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Wednesday, January 25, 2012

That's the Name of the Game

With all of my applications turned in and out of my hands I am now playing the waiting game, which is actually my third favorite game behind Yahtzee and Are These Leftovers Still Good?  The waiting game consists of me sitting back and doing whatever I want to do until I regrettably receive some kind of "word", meaning the waiting game is over and I have to do stuff again, stuff like make decisions—damn it.

I'm the the dog, the muffins are grad school, now where do I find the guy who accidently bumps the table?

I should point out that I actually completed my applications about a week before I made my claim as being “officially done”.  The week following my applications was spent e-mailing faculty members in my creative nonfiction field from each school to let them know that I am applying.  In some of these e-mails I commented on some of these profs' work, legitimately, in others I commented on their work, not so legitimately, while in others I simply said that I “enjoyed” their work and looked forward to working with them should I be admitted.  Out of all of the games, sincerity may be the most dangerous game—aside from hunting human beings, of course—but if you can win that, then hurrah!  But in all sincerity (is it?), it’s best to stay as honest and brief as possible because the real purpose of these e-mails  is simply get on these people’s respective radars.

This = Grad School?
Upon speaking with a former undergrad professor prior to starting my application bonanza, he told me that of nearly equal importance to submitting a good app was getting my name onto the collective tongue of the selection committee.  He told me about another former student who got accepted with an article detailing the origins of urinal cakes.  For the ladies in the audience, and the less-observant men, urinal cakes are the scented lumps of wax in the basins of urinals that attempt to prevent urinals from smelling like, well, urinals.
Maybe this piece was simply stellar and worthy of granting this guy admittance to the program on his own volition, but at the very least, it made him stand out among the hundreds of other applicants.  Selection committees could put a “face” to this guy’s name;

“What about Bill?” one might ask.

“Bill?  Oh, the Urinal Cake Guy, yeah, he was interesting.  Very interesting.”

Good or bad, any publicity is good publicity.  Maybe your piece is pretty good, but when competing with a whole load of other “pretty good” pieces, it becomes forgettable and they can’t accept you if they can’t remember you.
It’d be great to believe that my pieces are unique, memorable, and flat-out good enough to merit my acceptance on their own, but with less than a 5% chance of earning that acceptance, I’m going to pump up those odds as much as I can.
Some faculty members have responded, some have responded warmly, while others haven’t said nuthin'.  But again, even if they only recognize my name as something they sent to the trash then I’m on the radar.  And that's the name of the game--Yahtzee! 

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

I-I Think It's Over?

Every story has an ending just like every bottle has a bottom and every all-you-can-eat buffet has some guy there to tell you, "maybe that's not medically healthy anymore" .  The point is that I’ve officially completed my grad school applications.  I repeat, I am done with my grad school apps, officially.  BLAMO! 

BLAMO!  More time for eating Pop Tarts in bed!
Completing these apps—for the second time around—is as satisfying as it is relieving.  It recaptures the sensation of completing your college finals.  You’re not really sure how you did on them, in fact you’re pretty sure that you did horribly, but by George they’re over now and good or bad, you don’t have to worry about them anymore.  I don’t have to give these apps another thought until I start receiving decisions back from schools in about eight weeks and really, that’s an issue for Future Me to deal with.  Present Me is free and loving it.

Some people would hate this eight-week period of unknowing.  They would gripe about how painful the uncertainty is, fearing the worst, and lamenting, ‘If  I could just know—good or bad—if I just knew, then I’d be happy’.

Bullcrap.  I’m calling bullplop on these people.  It’s absolutely a stretch of the unknown, but instead of fixating on the worst possible outcome I like to keep my eye on the half-full glass.  During these next few weeks I have endless potential.  I could get into every school I applied to with glowing reviews.  I could be the #1 choice of every school, schools clamoring to take on this literary genius, this savant of the English language, this wordsmith of his generation.  Yes, it is really possible that every school is thinking these exact things.  It’s a small possibility, I admit, but right now it exists.  Hope lives.  But after I receive my first response from the first school, this possible reality starts to crumble.

Future Me will definitely have a jet pack
So right now when I don’t have to do anything, when I’ve already done everything that I could possibly do, it’s all out of my hands, and anything could happen, it’s a pretty sweet time to me.  It’s a time that I can truly enjoy without feeling like there’s something that I should be doing, which is pretty great.

However, in terms of this blog, such a dearth of happenings could be potentially detrimental.  Yes, I’ll now have time now to post with greater regularity, but to post about what?  I could try to think of some more tips or anecdotes from my growing experience with grad school applications, or I could just make a whole bunch of non sequitor pop culture Top 10 lists.  I’m predicting an amalgamation of choices A and B for the future... mostly choice B...  

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Let's Do the Time Warp Again!

Among the many themes of this blog—applying to grad school somehow being among them—is reality and fantasy; escaping from the former into the later and then begrudgingly, forcibly departing for the former again.  I can think of no better example of this than Christmas break.

For students and those who work with students at academic institutions—yes, I know, we suck—Christmas break is actually just that: a break.  Unlike the rest of the world, which only gets a scroogey few days off, we get two or more weeks, thus allowing a true division from reality, into at least not reality, to occur.  Again, we suck.  I am aware.  

My break entailed me flying back to my hometown to spend it with my family and friends for a week.  Every time I come back to my hometown, like stepping into a timewarp, I revert to my high school self.

I'm the bigger one.
I slept in my old room, my old shared room with my little brother where I retook my top bunk perch.  I also had to share with/ fight him for our parents’ car, the TV, the computer (our parents’ still have our favorite games on it), just about everything else too.  You can throw my little sis into that equation and double it when it came time for fighting for the bathroom.

I hung out with my friends all the time whilst complaining about my overly-smothering family as per the high school usual, getting rides from my friends when I couldn’t get the car myself.  My mommy made me breakfast lunch, and dinner, but also wanted to know where I was going each night, who I was going with, and when I’d be back.  I got to take a break from being 27 and hang out as a 17-yr-old again with all the perks and drawbacks associated with it; a liquid variation of fantastic bliss and caged hell all at the same time that had little to do with the real world.

Thanks Mom!
Needless to say with four grad school application deadlines staring me in the face from only two weeks away now I did nothing over my break, as per the high school norm.  Not having to worry about grad school apps, now that is a true fantasy, which I hope will some time soon become a reality.