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.
Hmm, I just noticed that every time I have one of these long, crazy weekends, it seems that Shining Starr9 is involved somehow.
Anyway, today started out OK; I got a late start but who cares. I went over to the Clarice Smith Performing Arts Center at the University of Maryland to use the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library. I was looking for an article that Bobzilla suggested I look at. Wouldn’t you know, there was a football game going on. Now, as all of you know, in an ironic twist, I am not a sports fan, least of all college sports since they always come before academics, and I think that this country just doesn’t have its priorities right when it comes to education. So, I had to park a freaking mile away and walk and walk. Fortunately, it was a beautiful day, so it wasn’t all that bad in the end.
I finally made it to the Library, got the journal I was looking for with no hassle, and read the whole article without falling asleep, which was no easy feat. This last bit is actually unfortunate; it was really an interesting article demonstrating how British music halls moved from sometime performers running the theatres and circuits to professional businessmen running the corporate business. He, the author, argued that this shift was simultaneously occurring in British big business and that the parallels are indicative of trends in late nineteenth and early twentieth century business practices. Sadly, he writes like an academic and it was just very boring to read.
As I was leaving the Library, SugarDaddy called me and said that he was interested in going out later in the evening. I told him my plans and he said that he would definitely be interested.
I met him at the Freer Gallery of Art, a Smithsonian Institution museum, to see an independent film called The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam. He was a Chinese magician, juggler, acrobat, who played in vaudeville houses around the world. It was really good and quite interesting. I think that a lot could be done on him if he really is as important as the filmmaker (his great grand-daughter) says. I think I need to look more into him!
The film was preceded by two shorts, the first of which made absolutely no sense whatsoever. There is some guy preparing a dead woman for her viewing (I’m assuming) and a young boy is watching (I presume that he is the son). The mortician finishes clipping the corpse’s nails and washing the body. Then the boy asks to be alone, and when the mortician leaves, the boy picks up all the nail clippings. The scene cuts: it’s dark, so I assume it’s later, perhaps that night and the funeral is completed. We see in the darkness that we are in a kitchen and the boy comes in and opens the refrigerator. He is clad in sweats and tee shirt; I guess I’m meant to believe that he is ready for bed. He digs through the fridge, finds something wrapped in foil. He fixates for a moment on the aluminum-covered package, and just as he begins to open it, he scratches his head. (I wonder if this was planned or if he really had to scratch his head and the filmmaker just liked it.) He finally gets the foil off and it turns out to be a huge turkey leg. He begins to eat it slowly, then a little quicker. After another scratch on his noggin, he starts attacking the turkey leg, biting off pieces quicker and quicker. He never swallows or chews any of it. When his mouth is completely full he stops, leans his head back on the open refrigerator door, breathing heavily and wheezing. The credits roll.
The second short is actually by the same woman who wrote The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam (she is in the audience this evening incidentally). Before the films began, the filmmaker gave us a little background on this particular piece. She said that it was written and filmed shortly after the events of September 11, 2001. Because she was still working on The Magical Life of Long Tack Sam, this piece is heavily informed by that research, and it is a sister piece, so she is grateful that they are being shown together. The short is called Blue Skies, after the Irving Berlin song of the same title (from the play Betsy in 1926). This piece begins with a close of up of someone’s eye as tears pour out. The sound track is nothing more than this person sniffling, whimpering, and, making all those other irritating noises. Then the view cuts to a close-up on the person’s mouth. Then, to break the monotony, there is a knock at the door, and a white woman enters, goes to the crying person who we discover is Asian. The white woman pours water into a basin, and soaks some cloth. She wraps the crying person’s hair up, and begins to pull out clothing from drawers. She then helps dress the crying person, who is no longer crying, and finally pours a drink, the Asian person doesn’t drink until the white woman first sips it. There are scenes of the Asian person donning make-up: eyeliner, lip-gloss, and paint for eyebrows. The screen goes black, and with the sound of an old-time spotlight turning on, we see bright blue skies. Our Asian person, who turns out to be what I can only assume is an onnagata, appears and begins singing (well, lip-synching actually) Blue Skies as the credits roll.
After the movie, SugarDaddy and I decided to head out to Cleveland Park and have dinner at Ireland’s Four Provinces, or the 4-P’s as us yokels call it. I’m really not a big fan of the 4-P’s, but I haven’t been there in ages, so that’s where we go. Well, as is usually the case with Irish bars, there was a live band playing (The Sean Fleming Band to be exact). They were mediocre, but we stayed very late, and I consumed lots of beer. All in all it was a fun time.
Anyway, it’s almost 4 am and I need to go to sleep…peace out y’all.
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.
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.
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?
I heard back from a professor at Birkbeck College, University of London. While he said that he thought my topic was very interesting and wanted to talk with me further about it, he seemed to feel that he may not be the best person to supervise me and suggested I make contact with particular professors at the University of Nottingham and the University of Manchester. I have sent them letters of inquiry.
In the meantime, I have emailed MO to ask his opinion on said schools. He feels that they are both good institutions in their own right; however, he expressed concern about my ability to adapt to life in the British Boondocks. He seems to think (and I heartily concur) that I would be much happier in London than elsewhere in the UK.
He also reminded me that while many folks believe that the name of the school on your resume and diploma are the most important and others think that it’s the name of your adviser on your dissertation, the simple fact of the matter is that what is most important is the quality of your book.
So, while the meanie at the Institute of Historical Research, School of Advanced Study, University of London said he wasn't interested in working with me, he was kind enough to recommend another option. Likewise, a friend of mine from grad school made a suggestion.
I have already heard back from Northwestern, and I received a very noncommittal response:
Your topic sounds interesting and within the scope of what we can support at NU. I suggest that you check the web site for the Interdisciplinary PhD. If you have specific questions, write to me again.
I am still awaiting word from The University of Wales Swansea. I think that the person is on sabbatical, but I'm not sure. I emailed the professor and tried to cc: the main office, but the office's email bounced. That is probably not a good sign.