Saturday, September 30, 2006

I missed you!!!

Hello old friend. Wow, I'm surprised by the comfort I feel from typing in this familiar box. Comfort... something I haven't been experiencing too much of late.

Let's start from the beginning.

After we last met I had my first days of orientation for my new graduate program at the University of Toronto. I was rather apathetic to the whole thing having just returned from Korea and travel and feeling uncertain about what was coming next. Admittedly, I had some suspicions about the cool-quality of my fellow classmates, predicting a high level of academic snobbery and hoity toity-ness.

Over the course of a couple of days worth of orientation we were given free food, fed lots of information about what was to come, and got to know each other. Happily I was wrong about my classmates. There are 14 of us and the cool-quality is rather high with hardly any academic snobbery or hoity toity-ness.

They treated us like we are the cream of the crop. Maybe I felt like it was true. They spoke to us as if it was assumed we'd do a PhD, which, by the way, takes an average of 6.3 years to complete. Not including the MA year. They encouraged us to RA (that's to be a research assistant) and TA (teaching assistant). I left feeling inspired and excited to get started. I walked home from school with a skip in my step and my hair blowin' in the fall wind.

Near the end of the orientation there was a faculty reception. We were warned in advance to take advantage of this opportunity and introduce ourselves to a few professors, have an intelligent conversation about their research, and make ourselves known. Shit. You should have seen us MA's, huddling in tight circles and trying to work up the guts to go and talk to someone - anyone! I felt like we were contestants on a reality show trying to beat each other out but in a friendly way like they do on the Bachelor when all the girls meet the guy for the first time at a cocktail party. After a little wine and cleavage everything was A OK.

Three weeks later and I (and everyone else I know who just started grad school) went insane-o. I don't know what exactly happened but everything just suddenly hit me. I hate grad school. It's too hard. I miss undergrad.

So it was my first day of classical theory class. We had been assigned Marx readings from here to Incheon. All of my classmates and I were sitting around a collection of tables. The professor speaks: "Today we will be talking about Marx and his conception of science. John?" He looks to a boy in my program (who admittedly knows lots about theory) and that was it. The rest of the class he continued to call on people at random. Inside, I think I died a little. I had read the readings, but in the undergraduate way of reading the readings. There is a difference, you know. If he called on me I would be the only one to say "I have no idea." I was scared. I felt like the dumb kids I pitied in elementary school who didn't know anything and the teacher would call on them and leave the silence hanging there. I always knew the answer back then. I miss elementary school.

Afterwards everyone admitted that they had no idea what was going on and had made up this or that to say. Here is where I differ from them. I can't bullshit about Marx. I just can't. I'll try harder, I swear. I didn't do my readings for tomorrow.

I have a list of things to do that if I think about it rationally I can't imagine how I'll get it all done. Want to hear it?

I have fifty papers to grade by Friday. (Just got an extension so make that Monday)
I have a statistics assignment due next week that requires daily group meetings of many hours.
I have nine hours of RA work to do weekly.
I have scholarship applications to do but I think I just won't. (I've decided I just won't despite departmental chastisement)
I have course readings and thinking to do that are much more in depth than I've had to do before.

Okay, okay, it's not so bad. I can handle it.

The worst part of it all for me is this: I left Korea feeling great; confident, well-traveled, happy with myself. Great. I find myself now sitting in class feeling nervous. I've lost my confidence. This has never been a problem before and it kills me. These people in my program have discussions in class and I often step back and think "what the hell are you talking about?" Am I cut out for this, really? I miss korea> I Also have a new computer that doesn"t seem to want to cooperate with me on punctuation right now which is really missing me off>

Okay, that's a bit better, though I just lost a bunch of new (and obviously good) material.


The other night a group of us (friends, not program-mates) went out to a bar and found ourselves next to a long table of international students, half of which turned out to be Korean. Before long D'Arcy and I had them filling the room with cheers for the Korean soccer team. It was a beautiful thing, really.

Turns out I miss blogging. But I don't have any time for it. But I like it and want it. I feel reflective. Maybe I want to screw grad school and be a writer. I think I could pull off trashy romance. Maybe television or screen writing would be fun. I care about punctuation. I could always edit.

So that's where I stand. I tried to upload some photos for you but my new and supposedly really good computer kepts quasi-crashing on me. I'll see what I can do after this is posted.

Miss you, love you, leave a comment.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Okay, Okay

Don't you hate the lame-o bloggers who announce they're going to quit and then don't?

Due to the wonderfully flattering response of the last post I've decided to cut y'all a deal. I'm not going to be able to write daily posts about fending off intellectual snobs at school, dating tall English speaking men, and eating sushi in the city. But I can write monthly ones.

I decided this for three main reasons that you are dying to know: 1) It's nice to have records like these 2) I like writing 3) Someone said they'll die without it and if that's not a pat on the back what is?

Oh, and 4) I'm still on my way.

Since I missed September 1st I'll give a brief synopsis of life of late:

I've moved! The suburbs had started to give me a tick about 1.3 weeks after I got home to Canada. For the last few days I have been moving myself or helping some other such friend move into a variety of imperfect houses/apartments in the student ghetto of Toronto. For those who don't know, it's a great area called the Annex which is full of restaurants and culture and multi-culture and good looking guys. Ahh, it's good to be in the city.

My place is really sweet too - a shared house with a 92 year old ex-horticulturist living on the main floor and me and my friend (not D'Arcy) living on the second floor and attic. It's big and bright. My room is the entire attic which allows a sitting/jamming area (fully eqipped with my beautiful new guitar, my harmonica, and my bongo drums) and a bedroom area. This is good. I have adorned the walls with framed artwork and things that I collected along the way this last year. I think it looks really great.

School orientation starts on Wednesday and I don't feel one way or the other about that, really. I am still suffering from what apparently has an official name: imposter's syndrome. Apparently every grad student faces it. I feel like I snuck in and hopefully I can keep up with the big cats who really belong there. I will be doing an MA in Sociology focusing on immigration with a heavy leaning on quantitative research. So much for demography. U of T's website lied when they say they have a specialty in it. They don't even offer one demography course at the graduate level. Luckily I don't actually care. The program will take one year after which I will maybe do a PhD because there's no way I'm getting my bed through the attic doorway again. Might as well stick it out.

Future travel plans are also on the horizon. I'm thinking of heading to LA over Christmas to visit my aunt and she says my suggestion to drive to San Fran from there is a good one. D'Arcy and I have agreed to head to South America next summer for a couple of months. Eventually I want to take the train across Canada from East to West. So that's that.

It's still so great to be home. I haven't felt like I've had so many friends in such a long time. I guess coming back from relatively socially isolating Korea left me much more appreciative of the people in my life. My brothers are really cool. I've got a cell phone that I answer instead of just screen. I haven't been bored at all with nothing particular to do for the past two and a half weeks. Ahhh.

Right, so I'm a lame-o blogger for saying I'm done and then coming back. But hear this: I will not be back until the first of October so you don't have to check back 'till then unless the archives tickle your fancy.

Until then.