Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Trip Report Tuesday: No-Cynicism November

When last we saw each other, Trip Report Tuesday, I declared that I was going to do something every day that would get me closer to graduate school. Now I get to do one of my favorite things-- follow up on a successful weekly challenge. In the past week I've called and spoken to the graduate admissions representative; I researched, contacted, and have kept up correspondence with the professor whose work is most interesting to me; I enlisted several friends to help me proofread my portfolio of writing samples and got materials sent off to one of my three recommenders; I have also made sure I know all the deadlines, begun the application, and am in the middle of scheduling my visit to the department. Not bad work for a week.

One of my goals for the next week is simply to keep it up. By Friday I want to have contacted my other two references and finalized a meeting with the professor and admissions people. My other goal arose from the research I've done the past week. For every piece of helpful advice about how to introduce yourself to professors and exactly where you put the apostrophe in master's degree, I found one of these:
http://chronicle.com/article/We-Need-to-Acknowledge-the/64885/ width="480" height="390">

Witty, yes. Possibly even true. The time for considering these problems, though, is while I'm trying to decide whether to accept an offer of admittance, not while I'm desperately trying to motivate myself to follow through on my application. And even then, anything else I might choose to do will certainly have its downsides. Times are, as cliche as this sounds, tough. I could let dire predictions derail me from making a try at what I really want, or I could act as though I soundly believed that my efforts are worth something and see where that gets me. In fact, I think I will.

I'm calling it No-Cynicism November, and the idea is not just to stay positive or to be blindly optimistic and naive as a substitute for effort. I'm staying on top of my shit and working hard. My goal is to stop being glum and paranoid that all my effort is ultimately futile because the system is broken, there's a glut of Ph.Ds, something else will inevitably fail, or people are supposed to be mean and life is supposed to be difficult. It's trusting that the patient, friendly answers I'm getting from the professor mean she's happy to help me, and not that she thinks my questions are painfully obvious. It's recognizing that the job market will be tough when I eventually finish my Ph.D. and still trusting that it's worthwhile to act on my dream of being a professor anyway. It's not assuming that people will think less of me for being nervous, or eager, or not as knowledgeable as they are. Above all, it's having faith that I'm generally competent, reasonable, talented, intelligent, possessed of decent judgment and problem-solving skills and just as deserving of getting the things I want as anyone else. 

I was about to make a comment that if I manage all of that this week I'll try my hand at flying next, but that would be Doing It Wrong.

Posted by Silent Five @ 10:47 PM

Word of the Week

gymnosophy [jim-NAH-so-fee]

n. Philosophical, amusing, or nonsensical insights realized when naked, as in the shower or in bed. (recent coinage: att. S. Galasso, 2010)

Victoria and Albert enjoyed a spot of postprandial concupiscence culminating in a night of gymnosophy and coffee and crumpets at dawn.

The Silent Top Five: Bacon-Flavored Desserts

1) Bacon cheesecake.
2) Bacon gumballs.
3) Bacon ice cream.
4) Bacon-orange bars.
5) Bacon apple pie.

Standard Disclaimer

This is all in no way meant to incur copyright-infringement-related wrath. I'm harmless. I promise. Oh, and if you're offended by anything I may post herein, I guarantee I didn't mean to do so (unless, of course, you are a humorless prig. In which case, go right on and be offended, with my blessings.)