July 29, 2013 § 2 Comments

I’ve been hinting in the past couple posts about some exciting news I have, and I can finally share it: I have co-authored a book! I did not want to write about it until I had a copy of the book in my hands, ensuring that I was not imagining things and that my hard work was not in vain. Although I do not yet have a copy in my hands, it is listed on, which makes it feel quite official. Click here to check out the listing.


The bin Laden raid occurred the spring before I started the doctorate program at the University of Utah. I was quite interested in it (as were many Americans and people around the world), and it became the focus of much of my scholarship. Last fall, as school was starting, my advisor, Marouf Hasian, asked me if I’d be interested in co-authoring a book with him about the different stories emerging about the bin Laden raid. Specifically, the book, No Easy Day, had just come out, and it was yet another story about the raid, this time from a SEAL’s perspective. Initially, I declined his offer, since I was pregnant, trying to take classes, teach, and just a little overwhelmed. However, the more I thought about it, the more I realized what an amazing opportunity it would be, so I agreed.

We worked hard the fall semester, and submitted it to Peter Lang Publishing, who picked it up. I couldn’t believe it was happening (I don’t think I still believe it. I need my copy to arrive so I can hold it in my hands). The goal was to work quickly and have the book ready to go to the press before I had my baby. Unfortunately, the timeline was stretched a bit, so a couple weeks after Evelyn was born, I was still working on the book, but we were able to get it all sent off by the end of March, and now it’s on the market!

The book is aimed at more academic audiences, and discusses the multiple stories of American exceptionalism that emerged after the bin Laden raid. We discuss the perspectives of the SEALs, the Obama administration, the Romney campaign, Zero Dark Thirty, and bin Laden’s family. I wrote two and a half of the seven chapters, and helped with much of the editing, proofing and organizing of the rest of the chapters.

It was a great experience to learn about the book publishing process. I cannot thank Marouf Hasian enough for taking me on in this project. Hopefully this is just the beginning of many more exciting things to come!


Looking Back: Seven Things I Learned when I was Pregnant

March 9, 2013 § 2 Comments

Ok. It’s been a while since my last post. A long while. Over 5 months, to be exact. Oops! I had a pretty busy semester, filled with preparing for a baby as well as doing coursework, and a few other exiting things, that hopefully I’ll be sharing with you soon. In the meantime, I figure my first post of 2013 should relate to the most exciting and recent development in my life: our new baby girl, Evelyn. Here are some take-aways I have from being pregnant. Some musings, if you will…

preggo pic1. Maternity pants are actually comfortable. Amazingly comfortable. I was resistant to maternity pants because they just looked uncomfortable, like I’d have to be constantly pulling them up. However, once my regular jeans and a belly band were just too uncomfortable, I decided to try preggo jeans and I was pleasantly surprised—to the point of actually considering never wearing regular jeans again :)

2. Women will insist you cut ahead of them in public restroom lines, but they don’t let you cut if you have children. I was really surprised by this. When I was traveling in the fall, women in airports consistently insisted I go ahead of them in line because I was pregnant. It was awesome. However, I also noticed that many women had disdain for women with small children, which I found ironic. What do they think happens after pregnancy?

3. You stop shedding hair. This one really surprised me. My hairdresser had warned me about this, explaining that the pregnancy hormones might cause me to not shed hair like we all do on a regular basis. My hair got super thick and took forever to blow dry as my pregnancy went on. And now I’ll be interested (and probably somewhat terrified!) to now deal with the massive hair loss.

4. Months are not four weeks. In the beginning, I started counting months in four-week increments. However, with the help of the book What to Expect, and a little common sense, I soon realized that months are about four weeks and three days. Therefore, 12 weeks is not 3 months, 20 weeks is not 5 months, 32 weeks is not 8 months. I think the most discouraging thing would be to think I was 8 months pregnant and still had 8 weeks to go! Think of it this way: if a month was four weeks long, there would be 13 months in a year.

5. Even if you don’t feel sick or uncomfortable, take advantage of being pregnant when it comes to your spouse, because after the baby’s born, you’ll both be tired. Reeeeeeeally tired. I had a great pregnancy: no morning sickness, exercised the whole time (running regularly until 37 weeks), no real discomfort. As a result, I was very independent, and never took advantage of the whole “I’m pregnant, so could you…” This was not smart. Now that Evelyn’s here, both Steve and I are tired. Next time around, I will milk it for all it’s worth :)

6. Everyone has an opinion. And they don’t stop sharing them with you once you’ve delivered. When I was pregnant, opinions ranged across a variety of topics: from what I should or should not be eating to anger that I wouldn’t tell strangers the name we had chosen. (You wouldn’t believe how many people would say, “But I don’t really know you. Who am I going to tell?” Ummm. Exactly. You don’t know me.) But my FAVORITE one, the one that doesn’t stop after the baby is born, goes like this, “Well, when I was pregnant (had a newborn, etc.), I didn’t do that, and my kids turned out fine.” Ugh.

7. Plan on going all the way to your due date…and possibly longer. In our childbirth class, they told us that due dates should be viewed as “due estimates,” since it’s possible that a woman could go into labor within weeks of her due date—on both sides of the due date. I took this advice, and told myself I’d be pregnant until at least February 3 (my due date). However, when I had a “false alarm” two weeks early, all bets were off, and I became super impatient. I’d lost my mental strength and just wanted Evelyn NOW. She still did come early…by 3 hours and 29 minutes :)

Well, that’s it for now. Hopefully I’ll be better about posting, especially fun pics of our new adventures with Evelyn.

Revise & Resubmit

September 13, 2012 § 3 Comments

“Revise and resubmit.” I recently received an email with these sweet words, and after gasping, “What!?!” I ran to my advisor’s office and exclaimed, “I got a revise and resubmit!”

Let me back up and explain the amazing world of academia in terms of the field of communication. Publications are the currency in “Research 1” universities (or schools where there is a major emphasis on research, and the professors teach two classes each semester with the understanding that they will be researching as well). How is this research guaranteed and how do we know the professors aren’t just spending more time at the pool and the golf course? It’s known as “publish or perish” in academia. If people want to keep their jobs as professors, earn tenure, and get promoted, it is expected and required that they will be publishing.

While some schools don’t expect research, and instead focus on teaching, and therefore don’t require research and publications, getting published is ultimately very good for any future job prospects.

So what does publishing entail?

  • Journals in the field publish research articles by scholars that are innovative, helping further research and/or are bringing new ideas to the field. The articles often range from 15-20 pages in length.
  • There are different “levels” of journals in the field of communication, with the “big hitters,” like Quarterly Journal of Speech, carrying much prestige and weight, followed by the regional journals, and then “the rest.”
  • A scholar can only submit an article to one journal at a time.
  • The journals then send the articles out to reviewers in a “double blind” process. This means that the reviewers don’t know who wrote the article, and the author doesn’t know who reviewed it. Reviewers are almost always professors in the field with their PhDs. The reviewing process can take up to six months.
  • After reviewing the article, the reviewers tell the editor if they would or would not recommend the article for publication in the specific journal.
  • The editor then tells the author that their manuscript was or was not recommended for publication. VERY RARELY is one told that the manuscript was accepted outright and nothing else is needed. Most of the time, the best one can hope for is a “revise and resubmit,” or “R&R.” If one gets an R&R, one can make the changes suggested by the reviewers and get “another chance” at publication. However, an “R&R” is not a guarantee of publication. After resubmitting, an author could be told one of three things:
    1. The revisions are great, but on second thought, the journal isn’t interested anymore in the manuscript.
    2. More revisions are necessary and then they will reconsider after an additional submission.
    3. Congrats! We’re going to publish your article!

So, as you can see from this long drawn out process, while a “revise and resubmit” doesn’t mean I’m guaranteed getting published, it does mean I am as close as I’ve ever been!

Hopefully, there’s more to come!

A New Homepage for FM

June 20, 2012 § 5 Comments

As I think I’ve mentioned before, I’ve been working in Facilities Management (FM) at the University of Utah this year as a communications specialist of sorts. It’s been an interesting year, as they initially explained my job was to “help them communicate better.” Nothing like the vaguest job description ever. I asked if they wanted internal or external communication help? They wanted both.

So, I got to work on trying to improve construction signage, perhaps using QR codes so that people can find out more information about the project. I ran into many walls, as there is no real process in place for construction signage, and trying to get it in place is nearly impossible.

Then, at the end of 2011, I was charged with forming a “Resource Team,” a team of staff who would meet twice a month to discuss ways to help FM communicate better. While the overall goal was still a bit vague, I actually had one concrete job: leading a Resource Team! In our initial meeting in January, it became clear that the website needed some updating, and would be a great place to start. We talked about the information on the site, audiences, organization, graphics, etc. We had two I.T. staff serving as website advisors, explaining to us the limitations of the website and the possible steps we could take to revamp it. After over 5 months of meetings, and two meetings with the directors, I’m excited to announce that the new homepage is LIVE!

Here is the former homepage (quite verbose. Click to enlarge):

And here is the NEW homepage (bigger graphics, fewer words. Click to visit site):

I’m extremely happy with the new, simpler homepage and the rotating graphics. And, as a Type A, list-maker, I’m excited to leave FM with something concrete I can say I helped accomplish.

For the Love of Salad

May 31, 2012 § 4 Comments

At work in Facilities Management this summer, I share a cubicle space with two other female students. I used to have my own office, but with the reorganizational changes, I got moved. I like both of my cube-mates, and we get along well, so it will be bittersweet to leave them at the end of June (bitter because I enjoy their company, sweet because it means “real” vacation has begun!).

Anyway, last week, I brought salad for lunch the three days I worked there. It was delicious: spinach, red peppers, avocado, quinoa, black beans, lite Italian dressing. At the end of the week, I had a funny thought. “These women think I love salads, and for all they know, I’ve always loved salads.” What is funny about this is that most people who know me from other areas of my life (CA, MN) would laugh if one of my cube-mates said I love salad. “Megan!?!?!” they’d say, “You must be thinking of someone else. The Megan I know wrote an essay in ninth grade about how much she dislikes salads!”

It’s been an interesting evolution. I hated salads. Detested them. In my essay I said I might as well eat grass. However, I came to a realization a couple years ago that I should probably try to like salad, as it’s a much easier way to get in my veggies. So, I made my New Year’s Resolution to choose and eat salad each time it was offered (“Soup or salad?” Salad.). When I ended that year and still didn’t like salads, I renewed my resolution for another year. Little did I know that this past fall, I’d discover I have a gluten intolerance, making my number one, favorite food group of bread off-limits. Good thing I’d learned to tolerate, and almost enjoy, salads.

Since then, salads have really grown on me. I no longer longingly look at the sandwich section of restaurant menus, but get pretty excited about the salad offerings. And, I’m learning to make different types of salads—fruit, veggie, quinoa. It’s pretty fun. Recently, one of my friends made a delicious summer salad (here is her post). I liked it a lot, and decided to make my own version of it, replacing the spinach with arugula (it was the green on hand), adding diced red peppers, and omitting the cilantro. It’s pretty good, and the garbanzo beans make it more filling, which is a plus. So, here’s to many more delicious salads. If you have any recipe suggestions, I’m open to them (preferably if the ingredients are easy to get and relatively affordable).


For the Salad:

1/2 C. cooked quinoa

1 can garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed

1 c. cherry tomatoes, quartered

2 avocados, diced

2 C. spinach, finely chopped

1 bunch cilantro, finely chopped

1/4 C. onion, chopped

2 small cloves garlic, diced

For the dressing:

juice of 2 lemons

zest of 1 lemon

2 tsp. dijon mustard
 (I used 1 tsp regular mustard)
2 tsp. olive oil

1 tsp. agave nectar (I used honey)

1/2 tsp. cumin chopped finely

dash of salt and pepper

Weekend Adventures

May 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

This past weekend, Steve and I were looking for something new to do, so we decided to check out the Great Salt Lake Shorelands Preserve, where a couple of our friends had gone in the fall. I enjoyed reading her blog about it, so I thought we might want to check it out ourselves.

It’s about forty minutes away, and a home to many migratory birds. The structures for shade and bird viewing are very unique, and Steve teased me for taking so many pictures of them. He brought his binoculars so he could look for birds, taking after his grandfather. Unfortunately, there weren’t many birds while we were there, but based on some of the educational displays, it seems like July and August might be a good time to return. There is a mile-long boardwalk riddled with facts about the birds that make the preserve their home during migration, benches, and a viewing tower. While there were many signs talking about the smell (which accompanies most marsh-like places), we didn’t experience any odors, and just enjoyed our time in the sun. When we return to visit, I’d like to go around sunset, when I’m sure the colors are more vibrant and the sun is less harsh. (We might need bug spray at that time of day, though.)

On Sunday, we planned to go on a hike to Ensign Peak with our neighbors, a hike that is behind the capitol building with a view of the valley. We’d been talking about taking the hike for a while, and we finally landed on a day. When we scheduled it, we hadn’t realized it was also the night of the solar eclipse. While the eclipse meant there were many more people on the hike and at the top of the peak (the hike is about 0.86 miles round trip, so it’s quite accessible), it also meant there were more people there to share their eclipse-viewing equipment with us. One group showed us how to view the eclipse through a CD (by looking through the words on the CD, which showed three eclipses). Another group was using binoculars and pointing them at cardboard to view. Some people had the actual made-for-viewing-eclipses sheets, while others had welding masks. Everyone was pretty excited about the eclipse and was ready to share their versions of viewing it. Besides seeing the different versions of the eclipse, we also got a great view of the city. It was a great ending to the weekend, and we could now add two new activities to our adventures in Utah.

Summer Project #1: Parts 2 & 3

May 6, 2012 § 8 Comments

Well, I found a couple more coupons (and Michael’s honors Joann’s coupons – which is SUPER helpful!), so I was able to finish my project today. Here is the final product. California is yellow for the “Golden State,” and the circle is in the Central Valley, where Steve grew up. Salt Lake City is marked on Utah, where we live right now, and it’s red/orange for the red rock. Minnesota is blue for the “Land of 10,000 Lakes,” and Central Minnesota is marked, where I grew up.

I’m really happy with the final product. It was pretty fun, and wasn’t as difficult as I thought it would be. Utah was by far the easiest to “string,” as it doesn’t have any indentations or anything complicated :) Now they are resting on a shelf in our living room. I love being productive, and I especially love seeing the proof of my productivity. Hope you all had a good weekend, too!

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