Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Privileged Information

Some academic programs don't bother to revise their lame rejection letters from year to year.

(Number three. Halfway there.)

Sunday, February 25, 2007

The View from Here

I used to hate snow. I associated it with cold, difficult driving, and dirty streets. Now, more and more, I kind of like it. I enjoy the insulated feeling of being inside a warm house while everything outside is mounded with fresh white snow. Like today:

Except that today, after spending twenty minutes digging my car out of more than a foot of wet snow (with a burning throat--the harbinger of a cold--and neighbors watching from across the street with shovels in their hands) and surfing out of my not-yet-plowed neighborhood to the main road--all before eight a.m.--I'm in no mood to wax romantic about the snow. I was so angry at the district manager who didn't deem it necessary to close the store today, and so resentful of the few customers who weren't sensible enough to stay home and let me do the same, I arrived at work almost in tears. A perfect day of books and movies and hot chocolate thwarted by retail. Retail. Disgusting.

But now I'm determined to start over. I have the rest of the evening off, and tomorrow too. I need to relax, even if I can't quite pretend to be utterly but contentedly snowbound (which was always my favorite part of the Little House books). Pajamas, here I come.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Resisting the Spiral

Today's mail brought my second rejection letter--this one from my first-choice school. Because it's one of the best programs in the country and I didn't really expect to get in, I'm not as upset as one might expect. But I won't deny that some serious self-pity is starting to swirl in my head. I get caught up in the idea that because I went to a state university (where I know I got a good education), because I'm not solidly bilingual, because I'm not a published writer, because I don't have a fantastic story about overcoming adversity to come just this close to achieving my one dream (to be a writer and literary critic and college professor), and because I've lived in the same unromantic state for 26 years, I will never be among the handful of people selected from the hundreds of applications. For days now, I've been subconsciously convincing myself that I'm utterly unexceptional. And damn it, that has to stop.

So my goal for today, after I do the dishes and before I work on writing an article I've been toying with for almost a month, I'm going to sit down and make a list of the reasons I should get into at least one PhD program. Because if--if--I don't get into any, I need something to save me from interpreting that experience as hard evidence of my own unworthiness.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

IKEA: Ugly Furniture. Now My Favorite Store.

Check out this article. I love it when foreigners tell Americans what to do. Because--let's be honest about this--we won't decide to change on our own.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Fun for Book Nerds!

1. Grab the nearest book.
2. Open the book to page 123.
3. Find the fifth sentence.
4. Post the text of the next three sentences on your blog along with these instructions.
5. Tag five different people.

"How they use the salt, precisely--who knows? Certain I am, however, that a king's head is solemnly oiled at his coronation, even as a head of salad. Can it be, though, that they anoint it with a view of making its interior run well, as they anoint machinery?"

Melville, Moby-Dick

Full-body tackle:
1. Natasha
2. Laura
3. Erin
4. Jessie
5. Loralee
I'm afraid of the mail now. Email. Postal mail. It's all the same when it can all bring tidings of a fucked-over future. When I parked in front of my house this afternoon, I could see that the top of the mailbox was closed all the way. That meant small envelopes only--no giant "welcome to our happy academic family" packets. It turned out to be all junk mail, but before I knew that for sure, my stomach curdled with apprehension.

I want to be excited about all of the possibilities in this--I am a little excited--but the fear is just way too persuasive.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Well, We Won't Be Moving to Seattle

Today I received, via email, the first admissions decision from one of the six PhD programs I applied to. It was a big fat rejection. The good news is that this was my last-choice school, so I'm not in tears or anything. Just incredibly freaked out. Because for the last several weeks, this one particular question has been perenially popping into my head, and I've been doggedly squashing it. What if I don't get into any schools? Oh. My. God. What if I don't get into any schools.

I've been happy lately, because I've been enjoying my job at Barnes & Noble again. I used to love it. Then Christmas happened, and a change occurred that was so gradual, I didn't even notice it until I completely despised bookselling, the company that made me do it, and all the people I did it to. It's taken me this long to shrug off the retail hell that is December. I still hate certain things, like putting books on the shelves at the end of the night, after lazy and inconsiderate customers have left them wherever they felt like it. But the rest of the job makes me feel relatively lucky in what I do. But. Last night one of the managers was being very open about the fact that he's trying to teach me how to do extra things so I will be ripe for promotion if a position opens up. I'm being groomed for management. And that's fine. That's flattering. But actually, guys? I don't want to work at Barnes & Noble for the rest of my life.

I want to get my PhD. I want to teach. I want to write. I want to study literature unto eternity. So I hope those other five schools are listening when I say this: Please, please work with me here.

Sunday, February 04, 2007

Having a Happy Anniversary

Here's to seven years of unwedded bliss, and to unorthodox celebrations: brunch at a restaurant called Hell's Kitchen (damn good food, indeed), a nap, and now a pile of junk food and a movie. Life is good.