Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Initial Thoughts on Graduation

These are the things that keep me up at night:

Moving to Seattle: I spent the first 27 years of my life in Florida. In the spring of 2003, I had a nervous breakdown/epiphany. I quit my job, packed my stuff and moved across the country to Seattle. Upside: I met an awesome guy. Downside: I spent a year applying for really awesome jobs and not getting them. Hence grad school. Now as I approach the end of grad school, I have to wonder--will two graduate degrees in poetry make me any more marketable? Or will I be folding sweaters at Macy's again to make rent? Will my experience as an ENEX 101 instructor be my only selling point? Does that mean I'll be stuck teaching freshman comp for the rest of my days?

Age: I had a most unpleasant experience the other day. While browsing the Internet for some easy money, I came across the Ruth Lilly Poetry Fellowship, worth $15,000. I began to fantasize about putting off my job search, working on manuscripts, traveling to exotic locales that would inspire me to generate the best work of my life...And then the fine print: Applicants must be us citizens between the age of twenty-one and thirty-one as of  March 31, 2008.

At 32, I'm no longer a "younger poet."

Aw. Snap.

Thesis Reading: Do I really have to do this? Really? I'm a poet, not a party planner. Last year's round of readings, replete with open bars, hors d'ouevres, DJ's, and multimedia presentations have set up unrealistic expectations. Is it a reading, or a bat mitzvah? I honestly don't know where people find the money for these kinds of extravaganzas. Perhaps they have trust funds. Perhaps they managed to save some cash from their pre-MFA days. Perhaps their parents help out. Well, I have no trust fund, I have no cash stash, and I'm too old to be asking my parents for handouts to cover a keg (see above). What am I capable of providing in the way of snacks? Some strips of uncooked fakey bacon cut up and placed artfully on generic Ritz crackers next to a six pack of whatever beer is on sale at the Food Farm. Post-reading entertainment? I'm sorry, I was busy coming up with a bunch of damned poems to read for you. Get out of my face and find your own post-reading entertainment.

Prague: I'm going to Prague for a month this summer, as a graduation present to myself. I'm going with GMU's Prague Summer Program. Which may account for the lack of funds for thesis reading festivities. Which would you rather do: go to Prague or feed and water a bunch of first-year MFA students? Yeah, I thought so.

In any case, it may not be the best idea I've ever had. I probably should be using that time to find a job or find a place to live in Seattle. I think I've chosen to go at this inopportune time because I'm unprepared to let go of the intensive writing regimen of the MFA program. When I had a full-time job, lo those many years ago, I simply didn't write. I spent my free time gardening and going to bars and generally avoiding intellectual pursuits of any kind. I cross-stitched fairy patterns. I baked scones. So I feel the need to do things that will ensure my continued writing practice, even if those things deplete my financial resources entirely.

There you have it, a smattering of my anxieties leading up to graduation. On the bright side, the writer's strike is over, so I can go back to anesthetizing by watching my favorite scripted television shows.

1 comment:

LEW said...

For our reading, Trina, we will have plastic flamingos and nothing else. We will not even be allowed to wear anything to read in but pink flamingos. Fake ones, of course.