At the beginning of any given semester there’s a scramble among students to buy required books, make photocopies of required chapters, and download PDFs of readings. These are the essential materials for graduate school. Yet in my experience as a student there are a few key items that are just as important as the readings. Were I ever interviewed by Vanity Fair for their “My Stuff” column I wouldn’t list my favorite stationery or travel destination; information which, coincidentally, is available in some previous blog posts. I’d list the often overlooked “other essentials” that have made and continue to make graduate life bearable:
1. Moleskine planner and journal: What would I do without these little helpers? The planner may seem redundant since my day is planned by the iCal/GoogleCalendar configuration I gushed about in an earlier blog post. But even Type As need to accept that sometimes the best laid plans go awry. For example, when a last minute lecture pops up I jot it down in my planner and add it to iCal that night. And when I go to said lecture, I need something to write on. Since I reserve loose leaf paper for my classes and won’t take notes on my computer because I despise my laptop, in comes my Moleskine journal. I usually go through one per semester and file it away in that semester’s file box after final’s week. The best is that the final pages are detachable, which means this notebook isn’t so sacred that I can’t tear pages out.
2. Pencil case: With all this writing, the right utensils are critical. The pizza pencil case fits all my little helpers: mini-stapler, correction tape, and writing utensils. I’m pretty fussy about these last items, which probably goes without saying. If I could have a cord surgically implanted to my wrist so the free end could wrap around these implements, I’d do it. I’m too polite to refuse, but if you ever ask to borrow one of these utensils I’ll be giving you the stink eye until you give it back. For note-taking in class, nothing beats the Pilot V5 RT. It writes like a dream and is airplane safe; getting off a plane with black ink all over your fingers is no fun, especially when you go through Immigration. It took about twenty-five years but I’m finally on board with mechanical pencils. I use a Pentel P205 0.5mm for note-taking in books that aren’t mine (I always erase my marks before returning the book). I love how low-maintenance and chic it is. I have two types of colored pens for note-taking on printed readings and for use in the aforementioned Moleskine notebooks: Staedtler Triplus Fineliner pens and Paper Mate Flair Felt-Tip pens. My notes just seem prettier in color. I’m also more apt to take notes in margins and jot things down if I can do it in color.
3. Thermoses: These are the newest additions to my gang and Mondays and Tuesdays (and sometimes Wednesdays) would be impossible without them. The early part of the week is very busy for me this semester since I’m on campus from 10:00 to 6:30. I have a fear of dehydration and dislike drinking cold beverages, so the 1 liter Thermos is a godsend. Mondays it holds caffeinated tea and Tuesdays it contains herbal. And I’d like to add that it keeps these drinks piping hot all day. Its little buddy usually has soup, though I might be adventurous and pack pasta this week. The coolest feature on the food container is that a small, collapsible spoon sits underneath the cover. This photo shows the duo in action on campus.