Saturday, November 29, 2008

Black Friday: an Ethnography

I'm generally a shy person. I need a break after extensive large group time. But inexplicably, I really like going shopping on Black Friday and Christmas Eve. I am not the 6 a.m. doorbusters type of girl; instead, I enjoy rambling around the mall in the afternoon, silently smirking at the exploits of my more intense fellow shoppers.

Here are a few highlights.

Minivans. The first sign of Black Friday is the overabundance of minivans on the highway. These are the mothers rarely seen on the interstate, but who drag their children out of bed at 5:30 a.m. in order to buy discounted winter coats and microwaves. 

Sneak tactics. The best way to ensure first dibs on items in a narrow aisle is to take a wide cart, man it on each side with several children hanging off the basket, and park in the center of the aisle while you start at the other end and work your way up.

Bizarre priorities. When it takes longer to return an item than it took that item to be made, purchased, gift wrapped, and opened.

Holiday spirit. There's nothing like watching shoppers snatch items off a pile and toss them on the floor or ram other shoppers with their cart, to the tune of "Hark the Herald Angels Sing." The only thing better is three guys roaring with laughter when you accidentally crash into a fake plant while passing slow-moving shoppers.  

...and finally, the countdown...
  • Number of non-employees wearing Santa hats: 1
  • Number of fathers sitting dejectedly outside a store: 15+
  • Number of teenage couples holding hands: 9+
  • Number of people asking help figuring discounts or deciding between two items: 2
  • Number of people using hand sanitizer in the food court: 4
  • Number of awkwardly loud cell phone conversations: 2  
What memories...

On a more serious note, Black Friday has become a dangerous day. The phrase "doorbusters" was not meant to be taken literally. It's not funny to consider store employees trampled, injured, and even killed by rioting shoppers. In fact, it's downright disturbing when you think about it. No $388 flat-screen TV is worth it; not by a long shot.

The sights and sounds of madcap shopping make funny stories. But honestly, when consumerism leads to a blatant disregard for humanity, that's no laughing matter.  As much as I get a kick out of the atmosphere on Black Friday, I wish that giving thanks and celebrating the people in our lives, rather than the effects of overeating turkey, would be what sticks with us into the Thanksgiving weekend. 

...and they arrived!

With one day to spare on the 4-6 weeks deadline, my GRE subject test scores FINALLY arrived yesterday. Chicken that I am, I put off opening the envelope as long as I possibly could. 


The results were good! (better, in fact, than I had hoped.)  It may not mean much in terms of getting into grad school, but it certainly won't hurt.  WHEW!!!!  

Now I just have to get those last few transcripts located and the last few references in...

Happy Thanksgiving, by the way!

Monday, November 24, 2008


No scores today.

Friday, November 21, 2008


No test scores today.

Thursday, November 20, 2008


No test scores today. 

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Grad School Update

Busy, busy, busy.

Final application count (subject to change): 8

-Emerson (MA, Publishing and writing)
-Mary Baldwin (MLitt, Shakespeare)
-Duke (PhD)
-Wake Forest (MA)
-UVA (PhD)
-Northwestern (PhD)
-Vanderbilt (PhD)

This week, I've been talking to admissions and financial aid reps from Mary Baldwin and Emerson, including an online chat open house hosted by Emerson, and hoping to schedule a visit at Mary Baldwin in the near future. 

Deadlines approaching rapidly. Still no GRE scores.  Some transcripts apparently failing to arrive at their intended destinations; ironically, the most oft-missing are the ones that had to be ordered from the other side of the world. Sigh. 

And oh, the waiting. :-P

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

I think I've hit "Acceptance"

After chortling my way through several similar sites in the past year, I recently came across the blog "Stuff Christians Like." (Rumor is, there's a book deal coming). 

In the meantime, I feel an inexplicable need to point you to #438.  


Monday, November 17, 2008

Grumble, grumble...ETS

Sometimes life is cruel.

I took the GRE subject test Literature in English four weeks and 2 days ago. The test results were scheduled to arrive 4-6 weeks after the test date. of this past Saturday, my eyes are glued to the mailbox.

Today, an envelope arrives, addressed to me and bearing the return address of the ETS.

Heart-rate rises.

Stomach begins to roil.

Palms begin to sweat.

Fingers begin to tremble.

After a stern, "Just get it over with," I open the envelope. To stall, I read the cover letter explaining how to interpret your scores, noting that subject test scores are on a scale from 200-990, unlike the general test. 

Finally lift the flap of the slightly thicker, green-tinted score report. Trepidation and fluttering feelings escalate as eyes slide down the lines of typewriter text to find a blank box underneath the heading "Subject Test Scores."


A last-minute decision to apply to Mary Baldwin College's Masters of Letters in Shakespeare required me to request another online score report request, separate from the other 7 I had requested last month. 

Each time you request scores from the ETS, they send you a copy to confirm. Talk about cruel.

In my opinion, they should be required to include a notice on the OUTSIDE of the envelope informing you what it contains. Some modicum of mental preparation would then be possible, and Drop Zone emotional trips like mine could be avoided. 

All I have to say is, there had better not be any more envelopes from the ETS until the actual scores arrive. I don't think I could take another one.

What Americans are Reading

USA Today just released its list of the top 150 best-selling books in the last 15 years. 

I have read 36, including 11 of the top 20.

How about you?

I find it fascinating that the three most popular non-fiction topics are God, self-help, and food and weight loss. What an interesting commentary on American culture.

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Life in 10 seconds

My thoughts on Election Day.

Voted this morning without standing in line. It was great. 

Spent a weekend in Virginia for my college's fall theatre production, Women of Troy, by Euripedes, which was very well done and thought-provoking. Beautiful fall colors along the interstate. Went to a halloween dance (my fourth!!) and "won" band's second place pick for a dance. :-0

Sent in my last electronic application (unless I decide on another school) today, and a heap of transcripts on Monday. I think the post office is getting tired of seeing me come in. I'm not even going to count the total cost of the application process, but 7 schools definitely adds up.

Still reading Madame Bovary by Flaubert.  Doing a close study of French pronouns and prepositions, and still working on "Le Petit Prince" and "Le Coeur Revelateur" for my French reading practice. Taking a brief break from Shakespeare.