Try Something New: New Things in February

In this blog, I pledged to try one new thing each month in 2018. The new thing could be trying a new food, doing a new activity, or going someplace new. I have asked my fellow readers and my boyfriend to hold me accountable. At the end of each month, I will tell you all what new thing or things I have tried. I will also discuss the barriers that caused me to not try it before.

Let’s start off with new places I went to:

  • Belleview, Florida
  • Ocala, Florida

Barriers to why I didn’t go there before:

  • When I would go to Florida, I would always be in Orlando
  • After what happened to Trayvon Martin, I planned to never go to Florida again because I felt it wasn’t safe for black people anymore

Why I went to Belleview and Ocala:

  • My boyfriend’s dad lived in Belleview and that’s where we stayed during our trip to Florida
  • The hospice my boyfriend’s dad was at is in Ocala

My thoughts on Belleview and Ocala: Belleview is a nice place to live if you are 55 or older and I can imagine myself living there when I get old. I was only in Ocala three times during my trip (two of which was to visit my boyfriend’s dad in hospice), so I don’t have much of an opinion on it.

Now let’s talk about a new activity (if you could call it that) I did this month. I flew on JetBlue for my flight to Orlando.

Barrier to flying on JetBlue: My family typically flies on Southwest Airlines.

Why I decided to fly JetBlue: My boyfriend had me choose between two different flights and I chose the one for JetBlue since I’d have to be at the airport by 6 AM if I wanted to catch the flight on Delta Airlines. Diaryofself does not want to wake up when the sun is still down.

My thoughts on JetBlue: I would fly JetBlue again. There was in-flight entertainment (I never flew on a plane with TVs in front of me) which meant I didn’t need to waste iPod battery, there’s more room between seats compared to a typical airplane, and you get a choice of five different snacks instead of one snack.

Now for a new food I tried. Blue cheese. My boyfriend said it shouldn’t count as a new thing I tried because I could barely taste the blue cheese, but this is my blog and my journey so I do what I want!

Barriers to why I didn’t try blue cheese: I’m not sure in all honesty. It might be the appearance of the cheese that makes me think it won’t taste good (my issues with food are moreso based on the appearance than texture).

Why I tried blue cheese on my burger: Since I’m working on trying new things, I thought that getting a burger with blue cheese on it would be a good idea when my boyfriend and I took my dad to Greene Turtle on his birthday.

My thoughts on blue cheese: It wasn’t that bad. I could barely taste it, but it was a little bitter when I could taste it. It seemed to melt somewhat easily, so I liked how it tasted kind of creamy.


How To Find the Grad School that is Best for You

All my life I wanted to help people. I don’t know if that will be my purpose in life, but I wanted to help any reader who wants to go to grad school.

So you want to go to grad school. Maybe you want to advance your career or will be required to have at least a Master’s degree to get anywhere in your field. There are so many schools that offer graduate studies and you don’t know where to start looking. You want some advice. So how do you choose the best grad school for you? Well ladies, gentlemen, and non-binary merry people, I will tell you some things that I considered when I chose a grad school.

  • Do you want to do classes online or in a classroom setting? Some people do better when they are in a classroom setting. Some people want to do classes online because they work full-time and may not be able to make it to classes on time if they go to a physical classroom. Whether you want to do classes online or in-person will be one way that will definitely narrow down some options.
  • Do you want to go to a public or private university? Private universities are obviously more expensive. Consider how much money you make and how much money your courses will cost. Consider some personal advantages of going to private or public universities.
  • How far are you willing to travel for in-person classes? If you want to do your grad school in a classroom, you will want to consider how far you are willing to travel. Not everyone is lucky to live near campuses.
  • Does the school have the program I am interested in? Not every school has the program you want to go into. Yes, even if you want to get an advanced degree in a STEM field, there may not be a graduate program for your specific STEM interest.
  • Is there something about the school that you notice, whether it’s a positive or negative thing? You may or not see something on the university website that makes you think “I want to go there!” or “I don’t want to go there!” If you don’t see something that makes an impression on you, it’s okay to still consider that university.

Going to grad school is not something I always wanted to do. I didn’t want to get a Master’s degree until I learned about the BS/MS program during my undergraduate years. The BS/MS program allows you to take a couple of Master’s degree classes while you’re still working towards your Bachelor’s degree. Then when you get your Bachelor’s degree, you go straight into continuing your graduate courses. The program I wanted to do required two years of related work experience first before going to grad school, which I felt was best so you can build up funds.

However, when I got a job unrelated to my concentration in my major, it was a job that I learned would make a Master’s degree meaningless. It was very low-paying because it was a job that helped people get experience in programming before finding other jobs. You know, because you can’t find an entry-level job that doesn’t require two or three years of experience. At that point, I didn’t want to get a Master’s degree. When I started my current job, I saw some open positions that will not require as many years of experience if you have a Master’s degree. This is what made me want to pursue a Master’s degree again.

So how did I find that the university I picked was the right one for me? I considered the four things I mentioned above.

Online or in-person? I took some online classes and I had to retake all but one of them, so I know that I absolutely NEED to take classes in-person.

Public or private university? I went private for undergrad so I knew I wanted to go public for grad school.

Does the school have a computer science program? Yes. When I was looking at other universities in case I didn’t get accepted to this one (which I got accepted. Yay), some universities did not have the program I wanted.

Did anything give me a good impression or bad impression of the school? They offer a robotics elective (though I later learned that the class has not been offered since Fall 2015). My ex-boyfriend’s stepmom has praised the specific university for creating assistive technologies that she uses (she is both legally blind and colorblind). The university is also actively working towards a diverse and inclusive environment. Some people or organizations are all talk and no action. This university walks and talks.

I hope this post helps someone with choosing the right grad school for them.


I’m In! A Grad School Acceptance Post

I was hoping to make this post, and I’m glad I get to.

Today when I got home from work, I checked my e-mails. I got an e-mail titled “(Name of University Here) MS in CS Program Acceptance”. The first line in the e-mail said “Congratulations on your acceptance to the Master’s Degree Program in Computer Science at (Name of University Here).”

What? What? WHAT?!

So I did the only thing I could do: print out my acceptance letter and run upstairs to tell my mom. Dad wasn’t home from work yet, but he came home about 10 minutes later. There are so many emotions and I almost cried because I kept feeling like I was going to get rejected from grad school.

Even though it is conditional admission and I have to meet some requirements before being fully admitted, I was still really excited to get accepted to grad school. I knew I wasn’t going to get full admission since my GPA was a little less than 3.0 on a 4.0 scale.

A little annoyed that I still have to take a few prerequisite courses even though I submitted my grad school resume. I met with the program director in-person during the open house and he said that if I submit my resume (due to having software engineering experience. Software engineering is the track within my major I will be doing), I won’t have to take the prerequisite courses. I still do, so I’m a bit annoyed. It’s going to make me graduate at least one semester later, and I’m already going to have to do three years since I’m doing part-time grad school. What I’m going to do is see if I can take my math prerequisite during the summer, even though I applied to the Fall 2018 semester at the university. According to my e-mail, I can take the prerequisites alongside the grad school courses, so I’ll do a prerequisite and a regular class in Spring 2019 if I can’t do math during the summer.

Scared, because I fear that my anxiety disorder and ADHD will stand in my way from succeeding. I can’t get accommodations since my primary care doctor (not a psychologist or psychiatrist) diagnosed me with very mild ADHD. Dad wants me to get a second opinion from someone who specializes in ADHD, but I feel like I will have to report it to my job. I read that people develop anxiety and depression in grad school, and my anxiety at this point last year was the worst it ever was and I was tempted to get on medication My anxiety has gotten a lot better since June. I still have moments of heightened anxiety, but the frequency has drastically decreased.

So what’s next for me? Getting my official acceptance letter in the mail, since I need some of the information on it to submit my online enrollment contract and pay my deposit by the date on the contract. I will need to complete things in my to-do list provided by the university (and it is a long list). I wasn’t expecting an acceptance letter to come in an e-mail because I read that admission decisions will be sent by mail (not e-mail, but mail). I should get the actual letter in the mail soon so I can sign my contract and pay my deposit.

I promise I will study hard and do my best during grad school so I can get fully admitted and graduate with a Master’s degree. I promise to be the representation highly necessary for women of color so they can see that they have a chance to make it in a field dominated by white men. I WILL be an example of #BlackExcellence.


Try Something New: New Things in January

In this blog, I pledged to try one new thing each month in 2018. The new thing could be trying a new food, doing a new activity, or going someplace new. I have asked my fellow readers and my boyfriend to hold me accountable. At the end of each month, I will tell you all what new thing or things I have tried. I will also discuss the barriers that caused me to not try it before.

I tried many new things this month, so I made sure to not try too many new things. I need at least one new thing for the other 11 months.

Let’s start off with new places I went to:

  • A synagogue
  • Two new restaurants (I won’t say either name since it would easily give away where I live)

Barriers to why I didn’t go there before:

  • I’m not Jewish. I was never raised Jewish. Neither was my boyfriend (he was raised Catholic but is now a non-denominational Christian). I have no need to go to a synagogue.
  • Going to a new restaurant is a challenge for picky eaters and I had no interest in going to that specific restaurant.

Why I went to new places:

  • I didn’t go to the synagogue for church service, but more as a social justice trip since the synagogue is where the Martin Luther King Jr. event was held.
  • From January 19th through the 28th, there was something called “Restaurant Week” where you can eat multiple courses at a restaurant for what may possibly be a discounted price. I say possibly since I don’t know the average prices of items if it was not a part of restaurant week. That specific restaurant was one of the first to post their restaurant week menu.
  • Spur of the moment. It was still restaurant week and dad ordered pizza for the house. Papa John’s pizza does not agree with my boyfriend’s digestive tract.

My thoughts on the synagogue: I liked the event. Since I’m not Jewish and am not married to anyone who is Jewish, I will likely only return for future social justice events.

My thoughts on the first restaurant: I liked the restaurant, but it’s not one of my top places to return. I originally did this as a one-and-done thing so I could try a new food there. I may go back again one day, but likely not soon.

My thoughts on the second restaurant: Seemed like a fun atmosphere and they were playing music from the 1980s. I love 80s music. I will definitely be back for the 80s music alone.

Now let’s talk about the new foods I tried:

  • Butternut squash soup
  • A veggie burger with a patty made of black beans and corn

Barriers to trying new foods: I realized a few months ago that the reason why I don’t try new foods is because I will be wasting food or money if I don’t like it.

Why I tried the new foods:

  • Society looks down on adults who are picky eaters. When I read about the opinions, it made me feel horrible about myself (Not caring about what people think is not possible. I have a mental disability). I made a post about how adult picky eaters aren’t childish, but since I don’t have Avoidant/Restrictive Food Intake Disorder, I should be able to stop my mental block.
  • In the case of butternut squash soup, it just happened to be there. The Martin Luther King Jr. event had a light lunch served and when my boyfriend asked me if I wanted some, I decided to try it.
  • The veggie burger was a planned new food to try. I wanted to eat one vegetarian or vegan substitute food this year. There aren’t any vegetarian/vegan specialty restaurants nearby, so when I saw the veggie burger on the restaurant week menu, I jumped at the opportunity.

My thoughts on the butternut squash soup: I will be honest and say I was a little nervous about trying butternut squash soup. I didn’t feel the nervousness until I was sitting at the table with a small bowl of soup. I kept talking to a woman at our table and at some point, I knew I had to put the spoonful of soup in my mouth. The butternut squash soup was so good and since I could taste some pieces of the squash, I knew it was made from scratch. Will definitely have butternut squash soup again.

My thoughts on the veggie burger: It was good, but too spicy. I originally thought it was the chipotle sauce making it spicy, but I later realized that it was the patty. A co-worker told me that veggie burgers usually have spices in them in order to have some kind of flavor. I’ll probably eat another burger if I go to that restaurant again.


Fun Post! Favorite Proposal Videos

One day, I went to the mall. I went into a jewelry store and while looking at jewelry, I struck up a conversation with a friendly jeweler. She informed me that it’s engagement season. In honor of engagement season, I will share my three favorite proposal videos. These are in order of when I found the videos and they all happen to be proposals at an anime convention.

First up, we have a video from the masquerade from Animazement 2011. In the anime convention world, a masquerade is when many people people perform skits, songs, or dances in front of convention attendees.

The video of the proposal

There was bonus rehearsal footage with the fake ending (a stage slap by the guy and the girl chasing the guy with her tonfa), but I can’t find the video anymore. It must have been taken down recently or put as “unlisted” (which means only people who have the link to a video can see it). In this proposal, three people do a skit. When the guy walks towards his girlfriend, instead of the planned ending, he takes the ring box out of his pocket and proposes to her. I think this is one of the first anime convention proposal videos I have ever seen. Unfortunately, the couple had a nasty spat and broke up a few months after the proposal.

Second, we have a very adorable proposal that happened at the end of a panel.

The video of the proposal

At Anime Detour in 2013, there was a Hetalia cosplay panel. At the end of the panel (you only see the end of the panel in the video), a Hungary cosplayer proposes to an England cosplayer. What makes this a favorite video is that the England cosplayer has an adorable reaction to her girlfriend proposing. They got married during the fall in 2015. Happy ending!

The third and final favorite proposal video is another skit, but this time, the proposal happened at Anime Expo in 2015.

The video of the proposal

After some technical difficulties in the beginning of their skit, this group of Pokemon cosplayers decide to do battle. The Luxray cosplayer used the “Destiny Knot” on the Houndour cosplayer. The “Destiny Knot” was an engagement ring. What made this engagement special was the Luxray cosplayer was professional voice actor Sean Chiplock. According to social media, Sean will be getting married soon.. In the words of someone in the Hetalia proposal, “Three cheers for the happy couple!”

So those are my three favorite proposals. What is your favorite proposal video you have seen or story you have read or heard about (other than yours)?


Fun Post! What’s in My Gym Bag?

Remember when I said I was going to post fun stuff in my blog? I finally get to!

So some of my followers and readers may go to the gym to exercise. Some people exercise at home. Some people go outside to run. I don’t like running, but my dad was a track and field star in high school. People say they don’t run unless they’re being chased. I only run when I’m chasing someone. I digress.

So if you are familiar with my blogs, you know I do kickboxing. For two hours a day, three days a week, I’m punching and kicking. So what do I pack for class? Fellow kickboxers do not need to pack the same things I do, but many things are stuff you should have.

  • A bottle of water. Because each class is two hours long, I carry a 32-oz water bottle. The brand of bottle I have is called Pogo. However, depending on the length of physical activity that you do, you may just need to carry a regular bottle of water.
  • Mouthguard. Sparring sometimes happens in my gym, so it is very important to protect your teeth.
  • Three sets of handwraps. I only use two since the 180-inch handwraps were determined to be too big for me. That set will probably go to my boyfriend. I use a set that is 108-inches and a set that is 120-inches. You need to wash your handwraps about once a week or once every two weeks, so you may want another set of handwraps in case you don’t have time to do laundry before your next class. Handwraps are important to help reduce your risk of injury. While it has a little bit of forgiveness if you punch wrong, you should still use proper technique when doing punches. Regular people who fight on the streets have broken their hands due to wildly punching people.
  • Boxing gloves. You want to punch the bags? At the gym I go to, with the exception of the speed bag (which you do without gloves on), you must wear boxing gloves to do bag work. One of our heavy bags is 350 pounds. Do you really want to punch it without gloves on?
  • Shin and instep protectors. This is optional. This can be used to help gain more confidence with certain kicks. However, I didn’t want to wear them at first because I felt I would get too dependent on them. If I needed to defend myself, I will likely not be wearing shin and instep protectors. The only reason why I have them was because I got a bruise on my shin while sparring with my coach back in May. I did a roundhouse kick and he blocked it with his boxing glove. Ouch.
  • Dry t-shirt to change into. Sometimes, I have an intense day of working out and I’m sweating a lot. I sweat a lot if I’m sparring that day or if I’m doing lots of mitt work. It’s getting cold where I live, so dad has me bring a dry shirt to change into after class so I don’t get sick.
  • A hand towel. I haven’t used it lately, but I would use it to wipe the sweat off my face during the summer. I would use it so I would make sure not to drink all my water too quickly.
  • A pair of tennis shoes not worn when walking into the gym. Honestly forgot about these being in my bag until I typed this out. If you’re going to wear shoes at kickboxing, we are told to wear shoes that we didn’t wear on the way to the gym. I go barefoot in the gym so I can properly pivot on most of the kicks, but I have a pair of tennis shoes because there are two treadmills and a stationary bike in the gym. If I want to use the treadmill (which I haven’t), do I really want to be barefoot for that? You probably can’t be.

So that’s what I have. Out of the things mentioned, a pair of 108-inch handwraps, boxing gloves, and my mouthguard were provided to me when I joined the kickboxing gym for a total of $55 while I bought the shin and instep protectors from my coach. You may have to supply your own gear, but see if you can buy your gear at your gym. What do you have in your gym bag when you exercise?


Feminist Joys: Impressing International Acquaintances

So yesterday, I went to kickboxing. While I was putting on my handwraps, a mysterious woman walks in. The woman, I soon learn, is a boxer from Germany who comes to exercise in the gym whenever she is visiting the United States.

I heard she just finished her Master’s degree and has not been able to train due to having to study all the time. I want to get my Master’s degree so I asked her what her degree is in and which school she went to. This is how I found out she’s from Germany. She told me that in order to be a teacher in Germany, you have to have a Master’s degree. Here in the United States, teachers don’t need Master’s degrees unless they want to be college professors. We continued talking about the differences between United States schools and German schools. In Germany, secondary school starts in 5th grade.

She asked me what I want to get my Master’s degree in. I told her Computer Science. She figured it was mostly guys in that field. She is very correct. I told her that I’m a software engineer and told her an overview what I have been doing at my job (didn’t go into details since having a security clearance means not to discuss what projects are specifically about). She said she was very impressed.

And that’s why I named my blog post “Feminist Joys: Impressing International Acquaintances”. Many times, feminists and womanists have things to rightfully be enraged about, especially in this political climate. To me, this is something to be happy about.

The future teacher of 5th through 10th grade students is here until mid-January. With her boxing experience, she would be a good sparring partner. Sometimes I’m the only woman in the combined boxing/kickboxing class and one of the black belt kickboxers feels like I should spar against women more often. I’m the oldest female who is a regular attendee in class, with the second oldest being in high school. I feel like I’ll be less scared to spar against our friendly visitor compared to sparring against my coach. It will be a good way for her to return to boxing. Due to having to study so much for her degree, she said she’s in the worst shape of her life. Anyways, she won’t be here for too long. She will return to Germany to start teaching in February. Good luck with teaching, Izzy!