Tuesday, September 22, 2009

*le sigh*

Autumn is finally starting to set in. I wore jeans today for the first time in probably 6 months. Tomorrow, if it's cool enough I may trade in my much loved sandals for some tennis shoes, and I definitely need to start thinking about purchasing some boots for the coming winter. I'm working on knitting a nice warm scarf and I've started to air out some of my winter clothes.

It may seem dumb, but these are the thoughts that comfort me right now, since my mind has been weighing heavily on some big issues for the last couple of weeks. I'm trying to figure something out about myself and determine where I should start heading. I feel like I've been dragging my feet for years, always putting off the things that will define me as an adult. I've become used to living that way, and so I don't know how to change it. I don't feel as if I've accomplished much in my life and I don't know if I have enough experience or intelligence to move on to the next level. I really don't know what to do right now.

I'm thinking of applying to PhD programs in the Humanities, because that's I what I love to do. Because I love researching and writing and teaching. In my search for programs I came across this article and this follow-up article which list out all the reasons why getting a PhD in the Humanities is a BAD IDEA. The author, Thomas H. Benton argues that graduate school is simply an expensive road to nowhere. I am also discouraged because of a job interview I had last week in which I met with the head of the department of Humanities at the local community college. He started off the interview by basically asking me if I realized that there is no future for me in academe. I was thrown by this, to the point where I wonder if a) I am actually cut out for this sort of thing and b) if it will even be worth the pain. There's no job for me in academe so shouldn't I stop wasting my money on a useless education and just find a job already?

I also found this article which reminded me of why I would choose to take the next step towards a PhD. Also, in Benton's article he makes an interesting point that the people who go to graduate school should go not expecting a job as a professor at the end of it, and make more demands on the program for more marketable skills outside academe.

I know I want to teach. I know I love learning and writing and researching, exploring problems and issues in art and culture, discussing with people the things we value and why we value them. But I also know that I need money and that I can't justify myself getting into any more debt until what I have now is a bit more under control.

And so now I am torn. I'll be defending my thesis on November 6, and then I'm done. I'll have a Master's degree. I can either be done forever and look for a job that will pay the bills, or I apply to go to more school.

I hate not knowing what I should be doing in my life. I hope something works out.

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

a new year

Provo has been abuzz with activity this week since school started on Monday and I find myself in an odd place in my life. I decided to stay here for one more semester in order to finish my thesis, study and take the GRE and prepare my graduate school applications. I'm TAing for a professor, but only for 15 hours a week. This leaves me with a lot of unstructured time. I need a lot of self motivation in order to get the things done that I need to, but the fact that all of my friends are busy and my house is generally empty helps because I am so incredibly bored and have nothing better to do but study and write my thesis. Also, I'm happy I found a nice and inexpensive place to live, but my ward is full of young people, boys just off their missions and 19 year old girls; I'm starting to feel old and out of place here.

Moving this time around was really hard on me. I'm not sure why, but I was dragging my feet the whole way. I had no energy and no desire to pack up everything I owned and leave. I eventually had to beg my mom to come help clean otherwise I would not have been able to get it all done before the move-out date. Going from 2 people in a huge house to 20 people in a house comparable in size is a big change. There are 4 apartments in the house: a basement with 6 people, the main floor with 5 people and the attic apartment with 6 people and an add-on in the back where a family lives. I'm in the attic, and even though there are six girls squished into a small space no one is ever home, its decorated nicely and it is very clean. I feel quite comfortable here and imagine I'll be spending a lot of time at home this winter studying and working. I even have a small office in my room, and my roommate works full time so she doesn't really need the desk space at all. And I like my roommates, when they are around. They're all very different and interesting kinds of people and I hope I'll be able to be good friends with some of them before I leave.

I'm feeling productive so far this semester, and it just started. I've already got half of my hours in for my TA job, I've been studying for the GRE, and I'm working on figuring out what to say when I contact the PhD programs I'm interested in. I also set up an appointment to talk to a professor this next week about expanding a project I worked on in his class into a dissertation proposal. That's kind of huge. I'm going to the community garden tonight and then to Institute and this weekend I'll be visiting my family for my sister's birthday. So I feel pretty good about everything so far. I only panicked a little yesterday, but I got over it pretty fast. I have to say I'm pretty happy right now.