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Posts Tagged ‘grad school’

(During last night’s class at Grub Street, I wrote about roommates during three different exercises. Which made me think about all the folks I’ve shared kitchens, bathrooms and general living spaces with over the years.)

1. Mom, Dad and Betsy, till I was 18. Lots of family dinners around the table, summertime road trips, Dad urging us to hurry before church on Sunday mornings, Betsy hollering for me to help her choose an outfit or type her English papers or bring her a washcloth in the shower.

2. Lindsey, during our first semester of college. Late-night laughter, pizza boxes, and so many bowls of ramen (left out to, ahem, ripen) that by Christmas I couldn’t stand it any more.

3. Akane, a quiet Japanese girl, during the spring of my freshman year. We didn’t talk much, but she never complained when I forgot to turn off my alarm clock in the mornings.

4. Jaime, in the fall before I went to Oxford. Red hair dye in the bathtub (freaking me out – I thought it was blood at first), and a few bonding moments over Friends and Saved By the Bell.

5. Joy, who shared my room, and 10 other girls, who shared our kitchen, in Oxford, spring 2004. So much cooking, traveling, laughing, crying, drinking of tea, sharing secrets and hopes and textbooks and recipes.

6. Joy and Bethany, junior year, in a little red-brick house on 16th St. in Abilene. (With Samantha, Joy’s beloved, snaggle-toothed dog.)

7. Kristin, Laura and Karen, in half of a Honolulu duplex, July 2005. We bought grapes for $10 a pound at Wal-Mart and tried to catch a gecko in Karen’s room and invited Scott over for breakfast on his birthday, and listened to Cole play haunting folk songs on his guitar.

8. Bethany, for our senior year in that same little house – repeated viewings of The Emperor’s New Groove, an impromptu party with no living-room furniture, playing Frank Sinatra before parties, and long evenings spent reading in the living room. (We were both English majors.)

9. Leigh Anne and Bethany (with brief appearances by several other girls), in my sister’s house the summer after college. Repeated viewings of Pirates of the Caribbean and Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants; lavender bridesmaid dresses and broken air conditioners; lots of freaking out about the future from Bethany and me; and Leigh Anne’s despair over having to read Beowulf.

10. Moose, Bryce, Nick, Nathan and Jordan, in the “dungeon” of 9 Canterbury Road, during my first semester of grad school. Oh, how I loved being the girl in that crowd of boys – and oh, how they loved everything I baked for them.

11. Casey, Jaclyn, Eryn, Jessica, Katie and Mary Kate, also in the dungeon, the following semester. A totally different dynamic, but an equally fun one.

12. Lizzie, Jo and Grace, in a wee chocolate-box house in East Oxford, during my year abroad. We watched chick flicks and did puzzles in the dining room, moaned about schoolwork and laughed at the Muppets, helped each other dress for dances and costume parties, and curled up late at night with cups of cocoa, to set the world to rights.

13. Jeremiah. For nearly three years now (our anniversary is next month), first in Abilene and now in Boston. Those five boys (above) prepared me well to live with this one. And I must say, he is an excellent roommate.

Who’s on your list?

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Four major assignments due before school ends in two weeks’ time (I go back to the States for Christmas in just under three weeks). An annotated reading list, a thesis proposal and two essays. And I just finished the first one – the reading list. It feels good. And Jo has made cupcakes.

And there’s a carol service at the Sheldonian Theatre tonight. A quintessentially Oxfordian Christmas event…I am so there. 🙂

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So said Bill Rankin, our jolly, red-bearded medievalist professor, to a class full of literary theory students four years ago. (Has it really been THAT long since I first cracked open the Norton Anthology of Theory and Criticism – which, by the way, I’m using again this semester?) His declaration was, I think, partially intended to scare us, but also to prepare us for what lay ahead. In one semester we would have a go at the entire history of literary theory, from Plato and Aristotle to very recent feminist, Marxist and other “flavours” of postmodern criticism. We would slog through texts from Freud to Arnold to Fish. We would debate the finer points of semiotics and post-structuralism. And yes, that class did make my brain hurt.

I’ve just finished my first week as a grad student: one lecture on Tuesday night, one tonight. And while I believe I’m going to tremendously enjoy these classes and their challenges, yes, they are going to make my brain hurt.

The class on Tuesdays will deal with research methods and literary theory, covering some ground I’ve trod before while excavating new depths in said ground. There are about 17 students and it will be taught turn-about by various members of the English department. (At ACU, that would be a circus. We’ll see how it plays out here.)

My Thursday class is much smaller (three students and two tutors, but only one tutor at a time), and we will be tracing the history of the body and of spaces in early modern English literature. Don’t get that last part? I’m still grasping it myself. But we’re going to look at perceptions of the body along with the evolution of anatomy and sexuality, and also in terms of gender-bending (we’re starting with two Shakespearean comedies). For the “spaces” part, we’ll look at English country houses, fantastic voyages, colonization, and London as a centre for change and commerce.

The Ireland post will come soon, I promise – but I did want to celebrate the completion of my first week. Here’s to many more challenging and enlightening discussions, and (I hope) a couple of brilliant essays at the end of it all.

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Well, technically to London, but that’s not the point. The point is…I am GOING! Going to Oxford Brookes to earn a master’s degree and discuss books with people who love them as much as I do. Going to work with the Morgans at the ACU houses as the admin assistant/keeper of Ron’s sanity. Going to walk down Cornmarket and through Port Meadow and up and down Headington Hill again and again. Going to St. Aldates for dozens of Sundays. Going to live in the same city as Jacque for two fantastic semesters. Going to live with Lizzie and Jo and Grace in a charming little house in Ablett Close. Going back to the city that has my heart…and traveling while I’m there to lots of other cities that have pieces of it…or will.

“It’s time to trust my instincts, close my eyes and leap…”

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