Life as an Extreme Sport

Puzzle Prompt

Oh dear. I’d forgotten that Parrington has wireless. It’s probably a good thing I’m (re)discovering this at the end of the quarter.

Today Karen has asked us (the CHID thesis class) to spend five minutes writing about something that is puzzling us with our thesis. So, naturally, I first check email, then LJ, reply to a LJ comment – oh shit, nothing left to do to look busy. Guess I’ll try to tackle the topic. The puzzle.

See, the thing is, I haven’t really been working on my thesis so much this quarter. I’ve spent some time on affect, and a lot of time at the beginning simply fleshing out my general ideas. But things keep getting pushed back in favour of other, more immediate things – 390, conference preparation, other classes, a social life. I find the thesis slipping to the back, and then I find myself wondering: is the thesis slipping to the back because I don’t care about it? Is it slipping to the back because I’m overwhelmed? Because it’s overwhelming? Or is it something I should actually be engaging in – is it what I want to do?

I guess that is the larger thing, tied in to the graduate school search and application process: what do I want to do? Where do I want to go, what do I want to study? Is medical ethics a right path? What about a more humanistic studies of medicine? Where would I even find that?

No wonder I’m feeling grumpy, stressed, and generally like sleeping until March.


I had a very interesting tarot reading done last night. For a few reasons, I didn’t want to ask any specific questions of the cards, but instead picked a tact started long ago – just let the cards tell me what they want, and go from there (typically I would then ask more specific questions, but for said few reasons this wasn’t possible last night). The funny thing was, had I opted to ask about anything, I would have asked about academia, and that’s all the cards talked about. Passions for teaching, pride in intellect, strength and survival. It was the future-path card that was most interesting, though – it warned of academic selling out for money.

And it made perfect sense. I’ve been thinking a lot about graduate school lately, what with needing to take the GREs and start my applications and Phillip and I talking a lot about where I should go, and trying to figure out myself what exactly I want to study. Something I’ve been using as a mental barometer, in perhaps not the most serious manner, is that I’ll go wherever pays me.

I honestly feel like one of two things will happen for graduate school. I will either get in to lots of places, or nowhere. I tend to assume the later, while more deeply believing the former. And money – aid packages – does become a consideration. In that considering, I need to keep in mind the fit of the program, educators and education, and not just funding and prestige of school (which would be another form of selling out).

It’s a good thing to keep in the front of my mind as I go into this whole process.

In the beginning, there was panic…

So last week I bought myself a GRE prep book. It’s sitting on the printer, sort of glowering in a faintly menacing way, as if to say “I hold the key to your success in my pulpy little hands, and I’m going to give you a paper cut if you get too close.” I’m thinking about making Wednesday evening, from 6-8, or something like that, my study times. I got so brave as to look up testing information yesterday, but discovered (to my horror) that the nearest computerized testing center is in Mountlake Terrace. A beast to be slain another day – first, I’ll just focus on the whole not remembering algebra thing.

Of course, prepping for the GRE is pointless if the school wants a subject test instead of generalized, so now the great school hunt begins. Today, I looked at the following:

* Duke University, at least the programs I’m interested in, only wants the generalized test. This is good. They also publish what the average test results are – perhaps not so good, at least for me. Then again, I know I have a competitive GPA, so… they also seem to offer funding in all the departments I’m looking at, so long as I do the PhD route. Screw paying for a masters; gimme that tuition waiver plus $20,000. Looks like I should have any application completed by November.

* Rutgers. I’m not sure what department I’d apply to here; looks like some of the philosophy folks are doing work that’s compatable with my own; at least on days when I know what my work is. The reason to go here would be Elizabeth Grosz, but I’m not certain how much time she’d have for someone outside Women’s Studies, and I’m not crazy enough to want to PhD in that. Looks like Dec 1st is a good application date.

* UCSC. I have some doubts here. Although I know I’d love to work with Jenny Reardon, I’m not certain I can see myself in a sociology program, or getting a degree in such. The History of Consciousness program, although always sounding fabu, has me a bit apprehensive – zero funding, limited TAships, and a retiring faculty of knowns with most of the other faculty quite unknown. November would be the earliest date I’d have to consider handing in applications, at any rate…

At this point, the sheer, blind panic is starting to set in, which means it’s beyond time to stop doing any sort of research for the evening.