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April is the cruelest month...

0600.  Wake up, turn off alarm.

0640.  Wake up, freak out, wake daughter up, feed said daughter, drive her to school late.

0700.  Try to read a week's worth of Chaucer, including the Parson's Tale (ha!), before 10:15.  Guzzle coffee.

1100.  Hand out course evals for Chaucer class; try to figure out what to say when the professor, who is your advisor, knows your handwriting so well.

1130.  Fake way through Parson's Tale and a haze of fatigue so thick you could sleep standing up.

1300.  Start Latin HW due at 1400.

1310.  Pay $8 for shitty lunch at student dining, choke it down while trying not to cry over the fact that you can't get a single English sentence out of any of the drill sentences.  Curse fore...ut constructions, deponent verbs, and the fact that you seem to have never really learned independent uses of the subjunctive nor primary and secondary sequence.

1330.  Seriously consider dropping out of grad school.

1400.  Sit through Latin and understand nothing of what is said.  Try not to cry.

1500.  Go to instructor's office hours.  Wait in hall for 45 minutes.  Try to force more English out of drill sentences, fail.  Consider skipping Pedagogy.

1545.  Run the three worst sentences by professor, make corrections, undertand nothing, thank him for his time. 

1600.  Chicken out of skipping Pedagogy.

1630.  Wonder why CompositionPedagogy involves getting a lecture on poetry by the former chairman for the National Endowment for the Arts.  Be vaguely aware that you should be all honored to meet him or whatever.  Find yourself unable to care.  Wonder if you've ever been so exhausted in your life.  Realize the army was easier than this.  Write smartass answers to his questions in your notebook in transliterated Hebrew, so nobody can read them in case they see what you're doing. Wonder why you can remember the Hebrew alphabet but not how to form 3rd -io conjugations.

1745.  Walk to shuttle. Seriously consider dropping out of grad school as you ponder tomorrow's Latin test, the Incomplete you should have finished a year ago, the Chaucer presentation due Wed followed by the final paper due the following Wednesday, the conference paper you haven't started, and the witty, insightful, cutting edge stuff you're supposed to say on a panel of people who are so not your peers it's not even funny. Wonder if making a fool out of yourself in front of Jeffrey Jerome Cohen will be the end of the career that never got started.

1815.  Arrive home, go back out for pizza, sandwich bags, tape, post-it notes, and milk.  Pass the beer aisle with eyes squeezed shut.

1900.  Put daughter in tub, pizza in oven, two shots of whiskey and a Sudafed in self, sit down to study Latin.

2000.  Eat.  Try to cheer self up with the knowledge that Milton Prof. thinks you do good work.

2005.  Realize you can't get a career, never mind a degree, skating on the one good thing you've written in three years, especially considering it's not in your field and that you have two Incompletes on your transcript that are about to turn into Fs.

2030.  Decide to accept daughter's word that her homework is done and then are no nasty surprises waiting in her backpack.

2045.  Put daughter to bed, and wonder if you've missed one of her birthdays, or an engagement or anything, while you've had your head up your ass all semester.

2100.  Give up on studying Latin.  Reread shitty draft of Incomplete which you've lied to the professor about and told him was finished.

2145.  Cut three pages worth of prose out of shitty draft, which represents an entire week of research, including a long bit on Baudrillard that you can't make work because you realize you've seriously mishandled his treatment of seduction, which in turn means half of your MA thesis' first chapter and 80% of its conclusion are indefensible garbage.  Console yourself that nobody will ever read it.

2230.  Realize you spent a year of your life on something nobody will ever read.

2235.  Balance checkbook and realize you have $30 left to live on until April 30th.

2240.  Try to remember the last time you kissed an adult. Figure it was last year sometime.

2255.  Decide to quit now and see if you can get your old job teaching kickboxing back.  Realize you couldn't throw a proper punch now if your life depended on it, and your cardio is gone, and, with some slow dawning awareness, that you now understand what people mean when they say they hate their bodies.

2300.  Reread "Seven Theses" from Monster Theory and have a flash of insight as to what you can say on the panel.  Make notes.  Feel suddenly better about everything despite impending Latin doom and impending unwritten-conference-paper doom.  Vow to get through this semester, lose fifteen pounds, get back in shape, take another year of Latin, read the Patrologia Latina and everything Chaucer ever wrote except Treatise on the Astrolabe over the summer, and give Sarah Beckwith a run for her money someday.

2330.  Collapse into bed after shoving aside piles of unfolded laundry.  Have endless anxiety dreams about showing up to teach in cut-off denim shorts, or getting humiliated by Allen Frantzen on a point of elementary Anglo-Saxon grammar in front of everybody, including Sarah Beckwith who, unbeknownst to you, is *also* an Anglo-Saxonist, and thinks you're a moron.

0600.   Get up and start all over again.



( 11 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 16th, 2009 01:47 pm (UTC)
God, I want to hug you and I am not a huggy sort of person.

I am so sorry. Other-Wife is finishing her double major and considering going to grad school for both of them and I read your stuff and wonder if what she's actually contemplating is suicide. Hers are forensic psych and poetry/creative writing, at least.
Apr. 17th, 2009 01:40 pm (UTC)
I think there is very little reason to do a grad degree in creative writing, at least not full time. A low-residency might be a good idea if she has the money anyway. She absolutely should not borrow for it unless she is walking into a job on the other side. Just my opinion.

OTOH, you pretty much need a grad degree to do much in forensic psych, yes? I hear the field is hard to break into, but I've certainly not researched it. I wouldn't dream of making a comparison between it and what I'm doing - it might be a completely different kind of hell :-) I mean, some people actually like grad school. They tend to not be single parents who don't get any child support, though. She should def. talk to people who are working in the field as well as students who are currently in grad programs. The more she can talk to the better. Just my two cents.
Apr. 17th, 2009 01:46 pm (UTC)
She wants to do the creative grad because one of her most admired poets teaches at the school she wants to go to, but she wants to focus on forensic psych because that would be an actual job, with an actual paycheck, whereas unless you're teaching, creative writing is pretty useless. She knows this. She's been talking to advisors a lot, partly at my repeated insistence.

She likes school, and does well in school. Her IQ is ridiculously high and she's one of those people who seems to barely need to study for a lot of things (though psych stats is killing her).
Apr. 17th, 2009 09:09 pm (UTC)
Good she's talking to people.

I'm sure she's ridiculously intelligent, and when I say this to people it usually comes off wrong and so I hope I'm not being offensive here: But everybody who makes it to grad school liked school, did well in school, was highly intelligent, far outperformed their peers, and often (not always) got through undergrad with a minimum of work compared to many. Graduate programs are full of students who were the best at their previous institutions. But grad school is an *entirely different* animal from undergrad. Also, as bochierd alludes to below, many grad programs won't let you do what's called a double major in undergrad. Some will let you take classes outside your department, some won't; some will pay for it if you do and some won't. If you get any financial assistance at all you will be expected to work somehow at some point; that sort of thing is usually only available to full-timers who often must get permission to perform additional work (say, if you wanted to work off campus).

None of this applies to low residency writing programs that offer MFAs or to schools that let part-timers do night classes. But schools that let part-timers do night classes usually let part-timers foot the whole bill themselves, too. It ain't cheap, is one of my main points, no matter what the degree. But she probably already knows that if she's been talking to advisors; I hope she's talked to people at the school she wants to do grad at too.

I'd say my MA was twice as demanding as my undergrad. I enjoyed both and made it through both with a 4.0 and a stack of awards and scholarships. My PhD program is probably twice as demanding as my MA program. I might not make it through, period. I already don't have a 4.0.

I'm in no way trying to disparage her intelligence or capabilities. I'm just pointing out that the costs can be crippling on many levels, and that in the cases of advisors, things have sometimes changed a lot in the profession between the time they got their degrees and now, so talking to current students doing what she wants to do is just as important as talking to advisors. If both programs she wants to do are at the same school, I wonder if the poet would let her audit while she took the forensic psych classes for credit. Seh might still have to pay tuition for the audit, but really, doing two grad degrees at the same time is, as again bochierd mentions, pretty much insane. In addition to the workload considerations, she might be looking at applying for two different programs, essentially, and even assuming she gets accepted to both could then be asked to choose one or the other. Though all of that really does depend on the school.

I hate being a downer, and I do still believe in people following their bliss and all. But the costs can be seriously, seriously high, esp. in fields where jobs are scarce and the field is hard to break into. I have absolutely no idea if this is the case with forensic psychology, so I probably should shut up. I guess that bit about the high costs, that bit often skipped by well-meaning advisors, is all I'm really trying to say.
Apr. 17th, 2009 09:17 pm (UTC)
I should mention that nobody would ever succeed if they didn't in part of their minds believe, or choose to act as if, the "odds" were on their side, that the scary stories didn't apply to them, or that it was anyway worth a shot for its own sake, whether or not it led where they originally envisioned.

And I should also mention that some non-humanities people believe nobody should listen to us whining, anxious, stressed out humanities folks :-), that life in grad school is very different outside the humanities, as is life on the other side of grad school. So take my stuff with a grain of salt.
Apr. 17th, 2009 09:34 pm (UTC)
I think she actually believes she will have to do them separately, if she does end up pursuing both: get one, and then get the other. She is also under the impression that she will not get any work for forensic psych without a PhD, so that's being taken into consideration, as well. She's trying to find out if she can do something with her degree in the meantime, like work with troubled teens, while pursuing the PhD. She's a very rational person; she is more concerned with the degree that will actually allow her to put food on the table, particularly when she knows and accepts that she will share the cost of supporting me (though I am very inexpensive, since I get health insurance from the state and must only be fed and clothed). She also knows this is going to be extremely expensive, but I think forensic pysch jobs, once acquired, pay well and she thinks she can pay down her school costs in some kind of reasonable amount of time, though I'm not sure what "reasonable" is, nor do I have any idea how much money she is talking about. I have next to nothing to do with Sola's finances, and nothing at all to do with Sessa's.

I think I just sound chipper because I want to be supportive of her and I've tried to bypass the "good christ, are you crazy?" stage of this idea in favor of that. I do sort of believe the writing will get dropped by the wayside, which is too bad, because she actually is an amazing poet (and I do not say that as a husband, but as a poet, myself - stupid things about seals, as a joke, aside), but I don't think she needs to go to school for it to do that. She just needs to start submitting them.
Apr. 16th, 2009 01:58 pm (UTC)
Apr. 16th, 2009 02:34 pm (UTC)
Crap on cracker, that sounds horrible!
Apr. 17th, 2009 01:42 pm (UTC)
You know, it was actually mean to be kind of funny. I seem to have failed, as I'm eliciting all kinds of sympathy when actually I was hoping for wry humor. Guess I overdid it with the crying stuff :-)
Apr. 17th, 2009 12:24 am (UTC)
Apr. 17th, 2009 06:35 pm (UTC)
No Double Majors in Grad School
Unless she's one of the miraculous who come along and earn multiple degrees like the rest of us drink coffee, she would be absolutely crazy to try and do two grad degrees simultaneously. Especially as, unless your fixed financially forever, she'll need some kind of assistantship to pay for it.

A high school teacher of mine told us when considering college that what we covered in a year in high school was a semester in college, and in grad school was about 4 weeks. The grad school thing might be stretching it a bit, but it is true that for many courses and programs, what you cover in grad school is much more and much more important than undergrad. Do them in succession, do one and take occasional or summer courses in the other or whatever, but both at the same time just would be financial, intellectual, and emotional self-torture.
( 11 comments — Leave a comment )

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