Saturday, January 31, 2009

Reflections on Visit #1

Well, it's over. Round one, anyway. The interview was less painful than I expected. 

However, there is something about visiting graduate schols before they decide to admit you that makes me sympathize with the little frogs in a biology laboratory, except they might be more fortunate, because they're dead and don't have to hear people comparing the size of their eyeballs when removed from the sockets.

*Reassuring moment* my eyeballs are still in my sockets.

I'm serious.  Am I walking crooked? Maybe they want someone who walks a little crooked. All the students here cross their right leg over their left. I've been doing it wrong for years!!!! I picked meat instead of vegetables at lunch. Would I be more acceptable if were vegetarian?  I yawned during one of the classes I sat in on - how dare I! Was I funny enough? Was I serious enough? Was I enthusiastic? (Okay, so I left the pom-poms at home...stupid, I know.) 

In a sense, I felt as though each person I met was holding out a giant letter of acceptance - just out of reach, but curiously shaped like the number 42 - and all that prevented me from snatching it was my inability to think of the One Great Question About Graduate School. 

When the final dregs of each conversation turned all eyes to me, it always came. The dreaded words: "Do you have any other questions?" 


"You ARE the weakest link. Goodbye."

(Drat. I knew I should have asked why the beds were designed for people four inches shorter than me...Or burst into song: "How do I live without you?")

But the visit wasn't entirely without highlights. Along the way, I found further proof that Plato's doctrine of forms was on to something. The form of the brilliant professor is becoming ever clearer in my mind. 
  • Glasses are a definite. 
  • The voice is key: a feathery, rather opaque tone in the upper register blending to a gravely base, as if to demonstrate brilliance by encompassing everything in the world, lithosphere to atmosphere. 
  • A rhythmic step-dance for lecturing unique to the individual: four steps forward, four steps back, or three to the left, one to the right, and a little hop (so maybe the hop is an exaggeration). 
I'm still working out the rest. Right now it could still be confused with the form of a Richard Harris doing a line dance in between Harry Potter scenes. But give me time...

In the meantime, it's back to the daily grind.  And I, a wiser, sadder woman, will now begin designing a new world to rival this one in order to calculate that elusive One Great Question About Graduate School. 

Stay tuned for the flying flowerpots.+

++alliteration mega-points.

Saturday, January 24, 2009

Why Me? Interview #1

Next Wednesday and Thursday, I have my first official grad school visit and interview, at Mary Baldwin College in Virginia, for the Masters of Letters in Shakespeare and Renaissance Literature in Performance. That's a mouthful. 

Step one of interview prep: remember the program name.

I've done interviews before, and I'm not bad at them, but they scare me. Horribly. I don't know what the interviewer will ask, how formal it will be, or whether I'll be having an uncontrollable sweaty-palms-and-bad-hair day on that particular morning. Because really, how much better a first impression can you make than by leaving a layer of brine on the interviewer's hand? Really.

On my calendar for today, I wrote - "prepare for MBC interview." Haha. I have no idea what it means, but it made me feel good to write it. So for kicks, I'm taking a minute to waste time and brainstorm likely interview questions and the ways I may - or may not - be inspired to answer them. 

The Graduate School Interview

-Hi! Welcome to ___________. Glad you could make it.
-Yeah, me too. I was actually hoping to have an interview at _________, but they cancelled last minute, so I'm glad it worked out for me to come here.

-Ah, yes. Good. So, have a seat. I have your files here, and--
-Good. Good. Maybe you can remind me what I wrote in that personal statement. I think it was about 3 a.m. on coffee, so I don't really remember except that I was cutting and pasting from this website I found...

-I see. Well, why don't we start by asking you to tell us a little bit about you. Why did you decide to apply to graduate school?, that sort of thing.
-You mean after American Idol turned me down, and I got fired? Yeah, so I got this brochure in the mail - actually it was addressed to my next-door neighbor, but it was pretty, so I kept it. There were some really hot guys on the cover talking about how much money they were making, so I figured, hey, I'll give it a shot. 

-Uh-huh. That's good to know. You know, we get a lot of applicants every year, and most of them are very qualified. To be blunt, what makes you different? Why should we choose you?
-Twenty minutes and a DanceDanceRevolution. That's all I ask.

-Interesting. So, talk to me about your goals. What do you hope to accomplish in graduate school? What are some of your long-term plans?
-Hey, let's start with managing to wait to go to the bathroom until this interview is over. That's turning into a pretty long-term goal, I tell you what. But yeah, I just want the glory, really. Those three little letters would look pretty snazzy on my e-mail signature. And after that, who knows? I've had this crazy dream about writing completely bogus textbooks and perverting eager young minds...

-Thank you. I think we've got just about all we need. Thanks for coming in, and we'll be in touch.
-Great, great. Boy, I've got a lot of planning to do!

-I wouldn't start ordering your change of address forms just yet...
-That's true. I should probably wait until you start sending me my stipend. Cheers!

It's so tempting...

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Hail to the Chief

At approximately 12:05 p.m. EST yesterday, America welcomed its 44th president, Barack Obama. 

In the speech that followed, Obama outlined a new agenda for America, one that requires us all to "pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, and begin again the work of remaking America," willingly taking on "the price and the promise of citizenship."

As a relatively young citizen, it was exciting to watch history unfold and to be reminded of the great potential of America. At the same time, it is a sobering reminder that the efforts of individuals like me, God willing, power that potential. 

My hope and prayer is that the "new era of responsibility" will not only inspire us to consider with respect all the people with whom we come in contact, but will also drive us again to the knowledge that without God's grace upon us, our nation is as lost in 2009 as it has been in all preceding years.

You can read the text of President Obama's inaugural address here.

For a truly insightful commentary on the American presidency, you should check out my sister's Nov. 5, 2008 post "Hail to the Lord," on her blog.

Monday, January 19, 2009

Euh. En Francais.

In 2 weeks, I am going to be auditing a French class to help me prepare for graduate school. I have recently realized that I haven't spoken or audited French for nearly three years. Not a happy realization. 

Et alors, je dois commencer a parler Francais a mes parents, mes amis, et mon chien. S'il vous plait, ne me demande pas de parler Francais quand je suis a l'eglise, ou au bureau de poste, parce que les personnes-la penserais que je suis fou. Peut-etre, je suis fou, certainment. Mais je prefere a m'appeller interessante. Et oui, je sais que ce Francais ci-dessus est tres mal. Voici ma probleme.

2 weeks.

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Crazy Dance Video

In a word: trust. 

In another word: ouch.

In another word #2: wow.

Monday, January 12, 2009

T-minus How Should I Know?

It's January. Happy New Year. Month of writing-the-wrong-year-on-checks-and-other-dated-items-like-tax-forms-but-we-don't-think-about-those. Etc. 

AND...I can no longer pretend that the applications I mailed in November have no impact on my future plans. Drat.

I should start hearing back from graduate schools somewhere between the end of January and the middle of April, if last year is any indication. So, to fill up the angsty waiting period, a friend had the brilliant idea of colorizing it! (see below).  

The only question that remains is, will the school names be filled in with red (bad), yellow (probably bad), or green (good-but-scary)? 

*Cue intense music* 


Sunday, January 4, 2009

Crashing Parties, Crushing Pedestals

I love random and awkward life lessons.

One of my friends, who shares my love of dancing, recently heard about a dance that was much closer to home than weekend dances tend to be. When she arrived, she was surprised to find that the boy at the door was not charging an admission fee. 

Once inside, she noticed that the decorations were homemade and personalized. And that 90% of the dancers were in high school or younger. And that an entourage of mothers was setting out snacks. And that people were talking about "being invited," not "deciding to come."

It took only a few more minutes for my friend to realize that the event was, in fact, a private party. After reflecting on the embarrassment she must have felt, enhanced by the fact that many of the people at the party knew her family, I started thinking.

Mark Twain once said, "Man is the only animal that blushes - or needs to." 

Don't get me wrong, I don't think the concept of shame is inherently bad; however, when imperfection is only permissable in private, we have a problem.

Sometimes it's easier to recover from embarrassment and guilt when we are surrounded by strangers. Why? Shouldn't shared experiences bring people closer, give them greater empathy? Maybe. But like many people, I hate showing weakness in front of people I know. Why blog (see this post) or spill to strangers on airplanes? The impression of simultaneous intimacy and distance is attractive to us, especially when we feel vulnerable or inferior.

Perpetual weakness, or even the appearance of it, is no fun. Just ask someone with idiopathic craniofacial erythema. But avoiding vulnerability is not the answer. There is a place for showing the people who know us that we too are flawed. After all, without gaffes, bad hair days, and tongue-tied moments, human relationships would have much higher pressure, very little honesty, and much less healthy laughter. 

Even if that means crashing a few high school dance parties in the process.

Postscript: I also love pretending that the awkward life lessons that I stumble into happened to someone else. But in light of the still-wet paint of the second-hand New Years' resolutions I have inhaled, I have to admit that I was a participant in the above-mentioned gaffe. *Cue blushing.* So now you know. Hate to burst your bubble, but I'm not perfect either. :-)

Thursday, January 1, 2009

New Resolutions' Year

In my book,

...Resolve is a carpet cleaner.
...The word Re-solution means having another go at a solution you tried last year.
...If you see the email subject line Re: Solution, you know a lecture is forthcoming.

I'm not the New Years Resolution type.  My carpet is past help, and I've heard carpet cleaners are very bad for your complexion. I can get a lecture just by bringing up November's election, and solutions that have been tried and discarded once usually have an embedded computer virus.

But, in the spirit of a New Year free of superstitions, black eyed peas, and insulted looks, I've decided to try my hand at a series of New Years Un-Resolutions, otherwise known as stating the obvious (sneaky, right?). 

Enjoy. And don't forget to leave the garbage inside today. (In which case, I'd recommend leaving the kitty litterbox in the basement until tomorrow as well.)

**Drum roll, please...

Un-Resolution number ONE 
(must be spoken out loud with similar emphasis for the Un-R to work)

I will never ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever ever make a resolution to watch VeggieTales.

Un-Resolution number TWO

I will probably not stop writing on my blogs or start caring that my readership is approximately 3 people. When they're really bored.

Un-Resolution number THREE

I might not begin to clean my room before it gets to the ouch-I-tripped-on-a-giant-dust-bunny-named-Bob stage.

Un-Resolution number FOUR

I will never put superglue and duck tape over the snooze button on my alarm clock.

Un-Resolution number FIVE

I will almost definitely write another bizarre and chaotic Christmas letter next year.

Un-Resolution number SIX

I will religiously refuse to post my relationship status on my Facebook page, on principle.

Un-Resolution number SEVEN

I will resume my perusal of with the goal of one day working on their staff.

Un-Resolution number EIGHT

I will alliterate any way and any wheelbarrow of words aptly worth alliterating.

Un-Resolution number NINE

I will endeavor to utilize my supercilious tendency to quibble with abnormally horizontally-extended speech to whatever antidisestablishmentarianistic ends possible, unless I have the misfortune of contracting pneumonoultramicroscopicsilicovolcanoconiosis.

Un-Resolution number TEN

I will most likely very probably with a high percentage of likelihood not become resolved to take my New Years resolutions, un- or not, seriously.

**another drumroll, just for kicks...

Happy 2009!