dinner out, two nights in a row!
On Thursday I had dinner with two profs (they're married to each other), at their house. It's a lovely little house in my favorite part of town (which also happens to be next to the university) and we had more than a passing conversation about the appearance of real! working! radiators! in the house. Houses in California don't tend to have radiators, but houses in the east do, and they're from the same parts of the east that I am, so we all bonded over that. Given the influence these people will have on the next step in my academic career, I'll bond with them over dirt if I have to. Luckily I don't have to, as being from Pennsylvania and having spent time in Durham, North Carolina and being familiar with elements of Western NC will do just fine for the bonding. They're really nice folks, have been here for quite awhile, and they like me—hooray!
We talked about how I was doing so far in classes and how I planned to schedule my remaining time in the program, especially considering I have a job and will continue to have this job until I go to another school (and even then there will be elements of the job that I'll still do, I'm sure). I told them my plan was to take three classes this Spring, leaving only 6 seminar credits and 6 thesis credits. I would take one seminar in Fall '06 and 3 thesis credits, and also take the MA exams. Then in Spring '07 I would take the remaining seminar and thesis credits, and if I had to retake any part of the MA exams, I could. I told them I was concerned that my lack of time as a TA would be a negative factor in my PhD apps, and they agreed, and then asked why I wasn't going to apply for a TA-ship. I said it was because I would have strict requirements as to when I could teach and didn't feel I could teach multiple classes. Dr.E1 said that in my TA app I should request only one class and note the times that would work for me (730am, or evening classes, or the Friday morning block class). I was surprised that I could be picky, but when the head of the TA program
tells you what to write in your application to him
, and his office-mate is the person who assigns people to sections, uh...yeah, I'll listen. This conversation came after our discussion before dinner about inflated grades, plagiarists, the difference between writing to communicate and "scholarly" writing, the inability of some of my MA classmates to do either, and so on and so forth. I guess I passed the informal interview!
They also gave me a little bit of crap about my comment "taking the exams again if I have to," as they asked if I really thought I couldn't pass the exams and I said no, of course I don't think that, but I'm big on planning for the worst. They assured me I shouldn't be concerned, and I think they're right, especially since I plan to study all summer for them. Then we talked about my thesis. Dr.E1 is the prof for my American Romantics seminar this Spring, and we talked about the class and how I should think of the paper in that class as the starter of my thesis, so I can work on it through the summer and then in the fall, so that when the final semester rolls around I'll have a solid 60 pages that I've lived with for a year and will be ready to put it to bed without too much anxiety. I thought that was a lovely idea!
Subsequent to this evening out, my school-related anxiety decreased dramatically.
On Friday (my birthday), my buddy and her partner took me out to one of our fave restaurants. I told them that all I wanted for my birthday was to hang out with them, which sounds sad (and it is, kinda) but we rarely just get to hang out what with work and child-related schedules and what not. We had really good food, including chocolate soufflé—yum yum yum! I had a half-dozen oysters as an appetizer, and pan-seared tuna as an entreé, along with one of my two standard drinks (always either a mojito or a lemon drop, in this case it was mojito night). Top that off with the chocolate soufflé and the company of your bestest pals, and it was a good birthday. There was even another present attached, which is a night out at a Warriors
game with them and their kiddo, date to be determined. Hooray!
Then, since my buddy is also my boss I mentioned the stuff re: being a TA next fall and, ever the Buffy-aficionado, she says "So you'd be like Riley? You have to put it in terms I understand." I thought that was funny. Then she said "sounds fine to me" so there's that bridge crossed as well. I do like to plan ahead!