Sydney Smiles

Sydney Smiles: April 2010

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Dear Chicago,

How can I say this nicely? I like you Chicago, I really do, but lately you've been scaring the bejesus out of me!!! In a few short weeks I will graduate and head back to Michigan (before I set out on my next great adventure) and I can honestly say I won't miss you much! Yes, I will miss my friends and the fun times we've had... but gosh darn it... you are scary... and I will revel in the safety of my hometown and other future destinations!

Personally, I have seen enough pictures of crying families on the cover of the RedEye because their babies were shot in a park somewhere in Chicago. Let me tell you, that is a depressing way to start the day.

I have received enough emails from campus safety about muggings around campus. However, I must admit the one that really scared me was the armed robbery - where they hit the girl with the butt of the gun just a stone's throw away from my apartment. At least they didn't use the gun to shoot her, they only hit her with the butt of the gun and there were no serious injuries from the attack.

Last Friday the story in the newspaper about two young twentysomething girls out on the town celebrating a new internship, when some disgusting human being came up to them and struck them both in the head with a baseball bat from behind - so he could steal their purses. Seriously!?!?!? Guess what scary dude, I am sure the ladies would have handed over their purses to the scary man with a baseball bat if he had just asked!!! What is the point in smashing in their heads you sick *&(*???

Scary scary scary! To put all the violence in perspective the other day my co-worker told me that there have been 113 murders in Chicago so far this year, which is a bit high for this early in the year. All in all, this is scary.

Bringing things back to a little to close to home, the other day my roommates friend (who is also our neighbor) was walking home and she was cornered by 3 guys. They surrounded her and had her backed into a wall - so there was no way for her to get away and they they asked, "What are you gonna do? Huh? What are you gonna do pretty girl, you gonna call the cops?" She timidly replied that she didn't know. To which they laughed and said, "I just wanted to see if you'd talk to me" and they walked away - leaving her shaken up but untouched and unharmed. Sick &*^%s!!!!! Thank God they didn't hurt her, but come on we don't need sick bastards out there trying to scare the crap out women! The world is scary enough as it is!

So in conclusion, dear Chicago, please try to be less scary! I would greatly appreciate it!


Thursday, April 22, 2010

Sorry fellas, but I already have a daddy.

Men are such strange unpredictable creatures. You meet a nice older man. You think, "oh he's nice, he reminds me of my dad." He meets you and thinks, "Oh la la.. wanna get me some of that....(*(*^$@%*()(*&^%$@#$%^&*()(*&^%$#" Who knows what is going through his head....

I'd just like to take this time to say, sorry fellas, but I already have a daddy. Seriously, I'm not talking to you because I am interested in dating you.

Which brings me to my story of the day. Anybody that lives in Chicago and has ever ridden the PACE busses knows that the PACE bus drivers are flat out nicer than the CTA bus drivers! The PACE drivers will stop the bus and let you get on if you run after it waving... the CTA drivers will barely wait for you to get on the bus if you were patiently waiting at the bus stop.

So, I didn't think too much of it when the PACE bus driver started being extra friendly extending our conversations beyond the usual polite "good morning." I did however raise an eyebrow when he gave me the gift of a granola bar the other day.... but I thought... okay maybe he is just "really nice?"

Today, I get on the bus, and he has another granola bar waiting for me. I greet him with my usual, "good morning." He says me, "I think you are cute. I think you are really attractive." [Thoughts inside my head: P A N I C] I smile and say, "thank you." Then walk quickly to the back of the bus while contemplating alternate routes to work.

I don't mean to be harsh. He seems nice enough, and it's not like what he said was creepy or anything... but come on... I already have a daddy - and I am not looking for another father figure in my life.

***I told a friend about this... and here is a little story she told me of her own. She normally encounters men hitting on her quite a bit while dining at the fine sub sandwich shop near her work...but this story takes the cake... a 70 year man told her that he has never been with a white woman and would really like to be with one before he dies. Apparently, he thought "hey there is a pretty young white girl, why I don't I tell her my dreams so she can make them come true." Come on! Sometimes, men can be so rude and flat out stupid!

Monday, April 19, 2010

Inquiring minds want to know

Do to popular demand it has been requested that I expand upon my last post about what I would be studying. (By popular demand, I mean one of my favorite people in the whole world requested I give more details - and because this favorite person of mine used to take care of me when I was a kid, I feel I owe her. Lol.)

I have applied to study for a PhD in Social Policy at the University of New South Wales @ Social Policy Research Center. This is a research degree - that would consist of 3-4 years of research culminating in a dissertation of about 100,000 words (or something near that.)

I have proposed to research income inequality and redistribution of wealth in democracies worldwide taking special note of how electoral systems effect redistribution. I'd tell you more but I am afraid one of two things would happen (1) I'd bore you to death (2) all those unnamed faceless scholars trolling the internet for brilliant ideas might stumble upon my blog and steal my ideas before I have the chance to publish all my brilliance. Ha ha ha ha. =P

All my eggs in one basket - Just the way I like it.

My commitment to posting new entries here on my blog has certainly not been stellar. The last time I spoke with you I had just submitted my comprehensive exams. I am happy to report I have passed, and now must simply finish my final paper for my independent research project and I will have a MA degree in my happy little hands.

I've been keeping myself busy working full-time at the vacuum shop, researching my project, and working on a PhD application.

Yes, that's right folks I said it. I have been working on a PhD application. The girl that declared two weeks into her MA degree that she would not be studying for any further degrees has changed her mind.

Graduate School played quite a trick on my self esteem. In the early days of study I became convinced that I was not smart. I would listen to fellow students speak in class (some of them 3rd year PhD students at that point) and easily came to the conclusion they were the smart ones, not me. I became convinced I had absolutely nothing worthwhile to add to class discussions. On a number of occasions I sat in class on the verge of tears “trying to think of something worthwhile to say.”

I had never in my life been afraid to speak up in class. This was completely new to me. It was in this wounded state of academic self esteem that I decided that academia was not meant for me.

I was particularly tormented by the idea I was meant to create knowledge and not just learn it. When it came to thinking of ideas for research that would add to an academic field of study – I simply froze. The pressure got to me, to put it in sports terminology, I choked.

So—what changed? Why do I want to study for a PhD now? Well friends, I found something. I was working on a research paper for class and I found something that added to academic knowledge that had not previously been discovered. It’s like someone suddenly turned the lights on and I realized, “hey – maybe I am still smart, maybe I can do this.”

My confidence began to return and I contemplated researching my finding further. I have been working on an independent research project this semester expanding my study. My initial findings have held up – and there is still plenty of room to research further in hopes of explaining my results, etc.

This brings me to applying for a PhD. I must admit my initial instinct is to hide the fact I am applying from everyone – that way if I were to be rejected it would save me from having to tell everyone, “oh no, I didn’t get accepted.” What a silly way to live one’s life that would be! Can you imagine always being afraid to share your goals or dreams with others because you might fail – and God forbid someone would know you don’t succeed in everything you have ever tried? Lol. Time to loosen up and let go if you ask me.

So, here we are, I have submitted an application for admission and scholarship electronically to the University of New South Wales, last Thursday. I have also sent hard copies of the application to the university via UPS which should arrive to the UNSW (in Sydney, Australia) by next Thursday.

Normally, when applying for a PhD it is wise to cast a wide net and apply several places. However, because I was late in coming to the conclusion that I would like to continue my studies (and I wish to study in Australia which is under a different academic calendar than the United States) I was restricted by which schools were currently accepting applications. I am applying to begin studies in Semester 2 which begins in July in Australia. The trouble is, though many universities will allow you to begin your studies in Semester 2, they will not allow you to apply for a scholarship at that time of year. UNSW was an exception to that rule, which just so happened to work out for me, as I was most excited about what they had to offer in the first place! They seem to have a considerable amount of research dedicated to the field I am interested in.

So, here I stand with all my eggs in one basket, a predicament most potential PhD candidates would avoid like the plague. Not me though. I have always been rather fond of putting all my eggs in one basket. Besides, there is always next semester to cast a wider net, if need be.

All in all, which ever turn my path takes – if I am accepted and funded, or not – it won’t make or break me. Wait, I take that back, it could have the potential to “make me” but certainly, not break me – as I will go on to try another day! Lol.