Thursday, December 23, 2010

wherein I finally understand "surviving" the holidays


(a gift from last year-- will I get any this year? uncertain)

I am done with the applications!!

Well, mostly. There are some teaching assistantship applications that are due in January/February that I'm putting off till after Christmas. I don't know why I even bothered applying to the schools that rely on the success of TA apps for funding offers because I'll never get a TAship with no teaching experience. The twin cities campus didn't need undergraduate TAs and at Morris I didn't have enough experience until I was gone.

Anyways, Sunday I went to pick up Anders in the cities and since then I haven't had a lot of peace. My older sister came home Tuesday night and Steph came home around dinner time. Anna's "hubby" is now staying here as well (which will actually make my dad much better mannered). I need to be able to rely on clean spaces-- at least a bedroom and a bathroom-- in order to relax and just feel like I can stop worrying about things. At the very basic level (higher level worries = applications) I'm quite obsessive about having things clean and with so many people at home I am using a LOT of clorox wipes. There is now no sanctuary bathroom where I can take a bath, just de-tense and soak my poor legs with their horrible circulation (read: I am about eighty years old). People are in and out of them all the time and I just don't like being that close to people. Also, I do have a conversation quota per day, but my ideal balance is more like 10% human interaction 90% alone time. This keeps me happy. Right now I'm at about 95% human interaction and it is grating on my nerves. On the other hand, it gives me something to look forward to when Christmas is over.

They're everywhere-- all the time-- wanting to know what I am doing/eating so that they can make fun of it. They go with me to the gym (well, that was sort of fun). I have to listen to them chew at lunch and dinner. I have to see their hair all over in the bathroom. I love my family, and I think they love me, but being around them 24/7 is a bit degrading because they don't take me seriously as a person. It is like they all live in the "real" world and I must be humored because I occupy a much lesser sphere that occasionally benefits them (like basically making Christmas happen). English, as a subject, isn't real to any of them and nobody wants to listen to anything about it, which is basically a denial of my life. ~sigh~

Also, I never made that Christmas wish list*. This is bad, but there wasn't time. And this means that I'll probably only have the things I ordered for myself off Amazon, including a copy of Le Morte de Arthur that arrived with the dustcover ripped, and one or two badly selected clothing items. Steph-- I love you, but shirts that are wider than they are long do not look good on me. I'm not sure how they look good on you, but there are always mysteries in life. The sad truth is that I spent all my free time arranging other people's gifts because I was honestly so sapped, my soul so shriveled-up-and-dead from trying-to-justify-my-academic-existence (still is) that I couldn't think of a lot of things that I wanted. Usually making up the list is a joy, even if I don't get everything on it, but this year I couldn't bring myself to do it. It was as if the tiny foray into pleasantness would bring me into full-on la-la land and I'd never be able to get back to cold, hard reality where my GPA matters more than moral character.

Nevertheless, simply NOT doing applications is fun in itself. I'll probably make some cardamom cookies tomorrow and try to live for a little bit. I may have to lock myself in my room to do it, but it will happen.

*I realize that the importance of this makes me:

1. About ten years old.
2. American.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

a winter walk

I'll be done with applications soon so I'll be taking a lot of new pictures. These ones are actually from November-- we have four times the amount of snow now. It is a veritable winter wonderland.


My walking companions, Ole and Sven.










You really can't walk very fast in those big boots.


One of the fun things about winter in Minnesota is that it allows you access to places that you don't get to explore during the rest of the year. As anyone who listens to Garrison Keillor knows, we have a lot of lakes. My family's forty acres, for instance, has two pond-lakes and is attached to one small lake. These pictures are from an area that has frozen over and is usually filled with swampy water and weeds.




It had an interesting, sort of magical quality about it that I think a person can only understand if he/she grew up with that sense of "exploring"-- attics, trees, unopened drawers or cupboards, mountains and castles (or what seem like mountains and castles). If you are that sort of person you never get bored; you always know how to amuse yourself in some way.


I'm afraid I don't get enough of that sort of thing anymore.



Wednesday, December 15, 2010

halfway to go


I've become completely nocturnal while applying to graduate schools. Not the "night owl" sort of nocturnal where you go to bed at one to three in the morning, but really nocturnal: I go to bed at six to nine or even ten in the morning and wake up at four in the afternoon. I really don't like living like this at all. It just so happens, though, that when-everyone-else-is-sleeping is the best time for me to work. As a result, I've been seeing a lot of sunsets and sunrises.


I go to bed every morning when it looks like this:


Everything is white and there are footprints in the snow.


Tonight I finished the first five of my applications and feel thoroughly depressed about the whole endeavor. I'd been working for months at a slower pace, concentrating on things that didn't matter very much like the GRE tests because I thought that I was bound to end up with subnormal scores, and then started spending whole days working for eight to twelve hours without breaks getting my writing sample and statement of purpose ready. The statement was composed about two days before I submitted the first application and it is atrocious. I am sick about it because of all the time, energy and money I put into the rest of the application, and I feel as though I've shot myself in the foot with the statement. I actually tailored the statement to fit four schools in the last twenty-four hours and THAT was possibly worse. I found at least one major error in wording and one typo that was submitted to my first school.


I found myself sitting at my computer at my computer this morning at 8:30 wondering why the hell I was applying to some of these schools because, for the life of me, I couldn't find anything to write for my "fit" paragraphs. I wrote something for all four, obviously, but it was terrible. My head hurts just thinking about having to do the rest of them.

IMG_9570 IMG_9569IMG_9565 IMG_9563

The remaining are all due on January first or later. I want to have them all done up before Christmas so that I don't have to think about this anymore.


One thing I have been enjoying is my Lindt chocolate advent calender. They're not the cheap ones you get next to magazines at the grocery store: everything is individually wrapped/packaged and there are many different chocolates.

Everyone is arriving home at the beginning of next week for Christmas festivities. I can't wait until this whole applications process is over. I've probably put up my best effort in a unideal world. Perhaps it will be an act of kindness when all the schools reject me because I'm beginning to think that actually being accepted would be the scariest thing-- being expected to constantly produce the kind of vague academic justifications of my research that I've been trying to make up lately almost seems like more punishment at this point. I started reading "Doctor Zhivago" two nights ago, stopped thinking about the study of English, mostly, and began to feel very much happier about life.

Off to make my Christmas wish list.