Tuesday, August 28, 2007

On a side note

It really annoys me that when I have one comment, this thing says "1 comments." This offends my English teacher/copy editor sensibilities.

What the heck is theory, anyway?

Now, my recollections of time with the word theory come from middle school and the scientific method. Many things are hypothoses, but most of those don't become theory. We try to destroy a hypothosis to make it stronger, and only the very strong ones get to be come theory.

Or something like that.

This year, I do believe I will be encountering a whole other type of "theory." I am taking a class called "Theories of Mass Media Research: Macro-Social Level." After signing up for this class, I met with the professor.

"Hi," I said. "I was wondering if you could tell me about your class. I'm taking it, but I don't understand what the title means."

She is incredibly nice and told me that the class had a terrible title and assured me I would be just fine.

The class contains 13 boys and three girls. There are two masters students and 14 doctoral students in it. The syllabus contains the frigtening sentence: The examination will be similar to the type of questions you might be asked during qualifying examinations.

While we didn't do anything but go over the syllabus on Monday, that pesky word "theory" kept coming out. Now, I'm not sure what theory is. Is it a sentence, like "All good journalists have strange names like Scooby Ryan or Warren Wheat" (actual names)? Is it a short thing like "agenda setting," a tenet of journalism that Mike Farrell taught me in JOU 301? Is it a way of looking at text through a lense, like Tracy and I did in our ENG 320 class where she was Deconstruction and I was Psychoanalysis? Is it even a thing at all?

The way we were constructing sentences around the word it led me to believe that theory is a nebulous idea that floats above our heads until we gather it in our arms and staple it to our research paper. "We will be exploring theory..." rather than "We will explore a theory" or "the theory of..." Perhaps I'm being an English teacher here and being entirely too picky about articles, but there it is.

Tomorrow, I have to turn in a 2-page getting to know you paper about myself and my research interests. Interests are easy. I know what I'm interested in: media law, especially in terms of how Hazelwood v. Kuhlmeier has affected journalism education; new media, including convergence and blogs and such; media and celebrity, although I'm not sure where I would go with that; and narrative journalism. All of these spring to mind immediately, so even if I don't go anywhere near these topics when it comes time for my thesis next year, I at least have a place to start.

But then there's the question: what type of research do you want to do? Are you a quantitative or qualitative person? I had to get Megan to explain it to me -- but I do know that quantitative involves numbers, and numbers are not my friend. Basically, I have no clue. To her credit, she did say that she knew some of us wouldn't know yet. I'm not sure by "not knowing" she means "don't know what the different forms of research are," however.

So it seems I have my work cut out for me in this class. We will be exploring theory. Whatever that means.

Saturday, August 25, 2007

a new job

This week has been long and crazy.

First of all, it's approximately 1,000 degrees. This temperature makes it very hard to dress for the day. As there is about a 10-minute walk from Hal's parking to my building, any effort I made to look professional ended up in a sweaty mess. Much discomfort and pony-tails ensued. On Thursday, I even walked home. The 25-minute trek lasted almost eight years, and when I walked through the door, I almost collapsed. It was ridiculous.

The craziest thing that happened this week was on Wednesday. Now, on both Monday and Tuesday I had some light orientation activities. Wednesday was completely bare because it was the day that the school was training its new AIs (which are TAs, but called something different, which is disconcerting because when I see that, I think of the Haley Joel Osment movie --- on a side note, whatever happened to good ol' Haley Joel? IMDB lists Haley Joel's next movie as called Home of the Giants, in which he plays a journalist(!). Maybe he can hook up with Lohan so she stops being crazy. He seems like a nice kid.)

Anyway, the school was training its AIs. I did not have to be at school because I am not an AI. However, I got up at about 10:30 and was surfing my various email accounts and blogs o' friends, and I decided to check my IU email. In my IU email I had received an unexpected email from the dean. The title was "Assistantship?" Seems as though one of the graduate assistants couldn't work her schedule with the class she was supposed to help out with, and the dean thought I would be a good person to take her place. Fabulous! A little more money for me to pocket, and a good experience to put on my CV at some point in time, especially since I want to teach.

So after seeing the email, I called the dean and affirmed that I would LOVE to be an assistant. I am going to be assisting with a class called J110 -- which is basically like Journalism 101. The prof is incredibly nice and funny, and his syllabus cracked me up all morning. I will be in charge of managing students who try to give excuses as well as grading 3 tests and a paper. The class has 160 students in it, so this is no small order, however. I also get to keep office hours.

I rushed to school and tried to catch at least a little bit of training. I did do that indeed. I also was able to make it for "Campus Climate" training (read: sensitivity training!) the next night.

The classes start Monday. My assistantship is on Monday and Wednesday, which will be my busiest days. My profs are starting to put their syllabi on line, and it looks like I'm going to have my work cut out for me. I'm glad I have only 9 hours.

I've gotten to talk more and more to the other students, which is nice. We had a cocktail and food party at the dean's house last night, which was incredibly nice of the dean. It was fun to talk to people -- our class has some incredibly diverse interests.

I've been really impressed with the way we have been welcomed and treated this week. We had a meeting with editors of local publications on Tuesday, and the editors were all incredibly welcoming and wanted us to work with them. I was pretty excited about all of that.

Hopefully, the excitement will continue when I start classes. We were talking last night about how on Monday it's real and it will be hard, after that, to leave. Because then you'd be "that girl." :) Hopefully, I won't be that girl!

Monday, August 20, 2007

The first glimpse...

After being here for almost an entire month, I finally met some of my classmates.

Today was the first day of orientation for masters students in the school of journalism. We started off the day by a breakfast. Apparently the breakfast, which included a nice spread of hot foods like eggs, hashbrowns, and meat, as well as cold foods like fruit and muffins, was a huge hit with the professors.

"I'd like to thank [the dean]" said one professor, "for the hot breakfast. I would like to recognize that breakfast is bigger than pastries!" It was pretty funny. After eating and mingling with the people at our respective tables, we went around the room and introduced ourselves.

I loathe standing up in front of a class and introducing myself. However, I did it and announced who I was and my schooling (as well as my 1/3 of a law degree!) and said I am terribly excited to be here because I've been in Bloomington for a month and know no one and I'm sick of talking to my husband. That got a good laugh out of everyone.

Our class is very diverse, with educational backgrounds varying from math to engineering to economics to journalism (of course). We have students from eight countries including China, Iraq, Kuwait, and the Ukraine. The fabulous girl who sat next to me had also finished her first year of law school. She is currently doing a dual degree, but is only taking journalism classes this semester. It was really good to actually talk to people and learn about the different opportunities in the program.

One of those opportunities involves a class in the spring about Ernie Pyle, a journalist whom the school is named after. The professor intends to teach about Ernie and then take the class overseas to see some of the places Ernie wrote about -- London, Normandy, and Paris in particular. I have no idea if I will end up taking this course, but I'm excited that there are classes like that being offered in my school.

After the breakfast, I scheduled my adviser's appointment and was able to finally register for classes. I am taking nine hours, which is full time for a graduate student in my program. I will be taking:
Introduction to Mass Media Research
Theory and Research: Macro-Social Level
The Press and the Constitution

I'm not sure about the Macro-Social class because I'm not really sure what that means, but I was assured that it should be a good and interesting class that would provide a good foundation for future classes. My meeting with the dean went really well. I was able to ask her some questions about things that I have been interested in and she did her best to give me candid answers. I really think she does a great job at being welcoming.

It looks like, barring any major catastrophe, I should be able to be finished with my masters by December of 08, so three semesters from now. Hopefully, that works out!

Friday, August 17, 2007


I should not be jogging.

After all, I'm out of shape, have two bad knees, and it's August (read: hot).

Once upon a time I was able to jog. As a matter of fact, I did so daily. See, I played soccer for most of my life. Junior year of high school, while I was still on JV, and coincidentally the last year of high school soccer I would play, my coach decided that we WOULD NOT BE OUT OF SHAPE! That thought, which is a good one, considering how much one runs during a soccer game, translated into approximately 4 miles of jogging before a 2-3 hour practice.

Junior year of high school, I was coming off my diagnosis of "severe patellar tendonitis" in my left knee, which was capped by falling down the stairs due to said knee giving out on me and bruising my quad (making it blow up to epic proportions). I still was able to run.

This is because I had a system --- I would run almost the whole lap (we did 6 laps of this trail) but I would also allow myself about 20 seconds to walk on one part of the trail, and I also walked up a small (about 20 feet or so) but steep hill. If I didn't walk up that small but steep hill, it would really hurt my aforementioned knee.

But I would make it. And that was really the last time I engaged in organized jogging.

Now, during college and more recently I would run on the eliptical machine, which was rather good for my bad left knee and, once I injured my right knee during indoor soccer during first semester senior year of college, much to the chagrin of my modern dance professor (but that's a story for another time), good for both knees. But I never really got into running outside again.

Well there was one time in the past year I ran, wearing knee braces on both knees, in my old neighborhood. My husband, who came home and saw me running down the street, didn't know it was me and thought, "That person looks terrible! They should not be running."

So I probably shouldn't be running. But lately I've been jogging. By lately, I mean the last three days. Layla and I have done a quick jaunt around a loop through my apartment complex. I have no idea how far it is, but I doubt it is even a mile. However, I have been jogging. Like high school, I have a system for where I walk (there is a little hill on this run that I definitely walk up), and I do okay. Unless Layla decides to sprint. Or wrap her leash around a telephone poll. Or decide she needs the bathroom. Those sorts of things. It's really good for Layla, who doesn't have the backyard she used to. She needs to get out and get some exercise. Judging from the way she reacts when we tell her we're going on a W-A-L-K, she enjoys it.

And actually, I feel pretty good. Jogging, even for the 15-20 minutes it takes us, has make my muscles ache a little, and that is always kind of a good feeling for a former "athlete." Hopefully, by writing this down, I will be able to continue to jog a couple of times a week. It also might help me get down to fighting weight --- although I'm not really sure what that means. I am much more understanding of getting down to "10th year reunion weight" or perhaps "bridesmaid dress weight." Luckily, I have three summers before my 10th year reunion. If not, I will probably continue to see this entry, embarrassed, as I feel slightly guilty for not living up to the jogging dream. Ah, guilt. I am Catholic, after all.

As for the why of jogging, I'm not sure what has come over me. It could have something to do with my aunt, who, at the age of less-than-60, endured a double bypass operation this week. It could be that I'm bored. Or it could be that the weather has eased out of the low 100s and into the more managable 90s. I just know that the other night I felt like running, and I'm trying to keep that feeling going for as long as possible. At least until I get my student ID and can go swim laps (much healthier for the knees) in the IU pool.

Until then, I will be the slow, limpy-looking one, jogging while the cute black dog barely trots beside me. Try not to run me over as I cross the street. I'm very heavy and might just dent your hood.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Movers, or how I pass my long days

The moving in has begun.

School starts on August 27, and therefore many students are moving into the city. We have had several people move into the empty apartments around us. It will be interesting, because before now, all of our neighbors seemed to be families. I know on either side of our townhouse we have families with adorable children.

Now, the college kids are coming. I actually met one today after he mistakingly tried to enter my house instead of his own. He was coming in the back and walked through our gate before he saw Layla (thankfully inside) and left. Of course, he left the gate open, so I had to go out and close it. He was slightly abashed and apologized. I told him it was no big deal, of course. However, Layla actually growled. She is very ferocious (she weighs 35 lbs., for goodness sakes).

I'm happy we're getting closer to school. It has been a long and somewhat lonely three weeks. Hal works during the day and since I know no one, I have been hanging out and watching many episodes of "Dawson's Creek" on DVD. I do indeed realize how sad that is. However, I have a complete collection of Dawson's DVDs and I intend to use them. Now is as good of a time as any, especially since we don't have cable.

You read that correctly. Stacie doesn't have Cable.

I haven't not had cable since I was approximately 5 years old. In fact, I am somewhat of a TV junkie (as evidenced by the Dawson's DVDs), enjoying the idiot box quite a lot. My lack of cable has become a point of honor to me -- Hal and I are really trying to save money because we have not yet sold our house, so we're making two house payments at this point. My lack of cable is my contribution to the cause. For as long as it takes. Although my sister was talking to me about a cool commercial the other day. I realized I really haven't seen a commercial in about a month. Crazy!

We will continue to hope we sell our house before "Jericho" comes back on. Because we'll have to get at least basic for that.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

farmers market

Bloomington has a fabulous farmer's market on Saturdays down by city hall. The first weekend we were here, Hal and I headed over there, not sure of what we would find. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera to take pictures at the actual market.
We found lots of vegetables and some fruit, cheeses, honey, and maple syrup. I am terrified of syrup (except on waffles) and the man tried to give me a free sample in a little cup. I said no. Syrup is too sticky for me. There was also a man selling Elk meat and a huge line for sweet corn in husks.
However, I did think this bunch of basil was rather impressive. You can see how big it is. It only cost $1.50! That was a steal. We bought a bunch of vegetables and Hal made eggplant parmesan for dinner. It was incredibly yummy. Of course, the dinner only used about 4 leaves of Basil, so we have a huge chunk of it sitting in our refrigerator.
We will probably go back at some point in time, and I will try to remember to bring the camera with me that time!

Saturday, August 4, 2007


When I applied to graduate school, I didn't think I would be starting until the fall of 2008. Oddly enough, my application passed the admissions coordinator and the admissions committee without anyone noticing my requested start date.

So when they accepted me in May of 2007 with a start date of August '07, we didn't have a whole lot of time.

Hal (my husband) and I have relocated to Bloomington -- a small town in the midst of Indiana. About 2.5 hours from home, we have nestled into a little townhouse, a far cry from our bigger home we have yet to sell in Nky. He's switched jobs. I've lived without cable for the last two weeks. (my transition has been harder)

I formulated this blog so I can chronicle my shot at grad school. If people want to read along, that's all the better. Feel free to comment, I appreciate that.

Hal was the first one to name this blog. He called it buried the lead because he was looking for a snappy journalism term -- apropos for my upcoming graduate program. It means not putting the most important part of the story first, or maybe taking too long to get to what the story is about. I like it --- I tend to prefer writing detailed feature stories than snappy news stories. Hopefully, I'll be able to twist a column or two out of my adventures.