Alternatively titled: Nerdiness and I go waaaaay back
My mom and I often joke that I am destined to be a perpetual student. I like to tell Apparent Dip that I married him with the idea that he would become a millionaire and allow me to go to school for the rest of my life, but it turns out that I made a major miscalculation. As he likes to tell me, geologists–particularly those in academia–don’t really make that much. Sigh. So instead I live the life of a nomadic grad student (although I might be coming home to roost in English once I hear about the M.A. program here). This suits me just fine, actually, because despite all the kvetching about classes and writing and applications and lack of money, etc., etc. etc., the fact remains: I’m doing what I love. And I am reminded about this every time a new semester/quarter begins. I love academia (not everything, mind you, particularly the idiotic bureaucracy that seeks to stymie my every move, but the grand idea of academia–that I love).
When I was a kid, the beginning of a school year was always exciting. In an abstract sense, it represented a fresh start. In a very tangible sense, it meant new school supplies. My parents got a kick out of the fact that I would pack and repack my bag in the weeks leading up to school. I would sit in my room happily color-coding my folders and notebooks (History? Blue, definitely. Math? Black. Science? Green), and lovingly packing my pencils and pens. A bit obsessive? Most likely. And although the ritual has changed (nowadays the pencils are mechanical with .7 mm lead and the pens are my new fave, the Pilot G-2–particularly as they make it in a .38 mm tip with black ink), and I don’t buy as many new school supplies, or pack and repack my bag, I still go through the motions to some extent whenever I order my books ($240 and counting baby!) and try to solve the never-ending question regarding the best methods for organizing notes and research materials. And let me tell you, computers make my organization-loving heart go weak in the knees. I’ve been playing around with a lot of software lately in an attempt to get a handle on the electronic mess that I call a desktop and here are some of my new favorite toys:
- Devon Think: This database system is really quite powerful (and made for Macs) and I’m just getting started so I have by no means explored all of the options. I’m using it to store my pdfs thematically to allow for easier access (I also have all of my pdfs organized alphabetically by author).
- Scrivener: I’m attempting to move away from Word, and I stumbled upon this nifty program in the process. I wasn’t sure how useful it would be, but I’m really enjoying it. I don’t use the full-screen mode because I just can’t block everything out–I need a certain amount of background “noise” (be it actual noise or just open apps and windows on my desktop) to stay sane. But it has helped me to break free of an older, unproductive writing mode and move toward a more free-thinking catch-the-thoughts-as-they-come kind of writing.
- Toodledo: I discovered this through K8’s blog. I keep a paper version of a to-do list/calendar with me (currently the Moleskine weekly calendar), but this is a great way to organize myself whenever I’m at a computer (and, as it’s web-based, it works at home on my Mac as well as on my work PC). Plus, it works with Google Calendar, which is how Apparent Dip and I stay organized in regards to each others’ schedules (or we would, if we would remember to write things on the calendar in the first place–hint, hint, AD).
Classes start on Monday (Tuesday for me), and although I would really like more of a vacation, I find that excitement bubbling up again. Never mind that once the semester is underway I will discover that I haven’t organized myself as well as I would like, or that I have somehow managed to lose every.single.one of my pens and pencils by the end of the first day and am inevitably reduced to the indignity of stealing them from AD until we go on our next date at the office supply store (Where the hell do these things go? And yes, we really are that lame. But take heart: we go on dates to the grocery store as well. If you saw our grocery store, you’d understand.). For now, as Anne of Green Gables would say, everything is a fresh page with nothing written on it yet. I even ordered a new bookbag!