some plans to continue things

I am super excited to be done with graduate school. I think that means that I will come home from school (where I will be working) every day, and then it will be my afternoon and evening to do with what I will. That’s really cool. Technically I took eight months off between undergrad and graduate school, but I was applying for scholarships and working multiple jobs, so that’s still different from spending 40 hours a week in the same place and then going home and having complete ME TIME.

That’s awesome. It’s also terrifying and confusing, because I only know how to be in school. So I’m already giving myself projects, because it’s not enough to say I’m going to write my novel. I will only write my novel if I also have other structured things to do.

So, to that end, I have already contacted a relative who is a Grammy-nominated musician, and he’s going to give me guitar lessons. I really miss the piano, but I own a guitar and can’t afford a nice keyboard, and guitars are portable.

I’m going to do a Jessica Darling reread, because I’ve been meaning to for a few years, and because this.

Then there are three critical reading projects I want to look into doing so that I can maybe write some more articles for peer-reviewed journals. Continue reading

now i remember what i wanted to say

So last night I remembered the other thing I wanted to say when I was talking about that article. Because I really didn’t talk about that article at all.

A. I found the article interesting because I think you can relate the study of developmental psychology to the study of literature and coming of age novels.

B. I also found it relevant because lately my family has been very concerned with my wanting to do so many degrees and just study, study, study. I dunno; I think it’s pretty awesome that all of a sudden I am really excited about learning and going to school, and plus I think I am owed a good educational experience after the sub-par one I’ve had for the past three years. and my parents are teachers with college degrees, so I think they would be generally pleased with my aspirations to get educated and also go on to educate others. But now my mother and sister (also a teacher) are asking me where I plan to put marriage and a family if I want to be in school for the next nine years.

First of all, i think it’s a silly thing to ask when nobody is breaking my door down and trying to love me. And also, it is possible to go to school and be in a relationship. People make it work. So, if someone does start breaking my door down, who’s to say I won’t be able to handle it in addition to a thesis? School will be my career for the next decade, and people certainly have careers and families. I’m not saying it would be easy, but it’s silly to think that my saying “I want a PhD” means “I don’t want children.” Because even though externally, I complain all day about all these ridiculous people I know who are getting engaged before they can drink legally, because they’re absolutely crazy, I do also kind of wish I had that security. I maybe would change my educational plans (and I still might–after I finish my master’s, I might decide that a PhD is not for me) if I had someone I was in love with. It’s easy to talk shit about people who have what you want. And I think it’s good to have a life plan that doesn’t include other people, especially when you have a long history of being really bad at dating other people. And even if I did have all that, it would be pretty fucking irresponsible to have a baby instead of a degree. Because the baby’s going to want you to have a degree when it realizes that without your degree, you can’t feed it.

So again, I don’t know if I’m saying anything or just muddling things up, but maybe I do have too many options. Maybe if someone told me, no, Hannah, you absolutely cannot get a PhD because you’re a woman and you’re black and you have too many good things to do in your career as a librarian to waste time being Dr. Librarian first. But I think my problem as an emerging adult is that people are telling me not to put certain things off, but those are the things that I can’t really get even when I try, so I don’t see the problem in doing other things, but they also keep me from starting “real life.”

Gah. I don’t know why I say lots of nothing all the time.

my dissertation: developmental psychology, sociology and the bildungsroman?

I just finished reading this long but interesting article in the New York Times. I think it’s getting published on Sunday in print, but it’s already online.

If you’re not reading it, I will just say that I think that’s what I’ve been looking for as a way to qualify why I want to study all the things I want to study. People keep asking me why I want to go and do a Master’s in library science first, if I’m just going to do a seemingly unrelated PhD (comp lit at Columbia or media, culture, and communication at NYU) after that. And people wonder what the difference between comp lit and English are. I only just learned this summer, thanks to Rutgers, and now I can say that aside from doing two years’ worth of English courses as part of my dual Master’s, I am much more interested in comparative literature than just plain English. Comp lit acknowledges that art and literature are not created in a vacuum, and (hopefully) studying that instead of English will be less about “proving” things that don’t matter in the real world, like what the green light at the end of the dock means, and more about finding connections in different fields. I think the ultimate thesis of the study of comparative literature (not the students, but the field itself) is to find that there is kind of an inherent, universal truth in people–meaning that, through the study of literature and other things, we find that no matter our individual differences in geography, background, generation, etc, we all go through the same things and want the same things and have the same human history.

Since I’m not a doctoral student yet, that may not be at all what comp lit is about. But it’s what I’m hoping.

Anyway, the article is about developmental psychology, which is a branch of psychology that I actually think is legitimately psychological and not necessarily tied to culture and society. I think Arnett’s idea is legitimate enough, though I understand his colleagues who oppose his idea, because his theory of “emerging adulthood” really only applies to western, first world 20somethings. I recognized his name not because I’ve read his work, but because I’ve read his titles, and a few quotes. The researchers I worked for last year used him often in their work about college students and finances, so I would see his citations when I edited their work and wrote their bibliographies. I think his theory can be applied to western, first world young adults in reality and in literature. Like this article says, the bildungsroman, though not limited to Americans, is also a distinctly American thing. I think I just found a dissertation topic. Now I just have to stay interested for the next four years while I finish my Bachelor’s and Master’s, and then I can do it.

(I think I said next to nothing that has to do with this article. Isn’t it great how all things inspire thinking about other things?)

this wasted, shaded daylight

Every summer, I like to re-read some series of books that I enjoyed awhile ago. Harry Potter. All-of-a-Kind Family. What have you. This summer, I was planning on re-reading the Jessica Darling series, but I also have all these books I have wanted to read for the first time, not for the second or third, and then yesterday I picked up Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, because it’s also been awhile since I’ve re-read Rachel Cohn’s books, and I love her. Best. YA. Author. Ever. Period. So now I have even more reading to do, and I really don’t have time for silly things like working on my novel or writing songs or editing short stories or studying for the GRE or working on grad school applications. But blogging? Hells yeah, I always find time for that. Blargh.

In addition to Nick and Norah, though, I am also reading Thomas Hardy’s Jude the Obscure, which I have not read before. I have even not seen the movie, hooray! I have no idea how famous or classic this book is, but it looks that way from the stills from the movie and from the fact that there are a million editions of it. But I honestly just pulled it from the pile of books my sister was getting rid of a few years ago because I wanted to own more “good” books. Also, Kate Winslet was on the spine and I love her. I guess I love lots of people.

Anyway. A passage that I read last night kind of reminded me that I need to kick myself in the ass and get to work. Writing and reading, writing and reading, with a little bit of museum-going with friends, work, and exercise in the middle. No more of this re-watching primetime soaps thing. Because what I read made me think that general higher education used to be what PhD study is now:

He was young and strong, or he never could have executed with such zest the undertakings to which he now applied himself, since they involved reading most of the night after working all day. First he bought a shaded lamp for four and sixpence, and obtained a good light. Then he got pens, paper, and such other necessary books as he had been unable to obtain elsewhere. Then, to the consternation of his landlady, he shifted all the furniture of his room – a single one for living and sleeping – rigged up a curtain on a rope across the middle, to make a double chamber out of one, hung up a thick blind that nobody should know how he was curtailing the hours of sleep, laid out his books, and sat down.

And he’s not even getting a stipend. It’s like the work of a PhD student with the life of a Master’s student. Is this going to be me in a year? Ouch. I would print that passage out and tape it over my desk, but since owning it I have never once done work while sitting at it. That is another sad thing about my life that I should change. I am now at my kitchen table, which is clean for once, but it would be better if I didn’t have the distraction of food right behind me. Like right now, since I like to procrastinate even when I’m enjoying myself, and because I’m having trouble breathing, I’m going to make a cup of chai.

Okay. So the water is boiling.

Maybe I am just better at writing letters and blog posts than novels and applications. Maybe when people study me years from now, they’ll read all my letters to penpals and realize that that was my true gift to art and society.

Until then, though, I have to do something that is at least good enough to make me famous in the first place. And to keep me in school. So I’m off to work on writing and studying and reading and applications. Let’s hope I can spend at least two hours doing that without getting distracted. I fail hard lately.

back to the future

I am officially starting my applications to graduate school today. I’m applying to four, three of which are dual-degree programs, and the other of which includes a fellowship I want, so really I’m applying to eight. For my undergraduate applications, I did nine. It’s so much harder this time, and websites are even more confusing with their requirements and things. Blecch. I also need to start studying for the GRE, even though most of the programs I want don’t even require it. Yuck. At least when I apply for my doctorate, I’m only applying for one. Though knowing me, by the time I get to that point, I will have found about six hundred that look interesting.