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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Greetings from Columbia

I’ve been really procrastinating with writing this blog post.  And it’s not because I’ve run out of barely-to-non relevant pop culture references—please note the photo inclusion of Cody from Step By Step—but rather, because where writing about something has always offered me clarity and perspective in the past, I just keep writing draft after re-edited draft of this post as my mind continues to sway back and forth.  That and I’m still mentally exhausted from the trip.  So I’ll skip the usual emotiony testimonial and rhetorical questions and just give up the facts.  Here’s my Hind-Sight Itinerary for my visit to Mizzou two weeks ago.

Relevant?  Yeah, buddy!

6:00 PM:  Arrive in Columbia, MO.  Meet with Alex—my grad student liaison for my visit—and his friends in the Creative Writing MA and PhD programs for a writing workshop at Penera.  Get a hot chocolate and a blueberry muffin.

7:30 PM:  Arrive at the home of Naomi, a PhD student and your appointed host for the night.  Chat with her about the program, even though she was never in the MA program (she received her MFA at Arkansas before beginning her PhD at Mizzou), and meet her husband, Derek, and their three-year-old daughter, Liberty.  Liberty will be giving up her room for you tonight where her creepy dolls will stare at you because, you know, you’re sleeping in a three-yr-old girl’s bed.

8:34 PM:  Meet up with your buddies Aaron, Christine, and Christine’s rugby team (not your real buddies, but they’re pretty cool too) who go to school at Mizzou at a local bar and watch some college basketball games.

10:30 PM:  Meet up with current grad students and others accepted into the MA and PhD programs at a local English department drinking hole and chat and drink free beer.  Don’t drink too much because, you know, the dolls, will be watching.

11:52 PM:  Get back to Naomi’s and trip over everything in the living room before you make it into your tiny bed.


7:47 AM:  Wake up and watch Yo-Gaba-Gaba with Liberty

8:12 AM:  Eat breakfast with Naomi’s family.  Feel pretty weird about that.

9:13 AM:  Be late to the opening round table discussion for visiting students and park in the wrong garage.  Learn about the nuts n’ bolts of the program and feel excited about your prospects.

10:17 AM:  Run back to your car and move it to the right garage before you get a ticket.

10:30 AM:  Meet with the director of the English MA program and discover that you’d be guaranteed to publish while in the 2-yr MA program, but that being in said program does not guarantee acceptance into the 5-yr PhD program.

11:12 AM:  Meet with the department’s pedagogy professor and end up talking about AmeriCorps.

11:35 AM:  Meet with the Victorian Lit professor because both creative non fiction professors actually resigned for better jobs shortly after you were accepted(you already knew this).  Discuss your surprisingly sincere interest in Victorian lit (thank you Wishbone) and her surprising expertise in travel writing.

The pooch got me through high school english
12:00 PM:  Have lunch with two PhD students at a nice restaurant.  Debate whether it’s appropriate to order steak during a free lunch—decide yes, yes it is.  Deflect questions about who you read and where else you’ve been accepted (you’ve only been waitlisted at Oregon State and Minnesota).  Listen as they tell you an MA in creative writing is as good as an MFA in it if you’re pursuing your PhD in it—they both got MFA’s before getting their PhD’s—and a PhD is the next best thing to a selling book to find a professorship in an overly saturated field.

2:00 PM:  Sit in on a TA’s class.  Marvel at how attentive some students are while how asleep other students are.  Realize what a good teacher this guy is and picture yourself up there, but maybe wearing a vest.

3:00 PM:  Listen to a presentation from a PhD student (MFA recipient) on the evolution of the feminine memoir.  Be pretty intimidated and pretty interested.

4:16 PM:  Follow Alex to a bar after the presentation and before dinner where you meet the presenter, who is a little drunk.  Chat with her a little about your aspirations and smile dumbly when she asks you why you aren’t getting an MFA.

5:00 PM:  Eat dinner at an Italian restaurant with all of the grad students and visiting students.  Watch as the entire restraint, and the entire campus, sharply falls into a state of shocked depression when Mizzou gets knocked out in the first round.

6:30 PM:  Finally excuse yourself for some alone time and stroll around the campus among sad Tiger fans.  Take a rest and enjoy the a beautiful campus

7:21 PM:  Meet up with your buddy Aaron again and bring your stuff over to his apartment for the night.  Do not return to the tiny bed.

9:17 PM:  Get picked up by Alex for the party for all the visiting students where the idea is to have you drink and relax and then drink some more.

10:39 PM:  Talk to a PhD student who received her MFA from Oregon State and have her tell you to go there, or to any other MFA program, if you get in.  Say ‘thanks’ when she promises to e-mail her old advisor about you.

11:16 PM:  Dip a chip in the nacho cheese and eat it.

11:17 PM:  Talk to a current MA student about his plans to teach at a private high school and write on the side with his degree and think that doesn’t sound too bad.


12:38 AM:  Get dropped off at Aaron’s and fall asleep on the floor because, damn, you’re tired.

8:37 AM:  Wake up when you hear Aaron making coffee and slop yourself together for the drive home—it’s St. Patrick’s Day.

9:14 AM:  Get on the road.

11:05 AM:  Step onto the highway as your car lies smoking and stationary in the middle lane.

11:06 AM:  Thank God when a tow truck stops and offers to drive you home for whatever cash you can throw at him.  Thanks again Ron, wherever you are.

You're the tops, Ron, the tops

So as you can tell from my schedule (you should be pronouncing that in the British fashion, SHE-su-al) it was an exhausting visit with much to process, and that’s what I’m continuing to do.  Process.

More to follow soon.


  1. I watched yo gabba gabba on Friday too but with a 2 year old in Phoenix. Surprisingly my netflix recommendations haven't changed much but maybe that isn't surprising hmmmm. Good luck with your decision!

  2. The vest is key, Jeremy. I'm glad you realize this.