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Tuesday, April 3, 2012

The Tiny Ship Was Tossed

When I was on the Track & Field team in middle school I had a coach who liked to patrol the regimented rows of our pre-practice stretches, walking up and down the lanes of his “athletes”, issuing words of encouragement.   One of his favorite quips was; “think about this, men, while you’re out here sweating, bettering yourselves, your buddies are just sitting on the couch, eating Doritos, and watching Gilligan’s Island”.

We all found this funny because; one, we had only ever seen Gilligan’s Island on Nick at Night—emphasis on the ‘night’—and two, every one of us absolutely wished that we were sitting on couches, eating Doritos, and watching some kind of magical version of Gilligan’s Island that aired at 4:00 PM in 1999. 

"Wind sprints, crunchy granola, can't lose" - Coach Maz
That’s pretty much how I’ve been feeling about this grad school decision process, like I’d rather take the fun, easy choice, but knowing that the harder, more challenging course might ultimately be more rewarding.  The real confusion; however,  is figuring out which is the track practical choice and which is the route of                                                                             the S.S. Minnow. 

One huge factor in this whole shenanigan-fest  that I should mention, which I think most people who read this blog already know, is that I have a pre-existing medical condition.  When I was 19-years-old I was diagnosed with Crohnes Disease, a chronic ailment which causes my intestines to hemorrhage if not properly mediated.  If properly medicated it makes my tummy sound like it has trapped a small grumbly bear at times.  I actually wrote an essay about it that I submitted with my most recent applications so I won’t get into now (ask me for a copy of the piece if you’re interested).  The point-nugget to take away here is that my condition is not a big deal as long as it’s properly medicated, which isn’t a big deal as long as I have good health benefits.

Mizzou will offer me such benefits, but after I graduate… I’m just floating out there without health insurance or with ridiculously high monthly subsidies until and if I find a job with good benefits, hopefully in my field.

It sucks.

Until the Affordable Care Act figures out a way to beat that genius “Broccoli Defense”, I’m kind of screwed.  Leaving a steady job where I could take other masters classes and move my way up the college hierarchy for a humanities degree that offers little more than a hope and a dream is more than frightening to me—it’s dangerous. 

This combined with the friends and lifestyle that I’ve culled out in St. Louis makes rejecting grad school and staying put the easy Gilligan choice, right?  No risk, no stressing out about the future, just comfort and familiarity.  And in turn that would make enrolling into a difficult grad school that may be keeping true to my original lofty aspirations, refusing to give up the hope ship and take the easy way out, the difficult track practice choice, right?  Not so fast, Professor.
The tale of a fateful trip?  Check.

I would love nothing more than to write, read, and teach for the next two years within a community that supports and strengthens my efforts.  Being “the best” at something has never been a need for me, but being among the best, being just as good as anybody at something, has been my constant aspiration.  It would be nice to be there again.  If nothing more, getting my creative writing masters would be an romantically enjoyable quest, which would be awfully writer-y, but then again, so is dying diseased at a young age so there's that.  It would be amazingly easy for me to immediately call Mizzou’s director and tell him that he had me at “we’ll give you the money.”

But then what comes afterwards?  I’d either have to try to pursue a PhD (another 5 years in who-knows-where) or go off into an unknown, uninsured abyss and I can’t stand it.  I been there before.   So ditching my dreams for a more practical career/ life choice may be difficult, but more ultimately rewarding than two great years in Columbia, right?

Seriously, right?  Or wrong?  FOR THE LOVE OF GOD SOMEONE TELL ME! 

I have less than two weeks to give Mizzou my decision and I have no idea.  The more I think about it, the more I have no idea or too many ideas, and the more that makes me think about it.  I’ve been sucked into a decision whirlpool that’s spiraling me down to nowhere.  I only hope that when I finally land, I’m shipwrecked on Gilligan’s Island, or on the mainland, or on the couch, or somewhere.  I don’t know.   

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