AWP Conference

Thinking About the Ph.D

I adore being a student. This past Fall was my first not being a student since 2007, which was when I graduated with my bachelors. I love it. Learning is a hobby of mine. This is why I adore reading reading, and I never minded writing research papers. I love to learn. Love. It. Apparently, I don’t give off this vibe to my peers or profressors.

I mentioned in my last post about how my thesis chair snubbed Missy and I at dinner at the AWP conference. Well, the day before, we had met up: Missy, TC (thesis chair), and another professor from my thesis committee (Professor Nice and Friendly). We sat near the bar area and talked about life after grad school, books, and a bit of gossip.

Missy is currently in a Ph.D. program so of course Ph.Ding came up.

“So, One Mean,” TC began, “You’re not thinking of doing a Ph.D. are you?” She said this more as a statement, than as a question.

She continued, “Would that really be a great fit?”

I sat there stunned, wishing I had been born with wit. Wishing I had the ability to think quickly, to respond with something smart and that would sting. Wishing I had a zinger.

“Oh, I don’t know. Maybe.” I said. How do  you respond to a comment like that? How do you respond to the suggestion that you’re clearly not good enough to even bother applying.

“Would you enjoy that?” She asked.

“I don’t know, maybe if it was a creative writing Ph.D.”


Hmph?????? Really? Hmph? Is it really that surprising that I would want a Ph.D.? I mean, Jesus I went into a program that was practically an M.A. combined with an M.F.A. I f*#king love to learn! Look at me, I’m a top notch nerd. Right?

So, after being deflated, Missy and I left to go explore D.C.

I kept hearing TC’s question run through my head. More than anything, I couldn’t get the tone of it out of my head. Am I not good enough to do a Ph.D.? Was I imagining TC’s patronizing tone? Did she mean it that way?

And then of course, I asked myself the age old question: Am I crazy?

I decided to ask Missy if I had misinterpreted TC’s tone?

“No, I heard it too.” She paused. “You? Hmph? a Ph.D.?”

We laughed and joked about for the duration of AWP, but I clearly am still struggling with this.

I’ve been lucky to have a supportive family and network of friends. I’ve never been told, I can’t do something, or that I shouldn’t try. Even though my parents have been rough on me, they’ve never once, suggested I don’t have the ability to do something. You can be anything when you grow up was and is not something new. The sky’s the limit. All that motivational crap. This is probably why I was so shocked when TC questioned my passion. And even more than my passion, she questioned my ability.

I’m not imagining this right?

Well, even if I am, this incident has definitely fueled a fire of inspiration in me. Never have I ever wanted to prove someone so very wrong. Maybe I won’t be getting a Ph.D., that doesn’t mean I can’t. I definitely will work even harder at that tenure track line of work. No one. No. One. Tells ME I can’t do something.

Who knows, maybe she was intentionally using reverse psychology on me because she knows I’m awesome.

Or she was just being a bitch.

Regardless, I’m fired up. Whose with me?! (Sorry, I was channeling that scene in Beauty and the Beast when Gaston gets all the villagers to go to castle to “Kill the Beast.” I’ll stop now.)

Still, I’m having a hard time getting over how demoralizing it is to have a mentor make such a suggestion. She was like my sponsor. I thought she was supposed to be supportive. Mentors and thesis chairs are supposed to be supportive, right?

FH tells me not to care about what she thinks or anyone else for that matter. This is why I’m marrying him. The boy has got my back. Still, my feelings have been hurt and now I have to get over it. Good thing, I can laugh and write about it.

Still, I’m not taking the Ph.D. off the table just because one person thinks I’m not good enough. F-that.

What do you think, am I overreacting? Crazy?

Well, maybe just answer the overreacting question…I think I already know the answer the am I crazy question.


Procrastination Makes It Happen

I should be working on a research paper right now, but instead I thought I’d warm up and write a blog post. I’ve been really putting this paper off for a while, at least two weeks. I’ve known what I wanted to write about for about that long, but haven’t done anything for it, until Tuesday.

While, I am considering going into “self-loathing” mode, I figure, this is what grad school is all about. I’m preparing myself for that tenured track professor job I so covet, that with all the budget cuts going on in this country, I will have to bust my ass to get come graduation.

Think about it…when there is a call for papers for conferences you write a 250 word proposal stating some brilliant argument pertaining to the theme of the conference, send it out and get accepted to read. Then two weeks before the conference you get a reminder about the dates, what room you’ll be reading in and more.

Then it’s crunch time, it’s three days before the conference and you have a twenty minute presentation that needs to be written. All the stress, the research, the writing, it brings you back to your grad school days, when you were cramming to write a research paper on  Borges and Derrida. You were to “add to the conversation.” A conversation you’ve never been a part of…

So while it would be so easy to hate myself for waiting until four days before this paper is due to really get a move on, I’m going to look at is preparation for any other deadline that comes my way.


Thoughts? Memories you’d like to share? I’m going to focus now for real.

Response to Molly

Molly, a reader of One Mean MFA’s blog asked me in a comment, “where the heck are you gardening in Decemeber?” explaining that she is in Minnesota. So in response…

Funny story about gardening. This summer I spent a few weeks in Rome with my cousin who lives so close to the Vatican you can see the Vatican wall from her balcony. She has tons of plants on her balcony but they looked sad and pathetic so while she was at work I took it upon myself to buy her some plants that would flower in the sping and summer, and rearranged the pots around the balcony. It looked fantastic. It doesn’t matter what time of year it is, I just find time to appreciate plants.

I’m obsessed with trees and wish I was better at taking pictures because I would love to make a coffee table book with pictures of trees. All kinds of trees. Recently I was in the car with my significant other who was driving, it was late and we were both tired and sitting in silence (that’s how you know it’s love because we can sit in silence and it’s not awkward) and I blurted out, “I love trees.” It had nothing to do with anything, it was that I couldn’t help myself from saying out loud.

I think that is why I should have been friends with Wordsworth…the man is obsessed with nature and I think I have a touch of his obsession.

I’m actually about to plant some flowers in a pot so I can have flowers for the spring. It will be one of my many indoor plant adventures.


Sorry it’s taken so long to post. Wednesday I’ll try to post on the AWP conference.


Thanks for reading.

Do You Smell That?

That is the smell of the end of the semester approaching. It smells of pie and cinnamon and pleasure reading. With Thanksgiving rolling around the corner, I’m barely thinking about turkey and leaves changing and of course Black Friday. Instead, I have given in to the twenty-four hour Christmas radio stations and have let the Christmas cheer take over.

There are a few concerns, however, that I have about this. First of all, it’s not even Thanksgiving and here I am singing to my heart’s content, “The Christmas Song” and “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” Second, I’m sooooo not focused on anything but my list of Christmas Break reading, my trip to the AWP conference in February, buying new sweaters, and of course the list of people I need to shop for, for Christmas. I am of course not thinking, at all, about any of my work and I am definitely not worrying about submitting grades for my students.

Since I do not want to be accountable for my lack of focus, I’m thinking I want to pin this one on the media and retailers. I feel like if I wasn’t being bombarded by Christmas music and Christmas lights (which my roommate has already put up and turned on) I could focus on the tasks at hand. The thing is when I hear “Jingle Bell Rock” I can’t help but sing (but honestly who can?).   I mean think about, if it wasn’t for all those commercials with the holiday bells ringing in the background and every store in every mall having Christmas decorations up, and the city putting up those creepy light up Nutcrackers (you know what I’m talking about?) I could focus on my school work instead of wishing Winter Break was here.

Whatever happened to decorating and preparing for Christmas after Thanksgiving?