Posted by: Joy | September 26, 2008

Jumping In

It’s late, I’m home and C is sleeping. My circadian rhythm is all messed up after three postpartum overnights. I should go in and cuddle up with her and Kai, but instead I’m at the desk tidying up (online and in my mind). I have multiple potential blog topics, a job application dilemma, readings to start and a noon orientation to go to tomorrow for my grad program.

I’m not sure that the fact I’m starting grad school this week has really sunk in yet. I attended Convocation (much less fancy than the name implies, although it was nice) on Tuesday and tomorrow is our 5 hour orientation. My sense is, based on Tuesday and I’m pretty sure this will be confirmed tomorrow, that my cohort includes some amazing and interesting people. I’m excited to get to know them all and the professors over the course of the next two years. One of the main things we will be doing tomorrow, in addition to chatting, is answering the question:

How would you summarize your goals, or what excites you, as you begin the program?

So, I am sitting here in the dark reflecting on that now.

As a bit of back story, I submitted a very-last-minute application to this grad program while I was studying abroad. I was told by people inside of it, and definitely agreed, that seemed like the perfect program for me and it was in fact the only program that even remotely made me want to continue school without a break (the original plan was to take at least a year off). I got accepted and was ecstatic (the only thing that momentarily eclipsed this enthusiasm was jumping from the world’s highest bungy jump the next day).

Fast forward over five months, the completion of my two undergrad degrees (and a minor) and the realization that my financial aid does not cover all of my tuition. A couple weeks ago I got scared. See, money and me have a rocky relationship history. We’re working on it now, but it’s been rough at times (mostly before I was able to make and control it). Now with the prospect of kidlets in the near future, the idea of taking on even more student loans was nearly unbearable. So I panicked. After all possible last-minute tuition assistance option were exhausted without success (by the time I was accepted it was past many grant/scholarship deadlines) I was convinced that I should withdraw from the program and save myself the (mostly financial although also honestly just general grad school related) stress. All last week I went back and forth about whether I would start or not. It got to the point that when a friend of ours asked C if I was going she said she didn’t think so, and then C had to ask me herself. My own wife wasn’t sure what the next two years of our lives were going to be like because I had been flip-flopping every day or so. (Thankfully I have a very supportive wife who trusted that I would make the right decision and would be happy for me either way.)

On Thursday or Friday I got down to the business of making decision: I pulled out my credit report, reviewed my aid award (I did get one grant that covers almost half of tuition), made some calculations, meditated on what was important to me and then decided to go. I instantly accepted the best option for loans to cover the rest of tuition and I ordered my books. But, my enthusiasm, compared to that day that I received my acceptance, is still not as strong. I’m pretty sure that I had steeled myself to the idea that I couldn’t go (due to money) and in the process of doing so, I lost some of the excitement.

Tuesday, meeting my cohort members and listening to the professors speak, I got a bit of a renewed sense of why I embarked on this journey and the work I would be able to do. Then today, browsing this week’s readings (class starts Tuesday, but we already have homework!) I was reminded of why I love theory and ideas.

So, how would I summarize my goals, or what excites me, as I begin the program?

My goals are to explore the ways in which my passion surrounding the academic concepts of Critical Race Theory, Queer Studies and Feminist Theory can be combined with my passion surrounding the real life experiences of anti-racist work, queer realities, anti-oppressive parenting practices, childbirth and the postpartum period. I want to participate in meaningful reflection and articulation (both verbally and textually) of these convergences. I want to stay true to the notion that important ideas do not need to be couched in academic jargon and that very little we read and write will make much difference unless it is put into practice and/or accessible to others. So that’s what excites me as I begin this program; the fact that this is a program based on a unique blend of inquiry and practice, theory and community engagement. I expect the next two years to involve challenging work. I know that critical reflection on many of these issues is not easy. I believe that this program will challenge me and change me and I am open to that. I anticipate that this endeavor has the potential in many ways to make me a better person, a better community member/citizen, a better wife and a better mother (yes, it does all come back my desire for kids).

I’ll let you know how it goes…

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