I went to McKeldin Library at the University of Maryland this past Friday to photocopy some articles, and I had to go up into the stacks. When the elevator opened, I stepped off and just stood there: paralyzed, transfixed. I had been transported to another place: the sight of all those books; the smell of all those books; the knowledge that was before me; so much to read, so much to learn. I just stood there and closed my eyes and drank in the smell of all those books. It was like a glass of fresh water to the parched Mariner. It made me so sad when I came to and realized that I was there for only a brief sojourn and not for good.
I went over to the University of Maryland last night to give MO the paperwork for his letter of reference he said he would write and my essay that he said he would read.
I wasn’t actually expecting him to be in as it was around 6:30 in the evening, and he usually rushes home to his wife. Also, I didn’t want to hang around as I was illegally parked in a teachers’ lot. I ran into the building, went up the elevator, ran down the hall, and as I turned the corner, I noticed that his door was open. I was praying that it would be his officemate because, as I said, I was illegally parked, and I didn’t want to be rude to MO and tell him that I couldn’t hang around and talk. As I turned into his doorway, I was completely taken off guard. His office was filled with people sitting all around and reading from books on music stands. Immediately it dawned on me, MO was rehearsing his play that will have a reading on Thursday.
I was so embarrassed, but I had gotten too far into his office, and he had nodded at me, so I moved in, as quietly as possible, to place the package on the table. I managed to do that, but as I turned, my jacket caught the edge of an extra music stand, standing by several others. Of course, as I moved, the jacket pushed the stand into the others, and as I tried to free my jacket, I stumbled, hitting other stands. It was something completely out of the movies, and the only thing worse that could have happened would have been if I had actually fallen into the stands.
Fortunately, I did get the package to him and didn’t get a ticket for illegally parking.
brought to you by Procrastination.
I guess I should bring everyone up to speed on the graduate school front. Well, I spent all weekend (it was a long one thanks to Mr. Columbus) working on filling out the application in Adobe Elements to make it appear like I typed it. Alas, in the end it didn’t look good, so I’ve decided to neatly hand write the application. Since I have all the information already, I don’t expect it to take too long, and I plan on putting it in the mail on Saturday. I have finished the first draft of my proposal and now it needs to be vetted (assuming that everyone is willing to read it). I have already sent it to the ‘rents. A friend at work looked at it, and made some good suggestions. I will also ask the woman at the University of Manchester (she offered months ago), DC, Bobzilla, and perhaps DW. MO, the Greek, RC, and LtL have all already agreed to read it, so that is good news. So, I should have the whole application out of my hands by Saturday.
I haven’t done anything with the Royal Holloway application, but it’s all the same info, so it shouldn’t be a problem. Once I get the University of Manchester application in the mail, I will concentrate on the Royal Holloway one. Since Manchester is shaping up to be my first choice, I am focusing all my energy on that one.
Today felt like those days so long ago when I first started working at NASA. I was so bored today. I almost fell asleep twice at my computer. Fortunately, for better or worse, I have this bronchitis that seems to wake me up every time I cough.
It’s amazing how you can sit and stare at a computer screen and just not be able to think of anything to do. The irony, I suppose, is that when I’m really friggin’ busy, I look at the computer and think of the things I could be doing instead of whatever it is I’m doing at work. Yet, when I have 8 hours to kill, I can’t think of anything to occupy my time.
I worked on my applications for grad school. I worked on my essay for the application. I went to lunch. I tried to read an article on line, but my eyes kept going all out of focus and began to close, so I stopped that. I checked my email about 100 times (alas, no new emails). I played on eBay for a little while. I did a crossword puzzle online.
Fortunately, it’s 4:20 and I’m outta here at 4:30.
I have some dry hacking cough this morning (I think I got it from my dad), and so I decided to get a drink to see if that would help. The beverage of choice? Dr Pepper.
It’s funny. Every time I drink a Dr Pepper, I am instantly transported back to the swim club we belonged to when I was very little. It was actually a quarry that was filled with water. I don’t have very strong memories since I was so young, but with every sip, I can feel my wet skin baking in the golden sunshine. I can feel the sandy water that I made my mother carry me over because I didn’t like it (I guess I was fastidious even back then). I remember the concession pavilion at the top of the hill where we used to get gummy worms and, of course, Dr Pepper.
My favorite memory from then was my dad holding me and swimming out to the wall that separated the swimming area from the rest of the quarry. My oldest sister used to go on the sliding board that dropped into the deepest end because she was older and could swim. I wasn’t allowed, but it didn’t matter when me and my daddy swam out to the wall. He was the greatest daddy then, and he still is now.
So, I thank you, Dr Pepper, for reminding me of such happy thoughts.
I know, I know. I have been remiss on keeping you informed of my progress concerning my desires to return to graduate school.
I have made the decision that I am definitely going to apply to at least the University of Manchester and Royal Holloway, University of London. I am still not sure if I will actually attend, but I am definitely going to apply.
In fact, I have already begun the process. I filled out the FAFSA online over the weekend. (For those not in the know, the Free Application for Federal Aid is the application for financial aid. All graduate students are guaranteed X number of dollars for graduate study. As far as I can tell, certain overseas schools are recognized and the US gov’t will still provide assistance. the University of Manchester and Royal Holloway, University of London are both on the list. Here’s hoping that I have not misread the rules.)
The only thing left to do is figure out who the heck to ask to write my letters of recommendation. MO offered immediately, so that is good (Thanks, MO!). Fortunately, British universities only require two references. I was going to ask my old advisor, but she is incommunicado, communing with nature and all. I am thinking about asking a Ph.D.-type here who was previously my boss, but he has never seen my academic work. There are two professors at the University of Maryland who I could ask, but one has left under mysterious circumstances, and the other was over a week and a half late with the last letter I had asked him to write. I also know that my former boss at the University of Maryland would happily write me a letter, but again, she doesn’t really know my academic ability other than I got good grades.
There is DC, who is the greatest guy, knows my work, and is a big, big name in our field of study, but I fear that the ivory tower-dwelling, prejudice academic snob will rear its ugly head merely because he hasn’t got a graduate degree (then again, I have discovered that there are many people working at universities and colleges in the UK without graduate degrees, so perhaps they aren’t as bad as the US when it comes to such things). Likewise, I’m sure that Bobzilla would be happy to write one (although I fear what he would write since he thinks that I should be working, getting married, and having babies—clearly he’s in cahoots with my mom). Seriously though, he would, I’m sure, write a wonderful letter.
So, maybe I’m not as bad off with the letters as I thought. Well, I need to worry more about the damn application and the statement of purpose and my proposal.
Well, I guess there’s no time like the present.
While we were enjoying our Jamaican Curried Lamb (see nice kids) last night, I broke my two big pieces of news to the ’rents. I was surprised how well they took both bits.
My mother asked me what was going on with the potential job offer at NASA. I told her that I still have not heard anything new, but that it’s supposed to start in 24 days if all goes according to plan. Now, I’ve been here at NASA for almost 2 years, and every office I’ve worked in has told me that they are going to get me a job, so I’m not going to really believe this office until I see the paperwork. I explained this to my mother, and she gave me that knowing nod. Then I followed this up with telling her that if I don’t get this job, then I’m going to quit working at NASA. I really thought that she was going to have a problem and say something like “well, you should probably stay there. At least you have a job there.” But she surprised me and just nodded again, and said that she completely understood and did I have any ideas of what I might do? I responded with
I’ve been looking at grad school again. My mom’s first response was “how are going to pay for it? I just don’t want you being almost 40 and so far in debt that you can’t ever see your way out. I mean, you’re going to want to get married and have kids, and I would hate to see you have so much debt.” Well, when I explained to her that being in debt really didn’t bother me and that I had no desire to have kids, she looked a little panicky. “What do you mean you don’t want kids? Who’s going to take care of you when you are old?” Fortunately, my father chimed in at this point. He only asked “Where are you looking?” So I told them about the schools I’ve been looking into and my mom asked about my topic and I explained that and she seemed to think it was a good topic and that it made sense, but would it help me get a job? When I said that one program was in the theater department and the other was in history, she said I should go with the history one as it would improve my chances of getting a job.
I mentioned my concern about Manchester being so far from London and what MO and the London Gent had to say about Manchester. My dad said that it’s only 3 years, and it’s not a big deal. And we both agreed that if the University of Manchester gave me more money (or any money at all), then they were the best place to go.
So, all in all, I think it went over better than I expected. I thought my mother would need a little more convincing, but I think once she got over the initial shock of me not wanting kids, she was OK.
I got three emails from the professor at the University of Manchester. She seems really gung-ho for me to study there. I am just waiting for her to make financial offers (which might sway me to want to go there).
I still have heard very little from the schools in London that are my first choices. I have heard from Royal Holloway, University of London, and got their Prospectus the other day in the mail. I emailed the professor there a second time, but I am still awaiting a response.
I am beginning to think that a trip to bonnie England might be worthwhile. I shall start looking on Travel Zoo. I have over 60,000 miles with Northwest Airlines, but I was hoping to save them for a different trip. Oh, well, there are worse things than flying for free to London. But the biggest problem (even bigger than money, which is surprising) is vacation leave at work...I have precious few hours available.
OK, I got an email from the professor at The University of Wales Swansea, and she seemed somewhat interested, but there was no bio on her on the website and the department’s site was lacking in any real substance.
But, the Professor from the University of Manchester has been in touch again and offered to send me another article she is working on. She asked me some questions about my background and told me that she plans to be in Georgetown before Christmas. I also sent her copies of my articles and offered to send her my thesis.
It’s looking like I may need to actually go over there and meet some folks.
So I heard back from the professor at the University of Manchester, and she was very excited about my topic. She was ready to get me in touch with the admin folks there and get things set up right away.
She sent me a copy of a paper that appears to be a final draft of a forthcoming book. It was very interesting and I enjoyed it very much. The only caveat is that it dealt pretty heavily with masculinity theory. But I have a feeling that given my topic and my research interests that I will soon be unable to avoid it.
Now the real question is do I really want to live in Manchester?