Friday, October 06, 2006

Getting my ducks in a row.

While sitting at work yesterday and desperately trying to decide what to do with my life, I came up with a five-part plan. It was rather rash, but I think it's pretty good so far. This is mostly for my own reference, but I figured I could jazz it up with my hilarious C0ates wit for entertainment purposes.

Phase One: Complete Fall 2006 quarter with As.
This might be tricky, since Southern Lit is so fucking terrible and I'm coming closer and closer to the edge of sanity. I see myself three weeks from now finally snapping at Dr. Crazy, screaming about how he's a complete idiot who obviously is not even taking the time to read the books along with us and is instead relying on his fuzzy memory and the coursepack readings. And then I'll tell him that he doesn't know anything about Faulkner, which was apparent last night when he decided to give us a synopsis of every major Faulkner novel. Since I'd read all of the books he described just two years ago(except for The Hamlet, which came at the end of Dr. Cash's Faulkner class and about three books after I had had Too Much Faulkner (hmm...great name for a blog!)), it was painful to hear him make up major plot points. (For example, his synopsis of Sartoris was actually a summary of a section of "An Odor of Verbena," which is found in an entirely different book. He also continually describes Sanctuary as "the porn novel.") Also, the writing class is weird, and I'm pretty sure that the first two papers I turned in were horrible, horrible, horrible. I need to make amends with Dr. Less Crazy so I do better next time.

Phase Two: Electric Boogaloo, with French!
Since most MA programs require a foreign language, it makes more sense to start taking one now while it's free. I was originally going to take Spanish since it's easier and I actually have people here whose first language is Spanish, but DePaul doesn't offer the first Spanish class until next fall. So I'm going to take French again. This, for some reason, made my mother very angry when I told her yesterday. "Why would you waste your free tuition on another language? And WHAT SCHOOLS require a foreign language for an ENGLISH degree?" Part of me wonders what scholastic universe she lives in, but then I remembered she was a math major and now programs computers for submarines and doesn't actually understand the whole concept of humanities. Still, I think she was being pretty stupid for getting mad that I'm taking French, as if I couldn't get enough of it the last time and just need to do it all over again for fun.

Phase Three: GRE Test Extravaganza!
I have a book about the GRE Subject Test in Literature, and my favorite part is where it describes the test as "the worst cocktail party you'll ever attend." Imagine going to your professor's house and trying to impress everyone by convincing them you've read everything that Milton, Dante, Shakespeare, Joyce, and Woolf published. Yeah. So I have to study. Hard. The test is only offered three times a year, so I'm hoping to take it in April and, if I do poorly, I can take it again in November. Also, it's one hundred and thirty dollars, so I have to save up for it. I don't think I'll be buying a new iPod anytime soon, especially since I also have to take the general GRE exam again.

Phase Four: Stalk former professors.
I need three letters of recommendation. Dr. Cash will most certainly write one, but I need to get back into contact with two other professors. I'm trying to figure out to go about this without being weird and awkward. Do I just email them out of the blue two years after I graduated from undergrad? Should I email them now and form fake-email friendships with them? I don't know the rules here. It's possible (though unlikely) that I can finish the writing course with such flair that I could get one from Dr. Less Crazy, which would be good since he'd be familiar with my graduate-level work. This part won't happen for a while, so I have time to figure it out.

Phase Five: Become a hypocrite, apply to UVA for Fall '08.
Yesterday I was listening to all of this music from sophomore year, stuff like Bright Eyes and Azure Ray and Wilco, etc., and I kept remembering driving from Harrisonburg to Charlottesville and how much I enjoyed those trips because of the scenery and the change of location and all that jazz. And I realized something: I'm so very homesick these days, and there's stuff going on at home that I feel like I need to be a part of and it hurts that I can't be there. Also, whenever I have a life-crisis here in Chicago, which is often, I can't figure out how to calm myself down. It's October, it's getting colder, I'm slipping into my annual winter depression, and it sucks because Chicago in October isn't very pretty. I need to be in the mountains right now. I need to see some color. I need autumnal foliage. I need to drive down 81 and 64, chain-smoking three-dollar packs of Camel lights. That's how I chill out.

It makes sense that I apply to UVA, in a way. The school that features, in some way, things I love (strong connection with history, rampant intellectualism, dichotomy of high- and low-brow culture) and hate (mid-Atlantic intellectual snobbery, small mountain town) about the South. (My favorite episode in Lie Down in Darkness, which is in my top five novels ever and is highly recommended, the main character drunkenly stumbles through the grounds, weaving through the KA house and the homecoming football game, the entire time absent-mindedly clutching a Confederate flag. God, it’s good.) Luckily, Charlottesville is a great town; it’s an hour from Harrisonburg, two from DC, and two and a half from Montross. And UVA’s a good school, obviously, and I can deal with the negative aspects of it because, honestly, any school I’m interested in is going to have the same undergraduate Greek- and athletic-based culture, so I’m not going to exclude UVA because of that. And it’s funny – I grew up pretty anti-UVA thanks to my family, but when I told my mother I was planning to apply there, she seemed okay with it. (Free French classes in Chicago = horrible idea. Paying for graduate school at a college she hates that happens to be in the same state = absolutely fine.)

I have no idea if I can actually get into UVA, but I think I have a shot if I do well on the GREs. And I actually do want it, and I think it’ll make me moderately happy. The idea already does, so that’s a good sign.

1 comment:

laurie said...

i just emailed two of my old professors out of the blue to ask for recommendations, and they both seemed fine with it. one of them i TAed for, but the other i havent seen in like 2 and a half years, and she still remembered me. the third reference offered to write me one without my even asking when i met with her to ask her which school i should go to.
so, i dont think there are too many rules about recommendations. get em any way you can.