What to Do When You’re Done

May 21st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink


This is it—you’re in the final stretch! Your thesis is due on Friday. To some of you I know that still sounds like a death sentence. You don’t feel ready at all to give up working on this thing that has been such a huge part of your life for the past months. It isn’t ready! This past weekend you thought of something that should really be an entire section of your thesis, but at this point you only have time to shoehorn it in the last few sentences, or just ignore it. You can think of about seventeen ways in which it could be so much better. Well guess what. I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again, because my preceptor said it to me—when it comes to the thesis, done is better than good. Perfect is the enemy of the great. Or, as my mother would tell me, it is time to put your thesis in a lockbox and send it to Jesus. Take your pick, I have lots of folksy advice for you guys.  » Read the rest of this entry «

Ways to Stay Sane (and Warm!) During Winter Quarter

January 24th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink


Yes, this is a thing that happened on Lake Shore Drive in 2011. But, much to our amusement, this photo accompanies an article entitled “Abandoned on LSD.”

Alright, so you’ve heard us all griping about how difficult and harrowing Winter Quarter is. And as we’re sure you know, now that you’re in the midst of it, it sure is. But before you start to feel like this, we wanted to intervene to let you know that there are plenty of things to do to manage Winter Quarter stress. And some ways in which, maybe, you might even learn to enjoy the UChicago quarter that is almost mythically scary. 

1) Pace yourself. Plan ahead. Resign yourself to the fact that you won’t be able to read everything for every one of your classes. Prioritize your workload so that things feel manageable. Try to settle on final paper topics by Week 5 so that you are not struggling to pick up the pieces at the last minute. You will really thank yourself by the time the quarter is winding down. Try to find interesting ways to put your classes into conversation with one another (or with your thesis). It will make your work feel more meaningful, creative and comprehensive – and it also might help you narrow down your reading lists when it comes to approaching final papers and projects. » Read the rest of this entry «

Some Thoughts on Managing Your Stress at Quarter’s End (and in Coming Quarters, Such as the Winter Quarter, Which is a Particularly Onerous One if You Don’t Have Good Stress Management Techniques)

December 10th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

MAPH Central has banded together herein to offer you some of our favorite stress management techniques! Heed them well, for they are marked with the psychic scar tissue of those who have endured the Coming Winter.

Get Out of Hyde Park (and off of Facebook) by Chrissy “McKnuckles” McKeon

Chrissy’s Humpty Dumpty Thesis

I cannot stress enough how important this was to my sanity. I made a commitment to myself to venture out of this UChicago infused bubble at least once a week. And if I felt like I didn’t have enough time, I did it anyway. I packed up my school bag and toted my laptop and school books around Wicker Park and Logan Square, settled into coffee shops (and yes, sometimes bars) to do my work. I just found it easier to work in places that were decidedly lacking in the brand of stress that on-campus study spaces were always teeming with. I found that commuting somewhere to do schoolwork actually made me more productive. When I was so far away from home, I was less likely to call it quits before I had gotten something substantial done. See that picture of my thesis draft cut into teeny tiny pieces? Yea, I did that at a little coffee shop called The Wormhole. In public. People must have thought I was nuts. I know it seems strange to say that I destressed by doing work, but finding a way to do productive work – a way that worked for my particular learning style – ensured that I was able to find time to do other things besides schoolwork. Leaving Hyde Park also meant that I made friends outside of MAPH – A.K.A. people who weren’t always talking about class and work, even when we were at The Cove.

Speaking of people who are always talking about class and work, get off of Facebook, for the love of some-non-denominational-higher-being. As I have mentioned, this was important for me. Some people deal with stress by blabbing about it on the Internet, and for me, this was majorly anxiety-producing. My newsfeed became a constant source of stress, especially when people started posting about classes, papers and deadlines (or worse, bragging about the 20 pages of their thesis that they had written. On a Saturday night. Three months before our theses were due). So, I just deactivated my account for awhile. It was unbelievably liberating. You should try it sometime.

Do Something Crafty by Sarah “Ernesto” Smith

Near the end of the quarter when you are spending so much time in your head, you might consider doing something with your hands! I find knitting and crocheting to be especially soothing. The repetitive motion of the clicking needles helps clear my head when it gets too full of The Academy. You might also appreciate the physicalness of textile creation during a time when you are spending mammoth amounts of mental and emotional energy on a (at times terrifyingly insubstantial) electronic document. Creating something with your hands brings you closer to your labor – Marx approved – and also makes lovely, cheap holiday presents.

Read for Pleasure and Take a Walk by Bill “Bobaggins” Hutchison

You don’t have time to read for pleasure, right? Or to take a walk? But I promise that if you set aside some nominal amount of time every day – ten minutes, say – for pleasure reading, you will be so much better for it. There are some crucial rules, however. Don’t read something because it might also be useful for your class/thesis/school related thing. Don’t engage in self-deception by saying, “But reading Zizek is pleasure reading for me!” We’re all nerds, we wouldn’t be here if we didn’t love reading this stuff. But you and I both know what true pleasure reading is. It’s snuggle-up-with-a-good-book reading. You know exactly what I mean.

And for the love of all things, go outside and move your body a little! I often need a reminder that my body is more than a transport system for my brain. A walk outside when your brain is overfilled with names, dates, notions, theories, and competing philosophies will do you good. Look! A happy squirrel! And over there, a crow dropping stones on undergraduates! Yes, it’s cold. Yes, there will soon be snow. But as you see your breath puffing out before you and hear your feet crunch-crunch-crunch along the salted sidewalk, you will remember that you are a sensate, embodied being, and that sometimes that feels unbelievably good.

Five Things You Probably Don’t Need to Know But Which Still Bear Mentioning

August 23rd, 2012 § 1 comment § permalink


The squirrel-goyle is always watching.

While the temptation to walk around campus hunched over a book, a smartphone, or an existential crisis is strong, raise your eyes to the walls and parapets! History is chiseled into the walls at UChicago. Many chunks of stone have been transformed into gargoyles, thinkers and scholars of ages past, and a variety of adorable/creepy animals.

» Read the rest of this entry «

Summer Reading Some Are Reading

July 20th, 2012 § 0 comments § permalink

For the new mentors, transitioning from hundreds of pages a week of heavy academic writing to reading for pleasure was a strange sensation. It was a little like visiting a house you hadn’t lived in since you were a wee child: disorienting, but with the unmistakable feel of home. At MAPH Central, we’re into books in a big way, and since we know that you are too, we thought we’d share what we’re reading this summer.

(If your interest is piqued by our recommendations, act now! Your days of reading for pleasure are approaching a nine-month hiatus. And if you’re in town early, do not miss the Newberry Book Fair from July 26-29, billed as “Chicago’s most popular used book binge.”)


WHAT I’M READING NOW: Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow

After several false-starts, the falseness of which having to do with much ambition attended by many distractions, I have finally determined to read this book I was supposed to have read a long time ago.  The endeavor feels more important than it is, probably because the ostensibly intellectual motivations for reading huge books are in fact intimately bound up in my own vanity.  But the book, so far, really is good.

NEXT ON THE LIST: Henry Green, Loving

According to the back of the book, Loving “brilliantly contrasts the lives of servants and masters in an Irish castle during World War II.”  The front of the book has a peacock on it.  Apparently, the only extant photo of Henry Green (not his real name) is a portrait of the back of his head.

MY FAVORITE BOOKSTORE: Powell’s Bookstore, 1501 E 57th St./2850 N Lincoln Ave.

Chicago’s incarnation of Portland’s finest. Not only is the 57th St. location close to campus, but the only crowds I ever encounter there are crowds of books. Perfect for for a relaxing browse.


WHAT I’M READING NOW: Haruki Murakami, 1Q84

I’ve had it on the shelf for a while, but after I saw Ian reading it and full of delight, I started it, too. A woman named Green Peas (Aomame) with odd ears. A lonely writer. An ugly old man. And, of course, cats. For those who enjoy a little reality-destabilization.

NEXT ON THE LIST: Doris Lessing, RE: Colonised Planet 5, Shikasta: Personal, psychological, historical documents relating to visit by Johor (George Sherban), Emissary (Grade 9) 87th of the Period of the Last Days

I’m so excited to start this one, the first in her Canopus in Argos: Archives series. It marks Lessing’s sudden switch to science fiction, but her science fiction is unlike anything else. It’s a wild, Sufism-and-Old-Testament-influenced diagnosis of humanity. Sadhappy reading. I blazed through the first 20 pages nearly holding my breath before I had to stop and go back to 1Q84.

MY FAVORITE BOOKSTORE: Selected Works, 410 S. Michigan Ave., 2nd Floor.

I have a pal who works in the Fine Arts building downtown. I went to meet him for lunch the other day. He works on the fourth floor. I climbed the stairs to the second floor, ready to keep heading up, when I noticed the old bookshelves by the stairwell. The shelves almost hid a doorway into a wee bookstore filled with highly curated volumes, including the weird sorts of tomes only found in shops like this. Plus there’s a bookstore cat, Hodge, who is as beautiful as he is mercurial. (Special treat: the elevators are run by real live elevator operators.)


WHAT I’M READING NOW: Colum McCann, Let The Great World Spin

After a year of required reading, I’m trying to ease myself back into the habit of reading for pleasure by picking up a book I have already read and know I love. The book pivots around the motif of Phillipe Petit’s shocking stunt: tightrope walking between the Twin Towers on an otherwise mundane morning in 1974. McCann weaves together a seamless and heartbreaking narrative about the lives of some not-so-ordinary witnesses of the event. As a New Yorker, it’s a book that made me fall in love with my city all over again, offering a fresh perspective on a period of urban transition that I had always known about, but never really internalized. I’m about half-way through it right now and I’m just as entranced as I was the first time around.

NEXT ON THE LIST: John Williams, Stoner

Luckily, one of my best friends used to work at a publishing house in New York, so I am never bereft of book suggestions. Stoner follows the life of a late 19th Century man who heads to university to study agronomy, unwittingly falls in love with English literature and decides, instead, to pursue the scholarly life. If it were one hundred years later, I suspect this man might be in MAPH – I’m sure that we have plenty of agronomic defectors matriculating this year. According to my contemporary fiction guru, “Williams’ luminous descriptions of a scholar’s life and its rewards make this novel ideal for a return to academia.” This suggestion brought to you with one caveat: “It’s grim, but it’s beautiful.”

MY FAVORITE BOOKSTORE: Myopic Books, 1564 N. Milwaukee Ave.

They have a quirky book selection, and a quiet study space on the top floor, which much to my chagrin, I only discovered in my last two weeks in MAPH.

So…what are YOU reading? Chime in, chums!

Dive Bar Challenge

December 31st, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink


Chicago is full of watering holes. In case some of you don’t have any idea where to go for New Years, here are some ideas to kick off the Dive Bar Challenge.

The rules of this challenge are as follows: go to at least 3 of the bars and bring back some evidence of having physically been there (hazy memories don’t count, but the napkin-scrawled phone numbers of people you don’t remember meeting do). You get extra points if the bars are in a different neighborhood. The first to bring evidence to the MAPH office and present it to either me, AJ, or Whitney will receive some kind of awesome prize that will be decided if anyone actually goes through the trouble to do all of this.


You’ll be riding six white horses when you come to Zakopane

On to the bars…

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These are a Few of Our Favorite Things

December 9th, 2011 § 2 comments § permalink

Now that you are all nearing the end of final paper deadlines, it’s time to take advantage of your much freer schedule by enjoying some of Chicago’s best. Seeing all of the neighborhoods and prioritizing the sites you want to visit and the food you want to eat can be slightly daunting so, for those that need a bit of guidance, here of some of MAPHCentral’s favorite places and things to do in Chicago.


If you have a car and it’s not too cold, going out to the Morton Arboretum is fantastic.  It is a great place to walk and feel like you are not in a city and take photographs. If you want to stay in town and do something going to the Julius Meinl on Southport then up to see an old movie at the Music Box Theatre is splendid. Julius Meinl has great coffee, tea and pastries.

For holiday cheer, I love going to the Christkindlmarket and walking around the various stalls while drinking gluwein and getting little paper packets of spiced almonds and pretending I live in a German Christmas village.

For a burger  and fries, I like The Grafton in Lincoln Square where you can get curry gravy for your chips and on Sundays there is an Irish bothy band that plays traditional music. However, the best pub in Chicago is the Duke of Perth. It feels the most authentic and there are fish and chip nights and cottage pie.

Speaking of authentic if you want real buckwheat crepes filled with savory stews in an authentic French atmosphere then you want to go to La Creperie on Clark. The Boeuf Bourguinon crepe is excellent and they are close to the Landmark Century Theatre which shows lots of foreign and independent films so you can make an evening of it.

For the best (pricey but really good) cocktail in a speakeasy, meets David Lynch film, meets Wedgewood vase atmosphere you want The Violet Hour and it is nice enough to take your Mom, Aunt, sister etc. and give her a Chicago experience.

(More of MAPHCentral’s favorite things after the jump…)

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A Master Artist

December 8th, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Happy Holidays from MAPHCentral.

Holiday Festivities and Work during Winter Break

December 2nd, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

You may still be in the midst of finishing papers for various courses but it is not too soon to start thinking about how to manage the holidays and think about what you might do to prepare for winter quarter.

Planning Ahead?

Skating through the end of the quarter?

It is important to take time to get rest, see friends or family, and generally recuperate. If you want to start thinking about the thesis or reading ahead this is a great time to get some reading done. Just set yourself a schedule and devote an hour or two each day or set a study date with friends either in Hyde Park or wherever you land to go to a coffee shop and get some work done.

Be sure to stay connected. If you are spending part of the holiday in Hyde Park you may find campus a little quiet.  Stop by the MAPH office and check in with us. We’ll post the days the office is closed or hours are shortened. Be sure to check the library schedule as the hours may be different. Find other MAPHers who are in town to venture out and see some sights or just sit in a coffee shop and quietly read together.

Now for the fun part. . .

In search of some healthy recreation after spending hours inside writing?

There is ice skating in Millennium Park and on the Midway.  The Museum of Science and Industry has Christmas Trees, a Dr. Seuss exhibit and a U-Boat what sounds more festive than that!

More holiday and anti-holiday events after the jump. . .

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Thanksgiving in Chicago

November 21st, 2011 § 0 comments § permalink

Elmo takes in the view on State Street

For those of you spending the holiday in the city it is wise to make sure that you spend at least one or two days not doing coursework.  Sure meet up with other MAPHers and make a feast, but if you are looking for some diversions here are a few options.

Like Crowds?

If you don’t want to drive to the suburbs and participate in early morning black Friday pillaging there are other options for being in a mass of people.

Love the cupcake costumes!

Thanksgiving Parade on State Street. On November 24th you can head downtown. This is not quite Macy’s Parade in New York but there are floats and balloons and bands and your usual parade festivities. From 8:00-11:00 am on State street between Randolph and Congress.

Christkindl Market

The Christkindl Market in Daley Plaza lets you feel like you are visiting Germany over the holiday. A traditional style German market offers candied nuts in paper packets, gluwein, potato pancakes and bratwurst. There are also traditional blown glass ornaments, cuckoo clocks and other crafts. The market opens November 23rd. They light the tree at 4:30 on the 24th.

An Art Institute Lion gets its wreath on.

If you are already downtown you might as well check out the Macy’s windows (not as good as when in was still Marshall Field’s). You can then drop in on ice skating at Millennium Park or stop into the Art Institute to check out some art.  Also they will be putting wreaths on the lions at 10:00 am on November 26th.

Yes, the Zoolights are lovely. . .

A little further north, The Lincoln Park Zoo starts Zoolights on November 25th.  More mulled wine and hot pretzels are available as you take in the light display and see some zoo animals. Don’t forget to pick up some plastic mold-a-rama animals. They make great stocking-stuffers or Hanukkah presents . . .

Look, you could put a tiny wreath on your own Mold-A-Rama lion.


Crowds are not your thing?

You can still get out of Hyde Park and enjoy time outside.  The weather is supposed to be warm. Visit the lakefront. In fact, there are groups that meet up just to go for walks. The Museum of Science and Industry has their Christmas trees from around the world up and the Muppets (okay those will be croweded) but avoid the crowds and look a the U-boat exhibit instead. (MSI has mold-A-Rama machines too, who knew holiday shopping would be so cheap and easy.) See a movie or go see live theater. There are often cheap theater tickets the weekend after Thanksgiving or use your Artspass.

Give Back

This handy guide features a variety of charities in Chicago who are taking volunteers over the holiday weekend. University of Chicago has group service days on the 24th and 26th. Check out the calendar for details.