wingedorange: Mr. Muggles! (Default)

I’m glad that I’ve chosen this point in my life to pursue a doctoral program…

I feel that my experiences make me an ideal candidate for…

I would be right at home in the school psychology department of…

Based on the program website, I think I would contribute nicely to the atmosphere..

I really dig the vibe y’all have going on over there…

Look, I really love kids and I’ve been doing this for three years…

I’d be awesome in a doctoral program because I’m a huge nerd.

…Just let me in and give me some cash, okay?

(This personal statement stuff is getting old. Is it December 1 yet?)

Mirrored from winged orange.

wingedorange: Mr. Muggles! (Default)

My weekend, in a nutshell:

Good Weekend

Translation: Michael Jackson’s This Is It, two full bobbins of alpaca all spun up and ready to be plied, my stuffed llama buddy, and six pages of notes for the Personal Statement of DOOM.

I spent probably ten hours of my weekend – six yesterday and four today – hard at work on that damn statement. Man, this is hard. The last time I applied to grad school, during my senior year in college, I didn’t find it this difficult to write a statement about myself. I had one basic draft that I futzed with a little, but nothing like this. This go-round, I really struggled. I tried writing a coherent draft from the get-go and that just exploded in my face. I tried bulleting points to get me started, as Jacey suggested, but it wasn’t getting me anywhere. I tried walking away and leaving it alone, like Katie said. I read through Krissy’s personal statement from her applications about a gazillion times. I even looked at the other prompts for my other three schools. I think that was what ended it for me – there WERE no prompts for the other schools! Just “tell us about your professional interests and career goals”. Well, balls. What the hell was I going to do with THAT?

At some point, it dawned on me that I could, with minor adjustments, use the same statement for all four schools, since the other three had no concrete prompt for me to write from. I finally just stared at the prompt I posted the other day and broke it down into what they wanted to know. I made each one a heading in a Word file and wrote something coherent for each category: Personal & Work Experience, Research Experience & Interests, Coursework, and the Damn Diversity Crap (yes, that was my heading. I was a little bitter). I wound up with six pages of reasonably coherent thoughts, in no particular order, and with no transitions or connections to anything else in the statement. But it’s something! The max length for Lehigh (the school with the prompt) is two pages, so there’s a lot of editing that needs to be done. That’s where I stopped, because I couldn’t figure out what to cut and what to leave in. I’m going to let it be for a day or so and then come back to it to see if it makes more sense later.

I still kind of wish I could submit the version I ran past Katie: “I love my students with autism. I want to be a psychologist, so please accept me and give me funding, and I’ll knit you a sweater. I’ll even poop rainbows for you. The end.”

Yeah, that’s the state my brain was in when I was finished. So rather than do anything that required any of my neurons to actually fire, I pulled out my spinning so I could finally finish the alpaca for the Rhinebeck One-Row scarf. Halloween cake challenges on Food Network plus nice, mindless spinning helped my brain re-solidify a little. So in that picture, there’s eight ounces of alpaca – four of the brown and four of the gray – that will get plied together tomorrow after the singles have rested a bit. I’m hoping I’ll be able to start knitting by Thursday, because I have two days off work this week for NJ Teacher’s Convention. Hello, four day weekend. I’ve missed you.

Despite this year being the lamest Halloween ever, what with five trick-or-treaters, the rain, and absolutely no good movies on TV, this was still a decent weekend. I was very productive; besides the spinning and the statement-ing, I also made sugar skull dough for my Spanish lesson tomorrow on Dia de los Muertos. I went Friday and saw This Is It, which was as awesome as it could possibly have been, given the circumstances. I don’t think it’s possible for me to have any MORE love for “Smooth Criminal,” and I will probably giggle each and every time I see a cherry picker for the rest of my life. I’m going again on Thursday night with a friend, which makes me happy. Scott went to New York today and bought me a present, and that makes me happy.

It was a good weekend. :)

Mirrored from winged orange.

wingedorange: Mr. Muggles! (Default)

I sat down tonight to look at personal statement stuff for grad apps, and I’m finding it really frustrating that I can’t think of an interesting way to answer these fairly straightforward questions for one of my grad school applications:

For Ed.S. applicants:

1. Describe your professional interests and how your interests match up with our school psychology training program.
2. Tell us about your applied experiences and how these experiences relate to the field of School Psychology.
3. Describe your experiences in working with individuals and/or groups from diverse backgrounds.

Really, this should be way easy, but I’m having a hard time. Do I just answer straightforwardly? Do I include amusing anecdotes? Do I write a poem? They give me two pages to work with.  I need to give answers that show what I can do and what I’ve been doing with the last three years of my life, but also answers that show me as a strong candidate for funding, which in this case, is an autism training grant I would give my left arm for. Where’s the line between interesting and informal? Should I just write the draft and punch it up later? Sadly, this statement has to stand on its own, because the other schools are more research focused. I’m a little afraid to touch those, because the last time I wrote research-focused personal statements, I wound up sounding like, “Wheeee I wanna be a psychologist wheeeeee!” *headdesk* I just can’t process stuff anymore.

My life would be easier if I could submit a knitting sample as a personal statement. Or a sleeping hamster.

I’m just not on it these days. I think I’m coming down with something, I’m unfocused, I’m snippy, and I’m impatient. That’s spilling over into work a little; today I was really impatient (and maybe a little short) with all the kids, even the ones who are never on my nerves and really didn’t do anything out of the ordinary or annoying. On the way home today, I tried to go the back way, made a wrong turn, and wound up about half an hour out of my way. Again, this was on my way back from my job, where I have been working for three years, to my house where I have lived with few interruptions since I was six months old. I’ve been seeing things out of the corner of my eyes lately – things I know logically are probably reflections off my glasses, but that really, honestly, for all the world, resemble men running by my door or right next to my car. I’ve been smelling weird things – yesterday I came home and smelled wet dog (neither of the dogs had been out or were wet or were even in the vicinity) in the kitchen and then later, I smelled hamster cage in my room near my desk. I haven’t had a hamster in five years. Christmas is coming, and with the exception of a few, “Oh man, it’s almost Christmas and I haven’t thought about gifts yet!” moments, I haven’t really given it a second thought. I’m not on it.

I don’t know if I’m just stressed out and potentially sick, or if I’m really cracking up. It’s freaking me out, not gonna lie.

Mirrored from winged orange.

wingedorange: Who doesn't love a llama? (MJ & Louie the Llama)

I think that I’m developing ADHD these days. Seriously, I can’t do something for more than about ten minutes before I’m on to something else. Then I’m bouncing back to the first thing, and then — ooh, look, shiny! I don’t know if it’s a function of teaching kids for whom attention is an issue almost by definition. I don’t know if I just am truly losing the ability to focus. I don’t know if I do it to myself, because I allow it to continue rather than forcing myself to just shut up and, Eddie Izzard would say, “pay a-bloody-tension, all right?” I do it in conversations; I topic-hop like a madwoman. I have a hell of a time finishing knitting and spinning projects because I focus for about ten minutes before I remember something else I need to do or want to look up or have to say to someone. It’s rough. (Seriously, it’s taken me half an hour to write this paragraph because I stopped twice to look for that icon of Louie the Llama over there and then thought I didn’t have it so I went to make one and then I remembered that I did have it but had saved it as something else, and while I was at it, I really should organize my icons on LJ itself, huh?)

…Where was I going with this?

Oh, yeah. As you can imagine, this really makes a lot of things a little more difficult than they have been for me in the past. Grad school applications, for one. Because no one in a position of power has realized yet that a good deal of the application process for grad school (regardless of school or program) is the same, there’s no common application. That means that even though I’m only applying to four schools, I need to register for four different online app systems, and fill in my name, address, contact information, residency information, GRE scores, and resume/CV stuff four freaking times. Of course, none of the online app systems have the same requirements for username and password length, so I have four different usernames and passwords I have to keep track of. All four schools have different personal statement requirements and prompts. Everybody has different requirements for letters of recommendation, even!

That’s the piece I started with first. I have time yet to refine my personal statements and answer all the specific little prompts, but the rec letters are out of my control as soon as I pass them off to my letter writers. I’m a control freak, so that makes me nervous, especially because the last time I applied, I had a flaky professor who almost didn’t submit letters for me because she forgot. I don’t think I’ll have that problem this time, because two of my letter writers are my bosses and the third one is my very favorite professor from undergrad who I know is responsible and thorough and who I’ve been in touch with since I graduated and will even be invited to my wedding, whenever that show gets on the road. What worries me is giving everybody enough time to write my letters and fill out the crazy specific forms for each school. So what I’m doing today is printing out all the forms, filling in my portions, addressing envelopes, writing up instructions, and putting it all together. Sounds simple, but it totally is not. One school wants them submitted online. Another one wants them mailed with your application; a third wants it sent directly to the admissions office. Somebody else needs a cover letter included.

(Oh, and did I mention that the official forms for three out of four of my big-name schools contained typos? Not mine, but the administration’s. I’m pretty sure that the only reason the 4th one didn’t have any typos is because it didn’t have a form. That’s right up with UPenn’s “Dear Appliciant” letter, or the UC San Diego debacle, where they sent a congratulations on admission letter to students they rejected. If y’all expect my personal statement and CV to be typo-free, then please get your shit together and spellcheck your own forms. Kthnxbai. Applikayshun cat is irritated.)

I totally don’t have the organizational skills for this anymore. Part of it is that I cannot focus just on the rec letters. Along the way, while I was printing out forms, I also printed scholarship/assistantship applications for two schools, changed my mind about which program to apply to for one school, looked at faculty research, and tried to make decisions I totally am not equipped to make and truthfully don’t need to make right now. I’m kind of convinced this is the reason that I slept for maybe 60 minutes total on Friday night. There’s a reason “2000 Watts” has been looping on my iTunes this weekend:

2000 watts, 8 ohms, 200 volts, real strong / too much of that, fuse blown / be careful what you say, don’t overload

– Michael Jackson, “2000 Watts,” Invincible

Indeed. Fuse blown.

Good thing Rhinebeck is next weekend! I need a weekend away from grad school and paper and applications and forms. I need some hobo-hunting with my Lloyd, driving in the country with the volume up, yarn-buying, and llama petting!

Mirrored from winged orange.

wingedorange: Mr. Muggles! (Default)

Man, I was doing really well with the updates until August, and then The Suck happened. The Suck being that I took my GREs and did…not as well as I’d hoped. I think the GRE practice tests are – pardon my (completely characteristic) uncouth language – a crock of shit. I was scoring well into the 680-700 range on the math section on the computerized practice test ETS sent me, and then I got to the actual test and got a freakin’ 590. For reference, that’s only 40 points higher than I got on the math section when I last took the GREs in October of 2005. Niiiice.

I have opinions on the GRE, and my hatred for it is almost unnatural. It’s deep and it’s real. I think the computer format is awful because you can’t omit questions and you can’t go back to questions later, so everything anyone has ever taught you about how to take a test to maximize your score does not apply. You can’t just not answer questions if you run out of time at the end, because they penalize you for that. You can’t say, “I’ll take a little more time on this questions because the others look easier,” not only because you can’t skip ahead to see the other questions, but also because it’s a “smart” test. To use one of Katie’s new favorite terms, there is a little fuckface elf in there that says, “Oh, boy, you got a question right! Well, good on you that time, but we can’t let that happen again. Here, have a harder one! Muahahaha!” Or, conversely, if you get one wrong, “Well, good, I’m doing my job. Have an easier question because I pity your weak intellect, but just know that I’m taking points off for that error there. Muahahaha!” The worst part is that it totally psychs you out, because you can tell when the questions get easier, so you start going, “Oh, balls, I know how to do these blindfolded; I must be failing!” and that then screws your mindset for the whole rest of the test. It’s cruel and inhuman. Don’t take them if you can avoid it.

The point is, I don’t think a score of 590 will get me anything in terms of funding for grad school. I can get all the acceptances in the world, but if the program won’t fund me, I can’t go, because I refuse to take an additional $200,000 worth of loans. I just won’t do it. I know a lot of programs use cut scores for both admissions and funding, and I’m betting that anything under a 600 or a 650 gets cut. So I registered to take the GREs again on Sept. 28th because my school is off for Yom Kippur and I figured I’m better to take them on a long weekend where I’m not coming off of 5 days teaching hyper children. I’ve been trying to put in at least an hour every night studying and mostly just being able to complete a certain number of problems within a time limit, because that was my biggest problem – I got down to 10 minutes and still had about 13 problems to go. I answered the last question at the 1 second mark, so clearly I have issues with time management. If I can raise my score another 50 or 60 points, I can put myself right in that range. It just irks me that I had to pay ETS a grand total of $300 ($150 per test) to stress myself out and lower my self-esteem.

In between my bouts of studying, I’ve been doing a lot of knitting. I recently finished several things, including a hat for my brother, and a baby hat and shrug for my cousin’s baby girl on the way. Since I’ve been doing so well with finishing things and using up yarn and all that, and since I had to buy a yarny birthday present for Katie anyway, I stalked the shop updated and scored a skein of Green Eyed Monster’s sock yarn in the Dye For Glory-winning Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes colorway. Just as my hatred for the GRE is unnatural, so is my torrid love affair with this colorway. Again – it’s deep and it’s real. So real, in fact, that I only had the yarn for about an hour and a half before I wound it up and cast on a project. I’m making Snowflake Fingerless Gloves with it, which I think will be fabulous eventually. Since the Wizard Wheezes is so busy, I decided to only use one other color -Dale Baby Ull in white. Sadly, there are a few spots in the Wheezes that didn’t get dyed and are consequently white, but I’m hoping it won’t disrupt the pattern too much. Anyway, the original pattern calls for seven colors. So I pulled out my trusty highlighter and a black & white pattern printout, and set about converting the pattern to two colors. Also, I started the knitting (click for bigger):

Winter Wheezes Start

There’s a little less knitting now than there was in that photo, because I’m pretty sure I screwed up the colorwork, so I went back to the plain white row to start the diamond motif again. Aside from my obvious inability to read and follow printed directions (hence the post-its with the arrows in the photo) and the copious need to frog, it’s going really well for my first attempt at Fair Isle. Sadly, I still cannot knit continental, so I’m a dropper when switching colors. It’s slowing me down, but it’s forcing me to pay a little more attention, too, so the Wheezes is always the dominant yarn. Because it’ll be so easy to tell if I made a mistake with this pattern, I foresee much more frogging and tinking. Hopefully I can finish these before Rhinebeck. Of course, if I do, that’s an invitation for it to be 80 degrees and sunny that weekend. ;)

Mirrored from winged orange.

wingedorange: Mr. Muggles! (Default)

My weekend. Click to embiggen.

This Is What Stress Looks Like

Study Study Study

The monotony was broken only by the miracle of Canhenge, which was created by some Public Works officials who clearly were battling some monotony of their own:

Grand CanhengePetite Canhenge

Mirrored from winged orange.

wingedorange: Mr. Muggles! (Default)

(…you take ‘em both, and there you have the facts of life… :)

As often happens in life, we’ve had good news and bad news at Chez Winged Orange.

The bad news is that I was not hired for that job I interviewed for. What makes me mad about that isn’t that I wasn’t hired, because I can completely understand if someone more qualified came in and got the job, but that the rejection letter they sent me was dated Aug. 3. This means that they knew they weren’t going to hire me when I called in on Aug. 5, and they told me that they hadn’t made a decision yet. They likely knew when I called the week before, as well. Now, I completely understand not wanting to give someone bad news over the phone, especially if you’re just the secretary. But why lie to me? Why not just say, “Yes, we’ve made a decision, and we’ve sent out a mailing to our candidates”? Or hell, why not just give me the bad news nicely? Something like, “Yes, we’ve made a decision, and we’ve decided to go with a more qualified candidate.” It’s straight, to the point, and not inflammatory. It’s not like they’d be saying, “You suck and that’s sad!” Ugh.

The good news is, on the same day I was not hired for my job prospect, Scott was hired for his! He’s working for a new sports channel at Madison Square Garden now, doing camera and editing to start off, with a lot of opportunity for advancement. His starting salary is more than I make at my job after two years, so that’s fantastic for us. We’re still going to be living with our parents for at least another year, mainly because I still can’t afford rent AND my student loans, and Scott doesn’t make enough to support both of us, but we’ll be able to afford to do fun things again, and our Disney trip isn’t going to break anybody.

The biggest “good news” (although, really, for me, it’s fantastic, wonderful, stupendous, news-of-the-century news) is that now that Scott has a steady job at a reputable company with advancement opportunities, we can really think seriously about getting engaged some time soon! We can go ring shopping! Scott won’t tell me exactly when I’m going to get my ring, but he did say within the next six months to a year. I want a long engagement anyway (two years maybe), because hopefully I’ll be going back to school next year and I don’t want to rush wedding planning, but I’m really thrilled to be making serious steps towards our future after five years of theoretical “when we finally get married…” discussions. Eeeeeeee!

Now that I know for sure I’ve not been hired for a glamorous new job, I’ve kicked the studying back in high gear. I take my GREs again on Aug. 20th, and there were like two weeks in there where I didn’t study because I was stressed about the job results. I think it’ll be okay; from the stuff I’ve been doing lately, I seem pretty on top of my game, but then again, I haven’t gotten to the higher math stuff yet. That having been said, I’d rather study math because it’s more active. The verbal stuff annoys me; analogies suck ass, in case you were wondering, and the book I have seems like it’s just yelling, “Know more words! Be smarter!” It frustrates me, and makes me want to punch someone in the face. Ideally I want to break 700 in both sections; realistically, I’d settle for a 680-700+ math and a 650+ verbal.

Mirrored from winged orange.

January 2010

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