On Graduate School

School started again. I wasn’t ready and I’m already woefully behind. It’s been three weeks. I blame this on two things: 1) The two months that have past were the longest break I have taken from classes in the past two years and I got a taste of life without assignments and grades. I had yet to remember how confusingly great and awful it is to not have any regulations on my free time. And 2) This is my last year before I graduate and, as I told a friend the other day, I’ve been hit with senioritis — hard.

I’m ready to be done with undergraduate work. I’m ready to be done with having to meet a requirement. I’m ready to study my heart out without having to worry about whether or not a class fits into my degree plan and I’m tired of that degree plan being so damned broad.

I’m in the process of applying to graduate school and I’m as terrified as I am exhilarated. I’m planning to apply to only one. The look that my professor gave me when I told her this after I asked her to write me a letter recommendation tells me that this is not something that I should do lightly. And I understand entirely. But in truth, I don’t want to get a degree in english with a concentration in creative writing. I want a degree in creative writing. And there aren’t many schools that offer this; two that I’ve found that actually grab me by the shoulders and shake me with rampant excitement.

One is in Vermont and is a low-residency program. This scares me. If there is anything that history has taught me it is that I have just about zero self-discipline. This is probably sign number one that writing isn’t the field that I should be pursuing, but what other options does one have when it is literally the only thing that they have to live for? People make me anxious and working under someone makes me claustrophobic. I actually cried when I accepted my last long-term/full-time job because my heart broke when it heard my mouth say “yes”. I become depressed if I go too long without writing. And I don’t mean down-in-the-dumps, singin-the-blues depressed either. I get to this point where the entire world just becomes grey and pointless, where I question everything and even the smallest of human interaction is entirely unbearable (I realize that’s horrifically cliche, but so is this idea of the broken artist, so we’re already hairline-deep in cliche land with this post).

Where was I?

Oh, yeah. Vermont. See, low-residency means that I would stay here in Texas and only go up to Vermont for a ten day “conference” every semester. The rest of the semester I would be communicating with my advising professor online. The idea is that students can work and look after their families with out the disruption of classes and lectures. But I don’t have a nine-to-five job and I only have a cat to take care (and she’s pretty good at fending for herself). What I like about classes and lectures is that I have someone to report to. Someone to physically look me in the eye and keep me in check. Because, like I said, I have zero self-discipline.

So, that leaves the second school. University of Massachusetts in Amherst. Their creative writing program is a fine arts program. It’s not liberal arts. It’s not humanities. It’s not english with a concentration. It’s an art degree. Hell, it’s not even “creative writing”. It’s an MFA for poets and writers. I love that! It makes my heart race and my blood pump! I can’t tell you why, but it does. My heart is already set on going. I’ve even been researching living expenses to see what I should be financially prepared for. I’ve already begun looking around my apartment wondering what I would really be willing to pack up and lug across thirteen states with me. At the same time, I’ve been questioning whether or not I could really live so far away from my support system. If I could handle it emotionally. Which has made me start trying to really, truly eliminate habits from my life that only exacerbate the poor mental health that is my emotional base line (like staying up till the crack of dawn instead of sleeping. Which I totally am not doing as I type this).

As you can see, ever since I signed the application to graduate, my mind has been in graduate school mode. I’m ready to move on and I’m ready to be done with this stage in my life. I’m ready for everything that it will throw at me and everything that I will have to do to make it happen. Thanks to the independent study project that I did last semester, I already have a 25 page writing sample written, critiqued, and rewritten to include in my application. I have one professor on board to write a letter of recommendation and I need to email the second professor I want to ask. I need to request a copy of my transcript for both UTSA and SAC so I can mail them to UMass (because I don’t trust either school to get them there). And, finally, I need to write up my personal statement. Which I have been avoiding. Because when I’m nervous and terrified I avoid doing things. And, as I’ve said twice already, I have zero self-discipline.

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