BAM Family

BAM Family

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Thesis peek

Here is the abstract from my thesis + the official title! It is going to be published online tomorrow and then I am officially done. YEA!

Enjoy!

"The Enduring Austen Heroine: Self-Awareness and Moral Maturity in Jane Austen’s Emma and in Modern Austen"
Jane Austen’s novels continue to be popular in the twenty-first century because her heroines are both delightful and instructive; they can be viewed as role models of personal growth due to their honest self-examination and commitment to high moral standards. Chapter one establishes the patterns of personal growth that uniquely characterizes Austen’s heroines in each of her six novels. Chapter two tests these conclusions by carefully examining the character of Emma Woodhouse. Though Emma is a unique heroine due to her wealth and social privileges, she follows the principles of personal growth possessed by Austen’s other heroines. Chapter three further analyzes these conclusions by examining how Jane Fairfax can also be viewed as an Austen heroine because she too cultivates self-awareness and corrects her inner failings. In fact, several contemporary writers have recognized the heroic qualities in Jane Fairfax and have rewritten Emma by placing Jane as the heroine; three such adaptations are analyzed in chapter three. To further evaluate the characterization of the Austen heroine as realized by modern authors, chapter four examines three versions of Emma set in modern times to see if contemporary renditions of Austen’s novels are consistent with the model of growth that Austen promotes. Though these contemporary adaptations are not always faithful to the underlying moral themes found in the original Austen novels, the mere existence of these adaptations affirms the influence that Austen has on the minds, hearts, imaginations, and moral education of twenty-first century writers and readers.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Mengaling Thanksgiving

Some of my favorite moments from Thanksgiving 2010 so far....

Cooking my very first turkey! (it turned out pretty well...a bit dry in the breast but still tasty)

Micah seeing me put the turkey in the roasting pan and saying "Turkey?! I'm excited!" as he flapped his hands frantically in the air

The smell of turkey roasting, bacon sizzling, and cinnamon rolls steaming all at the same time.

Attempting to play Candy Land with the boys for the first time. Epic Fail. But they had fun anyways.

Painting and stamping paper with homemade "stamps" aka carved potatoes and carrots.

Benji looking in the oven at the turkey and shrieking, "It's Christmas!" (????)

Micah watching the TV with Aaron and when a commercial came on with Santa Clause he said, "Who's that? That Jesus?"

The boys helping themselves to cranberry sauce and mashed potatoes (with their hands) while Aaron carved the turkey and I set the table.

Giving Benji a big hug after lunch and saying "I'm thankful for YOU!"
He replied, "You're my friend, Mommy."

I am now thankful for the nap that the boys are taking.

I am looking forward to leftovers and key lime pie (don't judge. It is my favorite dessert and sounded a whole lot better than pumpkin)

Such wonder memories! I hope you are treasuring your own today!

Happy Thanksgiving!

I'm thankful that...

...my thesis is (almost) done. Today is Thanksgiving and I guess a pretty good day to give a thesis update for all of you who were anxiously waiting for it (umm....is this anyone? No clue).

I finished my thesis two weeks ago today. Or I should say, I finished writing it the first time. Heh...

I had one and a half heady days of celebration. And then my chair emailed me back. Oh boy....

In her words, "Your thesis needs extensive revision."

As my defense was on Monday (and I received this email on Saturday morning) I knew I had some frantic editing to do. I spent 7 hours revision chapter one (that's right, just one chapter) on Saturday and in the process, cut out 9 pages (the original chapter was 42 pages).

The next day I spent 5 hours on chapter two.

Monday = defense day. From 7:30-12pm I worked on editing and revising chapter three and at 12:30 I had my defense.

A thesis defense is basically a meeting where the student (aka me) talks about her thesis to her committee members (I had three). We all met at the beginning and then they sent me out so they could decide what they wanted to do. Then they called me back in and I spoke for about 10-15 minutes about why I wanted to write about my topic and what I learned through the process. Then each committee member asked me questions and shared their observations about my thesis. My chair, especially asked me some really tough questions ("In today's postmodern, primarily amoral society, why do you think people are still drawn to Austen's novels considering the values she promotes in her fiction?" and "If you were to expand on your ideas for a PhD dissertation, what would you write about?") but she seemed impressed with my answers. After the question time they sent me out again and talked for a while. When I came back in, my chair said she wanted everyone to go around and praise me for the good work I.

Some of the most memorable compliments were:
Are you going to go for your PhD?
You definitely have some publishable and conference (Professional academic conferences) worthy writing here.
After three hundred years of Austen criticism, it is tough to find something new to say about her works--but you did it.
You integrated professional criticism with your own analysis very well.
Very creative!
I really enjoyed your writing.

They all knew that I had to finish my revisions but we ended on the fact that I would be approved and then the defense was over.

However, my work was not over.

I finished my revisions for chapter four and my conclusion that evening and sent them to my chair, Dr. Ayres and felt like I was really done now.

Nope.

On Tuesday morning I checked my email as I was getting the boys ready for school and found another long message about revisions again. I still had major things to change in chapter one, even though I had spent hours and hours on it on Saturday. And she didn't even read chapters 2 and 3 because on first perusal, she found a lot of mistakes (left out works, grammatical, mechanical, etc).

I snapped. I felt so overwhelmed, like I would never be done with this project and it would never be good enough. I spent the whole morning crying off and on and fighting depression. I was a horrible mom that morning and actually felt relieved when I dropped the boys off at school. And then I felt guilty for being relieved.

I had reading, a 1-2 page response, and the first 5 pages of a term paper due in my Shakespeare class that afternoon. Not happening. Not when your chair tells you she wants all revisions done by Thursday.

After more tears, much prayer, and a severe mental pep-talk, I pulled up my big girl panties and got back to work. I spent all morning and afternoon reading chapters 2-4 out loud (70+ pages) in order to catch my mistakes. And...um...there were quite a few that I had missed, simply from just looking at the darn thing so. many. times.

I went to Shakespeare still feeling the emotional weight of the day, and feeling guilty for not getting my work done (though I had emailed my professor and let him know what was going on).

Twenty minutes into class, I get a call from the preschool: Micah had a 101.5 fever. So, I checked out of class, again bouncing between feelings of relief and guilt.

My poor baby was so pitiful and looked like he felt so bad. And as soon as we pulled up the the house, he threw up in the car. (I'll just let you imagine the hours that followed, though Micah actually was feeling better later that night).

That evening, after the boys went to bed, I started revising chapter one A.G.A.I.N. I sent everything back to Dr. Ayres that evening and crashed into bed.

Wednesday: Another email--Minor revision left. I do them. I send it back, AGAIN. I felt hopeful though because at the end of her email she said that after I made the changes I should send it to the rest of my committee.

It is now a week and one day later. I have heard back from everyone on my committee and only have to make some minor changes to my abstract (which I will try to post on here in the next few days for those of you who are interested in what has consumed my life for the past year).

So, needless to say, I am very thankful the thesis process is almost over. I am meeting with Dr. Ayres on Nov. 30th to go over everything again and then I have to publish my thesis in an online professional database. Then it will be done. Finis. The End.

Thank God.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hot Momma

This story is just too good to pass up. I hope you enjoy...

I defended my thesis on Monday (will post about this later, when I am out of revision purgatory) and bought a new dress for the occasion. I got a great deal at Ross--$27 for an Calvin Kline dress! It is black, knee length and fitted with cap sleeves and a square neckline. It is the epitome of the little black dress, if you know what I mean: classy and sexy. Paired with sheer black stockings and black heels, I was feeling good!

I got a lot of compliments from my friends, coworkers, and even my thesis chair. My students also told me I looked nice.

That's when the trouble started...

I have a Korean student that I adore. He is so funny, fun, and a joy to have in class. Although he speaks excellent English, he doesn't always "get" slang references or when to use certain words at the best time.

I was standing in front of him checking his homework when he asked, "Is hot degrading?"

I had just teased him about wearing two collared shirts at the same time (???) so I thought he was referring to being too warm.

"No," he clarified. "Is calling someone "hot" degrading?"

Knowing he is trying to figure out relationships (especially with a super cute girl in the class) I said, "Well, not always. It really depends on the context."

"Well, in that case, you look hot."

My head shot up and I immediately replied, "Ok! well, that is a little inappropriate" as I turned five shades of red.

The girls sitting on either side of him burst out laughing, as did I.

I got a kick out of sharing the story with the rest of the graduate assistants.

Of of my friends said, "Ok, you have a new title now: "Hot GSA mom!"

I'll take it. :)

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The Best Medicine?

These past few weeks have been...hmmm...how can I say this delicately....hell?

I have been beyond stressed out and taking my stress out on my family. One of my students even said after class today, "Mrs. Meng, you look so stressed out! You have, like, an aura of stress around you." Thank you, dear student. (I think he was trying to be nice)

With all the stress, especially today, I told Aaron that I have felt like the worst version of myself, to which he replied, "And yet you're still lovable."

And there is my heart, in a little puddle.

I thought the moment was going to get even sweeter when Aaron asked the boys, "Boys, do you love Mommy?"

Micah: YES!
Benji: No....

Insert belly laugh here. And do you know what? Laughter, as well as "I love you's" is good for the stressed-out soul.

PS. Finished writing my introduction tonight. All that is left is revisions. Defense in 5 days...

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Thesis update

Dear blog readers (whoever you are...thank you for your faithfulness),

I am so sorry to leave you hanging on such a bad week.

This past week has not been much better. We have been hit with a plague. As in throwing up plague for the boys and body aches, shooting joint pain, and extreme exhaustion for me. Thankfully Aaron has been spared (so far. Fingers crossed and prayers said)

BUT, the thesis is in a better state than when I left the last blog post. Chapter four is done, revised and sent to my whole committee. All have responded with good comments and minor revisions. YEA!

Now, all that is left is to revise my conclusion, write my introduction (yes, now that my thesis is all done) and organize the whole thing in an official thesis format. I have over 100 pages so far. Oh my goodness. This project is HUGE!

Thankyouthankyouthankyou GOD it is almost done.

Not out of the woods with it yet though. And I am running out of time....because....

....my defense is scheduled for a week from tomorrow. EEK!

Most pressing project right now is to grade the 14 papers English 101 papers that I have to turn back...umm...tomorrow...

oh my life...looking forward to Christmas and some REAL peace on earth...

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