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Posts Tagged ‘Grad School’

 

The Ivory Tower (from The NeverEnding Story)

1 down, 9 to go.

I turned in my first application to grad school two days ago.  I should feel some semblance of relief, but I don’t.  My official test scores will take weeks to get there, and my stupid stupid MFA transcripts from London haven’t arrived despite being mailed 3 weeks ago.  I’m pissed off!  A really really really nice woman who answered my phone call to the Humanities department calmed me a bit, at least confirming that I would not be automatically disqualified.  She said she wouldn’t know if it would help, but she accepted a scanned copy of my MFA transcripts until the real ones arrive.

It became far clearer to me how difficult it will be to get in when this week a professor connection I was trying to make basically said, flat out, “there’s no point in me talking to her because we accept 3 people every year, and I’m busy anyway, so leave me alone.”  3 people out of 100.  My test scores are abysmal and I’m not that sure about my writing sample, so even if my grades, recommendation, and personal statement get me into top 10, these are easy elements by which to separate me out.  And I’m screwed if some schools look at scores first – if they only look at 650 and up – I am dead.  3.8 GPA, UofC honors degree, Phi Beta Kappa or no, I’m a terrible test-taker.  I’m counting on the readers being fair, and who knows how likely that will be.  Hence, 10 applications.  Hopefully I can raise my chances from 3% to, who knows, 10-20%, and maybe higher if I apply to many levels of programs.  Which I think I am.

That’s the story, Mornin’ Glories.  I’ve spent every night this past week working on my candidate statement, losing so much sleep, I can’t tell you, driving myself to exhaustion and sickness, and my work and grad school load have both suffered for it.  If it pays off, it will have been worth it.  If it doesn’t, I suppose I’m better prepared to do it again next year.  If I can bear it.  If I can bear it.

Knock, knock, knocking.  Please let me back in.  It’s cold and lonely out here.

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I just ate the most delicious omelet sandwich at Dizi.  Fluffy eggs cooked with fresh chive, mayonnaise, tomato, and lettuce on a toasted sesame kaiser roll.  So delicious that it was gone in under 2 minutes, I mean it.  And it wasn’t small.  This is all that’s left, and I’m taking my time in finishing the veg.

I desperately needed this comfort food, and a big breakfast was in order.  I need to get this off my chest, and I figure, soon enough I’d be telling the world anyway.  I’m applying to doctoral programs.  Maybe I already mentioned this on the blog, but I’m not sure.  Due to intense, paralyzing fear, I have begun and abandoned this process about 3 times before within the last 6 years.  However, the fact of the matter is, I belong in academia, and there is no way around it.  I have amazing skills which I apply to many different fields, but eventually, I fall into pits, despondency, melancholy, depression.  Yet, I read.  I read a lot.  I research a lot.  I write a blog in large part to simply spit out my thoughts to anyone who would want to listen.  Being able to contribute to a genuine conversation is such a strong desire of mine, my skin is crawling, I physically crave it

So what has the problem been?  My self-esteem regarding my academic merits is in the crapper.  I am so scared of failing to get into a program that I cannot act.  I have convinced myself that no professor will remember me, that nobody will want to stand up and speak for me.  I’m scared that those who have in the past will be annoyed that I’m asking once again, like the boy who cried wolf.  I’m scared that I won’t be able to adequately communicate what I want to study (because I’m often not certain myself), and I’m scared that whether I do or not, the powers that be will decide it isn’t a subject worthy of attention (Science Fiction), OR, that it’s been studied to death and I just don’t know it.  Rendering me stupid, useless, and a failure all around.

The thing is, I always got wonderful grades.  I loved being in class, and I know that my professors valued my participation.  I’m a member of Phi Beta Kappa for god’s sake.  But when I look at programs where 100 people apply, and 5 people get in, why would I be a good candidate?  Despite a 2-year MFA (a practical course, not a research course), and starting an MA program 5 months ago, I have been out of it for almost a decade.  What are they going to think about that?  What the hell am I doing even trying?  Then I look at my transcripts (I dug them out yesterday), and I’m blown away at the person I once was.  She was a stellar student.  Stellar.  There is no other word for it.  I graduated with a 3.8 and a 3.9 in my major from the University of Chicago, an institution to which as an alumna I have been devoted in my participation and fundraising.  Would that they take me back…

All I’m saying is that, hard as it may be to ask, I need my friends these days.  Deadlines are looming, and as usual, I have procrastinated myself into a panic.

Better get going with my salad.  Vitamins are important.  Gotta order a coffee, too.  Caffeine is certainly in order.  Have a good week, everyone.

 

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An "art-short-story" I adore, created by Brian Andreas. I keep this above my bed.

‘Twas yesterday.  My birthday.  31 on the 31st.  My golden birthday, gone in a flash.  Shared another birthday with Harry Potter (and his creator JK Rowling), and now an anniversary with Chelsea Clinton, apparently.  Went swimming in the sea, had a lovely Italian breakfast with my mother at Rustico Basel, a leisurely soy ice coffee with my sister at Loveat, and had a little wine and cheese night up on the roof garden with dear friends and family (some of the best Camembert on record!).  Besides the detour of picking up party supplies, cleaning house, and baking my own cake, it was very relaxing.

Harry turned 30 yesterday

I am absolutely thrilled that I had a wonderful birthday – and that it was like almost any other good day. What I mean by that is for the first time in my life, I didn’t put my birthday up on a pedestal.  I didn’t stress out.  I didn’t have high hopes or low hopes.  I didn’t have hopes.  And it was marvelous.  Not too different than other marvelous days, but just a little more special.  I am looking forward to future birthdays just like this.  Fun, but without grandiose expectations.

Birthdays are always a good chance to take stock.  In recent years I feel like I haven’t accomplished much.  When you’re young, in school, working your first jobs, achieving demonstrable things is what’s expected.  School plays, good grades, choir concerts, varsity letters, diplomas, certificates of honor, promotions, etc, etc.  Now, it’s not so noticeable; life seems to grind on. A lot.  And it’s not so clear what you or the world would consider an accomplishment.  So, without further ado, an attempt at listing this years’ (potential) accomplishments, in no particular order:

  • Forging a new career as a freelance virtual assistant , writing/blogging consultant, and editor.
  • A trip to Provence with good friends for good food, good wine, good culture, good Scrabble, and good conversation.
  • Lots of organic veg, lots of cooking and eating, and lots of blogging about it.
  • Wine work – huge expos, weekend wine tastings, a couple trips to wineries, and my first actual (I guess, professional, ee gad!) presentation.
  • Yoga! Lots and lots of Yoga. Every Thursday. Come rain or shine.
  • Sommelier course – or the closest you can get to it in Israel. So much fun, for so many reasons.
  • Got into grad school (MA in Creative Writing). Starting in 2 weeks. We’ll see how that goes…
  • Buddhist meditation – life-changing practice. It’s saved me, for so many reasons.
  • Vipassana retreat – silence and meditation 24/7 for 7
  • Leadership, again – helped form a Sangha (meditation community), 10th college reunion committee recruitment chair (12 new members in less than 2 weeks!), and potentially volunteering to organize an alumni event for the U of C Israel Alumni Club.
  • Reality TV show – my sister and I (and our lovely apartment) starred in a house hunting show.
  • Almost a month in the States – spent quality time with old friends and family by way of an east coast whistle-stop tour, a mid-west road trip blasting Hemingway on the speakers, and an Iowa wedding. The best of times.
  • Read some good books, made a couple good friends, drank some good wine, and at brief moments, felt good and knew it.

Not a bad year if you look at it empirically.  I know that I diminish my accomplishments and experiences because the negative and what I perceive as missing, overshadow the good. Namely, the never-ending battle to achieve work-life balance, and the never-ending battle to get out of dodge (aka single-dom).  Luckily, I’m much less paranoid about both.

My hope is that I (and all of us) will continue to become grounded, perceive the here-and-now as much as possible, be in a position to recognize moments of happiness when they come, explore our world, explore the paradox, create beauty, and take some risks.  Some good big risks.  Onward and upward!

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