A dubious anniversary

It has been a year since my graduate career had been trounced.

I remember the whole thing in a series of stills, kind of how you remember a car crash. My family was in the kitchen taking the cake out of the fridge to sing happy birthday to my brother. I went in to check my email, because as a graduate student I was constantly preoccupied with my email.

I opened my in-box and could not believe the news I had read. Months of work and stress and toil had been shoved into the garbage disposal and shredded. I felt like someone took a razor to every nerve ending in my body and made a fine cut straight through the diameter. I was straight up sick for about a month after and got about 3 cold sores in a row.

I’ll never forget one day, sitting next to Trevor while he was on his computer. His speakers made a sudden, loud, kind of awful noise. I was so on edge I just started crying uncontrollably. My nerves had been so shot. I had never been that stressed out before.
I read once that graduate students often score the same on stress tests as terminally ill cancer patients and I’m sure if you checked me, that is where I would have been a year ago.
…anyway, I’m not the first to claim that American graduate schools are broken and I’m sure I won’t be the last. Students are helpless and vulnerable to a professional who’s title is often paired with the word “nutty.” Nutty indeed.
The important thing for me is that it just doesn’t matter anymore. I’m glad my world screeched to a halt a year ago. I hit the “refresh” button and the view was much clearer.

Hospitality?

The Westin Hotels have been giving me acid reflux.

This February, I am going to a conference that I am really excited about: The public media conference.

Naturally, I’m not the only one who is excited about it, so the conference is booking quite fast. This means that the conference hotel filled up before I got a chance to book a room. So I booked a room at the next nearest hotel: A Westin.

No sooner did I book it, I started to get information about a preconference workshop I wanted to attend. I tried calling them about this and basically, no one wanted to talk to me about extending my stay. That is right- I wanted to stay an extra day (get it, pay them more money and their mantra was “if you booked it online- we can’t change anything.”

Orly? So now God is their webmaster and reservations made through HIM are immutable- written with a pen of lava and the parchment of the heavens. Whatever.

A few days later, I see that they charged the entire visit to my card. The whole damn stay- and the conference is 3 months away. I call them to ask about their policy and they send me to some schlub in accounting who tells me if I don’t like it, I never have to stay at a Westin again.

Wow!

So today, I learn that the hotel was added to our conference block at a discounted rate. Normal humans would probably have stayed away and not bothered to ask for the discounted rate. But I did. And once again, I was told since I made the reservations online, “they” could not change the reservation (but they did offer to cancel my reservation- for which I would be charged the full amount. Gee- thanks!) After all, this ultimately does not come out of my pocket. But whatever…

So the conversation went like this:

Me: “Let me clarify- this is Westin Hotels, yes?

Phone: Yes ma’am.

Me: I see from your website that you are in the hospitality business.

Phone: (silence)

Me: If you are in the hospitality business, why are your policies so completely inhospitable.

Phone: Ma’am, if you would like to speak to someone about this, I can give you a number to call.

Me: I don’t want to speak to someone about this. I want someone to do something about this. Can I have the number to call to have someone do something?

Phone: Here is the number to customer service. 1-800…

Me: R-U-N-A-R-O-U-N-D (hang up)

…anyway- in the end I did get my discount. All is well that ends well, but man, Westin has some big ball.

Pandora rocks

Yesterday one of my colleagues at work recommended this neat web archive kinda thing called Pandora. So far I am loving it. My best luck has been with my Danger Doom station and my Sufjan Stevens station. Proudest moment, when my Sufjan channel picked up some Ben Folds. Very neat. I think Marjee is having a blast with it as we speak.

Yours,
trevor

Its not quite springtime…


…but it may as well be. Trevor and I spent the past two weeks in Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison where it was unseasonably warm in the high 30’s (and not a drop of snow to be seen).

We came back to our new home where it was really unseasonably warm at 70 degrees. No joke.
Saturday I went into The District to get a haircut and sign up at a gym. Both are located in the major sports center here (the Verizon center) where there was a Georgetown vs Notre Dame game. With the crazy energy of the sports fans, the beautiful sunshine, and the outrageously warm air, it honestly felt like summer. I don’t know if the Wisconsin in Trevor is fighting this outrageous weather, because the poor guy is sick again! I think this is his fourth cold in three months.

Otherwise, it was great to go see everybody over the break. I must just be getting old because time seems to go by so fast and it doesn’t feel like it has been so long since we’ve seen everyone. I think we did a good job of seeing most of our friends and family (at least once) and managing to hit the Johnson Creek Outlet malls and relaxing a bit.

While I was gone, work really piled up. I think I really like being busy and I was starting to get some separation anxiety from my work. I did some work over the break, but when I am away from concrete, tangible work, I start feeling helpless.

Reason #234 why my graduate program was just not a good match for me! ;-P