How does my (Nerd) garden grow

It’s the end of a semester and that means flowers. Each class on my path to graduation gets a flower upon completion. 

I’m taking a chemistry class as a MayMester: an entire 16 week course in three weeks during the month of May.  I just keep telling myself, “I can do anything for three weeks. I can do anything for three weeks.” 

This summer I’m signed up for a history class, two Latin classes, and calculus. …I may need rum infusions…

What’s the craziest course load or academic gymnastics you’ve executed? Offer a sister some hope 😎

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Girls don’t need telescopes.

(What follows is an essay that I’ll be turning is as part of a scholarship application. This happened last night and I’m still very upset about it. I hope you’re upset, too. The encounter lasted for quite a while but the word count for the essay must be less than 500 words.)

I’d had another essay prepared for this application. It was a really good essay, too, but something happened last night that I feel very strongly about. I am compelled to share this experience with you as it pertains to my educational and career goals.

My son and I went to the observatory here on campus. He likes star charts and planets and imagining what aliens might look like. We climbed the spiral stairs and looked through viewfinders; we saw the stars and he was happy. As he leaned over the railing, he saw a group of kids playing chase and he asked if he could join in. I agreed and down we went. He tore off after the other boys and a girl, probably about ten years old, stood beside me. She told me, as gregarious and talkative children do, about her brothers and her favorite subjects and how much she likes “space stuff”.

When I showed her the star chart app on my phone, she said, “My dad has one of those on his phone but he won’t let me see it.” I showed her the Pleiades on my tiny screen and told her the old myths about the seven sisters. She said, “I want a telescope but my dad says girls don’t need telescopes.” I suggested maybe she just wasn’t old enough and she said, “No, he just says girls don’t need sciencey stuff. Girls don’t need telescopes.” I felt nauseous, but she continued, “We all want to look through the telescope, but my dad says the boys get to look first because I’m just a girl. I’ve been asking for a long time, but finally my brother asked, so we got to come.”

Our conversation continued and I chatted with her mother (who thought I was crazy for wasting my time with school) and the family finally left to go up the stairs to the observatory. The father and the boys went first while the little girl held her mother’s hand and bounced with excitement.

This is why I want to teach: I want to empower children, especially girls, with knowledge and curiosity. “Girls don’t need sciencey stuff” will haunt me for a long, long time.

My husband has deployed to Afghanistan; children there would gather around the troops and ask for candy or pens. He offered pens to the girls first, as pens are seen as tools for education and power. “Kahlum, meestuh? Kahlum?” (“Pen, sir? Pen?”) The thirst for knowledge is acute in the young, even in cultures where women are worth less than a goat…I never thought I’d see a family squash the light of curiosity here in America.

I will teach high school chemistry and I will add oxygen to the flame of curiosity. Girls need sciencey stuff.

Bullet journal: awesome things & mistakes

I started a bullet journal this year. I don’t know that I needed one, but I’ve got an unnatural affinity for notebooks and pens; when I came across this style of journaling, I started obsessing.

One neat aspect of journaling this way is that the pages aren’t always in order. Calendar pages are filled in only a few weeks in advance and the pages in between are created on an as needed basis. I like this; it flows with life as it happens.


I decided I wanted to keep one journal for the entirety of our stay here in South Carolina. This meant I had to find a book with enough pages and enough large space to accommodate a lot of writing/doodling. I landed on a Moleskein soft cover, grid patterned book. So far, I’m very glad I chose it.

It’s only been a few months, though, so there’s still time for regret….
I got most of my ideas from Pinterest or other web spots. I’d read somewhere that having various overviews of time was important for long term planning, so here ^^^ is my Periodic Table inspired calendar for several years…
And this one ^^^ is just 2017 (with the list of birthdays blocked). I’ll create one for 2018/9 later. The facing page is part of my Nerd Planning for school. …more on that in a minute…
Here’s the first month. I was still trying to figure out what I was doing. Also, see the impression bleeding through the facing page? Yeah. This happens a lot because 1) I press too hard when I draw/write, 2) I didn’t use the $pecial pens fancy bullet journalists use, and 3) this book isn’t really meant for what I’m using it for. The bleeding through doesn’t bother me all the time, but sometimes I feel salty about it.
Here’s what is bleeding through…

These are my favorite pages so far. This is my Ultimate Nerd Plan for graduation. Each class has its own benzene ring. When I register for the class, I color the border. When I finish the class, I turn them into flowers. My hope is that by graduation, I will have two pages of beautiful, completed classes. …also, a degree.

In February, I sort of figured out what I was doing with the book.

This is my bill/expense tracker to help me remember to do adult things. Like pay bills and stay on budget.

Assignment Pages the First. This is a lifesaving set of pages. I used the syllabus from each class to list assignments and marked them off as they’re completed. As these pages are filled, I will absolutely be making more.

More Nerd Planning. This was helpful when I met with my advisor.

This month’s calendar. I have learned that I prefer my calendar’s not like this because I have to turn the book. Two examples of class pages. Each class gets a page.


I like the calendar pages like this much better.

See the bleeding through? Yeah… 

This is what’s bleeding through: my new workout page. (Side note: Wonder Woman is my home girl. I want to be her when I grow up.)

Miscellaneous goal setting pages…

And my Graduation with Leadership Distinction (Research) pages. This will end up being a massive two to four semester research activity so more pages will be devoted to this later.

I counted the number of classes and months and determined this book will more than accommodate my needs. Some people use a page a week and use a new book every year. I like the idea of that, but I’m so ridiculously happy to be in school right now that wanted to keep all of my classes with me all the time. Because Nerd.

My stamps came from We the Sciencey on Etsy. Check ’em out.

How do you journal? I’d love some inspiration!

Cheers!