Day 1: The Trip Down

I mostly packed yesterday, hitting up Office Max for a giant cube of sticky notes and a few pads of graph paper. I like taking notes on graph paper because I take outline-style notes, and it makes lining stuff up easier. Yup. That’s exactly how anal I am.

This morning, I frantically searched my email for a confirmation of my hotel reservation, but a simple phone call confirmed that I did have a reservation. The drive was so uneventful as to not even warrant discussion. Mostly, I ate carrots and listened to Neil Gaiman’s American Gods for about the fourth time.

I’ve created an entirely new calendar just for school that has all of my class choices on it. What frustrates me is that the schedule declares “Seminar locations are posted at the Residency.” That’s so frustrating, because the really, really anal part of me wants to be able to put a room number on all these classes so I know in advance where I’m going, and so that when I show up tomorrow, I don’t stand rooted in one place staring wildly around myself and freaking out.

I’ve been perusing the Residency Guide (which is the equivalent of the course catalog I got when I was a freshman that dictated what classes would be required to graduate in my major and that I had to hang onto for my entire college career), and it lays out, not just how many of what kinds of classes I’ll need to have, but exactly how many papers, projects, meetings, etc., I’ll have to have to graduate. When you look at the entire thing in one go, it’s a little intimidating.

I can do this. Right? Right??

Grad School Adventure!

Tomorrow, I leave for grad school. Classes don’t actually start until Thursday, but I’m not 22 anymore and don’t really fancy the idea of driving for six hours and then immediately jumping into things. I’m more of a get there the night before, scope things out, catch up on last-minute reading, have a relaxing soak sort of person.

I’ve been reading like nobody’s business, and as I expected, I didn’t get to all the 57 things I had to read before school started. I’m hoping that, as I did during my undergrad days, I can just keep my mouth shut, take a lot of notes, and hope the teacher doesn’t call on me. Some things never change.

Here’s what I’m nervous about:

  1. I’ll meet my critique group and they’ll all hate my writing – think it’s puerile, silly, unworthy of their time.
  2. I’ll attend the literary pedagogy classes and everyone in them will talk exactly the way the books are written, which is to say that they will be pedantic, boring and full of themselves. It makes the thought of teaching really unpleasant.
  3. I’ll miss my family so much that by the fourth day I’ll be ready to quit and just come home. This is the longest the Pirate and I will have been apart since he moved in with me ten years ago, and I’m afraid I’ll feel lost without him. I’m even more afraid that he’ll be lost without me.
  4. This is actually my biggest and most overriding fear: I won’t learn anything new. That I will have already heard everything that they have to say and I’ll be essentially wasting my time and money.

My current schedule looks pretty full. It’s funny, but low-residency grad school looks an awful lot like attending a writer’s conference. You get the schedule of all the “learning activities,” which are the same as the lectures given during conferences, and you don’t have to sign up for any of them. You just show up when the thing starts.

According to the student guide, students are supposed to attend “at least seven learning activities,” including participating in your assigned workshops. I’ve picked out 24 “learning activities” (that doesn’t include the required stuff like library orientation, mentor meetings, student readings, or new student orientations, of which there seems to be at least one a day), so I’m wondering if perhaps I’ve bitten off more than I can chew. On the other hand, it’s not like each of these is an ongoing class. Each one is, at most, a two-hour lecture. I can’t imagine only doing seven of these things, but then again, I’ve never done this before.

I’m off to start packing. I leave tomorrow morning and make the drive down to Los Angeles. I’ll let you all know how it’s going.