The Comps: A Narrative Through Food

I decided the week before our exams started that I wouldn't upload any photos from my camera. "It's the comps!" I thought, "No fun of any kind!"

That turned out only to be partly true. For the first two weeks, I worked about 7-8 hours a day, every day, and I wrote a LOT in that time. But by the end of the second week, I was physically spent and really stressed. My body figured out a new way to manifest that anxiety in my skin:

Nope, not a sunburn.

That picture doesn't really convey how red my skin was (and that's good, it's less gross). Basically, it looked like I had a sunburn on my chest (just above my tank top) and neck, but I actually had some kind of rash. You can also sort of see the irritated skin around the corners of my mouth. A doctor at UWO gave me some stuff to put on it, and after I kind of hit a bottom with my stress after week 2, it went away. That seemed like a big warning sign to me that my 8-hour a day method was not working out.

So I took some time away from the exams each day, I was more liberal with break time, and I still finished with a couple of days to spare for final tweaking and editing. I guess I won't really know how it went until I know if I've passed, but I know for sure that I couldn't have finished them at all if I'd continued that way for all 4 weeks.

Today I uploaded the photos I took on my point-and-shoot camera during the comps, and of course, they are mostly food pics. So here's a very random account of some stuff that happened during the comps and just afterward.

Our last pre-comps meal: cajun catfish, hot crash potatoes, and whisky glazed carrots (based on this recipe, but with WAY less butter).

At one point during the exam our friend Dana had a party, so I made some vegan chocolate cupcakes from Vegan Cupcakes Take Over the World, and iced them with very non-vegan peanut butter cream cheese frosting that was left over from the Easter cake we made.

It was nice focus on something other than the exams and get out my cake deco kit. I was particularly proud of how the piping turned out on these! Also, I've had some hits and some misses with this cupcake book, but the basic chocolate cupcake recipe seemed pretty solid. I'll probably make these again.

Here they are perched on top one of my many piles of books for the comps. I ended up checking out probably 30 or so books and I initially stacked them in little piles in the living room.

Note the laundry, clean but not folded. That was the way of things during the comps.

Unrelated to the comps, John and I decided to get a small table to put some potted herbs on, and didn't find one we liked. Instead, we bought this new-to-us bookcase and figured it could do the job.

The herbs looked nice on it, and I realized that I could put my books for the comps on it. Win win! But that window doesn't give the herbs enough light, so they went to live in the kitchen/balcony. Still, the new bookcase is probably our favorite piece of furniture.

John and I planned all our meals for the comps in advance, including this little number: grilled cheese on bread from the farmer's market, and roasted tomato and garlic soup. Nothing like comfort food when you have to write 60 pages in 4 weeks.

Tuesday we had a brunch with a few friends to celebrate the end of the exams. It involved mojitos in some glasses I bought at Goodwill (score!).

I've also been experimenting with variations in iced tea, including this one with either mint or basil, plus frozen raspberries. I usually add 3/4 tsp of simple syrup. It's easily spiked with whatever alcohol you prefer!

So there you have it...a super random post about what we've been eating and doing for the past few weeks. I may write more about the comps themselves another time, but it's still hard to turn my brain off after thinking so intensely for 4 weeks. John and I have a lot of fun stuff coming up in the rest of June and later on in the summer that I will be sure to write about here. John and also joined an ultimate frisbee league, and I have some pictures to show off that I took with our fancy new camera (thanks, John's research grant!). Hope you're enjoying the summer so far!

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