All posts by Sabrina Dormer

I hate research

Thats it. Thats the blog post.

Just kidding, but I am serious about hating research. I am really happy with my career choice as a teacher and not a historian because I’ve gone crazy with just a few months of doing research, I could not imagine doing this for life. Citations are the bane of my existence and I of course saved them to the end, probably going to submit right at 11:59pm.

I got my graduation cap and gown today, which doesn’t feel real. I have had some serious imposter syndrome this semester as a first gen college student with 0 self confidence. It doesn’t feel like I belong here. It doesn’t feel like I’ve worked hard enough to get where I am, but I know that I have. I have worked full time, or even 2 (one time it was 3) jobs to get my way through college. And im going to complete my degree in 4 years, which is way more difficult than anyone tells you. Im also surprised since I transferred schools, changed majors, and studied abroad for 2 semesters. but here we are. thesis deadline day.

ive been listening to motivational music and eating junk food all day, but im starting to lose motivation, which is why I figured it was time to write a blog post. I think im gonna go cuddle my cats and dance it out (Any greys anatomy fans?) and try to write again.

These are my marbles. I have lost them. Let me know if you find them (or serotonin, cant seem to find that either) Fun Central 200 Pack - Glass Marbles in Bulk for Vase Filler,  Table Scatter & Aquarium Decoration: Toys & Games

Today is ANZAC day

Since ANZAC is a primary theme of my paper, I figured it would be fitting to write a blog post for ANZAC day. It is celebrated every April 25 beginning at dawn, which coincides with the first ANZAC landing at Gallipoli. I first came across the term before I got to Australia in 2019 while I was looking up rules for mailing postage. One of the primary rules is that a package cannot have ANZAC written anywhere on its exterior unless it is the official ANZAC stamp. I had no idea what the term meant so I googled it and learned that it is an acronym for Australian and New Zealand Army Corps. Before I studied in Australia, I never really knew of their involvement in WWI (or really anything else about the country besides kangaroos, Steve Irwin, and dangerous bugs). While I was there I took a course on Australian history and it is crazy how much there is to unpack there and how little is known of its rich history outside of the country.

Anyway, I happened to be there for ANZAC day and my friend basically implied that I was required to go. I thought it was crazy to get up at 3-4am to take the tram into town and I thought we would be the only people doing it. But the tram was running on a special every 5 minute schedule and there were massive crowds just to get on it. The train full of people was silent the whole way into Southport and when we got off, we joined even more massive crowds of people, still completely silent. After a few blocks of walking, we came to a stop in front of a statue of a digger soldier. I kept trying to quietly ask questions but got shushed, there aren’t supposed to be any words. It is supposed to be a quiet moment of reflection in the dark to think about how many soldiers were lost. Then just as the sun rises, there is a cacophony of gun shots, explosions, and screams. They were playing a recording on really high volume to imitate what it would have been like to land at Gallipoli. After that jarring opening, there are a few speeches by politicians, veterans, and family members. There are also performances by children’s scout groups. Finally, the national anthems of Australia and New Zealand are sung and a Haka dance is performed. Volunteers walk around and hand out cards with the poem below on them, everyone is expected to read the poem together to end the ceremony.

From there, there are a variety of events that take place. The RSL clubs host a gunfire breakfast, which is typically reserved for veterans and their families. In the afternoon, there are typically parades in the big cities and people barbeque at home while watching them on tv. Some families have more intimate traditions depending on if they knew someone that served in the war. My friend did not agree with the massive parade and felt like it degraded the gruesomeness of war. Her grandfather died in WWII and her great grand father in WWI. Instead of watching the parade, her family had a small gathering in which they remembered the men that died and took a shot of their favorite drink, whiskey.

ANZAC day has been criticized over the years but it is hard for critics to talk about the traditions without being accused of being against the soldiers. It will be interesting to see what happens to ANZAC day in the future. Once I am done my studies and my student debt is paid off, I plan on moving to Australia so keep an eye out for my future work on Australian history haha

ART and ARCHITECTURE, mainly: ANZAC Day: our Ode of Remembrance

Whoops that presentation was bad

I used to be a really good public speaker. I could give a presentation no problem. But for some reason, I cannot function at all over zoom. Normally while speaking, my trick is to stare at people’s foreheads so that it looks like Im looking at them without actually making eye contact. On zoom, not only are all of your faces right next to me, but I can also see my own face. Its really nerve racking. I also normally spend a lot of time practicing a presentation and memorizing my talking points. However, Ive been solely focused on finishing my paper so I have not put as much time into my presentation as I would have liked. I was literally editing it until the last second because I was so unhappy with it which I think messed me up the most. I had texted Joe that I was adding more content and he told me to stop, but I didn’t listen. Whoops.

I hope my public speaking skills come back soon because I am excited to say that I was offered a full time position as a support teacher at a charter school in Philadelphia. I love kids, but they can be brutal and I know they’ll make fun of me for being nervous haha.

Anyway, at least the presentation is over. Plus, I went for half priced drinks and appetizers at Applebees afterwards which was pretty good therapy. Now I have to keep writing for a week straight. Anyone have any motivation tips?

I ordered takeout the other day and was planning a multi hour writing marathon, but I got this super gross lasagna that was really just oil and sauce. It really put me in a bad mood so it was difficult to want to focus on writing. Tea and cookies have been my saving grace for most of this process.

I know most of you have written your last blog posts, but Im a bit behind (as always) so I guess I’ll just keep this blog going myself haha

A Draft! And Other Good Things

I am so excited to say that I finally have a draft! The panera near me is open again to dine in which is great because I do all my best work at cafes. I had a writing marathon there inspired by my very large coffee and multiple baked goods. I also had another writing marathon at home, which was interrupted multiple times by my cats wanting attention. They ended up settling on my lap though so that was nice.

My draft feels like an expanded outline, all my main points are down and now it is time to get in the nitty gritty of adding my support. At this point I wish I had taken better notes of my readings because going through my post it notes on the walls, desk, laptop, inside and on covers of books is a little frustrating but it made sense while I was taking the notes.

I got a foster kitty this week so thats exciting. I have always wanted to foster animals but never had the space or time to do so. Now that I’m not working I have time for a kitty and he makes great company while I am writing and reading.

Another good thing that happened this week is I got offered a full time position as a support teacher in a school starting in the fall. Teaching is my dream job and I am so excited to be able to get my foot in the door without having my certification yet. Plus I am guaranteed the job for 2 years which is exactly the length of my master’s/certification program, its perfect! I was really nervous about graduating and I was afraid of what would happen afterwards, but I am living the dream with grad school acceptance and a post-grad job. It has given me even more inspiration to finish this paper and graduate because it is my last step!

Our foster kitty, Hitoshi, sitting on my lap as I type this

Motivation! (& kitten antics)

Going into this semester I had big plans for my thesis. I was going to win awards, get it published in a few years, invite everyone I know to watch me present. It has taken me a bit to realize that none of this is going to happen. I am a perfectionist and a straight A student, which never turns out to be helpful because I am stuck here waiting to think of the next great thing instead of just getting words on a page. I have done the research, I wrote my outline, and I started writing my paper but somewhere along the way I lost my motivation because I knew this was not going to be the next great research project.

Today I am writing with new found motivation. I want to give my thanks to Dr. Lowe for always encouraging me to continue and for being super accommodating. I also want to thank Joe who has helped me not feel alone in being behind. Everyone in this class is brilliant and I can’t wait to read all of your amazing work, but it can be a little intimidating to think that you’re the only one not doing good. I don’t have any assignments due for the rest of the week so I am going to write like crazy over these next few days. I am having a consult next week for possible shoulder surgery which would put my arm out of commission for a few weeks and leave me to dictate my paper. I am hoping that I don’t have to have surgery and that if I do, I can try and get a passing paper in before I have to use text to speech.

My life has been super chaotic this semester. Since everything from the last blog post, I had a death in the family, the tire on my car exploded while on 95, Im fighting with my previous landlord whos trying to scam me out of hundreds of dollars, and my toilet broke.

While the plumber was here, Lapis played a fun game of “take all the nuts and bolts from him and run away”

Picking a thesis…

I am finally back to writing! I am really proud of myself for taking the first step in trying to dig myself out of the very large hole that I am in. I have most of an outline done, but now the big problem is my thesis. As I was writing, I realized that there are a lot of different directions I could take this project in. Going into this class, I knew that I wanted to compare Australian and American war memorials in some way because I thought the differences were really interesting. I always knew there were many conclusions you could draw off of the differences, but now I am realizing just how many there are and I am equally passionate about all of them.

Here’s my first idea: An addition to the global debate on statues, what they represent, and if they are responsible as tools of history. I really like this one because I have been pretty active about debating statues and whether they should stay in public spaces or not. Personally, I believe that statues are an irresponsible tool of history as they only show a small portion of the story and the little bit of text that you can put on a placard. I do think that statues work as memorials to the dead although I could argue that they do not show the true nature of war so they work as long as they are not romanticizing war.

My other idea: The treatment and history of these 2 example statues show how both countries feel about ww1 and how they treat their veterans. This thesis I’m a little iffy on because I definitely don’t have the research for how the countries treat their veterans, but I would be interested to find it. It also shows that ww1 is totally forgotten about in america and tossed aside as unimportant, but it is so important to australia and to the national identity.

Ive been using this photo as my zoom background because I am DESPERATE for a beach vacay. I miss last week when the weather hit 70.

Long time, no see

Hi everyone,

I haven’t touched school work in about 2 weeks now. Life is uhhhhh a huge mess. I got injured in a robbery at work a little bit ago, moved, had to get my car towed, and now my boyfriend (that I live with) is really sick and possibly has covid. My mental health has really has been really bad so I’ve kind of just taken a step away from school work for a bit. But now it feels impossible to dig myself back out of the hole. I really wish we had a spring break right about now, but I am hoping to just do a little bit everyday, starting with this blog post. My plan next is to do my outline and start writing because I feel like once I start writing I will be able to get a lot down, the problem is just starting.

There are some positives in life right now. We finally left our cockroach infested studio apartment and upgraded to a gorgeous 1 bedroom in East Falls. We have a real kitchen, not just a kitchenet, and our first ever dishwasher!! The move was challenging since I am not allowed to lift anything with my left arm, but I am glad it is all over. Unpacking has been super slow, since Michael is stuck in bed and I have one good arm, but its progressing. The cats are super happy with the extra room and have been running around like crazy. I bought them a new box for their toys and they keep flipping it over and dragging all the toys out. There are 4 functional windows (We only had 2 before and they were both broken).

I know I will be much more functional after a few more weeks of physical therapy and once the weather gets nicer, but for right now its just one day at a time. I hope everyone is doing great work with their projects!

Old Kitchen (yes there were no counters)
New Kitchen!

Week 5: Dread, procrastination, and moving

The Historiography paper is due on wednesday… and I am dreading it. I have spent my week reading through one of my main secondary sources and trying to keep track of all the works he cites and then going to find them, but its a lot. I also took up a new way of taking notes on my research, which is probably the worst time to do it but I think it will be really helpful in the long run. Instead of randomly scribbling my thoughts on a single word document, I have made different documents for each source so I know exactly where they’re coming from which will make my bibliography not a dreadful task.

I think it is hard to find the difference between the history and historiography. I do understand the difference, but its hard when you’re actually writing it. The loom of it also being the first words that will be in my final thesis is also daunting so I kind of haven’t started writing yet? I know its bad….

My meeting with Jimmy, Jayne, and David a few days ago was really helpful just to be able to vent about our research and know that were all in a similar place. I wish we could meet up in person to write

I move in 2 weeks so my life is mostly packing at this point so its hard to find quiet writing time and I know its going to get even more hectic going forward.

Week 4: Books and Historiography

I have learned bookbot and ventured to campus! I got two physical books (crazy right?) and have dove into them. One is about the ANZAC myth and one is about the doughboy myth, I think both books are great and will be instrumental in writing my paper. I have been reading the books but also leafing through their bibliographies to find additional sources.

Graham Seal’s book “Inventing Anzac: The Digger and National Mythology” is an eye opener. Up until this book , I was using ANZAC and digger interchangeably. Seal, however, argues that although one has influenced the other and they weave in and out of each other, they have fundamentally different meanings. The digger myth is one of a hard working man, just a regular guy, who is going off to war to make a paycheck and make his country proud. Seal uses a lot of primary sources of soldier’s stories to describe what digger culture was like. The digger legend can be summed up as an authentic, down to earth folktale about the ordinary men who became heroes in war. On the other hand, the ANZAC story is one of a national identity and although it is derived from the digger folktale, it is becoming farther and farther removed from it as time goes on. ANZAC day is a public holiday complete with marches, ceremonies, and shared meals. ANZAC is the idea of the national identity, how one small country who just got independence was able to go to war and perform on the world stage. It does not necessarily include the stories of diggers that were actually on the battlefield, but rather a removed, romanticized memory of war.

The statue that I am using is one of a digger soldier. I believe that the digger folktale and the doughboy folktale are really similar stories (And the statues are similar too). But there is not an ANZAC comparison in the United States. The American identity was not formed by war and the stories brought back. World War 1 is barely remembered in the U.S. We don’t even have a separate public holiday for remembrance, just one large one to recognize all veterans of all American wars. This leads me to one of my big questions: How could two countries with similar folktales and statues honoring them, remember war so differently?

Week 3: Statue Visit and Book Hunting

Hello all,

This week I ventured out to visit the doughboy statue on 2nd and Spring Garden streets. I know that in my intro to the statue, I would like to describe the area around the statue. It is right next to I-95 and down the street from a gentlemen’s club. I hung out at the park for a little while and noticed that most people who walked through it were just using it as a shortcut to get to the Spring Garden subway station. On the other side of the park is a spice and herb store that I went into, I asked a few cashiers what they knew about the statue or if any of them took care of it (I read online somewhere that the store had taken up the mantle of caring for the statue) but unfortunately no one really knew anything.








I have also spent this week book hunting. Since our library does not allow us to “be amongst the books,” I went to a few bookstores to get the book smell I was craving. Unfortunately the stores didn’t have anything good on my topic so I am going to have to tackle the beast that is bookbot.





The one good thing that came out of this week is that a professor I had in Australia finally replied and gave me some good starting sources so I will add them to my bookbot hunt. I have quite a few books digitally but it really doesn’t feel like a large research project without a stack of books next to me.