was trying to ask someone in class the other night if there was a vending machine on our floor (since I'm also losing time to schedule normal eating breaks) and I couldn't recall the name so I had to ask if there was a "machine that gives food on the floor." Ugggh. Good news is, I've managed to plow through about 10 books a day in mass culture and pacific history. I'm wondering if that's a good sign or bad?

I miss my Oregonies!!! I've realized that in addition to prelims depleting my ability for everyday word usage, it's also shortened my censorship skills and patience around fellow cohort members, the bulk of whom I can no longer deal with in a polite manner. I think the lack of energy and exhaustion has squashed even my ability to do the "smile and nod" bit when these students wax on about how politically authentic they are in front of our profs. When you add alcohol to the mix, the sarcasm just seems to flow. Ah well. What can you do? Read another 90 books I guess. That's the plan. Boo. :(