first semester of graduate school

Genuine Admiration

A/N: I’ve envisioned writing this as a series/long form for a long time but finally sat down to do it. Let me know if you have an idea for the title of the series. This is just chapter one.

Y/N had known she wanted to leave Connecticut for Washington, DC since she was 9 years old and learned about the government for the very first time. She had only applied to schools in the DC area and was thrilled with her acceptances to a few. She happily traded her large, well-decorated, private bedroom in her parents’ home for, first, a shared dorm room in college and then, when she continued at the same university for her masters degree, a small studio near the university’s campus. She loved it because no matter how little space she had or how much of her neighbors’ conversations she could hear through the thin walls, she was in DC. 

And of course, there was one thing DC had that Connecticut could never compare to: Dr. Spencer Reid. The young professor had 3 PhDs and worked for the Behavioral Analysis Unit (BAU) of the FBI. While that meant he often had to miss a class or two a semester, his team was usually great about letting him assist remotely. He was the best professor Y/N had ever had. 

Y/N had taken her first of Dr. Reid’s classes during her first semester of her senior year of college. Accidentally. She had had to drop a class that conflicted with a required course and she needed another one if she was going to graduate on time. Enter International Criminal Law, a class that sounded fascinating and fit her international relations curriculum- even if criminal law had not been her particular area of interest at the time. That class had drawn her in immediately and had shaped her graduate school applications.

Dr. Reid was brilliant. It didn’t hurt that he was easy on the eyes as well. He always wore formal clothing- usually a jacket and slacks. He also had a beautiful, warm smile, kind eyes that displayed his emotions and- well his body was slim but muscular. His voice was soft but commanding; when Dr. Reid spoke, everybody hung on his every word. 

Naturally, Dr. Reid’s classes were not easy; he expected a lot from his students- a lot of reading, a lot of preparation for debates and discussions and a lot of application on his exams. He didn’t just care that his students could regurgitate information, but rather would be able to apply them to various situations and create solutions- or at least think them through. This meant that his classes started out at full capacity- due to his name, profession and reputation- but about a quarter of the class dropped out during the add/drop period. Dr. Reid seemed to enjoy weeding out those unwilling to work. Y/N liked the challenge.

Y/N had aced her first class with Dr. Reid, unbeknownst to her getting his attention in more ways than one. When she had approached him to write a letter of recommendation to the same university’s graduate program- one that he primarily taught in- he had agreed readily. When Y/N had showed up in International Human Rights Law the following semester, Dr. Reid had noticed as well. Y/N had thanked Dr. Reid with a beautifully hand-written card and a small gift- a small porcelain elephant that resembled one he had mentioned losing in passing. She didn’t know he had followed up with her application and had noted that she would be attending as a member of the graduate school class.

Y/N knew that most of Dr. Reid’s female students tried to flirt with him and expected that they would one day garner his affections. She knew of one specific student who’d had to leave the class after inappropriately offering the professor her contact information and an idea that she would happily perform for him should he raise her grade. She liked Dr. Reid more for not only not accepting such an offer, but for kicking the girl out of the class. While Y/N was not so delusional as to think the professor would ever play hot-for-teacher with her, she hated the idea of him spreading anyone else over his beautiful mahogany desk. 

God, she needed to get laid. Problem was, she wasn’t interested in just sex. She never had been, really; Y/N was a relationship or single person through and through. While this called for many ‘lonely’ months, she never felt the emptiness or regret her friends seemed to when a one night stand proved his intentions to be just that.  

Now, it was the first day of her first semester of graduate school and Y/N was getting ready for Dr. Reid’s class. She was taking 3 classes in total, while vying for a teaching assistant position and working at the university’s writing lab. She couldn’t deny that she was putting in more effort than she would for either of her other classes, but tried to justify it as a first day of class thing, instead of a Dr. Reid thing. She settled on a tasteful raspberry dress with short sleeves and a scoop neck that hit a couple inches above her knee paired with brown ballet flats. It was simple and didn’t look like she had tried too hard. She spent an extra few minutes blow-drying and tousling her dark hair- which had grown significantly longer over the summer- and spritzing on a little musky vanilla perfume. 

Checking her watch, Y/N realized she had less time than she had imagined and entered Room 211 with only a few minutes to spare that Tuesday evening. She chose a seat in the center of the second row of the small room and took out a notebook and pen. She much preferred paper to computer notes, especially when notes were only about conversation. Dr. Reid provided an outline template of all his notes as he believed attendance to be a personal choice for regularly scheduled lectures.

She was the only one in the room until Dr. Reid walked in. He was dressed impeccably- in a dark grey suit with a lilac shirt underneath. His hair was longer than it had been too, and less clean. He had a little bit of scruff on his face. Damn it, he was ever better looking now. He removed his jacket almost instantly and hung it on the back of the chair in the front of the room. Was Y/N making it up or was he giving her a once over.

“Good afternoon Y/N,” Dr. Reid said pleasantly and Y/N glanced over at Dr. Reid, figuring she had definitely been making it up in her head. 

“Hello, Dr. Reid! How was your summer?” she responded with a smile that Dr. Reid immediately returned. He took a moment to answer though. 

“It was lovely, thank you. How was yours?” he finally responded. In his own head, Reid had panicked for a moment. How could he say that he had spent all summer distracted by thoughts of Y/N in his head and that the time had passed painfully slowly as he had just been waiting for this day to see her again. How could he mention that he had spent the whole summer dragging his then-boyfriend to places that Y/N might be, just so that they might run into her, even though that’s where the plan ended. It sounded thoroughly un-genius of him and it had also probably cost him his relationship. How could he tell her that he didn’t mind that his now-ex, Jason, had noticed his odd behavior, given him an ultimatum and, eventually, left. That was not before class conversation. 

“It was relatively monotonous,” Y/N responded, “I was an intern at a small NGO and worked crazy hours. They were significantly understaffed. I think they may have held onto the hope that I’d push back grad school to stay on full-time but alas.”

“Definitely their loss, but I’m happy you chose to return,” Dr. Reid said before he could stop himself. By this time, the other 20 or so students had arrived to the seminar- Y/N supposed no one would actually miss the first day. She was surprised to see Ronnie, a girl she had met during a pre-college program, in the room and made a mental note to catch up with her. 

With that, Dr. Reid started the class. It was engaging as ever, though he spent the beginning discussing the syllabus, work load and expecations. As Y/N was used to, fear struck the eyes of some around her, but she supposed since it was graduate school, fewer than usual seemed likely to actually drop the class.

Y/N stared at her screen in surprise. She had, in fact, been chosen as a teaching assistant for an undergraduate course this semester. The class, however, was a writing-intensive course- all undergrads had to take two in their disciplines- so the class was capped at 20 students. And the professor was no other than Dr. Spencer Reid. Since the class met twice a week- Monday and Wednesday- she would be spending three days a week in the presense of Dr. Reid.

Y/N couldn’t deny how excited she was for it, but she was definitely confused. She had been in talks with the coordinator to serve as one of six TAs in a 200 person introduction to international relations course. In that setting, she would have had to lead her own weekly session and deal with freshmen. Now, her students would be primarily upperclassmen and her workload would be more intense, but less annoying. And the pay was higher. How had that happened?

Dr. Spencer Reid would not have admitted it if you asked him, but he had lobbied hard for Y/N as his TA when he’d seen the list. The first problem was that he hadn’t requested a TA- preferring to do his grading and teaching alone. The next had been that Y/N had already been assigned a class. The final problem had been the potential conflict of interest, which was quickly negated by assurances that Y/N had been his top pupil two semesters in a row and that all of his grading was completely blind. Nevertheless, Dr. Reid knew he was owed more than one favor and called that into play. One intense email thread later, it was confirmed. Even as the pull made itself more obvious, he refused to admit how he felt about Y/N. 

At their first “introduction” meeting in the TA coordinator’s office, Y/N was told- according to Dr. Reid’s instruction- that a scheduling conflict had changed her role. It was the following Monday, the week before the undergraduates would flood campus again. He had justified it to the coordinator as a means to take the pressure off the TA, and the lie sold easily. Y/N just shrugged.

“Sure you won’t get sick of me, Professor?” Y/N sing-songed as the meeting ended and they were packing up. The coordinator had left swiftly to attend another introductory meeting. 

“Sure you won’t get sick of me?” Dr. Reid shot back, mentally kicking himself for how flirtatious he must have sounded, “oh and Y/N?”

“Yes, Dr. Reid?” 

“You can call me Spencer now that we’ll be working together, Y/N,” Spencer said.

“Well then, Spencer, I’ll see you tomorrow.”

“Ah, but in that class, you can call me Dr. Reid,” Spencer laughed, raising his eyebrows. 

“Gladly, Spencer,” and with that, Y/N was off. Spencer wondered if he had scared her away but in reality, she sped off to stop herself from anymore foolish flirting. She was not about to get her heartbroken because she was making up signs of reciprocity. There was no way her brilliant, modelesque professor was interested in her. 

“There’s no way she’s interested, Morgan,” Spencer said over a beer with his BAU colleagues. They weren’t travelling that week but had gathered at a bar to catch up and unwind. 

“What makes you say that Pretty professor?” Derek Morgan smirked at his new nickname while JJ and Prentiss rolled their eyes. 

“She has this innocent, pragmatic way about her. Not the type to fall for a rousse, but she’ll believe the best in you unless you show her otherwise. She is truly the most beautiful person I’ve ever known”.

“Spence, you know I’m the last person to encourage sleeping with a student,” JJ started, and Spencer’s face fell, “but you never spoke this way about Jason. I know you were enamoured when you met him and I know you trusted in him, but you never talked about him like this. I think this girl is special.”

“Yeah, it’s been a long time since I’ve seen a lovesick Spencer Reid puddle. It’s not a good look. Tell her how you feel,” Prentiss insisted, “and also, do a shot with me!”

And so the night continued like that, Spencer wallowing and taking a drink every time he did. Soon, however, the others had to head home. Spencer, renting a place nearer to campus now, had far shorter of a commute and found himself sitting alone in a booth until past midnight, just dreaming that Y/N would walk in. Around midnight, he paid his tab and poured himself into a cab. Luckily he didn’t have work until his evening class the next day because he knew he would be waking up to a headache. 

The real surprise came when he arrived home, made it to the lobby and the elevator opened to reveal a startlingly under-dressed Y/N. She wore short black flowy shorts, a tank top that exposed her midriff -without a bra- and her beautiful long, dark hair was piled on her head. For a moment, Spencer thought he must be imagining the entire thing, but Y/N appeared equally as surprised.
“Dr. Reid! Uh, Spencer, what are you doing here?” she asked, subtly trying to use her arms to cover her exposed middle. 

“I, I live in this building,” Spencer said, glad he’d switched to seltzer once he was alone. He knew he looked tired but at least he wasn’t really drunk.
“So do I,” Y/N said simply, “hold the elevator?”

Confused, Spencer did as he was told as Y/N dashed out. He told himself his eyes didn’t go straight to her ass but who was he kidding. He swallowed, mouth suddenly dry. Another minute later, Y/N was back in the elevator carrying a pizza box. 

“Late night cravings,” she smiled, blushing a little, “I’ve gotten a bit off schedule these days. Working into the night, sleeping in, you know?” Spencer could just picture it. He selected the button for the top floor where he lived, and Y/N reached across him to select the floor just below his own. Spencer wondered if the elevator always felt quite so warm.

“Yeah, happens to me all the time when I teach graduate school and work is slow,” he managed to get out, trying not to stare directly at her body.
Y/N nodded and looked up at him. She must have sensed his lust and admiration for her, because she unwittingly drew her bottom lip into her mouth and rolled it between her teeth. Spencer must have been a touch drunker than he realized, because his eyes followed her lips like they were glued to them. Damn she was gorgeous.

“Oh screw it,” he heard himself say. Her eyes widened as he closed the gap between them, arm slinking around her waist. She stood on her tip-toes to meet his lips with her own. Then, they were kissing- all lips and tongues crashing into one other as they drew each other closer and closer in. And they stayed that way until the elevator reached his floor.

Top 5 Tips: How I Survived My First Semester of Graduate School

It’s Midterm Season! This is definitely long overdue, but I completed my first semester of graduate school earlier this summer, and I started my second semester last month. This is a pretty late post, but I wanted to provide some (hopefully!) useful tips on how I managed to do well during my 7-week first semester of graduate school!

Coming into this first semester, I was a little worried about completing my first set of graduate work in a short amount of time. I was even more concerned that 1) I finished undergrad well over a year ago and 2) had been working full-time, so I was essentially in post-grad life mode. Although I had literally spent the entire year getting ready for this next phase of my life, I wasn’t quite sure how mentally prepared I was to actually “do school” again, so it was certainly a process of trial and error. It was definitely a challenging first semester, but I finished strong with straight As! Now, that I’ve conquered my first semester, I can now share my top 5 tips for surviving your first semester in a graduate program. Keep reading for tips!

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Some Thoughts on being a Spoonie Student

Here’s an annoying thing about spoonie studenthood: Nobody waits for you.

If you’re sick (well, sicker than usual), and you need a few days off, the class carries on without you.  If you have a flare and can’t finish a homework assignment on time, you can bet that more homework will be assigned while you’re trying to finish the previous assignment.  If, like me, you have a bad month where you can’t stay awake during the day due to crushing fatigue, well, you now have to try to make up a month’s worth of work and continue to do all your normal work at the same time.

We’ve been socialized to think that this is normal, okay, even desirable.  But, now that I stop and think about it, I’m pretty sure it’s just a load of crap.  The ultimate goal of school is not, in fact, to cover x amount of material in y amount of time.  Instead, the point of school is to educate students.

Pressuring students to complete work when they are too sick to function does not serve the goal of education.  Forcing everyone, despite our many differences, to learn the same material on the same schedule does not serve the goal of education.  Punishing disabled students for being unable to keep up with their abled peers does not serve the goal of education.

I know that my brain is up to the task of mastering the material in my educational program.  I am tenacious, a hard worker, and plenty intelligent.  But I am really struggling right now for not being allowed to proceed at my own pace.  Like I said, for a good month of my first semester of graduate school, I was too sick to really function.  (Not sick enough that I needed to be hospitalized or anything like that, but sick enough that I spent 12 hours a day in bed, frequently fell asleep in class, and could not keep up with my coursework.)  My health is doing better now, not good, but better than it was.  I can generally stay awake during the day, and my pain management plan is working pretty well again.  In the past couple of weeks, I’ve had to come to terms with exactly how far behind I am in my coursework.  And I’ve been pushing myself too hard and trying to catch up and in turn worsening my symptoms.  Let’s be clear: I have made choices that prioritize school over self-care, and, in that sense, I am 100% responsible for my own actions.  Those choices are not being forced on me, and I certainly have the ability to make better choices.  But, to do so requires that I override years of socialization along with my own perfectionism.  To do so requires that I tell my professors: “I’m still behind on work because of the month where I was really sick.  I’m trying to catch up, but I’m not there yet.  May I have an extension?”  And that’s not easy to do.  It’s not easy to admit you need help, and it’s even harder when years of living in society have taught you that you “should” be able to keep up/catch up.

I know that I need to find balance, to figure out how to keep applying myself to my schoolwork while respecting my physical and mental needs.  I’ve been swinging from one extreme to the other: spending several days frantically trying to finish an assignment and then collapsing in bed for the next 24 hours.  Today I slept through my alarm clock and all of my classes.  (Why was I so tired?  Because I had been really struggling to catch up in my graph theory course.)  And I need to write one of my professors to see if he will let me turn in my homework late.  I had it done, but I didn’t make it to class to turn it in.  (He should let me; both extra absences and extended deadlines are on my list of accommodations.)

Learn to Love "Grunt Work"
tbogus301 submitted:

Good afternoon! I’m not entirely sure how much I can contribute, but I thought I’d share some nuggets of wisdom that I’ve picked up following getting a BA in English.

I was accepted to graduate school eleven days before graduation. That was an interesting announcement. I was then given the opportunity for an unpaid educational internship with an educational consulting firm, whereupon I edited the company’s grammatically-challenged website, as well as some other projects that would prove to be useful. After that, I’ve worked in the wine industry, pool management, sales, and now I’m an office manager; yes, I still attend graduate school. One of my most recent projects involved editing a company policy manual, which was a big self-esteem boost. 

If you’re concerned that you’re “not good enough” to get into graduate school in English, here’s the thing. I wasn’t remotely prepared for my first criticism class, which is required and also recommended to be the first class incoming students take. I’ll be the first to admit that I felt confident at the end of my first semester of graduate school. Many of us know we’re intelligent but we suffer from impostor syndrome. So, my first suggestion is this: ask yourself if you really love reading, then writing, then reading more writing about what you were reading, then writing about all of that. If the answer is still yes, give graduate school in English a shot! 

Now, as far as jobliness advice with this apparently “useless” degree is concerned, aim to keep things in perspective. Yes, on the surface, it looks like you’re reading yet another translation of Beowulf for fun and that’s not a marketable skill. However, English majors are taught to look at the world through a more cohesive lens, seeing it sharply (editing your friends’ resumes) and then seeing it broadly (trying to make sense out of Bakhtin). You’re able to learn something quickly and present that knowledge intelligently (unless anyone else doesn’t start their papers at 4 AM the day they’re due). You’re able to realize that texts are vehicles of communication and are therefore up to interpretation, and the simply fact that you understand that concept makes you better at communication with your peers and clients by about 1500%. Highlight these skills during interviews and on your resume. Use buzz-words like “detail-oriented” and “develops effective research methods.”

This is your arsenal, your toolbox, your weapons bag. Use it. Be astounding. Do whatever you wish, and do it effectively. You don’t owe anyone an explanation. 

And above all things, never stop loving your passion.

Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU for this! I truly appreciate this well-articulated insight.

Eight Nights of Light

From: @missmudpie

Happy Holidays, Victoria @sarahreesemd !  I hope you have a relaxing holiday break and that uni takes it easy on you in the new year.

A/N: While not Jewish, I did do research on Hanukkah customs.  If anything is inaccurate, please let me know, and I will make corrections.

The First Night

December 17, 2071

“Mom?  Mom?”

Felicity jerks, tearing her eyes away from Oliver playing dreidel with their youngest grandkids to look at her daughter. 

“You okay?” Ada asks.  “You were in your own little world for a minute there.”

“I’m fine,” Felicity answers, trying to brush away her concerns before he notices.  But of course he notices.  Oliver’s physical reflexes might have dulled over the years and decades, but his senses remain as sharp as ever.  She watches as he talks to the kids – whatever he tells them makes them giggle – before meeting her eyes.

“Come help me with something?” he says, which has been their code for Let’s talk about this in private since Tommy was three.

The kitchen still smells like apples and fried food; the oil still sits in the pan where they’d made the latkes earlier that evening.  Tommy’s youngest had listened intently as Oliver gave him instructions on how to flip them.  It reminded her of when Oliver had tried – in vain – to teach Ada the same thing, only for grease to splatter everywhere.

She’s been doing that all evening – remembering, reliving moments from the past, holding onto them tight least they slip away, as if –

“You have to stop looking at me like that,” Oliver says.

As if he’s already gone.

“I told you I feel fine.  You know the rule – no one in the hospital during Hanukkah.”

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Quick and messy rendition of my two beautiful captain swan babies, because I realized how much I missed drawing them (and yes, I know the hook is on the wrong hand…this was done at 2 am this morning and it was only then that I realized my mistake).

I’m so sorry to all my followers for my long absence…my first semester of graduate school was brutal to my free time availability, hence my hiatus. But hello to all my new followers, and thank you to everyone who stuck around :) I’m excited because winter break = catching up on OUAT and CS doodle-time!!

“I am so proud of what you have accomplished….we need to go to court so I can set up some kind of child support agreement with you…I will always love you kaleb and hannah and ezrah with all my heart….I cried all day on the 6th knowing my baby turned two and ive seen him once….supervised visitation I dont care I want to hold my son and let him know his daddy loves him greatly”

The last message from my youngest son’s father. We started dating when I was in my first semester of nursing school. When this message was sent, I had graduated and been working as a nurse for six months. Our relationship was rough and rocky, but even after we broke up I loved him with everything I had. Every day I miss him and regret that we weren’t on better terms before his death. He was 29 years old when he died. He went to sleep and never woke up. He left behind my son and 3 other children. He was an amazing daddy and his children’s lives will be sadder for his absence. 

I feel like a widow who didn’t have a husband. He died 2 years and 3 months ago.