Predicting my next 5 star reads

So I saw this and thought it was a fun idea. I try my best to read books I’m going to like but I think that these will be some of the top of the year. These are also books I own and am planning on reading in the coming months. I’ll follow up when I have read them all and let you know if I was right or not.

  • The Deep by Rivers Solomon – I am reading this soon for a book discussion group. I am really excited it sounds like a unique take on Mermaids and I am excited about the author.
  • Mistborn: The Final Empire by Brandon Sanderson – I have technically already started this one but I’m on chapter 2 (so it counts). I have heard a lot of good things and my partner got it for me. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson is also one of my all-time favorites.
  • Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit – I’ve been on a non-fiction kick and it seems up my alley.
  • St Lucy’s Home for Girls Raised by Wolves by Karen Russell – I genuinely know so little about this book but I feel so drawn to that I am excited in these stories.
  • A Gentleman in Moscow by Amor Towles – This is our family’s book club pick this month. I have heard nothing but good things from people I trust and seems like gentle historical fiction.

GRE at Home?

I just took the GRE at home. This was my first time taking the GRE period and any type of standardized test at home. It was a super weird but ultimately successful experience. If you have taken the GRE let me know how your experience was and how different the testing locations are. if at all.

Setting up the test: I will say that the test does cost the same to take virtually as in person, but keep in mind that the weight of the score is the same and they have to pay a for more proctors as each test is heavily monitored. Once the test was paid for scheduling through ProctorU was incredibly easy. Everyday including the weekend was available, with start times staggering about every hour and or so. This made it really easy for myself and my partner (more on this later) to pick a time that worked for the test. You can also change the time of your test up to 10 minutes before your scheduled start time!

The Testing Area: So the reason my partner and I had to work together to pick a time is because no one else can be in the room while you test and the testing area had to be a flat table or desk like surface with nothing else on it except approved materials. We have one place like this in the main area of our apartment. So to pick a time for the test either my partner would have to cordon off in our bedroom for 4-ish hours or leave the apartment and not be able to return for 4-ish hours.

Monitoring: You are heavily monitored which is a little nerve-wracking at first, not that a huge test doesn’t cause a lot of anxiety already (haha jokes.). Your microphone and video camera are on and recording the whole time and your screen is being shared and recorded the whole time. At two points when starting and after the break you have to secure the area showing your proctor the 360 of your room to show no one else is there and there are no prohibited materials. This is all made better by the fact that your proctor is a real person that you verbally talk with at the beginning and then can chat throughout your test. It wasn’t as stressful as I thought my cat jumped up on the chair and table but it didn’t cause any kind of commotion with testing I did have a moment where my video went out on their end and my proctor because of the monitoring knew I had done nothing but remotely took over my computer and opened chrome to refresh the closed stream. If the monitoring hadn’t happened my test would have been immediately invalidated and I would have been out almost two hundred dollars.

The Test: Yikes. I actually don’t know how I did officially but they give you a rough score for the verbal and quantitative when you finish and it was okay! I was a little bummed because the approved testing materials are not common household items so I couldn’t have anything to physically write on but the calculator is on screen and you could draft in the writing portion. In fact, not being able to write made me think a little harder about my choices and increased my going back to review the questions. I felt really good about the writing because it’s a lot of what I have to do for work now. Math was a little rough because spatial reasoning is not my thing. I do not see the pictures in my head when told the coordinates! But overall it didn’t end up being too much of the test.

What’s next: Once I get the official scores back I am going to reach out to some of the prospective grad programs and my current and old bosses for letters of recommendations. I will retake the test if needed for the program (preemptive scores hopefully mean this isn’t so).

What I thought: I thought it went well. It was a little stressful with the monitoring and my partner having to hide or leave during a pandemic. However, I got to go at completely my own pace for every section and moving on to the next sessions. I think I would have actually been a lot more anxious in a new environment with people around who could watch or judge me.

On Death in the Family

My grandpa died about three weeks ago now. It was very hard and very weird to deal with as a human, let alone dealing with a death in the family as an adult for the first time. We knew it was coming but it was still a really hard experience

I feel like a lost so much:

  • A family member
  • One of the smartest person I have ever known (like actually I don’t know that I can think of someone smarter and worry seriously that a mind like his won’t exist again)
  • A beekeeper and a wonderful source of honey
  • My favorite gossip partner, after every family gathering we would just talk about the terrible decissions everyone had made and commenting on the slightest of remarks made by a cousin’s girlfriend or a great-uncle
  • A home base
  • And so so much more that I don’t totally have the words for yet

What I learned:

  • Take more pictures of everyone for all time. You will want them and you will cherish them.
  • There is no way to prepare to carry a box of someone’s ashes, you will just never be ready and yet it happens.
  • A box of a person is A LOT heavier than you would think. (side note: the realest fear was coming from what if I drop this and he floats away)
  • Tell HR at your place of employment there are these things called bereavement days and you don’t have to take vacation or personal time. Also, people can be nice.
  • Sometimes it is helpful just to be there and be present and be ready for whatever.
  • You can’t do many things until you have the official death certificate.
  • No matter how much you know ahead of time and no matter how long you have been preparing to grieve it still hits you like a ton of bricks.