So, being contemplative about the return to school and the almost-dropping-out of grad school thoughts that are swirling in the air, I searched Flickr for "academia." The first three "this fits my mood" photos I liked didn't allow blogging. (Pft) Then there's this hopscotch image. I like it.
Does hopscotch always have 1-2-3 in a row? Can it vary? I never knew the rules, I just knew how to hop then jump (scotch?) on side-by-side numbers with legs apart then hop again, doing a one-legged pirouette at the end. But when to stop was a mystery. I bet Wikipedia knows, but I spent too much time (several minutes, even) on there last night wikifying Barbara Luddy's entry. (Mike was watching _Lady and the Tramp_ and, well, one thing led to another.)
Academia. Hopscotch. The mind connects.
I'm beginning to feel defensive about pushing for abandoning the MA, the way I used to feel when my friends were all getting their bachelor degrees and seemed to be looking down their noses at the rest of the world. I always valued book smarts over street smarts, so this was just too ironic for my little 19-year-old head. And most of said friends seemed more into drinking and driving and sprinkling a crusty wash of genital warts over the experience than holding any kind of literate conversation. Maddening times. Yeah, okay, I was a mostly out-of-work fortune teller charging up store cards so I could look interesting while following my boyfriend's band (note: didn't work), but _still_.
Everyone I work with has or is getting or is leaving to get their master's. (PhDs are rare as it only increases your pay by five hundred bucks per year and requires a leave of absence.) No one is haughty about it; it's just common sense to do it ASAP so you'll get as much money as possible as soon as possible. One thing in this district's favour is that they do make finishing grad school worthwhile. (Some might even say "necessary," if you ever want to buy a shack to call your own.)
So, I feel stupid not having or working on a MA, too. Well, no, I don't actually feel stupid. I know I'm not stupid, although I deliberately act stupid so often that I'm afraid one day my brain will freeze that way. (Life is just easier when people think you're ditzy.) But it's harder to get away with putting on the stupid persona when you don't have some advanced paper stashed in a drawer, ready to wave like a safeword in a dungeon.
Technically I'm currently enrolled in two (2! DOS! deux!) graduate programs - the one I've not attended in almost a year at UNLV and the new one at CSU. I've taken an Incomplete this summer in my first CSU class. Why? I don't feel like writing the last paper. That's it. I don't _feel_ like it. I read the works. I understand them. I'd be pleased to discuss them over a plate of grilled peppers. I want to vomit when I open up a document to type about them.
What's worse is that the prof basically told me that, based on having done such a great job on my other papers (he used exclamation points in his feedback and everything), I could turn in whatever unpolished draft I have now, relax, and we could call it an A for the course. Wow.
So I think about banging out some keystrokes and can actually feel my brain overriding such a silly idea by conjuring ideas about chocolate and whether I'd rather drive to the store for pudding or pie. Maybe pudding pie? Maybe spend an hour on Epicurious looking for a recipe? And that's when I close the word processor window so it will stop upsetting me, grab the pretzels, and slink back into another episode of _Will and Grace_.
It could be a control thing. (Here, let me adjust the headrest on this Freudian couch. Ahhh.) Maybe I feel so at the mercy of other people's plans (my parents with their health, my bosses with their ideas, my boyfriend with his imminent graduation, my students who must be sold on every lesson) that screwing around with the one plan that seems to be wholly my own gives me a sense of control to counter whoever else is pulling the strings.
It could be that, or it could just be that I don't burn to tell you my views on Euripides because I know I wouldn't want anyone telling me _their_ views on Euripides, at least not after the first 500 words. Writing a paper on Euripides for someone else to read almost feels rude, when you think of it like that.
Maybe there are meds that convince you to write your final paper and at least not burn bridges or money or pride. My brain thinks making a nice banana pudding - with wafers, of course - could be just as therapeutic. Shh, brain.
Anyway. I'm hoping money, pride, and not slamming the doors to the future completely shut - in that order - will eventually get the last paper done. And then I really think that's it. As in, that _is_ it. Enough with the waffling, here and in my head and my checkbook. I don't want an advanced degree in English Lit. I want to read again. And if I ever win the jackpot (if I ever get around to gambling), I'm going to get a cool degree. Since I no longer think EL is a cool degree, I have no place fiddling around in someone else's spot. And that is why this post is titled as such.
My parents will be so disappointed. Why can't their smartypants daughter do the _one_ thing (the _only_ thing) that _everyone_ has always agreed she can do - digest information and spit it back out as a highbrow paper? Why can't she put one foot in front of the other and keep her eyes on the prize long enough to get what could be worth 100k by retirement? (All the better to help take care of her parents, of herself?)
I don't know. I fought against the BA for so long, but I never wanted it. When I resigned myself to getting one, I went nuts after the first A, determined to fly a 4.0 all the way through. The MA, that I wanted. I was the only person to pass the final on my first class. In the second class, the prof publicly singled me out for praise. In this last class, it's been like reading love letters. But the whole degree, at both universities, just feels _wrong_? What does my brain mean by that? I don't know.
Hopscotch. You draw the boxes. You follow the rules. You deliberately drop things; you make decisions. You hop. There's a clear plan to get straight to one end. They're _your_ lines. You decide how big the boxes are. And then the rain comes and the chalk's a mess and you have to redraw it all.
21 August 2006 | Permalink