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Making hard decisions about graduate school

So graduate school.

As I briefly mentioned in a previous entry, I have been accepted to a graduate program. This was both a blessing and a curse. There were several logistical nightmares surrounding the plan (no fellowship, private school with very expensive tuition, no financial aid, no security deposit or first and last months rent, no income, etc). I told only four people. I had a hard time even being excited about it. My mind was scrambling in a dozen different directions I decided that the best of my choices were either to quit my job and move to San Francisco, leaving Esteban and Tilly for two and a half years, or keep my job, stay here, and take more classes as a part time graduate student at Milwaukee (which had actually said ‘No Thank You’ to my application, but by virtue of paying taxes in the State of Wisconsin, I have the right to take up to 12 credits as a special student anyway) with the hopes that I would get accepted at some point in the future.

Esteban, who by all rights should have been against this from the very start, has been telling me that it is ok, just go, get it done, do it, do it now. When I looked down, it was my own feet dragging in the sand. I was the one with the messed up stomach and the pains where my sample-size pre-ulcer likes to live. It was me. I was standing at the cross-roads and to one direction was most assuredly the biggest mistake I’ll ever make in my life, but which one, right or left, right or left? I couldn’t for the life of me figure out which one it was.


Left? Right?

Thus, I decided to do the Milwaukee thing. It seemed as though the only way to have everything I wanted. I sent off an email to the chair of the writing program at Milwaukee, explaining that I am a former student in the creative writing program (I was admitted and attended six years ago) and took an 800 level writing class under the former chair and had received an A, and asking if it would be possible for me to take a class (or three) and get admitted into the program and if necessary I could provide more letters of recommendation or more writing samples.

Then, with heavy heart, I sent off my decline to the school in San Francisco, also with the pathetic throw away line ‘Is there anyway that I could defer my admission for a year?’ because honestly, if it weren’t for the fact that accepting admission to this program would mean that I literally would have to pick up my life and move half of it to California in seven weeks, just forty-nine days and change, I would probably have no problem with it. I would probably dive in, head first, and whine about having very little money and a desolate and random sex life until 2006. Here’s the hard truth about being a grown up: sometimes it’s not about being the architect of your life. Sometimes it just comes down to numbers and reality. Apparently, if I wanted to make this happen, I really should have planned to have about $20K lying around for security deposits and plane fares and summer tuition and furniture and whatnot until I found a job or some way to defer tuition.

Right? Was it right? Or left?

I received a reply from the chair at Milwaukee. In total, it said ‘There was a strong sense that your creative work was not a good match at all with our program. I’m sorry I don’t have the resources to give detailed feedback on particular mss. Since you have failed to convince current fiction faculty here for two years in a row, my recommendation is that you seriously consider applying and studying elsewhere. Of course, we are sorry to disappoint you, but I think it’s important that I be frank.

Which was pretty much the most traumatic thing I’ve seen throughout this languorous road to get my MFA.

Left. Obviously. It was left.

I was totally confused. I mean, I have gotten into the program once before. I got an A in a PhD level workshop. One would think that this time, I had a much stronger writing submission. Then I got mad. I find it hard to believe that he had looked up anything or talked to anyone in the admissions group, because I had sent the e-mail in the evening and he responded at 9:30 am the next day (incidentally, I believe his office hours begin at 9:30).

Then (and THEN!) I got a response back from the San Francisco school. They were happily willing to defer my admission until 2005.

What is right and what is left.
Thus, the new plan: This fall, I’m attending Milwaukee as a special student anyway and am going to specifically take mister I-Think-It’s-Important-To-Be-Frank’s writing workshop. And then rock his damned literary ass off.

Either that or bite him until he cries. I haven’t yet decided.